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I.

On clear Kansas nights,
we drove out of town
to drink up on the prairie.
It was an unobstructed sky,
the light pollution of a city
100 miles east. We laughed
and sometimes talked about poetry.
I don’t remember seeing
a single moon.

II.

Clyde Tombaugh lived
188 miles west and slightly south.
The skies must have been
even darker there.
I wonder if he ever looked up
through his homemade scope
on a late fall night
while the sound of dry corn husks
scratched at his ear.

III.

I moved east.
Tombaugh moved west.
We each began to see things.
Tombaugh moved on to bigger
and better telescopes.
I looked through my first.
Slowly, a planet came into view
for both of us.
And somewhere in Kansas,
a wheat field was dancing with us.

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We can’t help seeing
whales and donuts
in tholin fields and craters.

So informal names are given,
some in remembrance
others just for fun.

Cthulhu roams his own region.
Hillary and Norgay
claim more mountains.

It’s how we attach ourselves
to places far away.

Some names will stick around,
too perfect to change.
Others might
like a Balrog
fall down a hole
into oblivion.