Far Within (2021, Unpublished)


Which way will heaven be then? Up? Down? Across? Or far within?

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Contents

Sputnik 1 – 4th October 1957

Sputnik 2 – 3rd November 1957

Mercury-Redstone 2 – 31st January 1961

Korabl-Sputnik 4 – 9th March 1961

Vostok 1 – 12th April 1961

Mercury-Atlas 5 – 29th November 1961

Mercury 6 – 20th February 1962

Vostok 6 – 16th June 1963

Gemini 4 – 3-7th June 1965

Apollo 1 – 27th January 1967

Soyuz 1 – 23rd April 1967

Yuri Gagarin – 27th March 1968

Apollo 8 – 21st December 1968

Moon – 16th July 1969

Apollo 11 – 16th July 1969

Archaeological Inventory at Tranquility Base – 20th July 1969

Apollo 13 –16th April 1970

Soyuz 11 – 6th June 1971

Apollo 15 –2nd August 1971

Apollo 17 – 7th December 1972

Skylab 3 – 28th July 1973

How to Debunk a Conspiracy Theory – 3rd June 1976

Did U.S. Astronauts Really Land on the Moon? – June 1977

Skylab – 11th July 1979

Columbia (a) – 12th April 1981

Columbia (b) – 12th April 1981

Challenger – 28th January 1986

Halley’s Comet – 8th March 1986

Voyager 1 (a) – 14th February 1990

Pale Blue Dot – 14th February 1990

Hubble Space Telescope – 24th April 1990

Voyager 1 (b) – 17th February 1998

Pioneer 10 – 2nd March 1972 – 22nd January 2003

Columbia – 1st February 2003

On the Death of Astronaut John Young – 5th January 2018

Sputnik 1

4th October 1957

you were just a mid-twentieth century technological

first in a long line of firsts. first stone flung out of a

sling that took some giant in the eye. first arrow that

sped along a path true to its flight feather’s grooming

& staked a cave bear’s heart. first shot of alchemical

lead that killed invisibly like a cast spell. first cannon

ball to break a ship’s bones; compound fracture of

fleets. first tendrils of gas that squeezed through the

impossible tight corners of the human body & suckered

onto lungs. first split atom that generated one thousand

mile an hour winds at ground zero. first fire that burned

even under water; that draped children in ragged skin

anoraks as they fled from their medieval village. first

pellet shot into space, to lodge in the earth’s cornea.

Sputnik 2

3rd November 1957

strapped into her hot seat, the g forces flattened

laika like the technician’s gloved hand after she’d peed

pre-launch, whining at the heart rate monitor that choked

her neck like a leash. a muttnik mongrel selected from

a moscow alley, she was born street tough to withstand

extremes of human kindness. a balloon poodle, a flight

harness tethered her to sputnik’s titanium run. in space

she growled at zero gravity’s strange hand that lifted her.

the previous night, she’d been taken home for a final play

with the children, before the team kissed her wet nose

goodbye. after four orbits she flat lined, the windows

of her vehicle wound up. she crossed the planet’s

lung for five more months, until her orbit decayed

& the radiation belt burnt her dark little kennel up.

Mercury-Redstone 2

31st January 1961

push shiny branch in for

na na when blue sun blinks

or thin no fanged snakes bite

ground paws. i chang, #65, or

ham so hairless apes ape those

japery apery apes. watch blue

sun blink half wake time, soft

one’s wet white warmth no nose

no more. hard paws hold ham

down. push all shiny branches

for na na. sky door opens & big

sun glares fire. i grin fear & no

climb back in stiff belly pouch.

japery apery apes as soft skin.

Korabl-Sputnik 4

9th March 1961

chernushka could tell you weren’t human, ivan ivanovich

as you both travelled through the uncanny valley of space. 

you smelt weird like burnt steak, whereas a person smelt

like a fresh kill. but she gave you a reassuring lick on your

spacesuit all the same; half to placate herself. this was how

it’d been for millennia; dogs protecting their human pack.

she could scent the other passengers too; cool dry stealth

of the caged reptiles, the eighty-odd mice implanted inside

your artificial skin like white eggs inside a crocodile’s fold.

there was the strange effect of choir music coming out of

you that her senses struggled with; too many high voices

for the one upright. it was hot too; she was not a desert

creature but neither were you. she was startled when you

left your seat explosively; her stomach whined as she fell.

