December 31, 2016

Hilary S. Jacqmin

The Stars’ Tennis Balls


“There is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe.”

                                                                                     —Walt Whitman

On Terok Nor (re-christened Deep Space 9
by edgy Federation bureaucrats),
core function always follows darkling form.
Cardassians are known for subtle shows
of sinister and emblematic force.
Their steel-plate architecture—razored grids
and telescopic doors meshed seamlessly
with brutal grates, short-circuit screens, arc lights—
carves bat’leth gashes through the gritty air.

Sub-stellar Starfleet staffs the starbase now.
Post-Occupation, Sisko’s done away
with martial law, forced labor, mining camps.
He’s substituted Prime Directive regs
for ruthless, ribcage tyranny. Still, Chief
O’Brien was compelled to jury-rig
entangled wires and sinkhole conduits
for months before he probed that alien
array’s forbidding carcass. Even now,
spiked shadows strafe the bony deck. In Ops,
uneasy ensigns work the graveyard shift.
Subspace is raktajino dark. Below

decks, Quark books private holosuites, counts up
his daily take of gold-pressed latinum
(bars, slips and strips), and seals black-market deals
with Gamma Quadrant reprobates. A flask
of incandescent synthehol writhes like
Pagh-Wraiths. Bluff Klingon cooks slop out fresh gagh
for two. The Promenade’s a glittering
mirage of alpha-currant nectar, blood-
wine, gamblers pawing slinky dabo girls.
That bar stool might be caustic Odo in
disguise; despondent Morn may not be Morn;
these days, it’s possible that anyone’s
a Maquis spy, Dominion agent, fierce
Bajoran separatist.

Strange—the cold,
confining station’s skeleton is lit
with revelers. There’s more to outer space
than Kirk’s elaborate machismo, “Beam
me up!”, and micro-miniskirts. These low-
tech, tortured pylons generate—who knew?—
a sly, Prophetic spark that slices through
the formal dark like simple tailor’s shears.



Hilary S. Jacqmin earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University and her MFA from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Painted Bride Quarterly, FIELD, PANK, 32 Poems, Best New Poets 2011, and elsewhere. He first collection of poems, Missing Persons, will be published by Waywiser Press in Spring 2017. She lives in Baltimore, MD.


Image: “Kirk”, by James F. Woglom.