Questions from Outer Space

Questions from Outer Space

by Diane Thiel
Questions from Outer Space

Questions from Outer Space

by Diane Thiel


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Diane Thiel’s eagerly anticipated collection of poems, Questions from Outer Space, explores fresh and often humorous perspectives that capture the surreal quality of our swiftly changing lives on this planet. The poems travel through questions on many fronts, challenging assumptions and locating unique angles of perception. This thought-provoking book reflects a deep engagement with the natural world, a questioning of our built systems, the expansive wilderness of parenting, and the complexities of navigating outer and inner space.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781636280271
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 05/24/2022
Pages: 104
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Diane Thiel is the author of eleven books of poetry and nonfiction, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies. Thiel's work has appeared in Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Hopkins Review, and numerous other publications. Her awards include a PEN Award, the Nicholas Roerich Prize, and a Fulbright. Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown Universityand has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects. She is Regents' Professor of English and Associate Chair at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and lives in the Sandia Mountain foothills.

Read an Excerpt

The Farthest Side

Some afternoons, in the small space of time between my coming home from school and his heading off to work, second shift, and maybe some of third (what did I know of those austere days),
my father would have a question waiting for me.
We couldn’t usually find a way to get beyond all the history that divided us, that kept us far from each other, for such a small house.

But when I came home, he would sometimes have the paper open to The Far Side,
usually one that went a bit further over the edge,
and would ask if I understood this one.
We had our dark favorites that were fairly clear.
The engorged snake stuck in the crib with the teddy bear.
The spider web at the bottom of the slide—
“If we pull this off, we’ll eat like kings.”
But the fact that he asked me, even back then,
about the more complicated ones, believing I would know about natural selection, space, modern art, or poetry meant more to me than I would have admitted,
more than I even realized at the time.

When we talked about Cow Poetry, it went beyond the cow’s damning the electric fence. The pilots wondering what a mountain goat was doing in that cloud bank ahead brought us to the moment outside the frame.
Maybe Larson intended that a few of these,
like the meat in the bowl on the window table,
or Cow Tools, with its unrecognizable objects,
would resist any quick interpretation and just get people talking.


I was grown before I knew the moon waxed and waned that way,
waxed in a D and waned in a C.
Since no one ever showed me,
I showed my children, probably from the first time we looked at the night sky.

Though you might have known this scientifically,
sometimes you have to go to the other side of the world,
travel through the outback, feeling small again and far away, before you discover the moon waxes and wanes somewhere else in the opposite way.


Table of Contents

I Questions of Time and Direction

Just Before Dawn 17

Measure by Time 18

Remotely 19

Hippocampus (Elliptical Scans from Space) 20

The Factory (Questions from Outer Space) 22

Questions of Time and Direction 24

Field Notes from the Biolayer 26

Spatial Equations 27

Listening in Deep Space 28

Navigating the Questions 29

So Much Depends 30

Expendable 32

Time Won't Do It 33

Sticks and Stones 34

In the Rain 35

Babes in the Wood 36

Three Seasons 37

Hiatus 38

II Notice from Another Dimension

Sleeping Dogs 41

Baby Out with the Bathwater 42

Kwick Assess 43

The Multiverse 44

Under the Rug 46

The Slide 47

Tritina in the Time of the Machine 48

Assimilation 49

In the Mirror 50

Notice from Another Dimension 51

Isn't poetry all about perfection? 52

Three Surrealist Women and the Skins of an Orchestra 53

Love-spinning 54

Carousel 55

Kummerspeck 56

Changing Reality 57

III The Farthest Side

The Farthest Side 61

The Typewriter 61

Pantoum on a Paper Moon 64

Circle in the Sand 65

One Early Morning 66

Planting Cape Florida, Key Biscayne 67

Swamp Roses 68

This Old Thing 69

Letters from La Paz 70

How They Arrived 72

Recovering the Lost 73

Library of Veria, Greece 74

Learning to Breathe 76

Haiku Petroglyphs 78

Elemental Trail 79

On Foot 80

Southern Cross 81

Outback 82

IV Time in the Wilderness

The First Sea 85

Astronaut Training 86

Birth Announcement 87

Counting Two 88

Questions from Four Dimensions 89

Giant Children 90

Spaceship with Saint Giovannino 91

Interplanetary Spelling Bee 92

Living with Aliens 94

Zero Hour 95

High Noon at the Remote Corral 96

Finding Home 97

Under the Lawrence Tree 98

Short Subjects with Long Titles (Epigrams on Art, Poetics, and Philosophy) 99

Time in the Wilderness 103

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