Vostok 1

2nd April 1961

your urine blessed the launch bus’s tyres. you started

a tradition; marking territory without meaning to, only

needing to go before your trip like a student busting on

a long-distance excursion. sergei knew that fighter pilots

felt in balance with their life if they could steer themselves,

so, he slipped you an override code as you disembarked

like a love letter passed between desks. you were only gone

the length of two college lessons; but you saw the earth’s

pregnant roundness first, cupping your gloved hand under

siberia’s white gown. there were ten earths sitting on your

chest when you flamed back down after one orbit. you

wobbled but didn’t black out, used to pulling gs in migs.

ten years later we learned that you were ejected from

your capsule like a rowdy bully from a classroom.

Mercury-Atlas 5

29th November 1961

the thought-hurt never goes away. neither does the hot-bite

when enos does the right thing, presses the correct man-sticks.

the first eighteen thought-hurts give him ten hot-bites to his body.

thirty-five more hot-bites arrive like the buzz for lunch. thirty-three

hot-bites in a row; oddity-problems the skin-apes call these. after

forty-one more hot-bites, enos is immune to failure. his comfortable-

hole’s condition is good; all the down-circles have been pressed, the

man-sticks manoeuvred correctly. the comfortable-hole gets sun-hot

as enos falls. there are no hurry-drapes to close as the orange-plants

frighten him & grow in their fierceness. then, the orange-plants die

off & enos hits the blue-ground with a slap. he waits in his comfortable

-hole for three clock-turns & twenty hand-turns. out of patience with

the skin-apes he rips his water-bag out of his pee-pee. the comfortable-

hole’s belly opens & skin-apes wearing eye-hats swarm in to get him.

Mercury 6

20th February 1962

i) Launch

even disneyland wasn’t this crazy. strapped in his contoured seat

like an action figure moulded to its packaging, he was part perseus

as he checked the rear-view mirrors welded to the arms of his suit.

as in myth, light’s reflection would guide him on his journey, reading

the master alarms which would glow like medusa’s freezing glare if

his quest was troubled. when the numbers fell off the system, he felt

a shudder rise through him, the reflux of a million horsepower, as he

rode the world’s thinnest fuel tank straight up. soon he felt denser

as if every cell in his body had been shucked clean like an oyster &

resealed with concrete.  at his heaviest he weighed half a tonne, as if

a small family car had been placed on top of his chest, but the pressure

fled when his rocket poked through the atmosphere like a needle into

tough skin. he fell forward then as if tripping on an uneven footpath,

drunk on zero gravity his superman body burned with light’s weight.

ii) Orbit

how could he describe the third american’s weightlessness?

the sudden loss of blood & bone, muscles weighing as much

as a baby chick, or less, as heavy as sound, or as soft as light.

rising from the bottom of a public swimming pool & exhaling

his breath, a girl’s hair trailing in water, or an ant caught in sap.

the end of his very first kiss, pollen attached to a bee’s foot.

a trapdoor spider’s silk hatch slammed shut, the weight of a

promise on the heart of a parent. a captured ‘father christmas’

& the excess baggage of a good wish. an eyelash brushed from

his cheek, a balloon’s skin pumped tight. the meniscus bounce

of a dragonfly’s leg on top of a pond. the weight of an eyelid

falling shut. the springs from a dandelion clock losing time,

a foetus in its mother’s rich swamp. the crest of a salmon’s leap

upstream, a lure’s invisible hook. actors photocopied on film.

iii) Fireflies

at first he thought god must have thrown confetti in some kind

of galactic wedding celebration, a coming of age ritual for humans

growing up & abandoning the nest.  his ‘fireflies’ weren’t rice though,

they swarmed around the ship, incandescent as the umbrella of an arc

welder’s job, a spray of embers like spots before his face, a concussion

of tv white noise or embodied radio static his eyes listened to, then

tuned out.  twice he entered their sphere of influence, like midges

in a sunless swamp, moved by his erratic behaviour, they trailed off.

some earthbound claimed intelligence from beyond the stars, a first

contact with the grand design, the great architect’s flick of pencil

shavings from the working plans of his masterpiece. as the sun

scorched the rotisserie of his ship, baking one side then the next,

his urine, snap frozen to the hull like crystal buttons on a tight suit

cooked instantly & reconstituted itself as friendship 7’s sweat. 

iv) Experiments

he developed momentary powers of super-vision, as if his blue eyes

bent the watery lens of the planet & magnified things; he seeded clouds

with a new imagination for the weather bureau, looking down on them

he controlled their shape like a nature god on an alloyed throne, testing.

images of winged beasts were useless as he lorded it over the formations

no longer a child on a trampoline interpreting the wind’s crystalline flux.

they moved hurriedly like translucent amoebas across the sky’s petri dish

their shadows half a smear behind. prometheus chained to his steel rock

in space, for thirty seconds he pumped out the first galactic arm curls as

the eagle of blood pressure soared. on wednesday he invented time travel,

falling back through tuesday, a full body immersion into the river of space.

another strange baptismal; three sunsets enveloped him like lights at a disco,

the sun’s corona sank behind the earth as if someone’s head blocked a strobe.

colours fell until there was only a thin, white halo resting on the planet’s skull.

v) Perth

the under-city flicked out its house lights like a flinch of lightning

curving over the west, or an angler fish trawling in obscure gloom

for electrifying glory. perth sparked as he shot over, corkscrewing

in his tin can, the city-torch played spotlight with him & he saw far

below, the orange glare of an owl’s eyes caught in the high beam of

a country road at night. terra nullius was only ever true in space.

he crossed the nullarbor in six minutes, west to east like someone’s

long distance telephone conversation or a child’s impulsive thought.

he flew rumour-swift across the brown continent, laid out under him

like a skin rug arranged on a living room floor. a candle flame lit in

his honour, in the deep cathedral of dark echo, he acknowledged their

call & radioed in; cosmic thanks from the world’s most lonely man.

on the ground as he passed over them, parents’ swivelled children’s

necks like sideshow clowns swallowing the ping pong ball overhead.

vi) Re-entry

a cable from the retro-pack slapped across his windshield, as if he’d hit

a small bird or some car wash attendant rinsed the suds from his hood.

as if he’d stuck his head inside the active lip of a volcano, or watched

vesuvius erupt, the noise of re-entry engulfed him like a fire blanket,

blood simmered inside the hull of his body looking for places to escape.

he thought his ceramic heat shield was burning apart, as molten drops

of metal poured like mercury over his ship. he expected death like an

obese football fan to come & sit beside him in the cramped coffin

space, but the front row seat remained empty, the astro-kiln checked.

strapped in his moulded chair, he was wicker man sacrifice, as the

flames leapt up. his body only spoke in the morse code of sweat.

he was a man of clay, divinely fired in the creator’s hot furnace, but

a salt-glaze of trust coated him now, belief in human engineering &

titanium screws as he bored through the atmosphere; anti-phoenix.

vii) Splashdown

the change was abrupt like a toddler, head butting a parent’s mouth,

something unexpected but born from love. the drogue chutes burst

open like the petals of a giant tropical flower pulsating with a rotten

flesh scent. radio signals were attracted to him like flies to their sweet

death. he felt like his body was covered in fever, inside the capsule

was sauna-pitch, the instrument panels were hot rocks he poured his

fingers over. his thoughts were steam flushing toxins from his head.

it was as if his brother was a titan & threw him into a pool’s deep end.

in the sudden impact of velocity-fired pan & salt water, he felt baked

like turtle meat as they hauled him mechanically from the pacific’s soup.

teasing open his shell, technicians smelt something roasting; insulation

on some wires dripped sluggishly like candle wax. he emerged from his

steel cocoon in his best smoking jacket, awed by the caterpillar’s neat trick.

his earth-legs he gradually regained, after his body recalculated its math.

viii) Discovery – STS 95, 1998

he remembered the bump & grind as if being sideswiped by a delivery

van, a ghost in the shell of an old man’s body, his youth flickered like

a fluorescent tube turning brown at the end of its reliable life. his head

hauled around as if he were a rally car navigator, his brain strapped in.

zero gs & he felt fine in non-ageist gravity, mass fled from his bones,

this was the human soul’s weight when it departed the host he’d read.

he suited his role, astro-mentor, monk in space with his electric skullcap

he searched far within himself monitoring his right stuff. its potency still

surged through his system after an absence of thirty-six revolutions, the

others glistened in his sweat. perth & rockingham gave him a swansong,

they shone like a distant star cluster & he watched them fade away while

a greater speed enveloped him. he touched down nine days later on what

it meant to be human; space provided us with a greater tool for thinking,

& his job had been to grind the lens that bent the light of inspiration.

