I’ve done an occasional Poetry Post-Mortem on my own poetry, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve invited poets to send me their own. This Poetry Post-Mortem comes from John Reinhart. John is the recipient of the Horror Writers Association Dark Poetry Scholarship and the author of seven collections of poetry.


supernovae was first published in Star*Line, republished in Moon Pigeon Press under the title “ascension”


i wantpoetrypostmortemjohnarson
to be a dandelion
cracking through the asphalt
yellow sun in black hole
radiating mischievous power

i want
to grow old and gray
standing tall, knowing
the wonders of morning and night
whistling in the wind

i want
to die quietly on the breeze
sowing future promise lightly
exploding supernovae into space
little yellow suns between the cracks


I wrote this in the early days when I had just begun submitting regularly. I was still submitting under the scattershot idea that if I sprayed enough poetry across enough literary ground, something was sure to sprout. Call it the Dandelion Hypothesis.

I was visiting my father-in-law and he invited me to accompany him to a writing group. I read a couple poems, including this one, and one of the other writers suggested there was enough of a speculative element that I should submit this to sci-fi venues. Science-fiction poetry?! Like a dandelion: mind blown.

The poem grew on the mashup imagery of microcosmic dandelions, ubiquitous weed, and the macrocosmic, just as human beings imagine themselves little cogs in much bigger wheels. I am fascinated by cycles, by the passing of time, by change and transformation. And by old people. I cannot stand to watch dramatic television, but I am fascinated by the struggles of growing old, of excarnating, of preparing for liftoff.

poetrypostmortemjohnLong since having left formal verse forms, I still appreciate form. Each stanza follows the same basic structure. The i wants were all left with lower case Is to mimic the dandelion form – who is I? I the human being, I the dandelion, I the desiring being wishing only to be I, to live and die peacefully. I you, I me. The eye of the black hole.

The form of each corresponding line from each stanza mirrors its counterparts. For instance: I want to be, to grow, to die; to crack through, to stand tall, to sow the future. Verbs! Action and desire are the parlance of youth.

I have published this poem under two different titles. “supernovae” is the plural for stars that grow old, die, and implode. “ascension” is both the climb upward, and a Christian holiday when Christ ascended to the heavens. Both of these are reflected in the poem, the first emphasizing the sci-fi elements in the poem, while the latter pulls on less explicit aspects of the dandelion.

Ultimately, I deal with my fears and fascinations by telling myself stories, poems. I love dandelions. I want to age like a dandelion. Maybe like dandelion wine.

Perpetually sharpening his fiddle at the crossroads, John Reinhart is an arsonist, father of three, and poet. He was born in Denver, which suffered major fires in the 1860s, leading city officials to change building code standards. A long distance admirer of Herodotus and William Butler Yeats, he has encouraged his children to play with matches from an early age.

The recipient of the Horror Writers Association Dark Poetry Scholarship, he’s won the Poetry Nook Weekly Contest and has been a Pushcart, Elgin, Rhysling, and Dwarf Stars awards nominee. His work ranges from fantastical to experimental, and has been published in Pedestal Magazine, Holy Shit!, Fleurs du Mal, Liquid Imagination, Popshot, Better Than Starbucks, and many others, various anthologies, and across seven collections of poetry. Find his work at http://home.hampshire.edu/~jcr00/reinhart.html, and on social media.