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3 Poems About The Eclipse

Photo by Tim Guthrie

Photo by Tim Guthrie

You’re going to die someday
so you want to stand in a shadow like no other,
drive west across Nebraska with your wife and daughters
but you’re not the only ones who thought of this,
the cars pack tight in this spectacle
huger than concerts or rallies or football games,
you cut south, check the paper map of your state with a governor two governors ago’s photo on the back,
point the car to Tecumseh
and go.
You’re sure this highway’s been busy before,
but bumper-to-bumper seems like a stretch,
like once-in-a-lifetime, like a movement,
and scientists have this timed
to fractions of seconds,
have a pencil line drawn across the planet
that we all try to squeeze into;
you find a spot near the baseball field,
next to a family from Minnesota,
park the car,
wait for it all
to go dark.

You try to find words
but none fit right,
like all the photos you took
that don’t look anything
like what was framed in that sky for two minutes,
you say “Black dot,”
you say “Crowned, white fire,”

but when you say it,
you don’t feel it,
the amazement
like eyes you didn’t know you had
like there’s a dance
inside your chest
and the musicians just tripled the beat,
it’s bright horizon, dark dome,
you look at all your photos
of sun-smudge, say
“That’s not it,”
“That’s nothing
like what happened.”

After the eclipse,
you kind of forget
it’s still happening,
that the moon is still separating
from in front of the sun,

but you load back into the car
and are overjoyed
by backed-up traffic,
you say “Hey Highway One Thirty Six,”
this gridlocked lockdown you feel fortunate to be part of, you,

some spark in your heart
that, for whatever reason, mirrors the sky and what it’s doing right now,
one twenty-one p. m.,
August twenty-one,

and you know it’ll soon be back
to Facebook and Twitter
and shitty comments left by strangers
on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s page, to
the President on TV tonight,
to you saying “How
was your eclipse?” but that friend had to work
and couldn’t leave town for this
and you are a lucky son of a gun,
you drove one direction,
then changed course ,
headed where you thought you could,
found a spot where the storm clouds
opened like curtains at the right time,
when a friend in a town fifteen miles away
got only clouds,
and another set up in a graveyard five miles further got the whole show,

it is,
like so many things,
luck, you
need to acknowledge that
as you ain’t really special
unless everyone else is, too.

You got lucky this time,
and that’s amazing. You feel it,
radio on, wife in the passenger seat,
daughters in back,
blessed to just still be here,
inching toward home.

New Poem in Hawai`i Pacific Review



I am grateful to Hawai`i Pacific Review for publishing a poem of mine which was a blast to work on. I know, it looks lighthearted, but every weird phrase in it took a lot of work to get just right (and every one refers specifically to something, it’s not just random).

I got the acceptance note for the poem on Father’s Day, which was something special to me as my dad was born in Hilo, so anything Hawai`i reminds me of him, gone 27 years now. I know, it’s an odd poem to carry a message from the afterlife, but I’ll take it. So check it out and enjoy!

Recent Publications in 2 Magazines


On a 2-week residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, I hit the reset button and got a TON of work done editing poems, collecting them into several manuscript piles, and sending the best poems out to magazines. In just the past couple weeks, 2 places each took a pair of poems. So check out my work at:
World Literature Today
and Tipton Poetry Journal

Two Big Publications


I’m honored to have poems in a pair of great anthologies released this spring. One celebrates 20 years of The Backwaters Press and the other celebrates 150 years of Nebraska Poetry so, yeah, it’s kind of cool.


Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017

The first anthology of its scope, Nebraska Poetry encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters.


Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology

Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology features poems from BWP’s authors from the past 20 years. This anthology commemorates The Backwaters Press’s 20 years as a nonprofit literary publisher located in Omaha, Nebraska. Virtually every poet published by the press in its first two decades is represented here with two new, previously unpublished poems selected specifically for this volume.

Alumni News for Santa Clara University


In Alumni News

A nice article is fresh out from Santa Clara University, my undergrad, about me and poetry:–events/stories/matt-mason-90-champion-of-expression-through-poetry.html

Workshop on the Prairie with Sarah McKinstry-Brown and me!


Sarah and I are running a workshop near Lincoln at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center April 23rd (which is ALSO “Talk Like Shakespeare Day,” in case you were wondering). Sarah will lead a workshop for adults while I work with kids, followed by a reading on the prairie.

words4birds 2017 flyer


See more information at:

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