A meditation on light, human displacement, and longing, No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise centers on a single conjecture: if light is a language sent forth from distant bodies and stars, what are we likewise saying into those black distances? Through hardship and loss, these poems invoke a hopeful solace in the subtle light that races outward from all beings with its enduring message. Lee invites us to admit the soft stellar calling of life, to listen to its missive of peace.
Praise for No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise
Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s poetry sets out to make the interplay between page and reader one of convergence, a meeting of mind and matter that teaches us “how to speak after a different daylight emerges.” Her work deciphers the unseen—not simply our secret selves, but the inner departure from the mundane ordinariness of an existence left un-interrogated. She sets out to challenge centeredness, to reveal our hidden organs, and so grounds the collection in the essential, winnowing the world to shadow before casting light on every corner. Smart poetry does great work in that it values the work the reader brings with her. This collection leaves us catechizing the account we make of own senses and counts individuated breath in a perpetual inventory of language and being.
—Ruth Ellen Kocher
Throughout human history, we have looked to the stars for meaning and order amidst chaos. Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise reads the heavens while remaining acutely aware of the flaws in astromancy. Peninsular and paratactic, these poems know that, even so far displaced from it, and displaced from one another, the heat of the sun is the heat of the poem is the heat between us—and heat is also loss. If in fact we come from the stars, and seek solace from the terrestrial world’s chatter among them, then these poems are a corrective to “the lack of a word that functions for an ancestral home.” Any of us can find that word here.
“The artist Stacy Elaine Dacheux says: ‘We need our abstractions for grief, for absurdity.’ In her fourth book No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise, Lee exhibits this truth in poems that transmit a keen particulate attention to the world, showing the delicate energies of tiny lives and the sun’s energy alike. The poems speculate something beyond folklore or experience—a paradox of certainty and subjectivity—charting what happens in the giving of attention, the bodily assimilation of experience. Together, observed life and empirical laws refract gorgeously from Lee’s diamond mind.”
Excerpt from No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise
THE QUIET SUN
Just as I was taught to kneel, the sun became foreign to me. How to speak after a different daylight emerges? Name that black chamber, its seamless, quiescent surface. Speak after an epoch, an apocalypse—find again that strange word for dew.
Uncover a grain of light amid the reft between us. That word you pondered and turned about, ultimately left at contact’s door.
Tell me the name of this descant, its felted slide into the sea. Tell me the name of that absented hour, the space where solar shores failed to meet.
Quietness, a virtue. Harmonic darkness without intent—the vast cosmos of what is neither felt nor seen. No light against those furloughs.
Whose name bends without my attention.