The Great Conjunction by Alan Toltzis


the plodding sun

deadpans across the sky again,

overwhelms the moon,

then winks behind

a wrinkled mountain brow

to give dark its due.

Another day

whimpers shut,

leaving me rankled.

Like most, I crave miracle—

something biblical,

cluttered with clatterbang

and awe.

For better or worse,

I drive West,

towards the great conjunction

trying to eavesdrop

on Saturn and Jupiter

conspire, gossip, or curse

in plain view,

creating myth from illusion.

I catch a few words

here and there

and slip deeper

into the universe.


Alan Toltzis is the author of two poetry collections—49 Aspects of Human Emotion and The Last Commandment—and two chapbooks, Nature Lessons and Mercy (forthcoming). His poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Plainsong, Grey Sparrow, The Wax Paper, Black Bough Poetry, and Anthropocene Poetry. After a lifetime in Philadelphia, he now lives in Los Angeles.

Author's note

For weeks, I followed the planets Saturn and Jupiter come closer and closer together in the sky, until they overlapped last December. While watching one night, I felt connected to the power and mystery the ancients must have felt as they searched for connection to the cosmos. I instinctively understood how important it was for them to give human characteristics to the planets, stars, and constellation to feel at one with their universe. This poem is the result of my experience.