The Dark Sky Club and The Five Stages of Yeast

By Richard Luftig

The Dark Sky Club is Having Its Meeting Tonight


We start at midnight,

when the businesses are all closed

and most sensible people in town

are in bed for the night.


Up at the picnic shelter of the township park,

the darkest spot in the darkest part

of the county. That’s where it’s best

to explore the night sky:


some with binoculars,

most with our naked eyes,

and Ernie—God bless him—

with his homemade telescope


and his willingness to share.

Our membership is dwindling

and attendance varies

but there’s always Ellen,


a single mom who uses the tip money

from her restaurant job to pay

for a baby-sitter, and Bob, who works

construction and is embarrassed


to let the guys on his crew know about

his planetary hobby. And, of course,

Lee, our resident bullshitter,

who claims his parents took him


as a baby to see Halley’s Comet

in 1910, which would make him something

like 120- years- old, but to be perfectly honest,

with Lee you just never know.


And, of course, me who argues

with anyone who will listen

why Pluto should still be a planet.

We’re all out here in the December cold


listening to Virginia, our leader by default

because she took an astrometry course

in college years ago. She tells us

this is a great night to be stargazing


(tell that to our freezing feet)

since Orion’s belt is so bright

in the southern sky and asteroid

showers give their best show.


But if I know these folks,

and I think I do,

we’ll all be looking away,

in our private solitude,


exploring our favorite section

of the universe, making

a personal wish upon

our own special star.



The Five Stages of Yeast


When my daughter was younger

she would make beer,

dark as the basement where

she brewed it, with malt,

sugar, hops and Brewer’s Yeast.

The stuff produced enough methane

to heat a house, was black

and bitter as bad luck

but she loved it and brought the stuff

out for special occasions. I guess

there’s no accounting for taste.



Now she owns a winery

and spends hours, days, making it.

She harvests grapes and sends me pictures

of her stomping them with her feet.

Then, she mixes the stuff

in giant vats that removes all the air

so that yeast, wine’s best friend,

can make alcohol out of sugar, without which

Jesus would have been stuck with just

grape juice. I am duly impressed

and drink my Ripple with new respect.



My doctor analyzes the urine sample

and says I have a yeast infection.

I tell him that is impossible,

because I’ve not been peeing donuts.

You’d think for the one-hundred dollar

visit, the guy would at least crack a smile.

I mean, it’s yeast for God’s sake,

but I can’t get a rise out of him.



The sweet smell of flour

clings to my wife’s apron

like love. Today, she is making

New York pizza, the kind

that makes me homesick

when you fold a triangle of slice

in half and bite at the tip so the sweet

olive oil doesn’t run down your chin.



Come here and help me, she says.

Your job is to add the yeast

to the water in the bowl and call

me when it comes to a roil.

I open up the packet, add the warm water

and wait: two minutes, then three,

then five. Finally bubbles appear,

defying gravity, each a geyser

that rises to the surface and explodes.

I think of the sweet concoction

of dough and sauce and mozzarella cheese

that will later emerge from the oven.

I think of God in the Garden of Eden.

Be fruitful, I whisper, and multiply.