Tree Riesener's 'Hubble Cantos': Cosmic sleigh ride

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Tree Riesener, author of "The Hubble Cantos."

The Hubble Cantos

By Tree Riesener

Aldrich. 90 pp. $17

This book is a Nantucket sleigh ride through the universe. Ambitious, funny, fearless, The Hubble Cantos shows us why we need poetry as well as science.

With humor, wonder, and openness to the craziness of it all, Bryn Mawr's Tree Riesener creates a poetic counterpoint to the wonder-show of the Hubble Telescope.

"eden between the stars" addresses the Maker of Worlds:

what

another one

just how many edens are you thinking of building . . .

you'll have to leave it all on the back porch . . .

I'm not going to have it cluttering up my kitchen

There's also unbound wonder, as in the gigantic closer, "song of the perseus black hole":

the black hole is singing in the dark

our bones hear it

been hearing it a long long time

our cells our protoplasm our dna

reverberate to that note

maybe that's god

been trying to catch our attention for a billion billion years

and only prophets on a clear night

have ever got even a

hint of the message

listen those who have ears let them hear

the black hole is singing

b flat fifty-seven octaves below middle c

The cosmos does not make our sense: "After the hurricane / sweeps away puppies and old men / the sky is clear and blue / tender in its clarity." Yet Riesener's universe is not an emptiness but a fertile giving-forth that science, in its spectacular success, can't quite reach. Nah, we need poetry, as in "butterfly and other nebulae":

your dark nebular body

could be called

a mass exchanging binary system

but the real you is lovecraftian

a shifting translucent body

of burning expanding wings

flapping at two hundred miles per second.

Like Hubble, Riesener is showing us the neighborhood as never before.