Why I’m Afraid of Heaven

By Dobby Gibson

Featured Art: (Illustration for Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám) The Throne of Saturn by Elihu Vedder 

If you stand on Venus,
where the atmospheric haze
is so thick that it bends light,
it theoretically would be possible
to stare at the back of your own head.
Which would mean you’d never
again have the pleasure
of helping a beautiful woman
fasten the clasp on her necklace.
On Jupiter, a beautiful woman
would weigh 400 pounds,
but you would, too,
and you’d be far more worried
about suffocating to death
on poisonous gas.
We’ve all desired what we can’t find here.
We’ve all left our gum beneath the seat.
In a bright department store,
a plastic egg gives birth to pantyhose.
In a dark dorm room,
a lonely freshman finally gets his wish.
The dog tries, and fails, to run across the ice.
After spending a lifetime
conscious of being alive,
why would anyone
want to spend an eternity
conscious of being dead?
In this bar, one of the world’s last remaining pay phones
hangs heavy in the corner.
Most days it waits in silence.
Once in a while, it just rings and rings.


Dobby Gibson is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Little Glass Planet (Graywolf Press). He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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