Vostok 6

16th June 1963

all the strength of every woman who has ever lived

was in your gloved fist as you hit eject. women make

mistakes you discovered up there as easily as men do.

vega for venus; spent the whole first day strapped into

your seat, the bread was too dry, so you didn’t eat but

vomited anyway from the onions. korolev took manual

control away from you; that’s what men do. you’d won

from a shortlist five hundred parachutists for the pleasure.

the amazon was burning, the moon’s light on the earth’s

dark side was a snow leopard’s pelt. on re-entry there

was an airliner pressing down on your chest. titanium

flakes burned off your capsule’s hull like campfire embers.

you landed on your back. three hours later you phoned

khrushchev. you hung up on him to eat with the locals.

Gemini 4

3rd-7th June 1965

for twenty-three minutes he floated, foetus-tethered

by his golden umbilicus, as if he had sprung from

some account of early creation. in his vernix-coloured

suit, snagged to the titanium wall of his shuttlecock

womb receiving life support via his mosquito proboscis,

nose first in a trough of artificial skin. within his gold-

plated visor, the blue orb blazed in sepia, he became

nostalgic for a firm grounding, as he grappled with this

unseen assailant: zero gravity which toyed with him like

a child punching up a party balloon. earth was a gigantic

night-light left on by his parents, that radiated a sapphire

hue to calm the infant explorer. he left misty-eyed,

his breath condensing into wet stars that slid like

reverse tears, back into the hull of his face.

Apollo 1

27th January 1967 – a found poem

(i)

Again, this is the Command Pilot

1,2,3,4,5…5,4,3,2,1…

Ah roger, Senior Pilot counting

1,2,3,4,5…5,4,3,2,1…Senior Pilot…

Roger, Senior Pilot’s transmitting

1,2,3,4,5…5,4,3,2,1…Senior Pilot…

Senior Pilot counting

1,2,3,4,5…5,4,3,2,1…

Well I haven’t talked to you yet,

how’s this, 1,2,3,4,5…4,3,2,1…

It’s good for ya….

How are we gonna to get to the moon

if we can’t talk between three

buildings…?

They can’t hear a thing you’re saying…

Jesus Christ…

Say again…?

I said, how are we gonna get to the moon

If we can’t talk between two or three

 buildings…?

(ii)

Hey…!

Flames!

Hey! We’ve got a fire in the cockpit…!!!

We have a bad fire…!!!

We’re burning up…!!!

(iii)

Hey crew, can you egress at this time?

Confirm it…

Pad Leader get in there and help them…

Pad Leader, CSTC…

Alright crew, did we get verification?

Can you egress at this time…?

Pad Leader, are you able to hear them…?

Gus, can you read us…?

Pad Leader…?

Can you get ‘em outta there…!?

Soyuz 1

23rd April 1967

heat is rising in the capsule. outside the ship

molten slag butters the titanium frame like a

last breakfast of champions. the chutes don’t

open, you’re dead you realise. what need now

a helmet. before the radio phone softens like

camembert cheese in your gloved hand, you

receive a final call, from the premier; your wife.

strangely he is the one crying. you will be a hero

he leaves off. you keep the channel open. you

will give them science to the very end; they

hear your rage hotter than your shell, plunging

down the line at thirty thousand kilometres an

hour. some say only a chipped heelbone survived;

a piece of charcoal you’d fish out of a fireplace.

Yuri Gagarin

27th March 1968

you should’ve died a year earlier in sixty-seven,

but komarov was loyal to you; the statecraft all wrong

so, he went through with his doomed mission. after

your heroics, you were taken off the frontlines like

valerina, never to fly in space again; the propaganda

too spirit potent. so, you augured out a year later, not

in risky space, not on re-entry, but on a routine flight.

the mig-15 refused to shed its plexiglass chrysalis &

spool you out. you laid your head on your motherland’s

lap. aldrin & armstrong left a patch on the moon for you

both. all over russia your face reflects from wall plate visors,

cccp exhaust red. you’ve been immortalised on mid-century

retro space kitsch. collectable like a rare vintage or stamp.

you were the first in space. you made us all comrades.

