Arts and Entertainment

In the Planetarium - poem by James Doyle | Ted Kooser

Here’s a splendid poem by James Doyle, who lives in Colorado, about the way children make up mythic selves that will in some way serve them in life. To create one’s self as a palm reader is only one of many possibilities.

In the Planetarium


I read the palms of the other
kids on the field trip to see
which ones would grow up


to be astronauts. The lifeline
on Betty Lou’s beautiful hand
ended the day after tomorrow,


so I told her how the rest
of our lives is vastly over-rated,
even in neighboring galaxies.


When she asked me how I knew
so much, I said I watched
War of the Worlds six times


and, if she went with me to
the double-feature tomorrow,
I’d finish explaining the universe.


I smiled winningly. The Haley’s Comet
lecture by our teacher whooshed in


my one ear and out the other.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2012 by James Doyle, from his most recent book of poems, The Long View Just Keeps Treading Water, Accents Publishing, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of James Doyle and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates