So thankful and excited to learn that “Opposition Night” is nominated for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award in the Long Poem Category. This poem appears in Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press 2017). Here it is in case you’re interested in reading (or voting!).
You need a supersonic parachute for landing
and even then, it’s still tricky, a terrifying
You need these simple interplanetary
wads of sticks inspired by
those egg drop experiments in high school
physics. They’ll cushion the impact.
When you awake to see the new horizon,
you’ll need your rations followed by
freeze dried ice cream for dessert.
Then you can begin the mining project.
Resource extraction, that kind of thing.
Once you’re there, life is easy.
A six month road trip to the red planet
and farther: Jupiter, Saturn, alongside
the asteroid belt—possible only in a
No roadside pit stops at hole-in-the-wall
diners, no waitresses in white sneakers
No off-road shoulder dust kicking up
and settling down on a hood and
through a window ajar.
Only the pod, fitting six, tentatively
called Copernicus, hurling itself
through as humans hibernate
like bears. Only you’re not a bear.
And you’re not on Earth.
Photovoltaic power is all the rage!
Asteroid ablation! Comet ablation!
Every kind of ablation you could desire!
A plume of heat and laser light and
Kapow! Kablooey! Kaboom!
Even with a strong core
I can’t roller skate.
Melanie mocks me
when her voice comes over
the 70s station.
The starting isn’t a problem.
It’s the stopping that poses
I need a magnetoshell,
like the ones the engineers
are tweaking for the spacecrafts—
a force field generator that uses
magnetized plasma that would
slow me down upon approach
to anything that I might want
to not crash into.
A disappeared notice.
A paraded centipoise.
Panacea diode stripe.
A paradise deception.
Paranoic seeded pit.
Sanitaria decode pep.
Eradicated aeon pips.
Arcade opiates pined.
To harness all energy
green gold silver
liana lariat lasso
telegraphed from arm to
quasi star non moon
A trap door unhatched
impossible to repair
Stay aloft as long
the asteroid becomes the ship.
under the surface.
If sound could travel
the ice would moan
shifting and old and heavy.
Pluto non planet — photographed only in echoes
Decades spent tooling around
crashing and breaking down
all that debris floats in
its own orbit self-paced.
The dust sits there
a still cloud.
We missed Mars.
It approached Earth over
the weekend, coming
as the sun spun to the Earth’s
other side. When the sun set,
the red planet rose, neighboring
the almost full moon, shining
almost as bright as Jupiter.
In its brightness, its redness lessened—
gradient shades of warmth, I suppose.
I was inside, away from windows,
preoccupied with mundane matters
that matter only every day—
what time the sun will come back up
when the hedges will be trimmed
what kind of planet I’ll leave behind
when I leave.