Apollo 8

21st December 1968

hi tearers

earth rise

is rare the

sierra the

hater’s ire

ha retires!

hearer sit

earth’s ire

at here sir

it rehears

eats hirer

hate riser

err hit sea

heir tears.

heart rise

their ears

reheat sir

rare heist

hire rates

hie arrest

eraser hit

ash retire.

hi rat seer

hera rites

hair trees

ere ishtar

earth sire

hair reset

here’s rita

ere hat sir

heat riser

her rise ta

her satire

hie sartre

as her tier

ere it rash

are theirs.

aether sir

three airs

rare shite.

Moon

16th July 1969

When the men came in for lunch, his mother

Switched on the television. As the Astor’s black

Faceplate warmed up, its inner tubes flaring like

Gas giants, she would carve the corn beef, piling

Layers of salty meat across moon-coloured plates,

The pinkish flesh steaming like a rim of sunrise.

As she eased herself into the tubular steel hull

Of the couch, her body, marooned by its own

Elliptical orbit, bent with spacesuit clumsiness.

As men stepped off their metal ladders, workboots

Scraping the dusty soil, the weightlessness of fatigue

Hit her. In the flicker of shadow, an invisible foot

Kicked out, brushing the spongy ground beneath;

Imprinting the new face growing in front of her.

Apollo 11

16th July 1969

(i) Tree

some great grandchild of newton’s fruit tree.

the climb up was harder; young biceps stretched

like pink bubble gum from the mouth of his bones,

his knees scraped bark leaving skin; instinctual predator

rubbing its scent to mark its countdown on the earth.

he was in his element, gravity, duelling with branches,

his frank determination to get any job done without

fuss, one last ascent before lunch. his mother’s voice

wending into his stick out ears at the speed of love.

his stomach answering. the break in concentration

enough to frighten his grip, released as a booster

burning off into space, the strong law took him

with its see-through grip. this new sense he didn’t

mind; even his gum that was now flavoured blood.

(ii) Cessna

the wright bros gene tricked inside his head early

so, when he first left the earth’s heavy grasp, a

teenager escaping out his parents’ front door

& hurdled the horizon, pilot’s license tucked into

his blue jeans, his hormonal ice-breaker smashed

its rugged path through to his future. before he’d

just been barely a boy; now he was caught in the

whim of forces he was learning about at school.

he felt like all the others before him; first man

to do anything out of his tree. his guts dropping

over a dip in the aerial road. but now he’d mastered

his own fall. icarus pride radiated through the cessna’s

windshield as he was ordered to take her back down.

it didn’t matter; his feathers were already burnt.

(iii) Korea

some supreme force shouldered him as he flew

through the valley’s mouth. a father’s clip around

the ears when he misbehaved at the dinner table,

or a teacher wrenching his head back down into

his physics textbook. it was an invisible impact

as though heaven charged at him, head-on. the

blow jolted his neck; a kid recoiling from a dodgem

car’s rubber hit. steel cable sliced clean through his

panther’s wing: in one powerful stroke he’d watched

his father sever the chicken’s head. his controls fell

slack, his sturdy jet spun out of control; he’d fallen

once from the school’s high board & broken a thumb.

he stalled at 2000 feet. his stick was bone hanging

by its tendon thread. they’d garrotted him.

(iv) X-15

at this speed he began to catch up with time.

the sound barrier was nature’s curfew for men;

but they’d stayed out later than she allowed

& broken her command. a disciplinarian, she

picked up his plane & it stone-skipped across

the atmosphere; titanium shrapnel embedded

in the desert’s skin. lectures on re-entry protocol

fell dead. four times he rode apollo’s chariot &

rocketed past the frozen sun. all that myth he

unpacked at four times the speed of sound. he

breathed through an external throat, oxygen-fed

like an elderly patient on their hospital bed. his

heart ignored the race; a reliable organ nursing

blood through its host; as metred as an ohioan

windmill’s pump. he landed light as an elemental.

(v) Karen

even death stalls the fastest of men. rivals in flight,

had gravity found a way at last to get at him? if he’d

been more of a superman he could’ve flown counter-

clockwise around the earth & reversed time; but there’s

no operational manual for fate. no equation to solve

the body’s impossible question. he couldn’t pull her out

of her fatal tailspin, his heart scorching like an air show

accident; grief’s mushroom cloud rising over his cheek’s

hot tarmac. her brief recce, her dogfight, her little face

resisting the dark plume of cells that trailed behind her

brain’s burning engine. her courage that helped him step

out onto the moon later & confront time’s endless alarm.

that final mission, that solo flight we know we all must

take, that we get up every day & train for all of our lives.

