Ann K. Schwader


We are so many & so bright
that we have wiped the stars away,
surrendering our astral sight
to blindness of encroaching day.

That we have wiped the stars away
impoverished us. Those myths now lost
to blindness of encroaching day
held wisdom more than worth the cost,

impoverished us. Those myths now lost,
we blunder through a world whose skies
held wisdom more than worth the cost
that dark demands. When wonder dies,

we blunder through a world whose skies
no longer guide us: sacrifice
that dark demands when wonder dies
without a whimper of advice,

no longer guides us. Sacrifice
seems second nature now. We live
without a whimper of advice,
a constellation’s tale. To give

seems second nature now—we live
beneath what others spill across
a constellation’s tale to give
more light to work their will. No loss

beneath what others spill across,
surrendering our astral sight
for light to work their will. No loss;
we are so many. And so bright.


Ann K. Schwader’s most recent collection of dark verse, Unquiet Stars, was published in 2021 by Weird House Press. It placed third in the SFPA’s 2022 Elgin Awards for full-length collection. Two previous collections, Dark Energies (P’rea Press 2015) and Wild Hunt of the Stars (Sam’s Dot 2010) were Bram Stoker Award Finalists. Her poems have recently appeared in Spectral Realms, Dreams & Nightmares, Penumbra, Star*Line, and Haiku 2023. She was the SFPA Grand Master for 2018.

Backstory: The main inspiration for this poem came from the following online article from EarthSky It discusses the idea of “noctalgia,” or sky grief, by astronomers mourning the loss of dark skies. The article was quite eloquent in its sadness for the passing of experiences such as seeing the Milky Way. I loved the word, and I felt that a repetitive form – in this case, the Pantoum – would be best to work out my own feelings of noctalgia. After all, we’ve been hearing about the dark sky problem for years without a great deal being done to correct it.

Editor’s Notes & Image Credit: This work discloses a special ecological concern and interest of mine—light pollution. Soon, my e-Chapbook collection, Nightsongs, is forthcoming but sadly not before International Dark Sky Week this month (April). The poetry showcases the awesome beauty of the night sky while fingering the vagaries of light pollution. Thank you, Ann, for illuminating this important topic. The image of our light-intrusive orb at night is featured in MIT

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