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"Maybe the dead know, their eyes widening at last,
Seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on
At twilight. Hearing the engines flare, the horns
Not letting up, the frenzy of being. I want to be
One notch below bedlam, like a radio without a dial."
It's a pity John Keats didn't live long enough to experience the Arts-Cafe Mystic music and poetry series, which kicks off its fall season Friday in the Mystic Arts Center.
Had Keats survived to do so, experts believe his "To Autumn" might well include a fourth stanza, one in which the personification of "Autumn" shows up to the Arts Cafe Mystic wearing a Tracy K. Smith T-shirt and chewing on a stalk of September hay.
Indeed, that Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the collection "Life on Mars," headlines the opening program is inspired. As a taste, consider at left the excerpt from her "My God, It's Full of Stars," a brain-dazzling poem wherein Smith ponders the question of human isolation in the universe.
Friday in Mystic, then: be in the presence of greatness. Plus, in fine support, vocalist Phred Mileski provides the evening's music.
- RICK KOSTER
Tracy K. Smith with Phred Mileski & Her Combo, Arts Cafe Mystic presents, 7 p.m. Friday, Mystic Arts Center, 9 Water St., Mystic; $8, free for students, reservations recommended; (860) 912-2444, theartscafemystic.org.