(vi) Gemini 8

a backyard rotisserie turning over every second.

too quick for the sun to fry, but their atoms could

still tear apart inside their new titanium blender; that’s

how nature was testing him in her performance review.

they’d escaped earth’s gravity; the industrial fisherman’s

invisible drift net that hauls everything in, so she stuck

their rear thruster to show them who was still boss,

inside the atmosphere & out. but while time had been

busy painting itself into a corner of the universe, humans

had struck a dogmatic blow; he gave her orbital attitude

& scientifically their terminal spin slowed. with a click

the human washing cycled stopped. pride-clean, but

fuel spent, they had to cut short their cosmic trip

& recalibrate a new path through the fiery waterfall.

(vii) Lunar Lander Research Vehicle (LLRV)

his hands reacted faster than his own thought, as

if they now tutored his brain. a manufacturer’s fault

was the gremlin to throw a spanner into his morning.

the flying bed-post bucked as if he was on a bronco’s

back, as he hawk-hovered over the test site. always a

goddamn thruster & he fell as if an executioner had

dropped the floor from beneath a convicted man’s feet.

his muscle memory ignited the explosive bolts. circus

cannon shot, he punched out a second before his llrv

mashed the tarmac’s face. a stigmata formed on his

tongue when he landed, the best hit catastrophe could

put on. he rinsed his mouth in the toilet & went back

to his desk; he had to write up the report for jpl while

the certainty of death was still fresh inside his head.

(viii) Eagle

its dime thick panels were thin as the sheets

he hid under as a child, so scared of the dark,

the threat of aliens abducting him, so he sweated

through summer beneath them, as he did now,

inside eagle, descending to the moon’s scratched

silver-mirrored surface, as though rigged for a play.

he & buzz stood up like award recipients, looking

through kite-shaped windows; he noticed the auto-

guidance computer was gonna plunk them on the

inside of a crater’s lip like a mistimed kiss. so, he took

manual control, more than a monkey could strapped

into a missile, fly-by-wire, as buzz murmured metres

to contact in his ear. easy. her landing probes slid

into the regolith like a rapier skewering a heart.

(ix) Moon

he stepped from the ladder with all the rigmarole

of a tired house painter, white coveralls splattered

with dust. he’d just put on the finishing touches really,

with his deft gestures he’d fixed up all the splotches

when the other crews went through first. but he knew

apollo 9 or 10 could’ve taken the quote & done an

equal job, with the same amount of craftmanship.

after all, there were four hundred thousand other

talented artisans who’d formed a new arts & craft

movement in america to do up this old monument

the moon. he’d tried his hand at photography up

there; first human exhibition on another world or

just a bunch of tourist snaps? this idea wasn’t his

to process, dropping his hassy on the lunar dust.

Archaeological Inventory at Tranquility Base

20th July 1969 – a found poem

Apollo 11 Lunar Module Descent Stage

U.S. 3′ x 5′ Flag

Laser Ranging Retroreflector (LRRR)

Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE)

Neil Armstrong’s Apollo Portable Life Support System (PLSS), Model A7L

Neil Armstrong’s Apollo Space Boots, Model A7L

Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin Jr.’s Apollo Portable

Life Support System (PLSS),

Model A7L

Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin Jr.’s Apollo Space Boots, Model A7L

Empty Food Bags

A Silicon Disc Carrying Statements

from Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy,

Eisenhower, and from Leaders of 73 Other Nations.

A Gold Replica of an Olive Branch, Traditional Symbol of Peace

Mission Patch from Apollo I of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White 11,

and Roger B. Chaffee.

Commemorative Plaque attached to the Lunar Module Descent

Leg. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July

1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” The plaque is signed by

the Apollo 11 crew and President Richard M. Nixon.

