Supernova, Joann Renee Boswell

Diane Corson, Nest Egg Felissimo (opened)





tell me my fortune
perfect moist ball
sucked into devices
pin-prick red clarity

my crystal ball is a flat
white Bluetooth quarter
sticky upper arm circle
it beeps when I ask:

what did the eggs do?
the strawberry?
the black bean burger?
the stress of kids evening routine?

today the ophthalmologist photographed
the perfect sun bright chaos of my eyes,
she breathlessly traced the blood vessels
her fingertip a boat serene on computer screen

then she conjured Google
to show the leaking ponds dotting
diabetic eyes, even with good control
twenty years of insulin life-support, will cost

            it looks bleak
but I didn’t even blink —
I appreciate sight,
the gift of future-vision

hyper-vigilant glucose care
will use me up —
one night I’ll glimpse the full moon
and her beauty will take me down

inexplicable death
calloused fingers will point
blame to those spent beta-cells
that worked so hard to save me

coming to pieces
and coming to peace —
diabetes is mine
my spoiler,
            my sage,
                        my supernova

Joann Renee Boswell


Review by Mykyta Ryzhykh

The medical-everyday-surrealistic verse “Supernova” plunges us into incomprehensible depths, at the bottom of which is “the black bean burger” and instead of beauty in the eyes of the beholder, “bright chaos of my eyes”. The remarkable point in the verse “mit looks bleak” turns out to be only the middle of the verse. Thus, in the finale of the verse, the supernova brings us horror and some hope.


Review by Nancy Sobanik

Joann Renee Boswell’s poem opens with a mystery- the identity of the perfect moist ball? The answer soon becomes apparent- a drop of blood. Stanza 2 repeats the use of ball as crystal ball in a description of a continuous glucose monitor. A theme of circles continues in stanza 4-  the perfect sun bright chaos of my eyes- and stanza 7-  the full moon… Like scientists monitoring the cosmos, the poem moves from recognition of threat, the monitoring of it, to the understanding that one is ultimately doomed as entropy has its way.

The certainty of failing vision – the leaking ponds dotting diabetic eyes and those spent beta-cells that worked so hard to save me- couples with a poignant brave acceptance of the inevitable, consuming disaster that awaits.


Review by Jared Pearce

I like the mix of narrative and lyric here, of praising and fearing, of accepting and contesting.  For me the tensions would sit better without the final paragraph, but, on the other hand, there’s something to be said for clicking the box shut—especially when such a shuttering matters to the poem’s overall action.


Review by Mary Giudice

Flannery O’Connor wrote that those who do not experience sickness before death are missing out on one of God’s great mercies. The technical/medical words in this poem: “Google,” “glucose”, “beta cells,” don’t stop that mercy from rising through—the mercy of the chance to realize what you have before you lose it. A glimpse of future deterioration elevates the eye in the present to a thing of natural beauty, like a moon, a crystal, a star.  I’m touched by the subtle connection between the doctor—breathless—and the patient—unblinking—in this moment of prognosis.



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