Fiddling with Dials
for Mirya Gromova

Just after midnight, trolling for stations on shortwave, we'd pick up quasars, jazz from Andromeda. Whirrs, chimes. Once in a while, some girl reciting a voodoo of numbers—cinq, dis—sultry arithmetic of the Cold War. How much was true—exact coordinates, perfect trajectories—who the hell knows? Flight crews were ready. U-2s were in the air. Nuevo, ocho, she'd coo until cloudbursts of static swept her away. Maydays from submarines, moans of baleen whales, rolled with the tide. In a surge of capacitors and resistors, somewhere the phantom cosmonauts cried, Why won't you answer?— falling and falling through the sky.

Joseph Gastiger studied at Iowa and Colorado State before he took a job teaching at Northern Illinois University. He was coordinator of NIU’s Honors Program for eleven years. His poetry has been appearing in journals for thirty years, and two of his books have almost been published, so he’s been told. A collection of prose poems, Loose Talk, has earned a few maybes. Since 2001, Joe’s been a pastor at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb, Illinois. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761