TV Camera

Spring Scales

Tongs

Small Scoop

Scongs

Bulk Sample Scoop

Trenching Tool

Camera (Hasselblad El Data)

Armrests

Mesa Bracket

Solar Wind Composition Staff

Handle of Contingency Lunar Sample Return Container

Medals Commemorating Two Dead Cosmonauts

(Gagarin, Komarov)

Document Sample Box Seal

Storage container (empty)

Hasselblad pack

Film Magazines

Filter, Polarizing

Remote Control Unit (PLSS)

Defecation Collection Device (4)

Overshoes, Lunar

Covers, Pga Gas Connector

Kit, Electric waist, Tether

Bag Assy, Lunar Equip. conveyor & waist tether

Conveyor assy, Lunar Equipment

Bag, Deployment, Life line

Bag, Deployment, Lunar equipment conveyor

Life line, Lt. wt.

Tether, Waist, EVA

Food Assembly, LM (4-man days)

TV subsystem, Lunar

Lens, TV wide angle

Lens, TV lunar day

Cable assembly, TV (100 ft.)

Adapter, SRC/OPS

Cannister, ECS LIOH

Urine collection assembly, small (2)

Urine collection assembly, large (2)

Bag, Emesis (4)

Container assembly, Disposal

Filter, oxygen bacterial

Container, PLSS Condensate

Antenna, S-Band

Cable, S-Band antenna

Bag, Lunar Equipment TransferA

Pallet assembly #1

Central Station

Pallet Assembly #2

Primary structure assembly

Hammer

Gnomon (Excludes mount)

Tripod

Handle/cable assembly (cord for tv camera)

York mesh packing material

SWC bag (extra)

Core tube bits

SRC seal protectors

Environmental sample containers “O” rings

Apollo Lunar Surface Close-up Camera

Lunar equipment conveyor (1)

ECS canister

ESC bracket

OPS brackets

Left hand side stowage compartment

Extension Handle

Stainless steel cover (9 x 7 5/8 inches x 1/16 inch thick)

Plastic covering for Flag

8-foot aluminium tube

2 + retaining pins for flag and staff storage

Insulating blanket

Small aluminium capsule

Footprints

                        Future hope

A father’s love

Apollo 13

16th April 1970 – a found poem

All required equipment is contained onboard

within the Apollo 13 CM & LM.

Cover to the Apollo 13 flight plan (to cover and protect the hose entry)

2 lithium-hydroxide canisters

Roll of gray duct tape

2 LCG bags

2 hoses from the red suits

2 socks

1 bungee cord (to secure the modified filtration device to the wall of the LM)

Simulation training

A fine example of cooperation between ground & space.

Soyuz 11

6th June 1971

It is the small things that undo us.

The seal of an envelope once broken

that propels you into a new orbit against

your will. Fate’s friction keeps you from

re-entering the atmosphere; you are a stone

skipping across the lake of the earth’s tension

between space & sky, setting records for how

many times you bounce. There was pressure

over prolonged weightlessness; two years earlier

Bonny’s little heart got a flat after nine days

riding around the planet. Every time they pumped

it up, it went down overnight, the puncture too

small too fix. The tell-tale bubbles in the bucket

of water signalled his final splashdown. The heart

grew lazy in zero gravity was the analysis. Later,

one hundred & four miles up a valve under their

cushioned seat hissed its fateful curse at the three

cosmonauts. They were not wearing formal suits,

re-entry being a racy dance between the heat shield

& earth’s fiery dip. Oxygen fled like a spirit from its

Dead host. Contact was lost. Their amber call sign

went into arrest. Again, it was a small thing that undid

the world, like breaking the seal on Pandora’s Box.

Apollo 15

2nd August 1971 – a found poem

Well, in my left hand I have a feather

*(a 0.03-kg falcon feather)

& in my right hand a hammer.

*(a 1.32-kg aluminium geological hammer).

I guess one of the reasons we got here today

was because of a gentleman named Galileo;

a long time ago who made a rather significant discovery

about falling objects in gravity fields.

& we thought that, where would be a better place

to confirm his findings then, on the moon.

& so, we thought we’d try it here for ya.

& the feather happens to be appropriately, a falcon feather

for our Falcon!

& I’ll drop the two of them here *(approximately 1.6 m)

& hopefully

they’ll hit the ground at the same time.

How ‘bout that?

It seems that Mr Galileo was correct

in his findings.

*Joe Allen, NASA SP-289, Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report, Summary of Scientific Results, p. 2-11

Apollo 17

7th-19th December 1972

you remember the first man to walk on the moon

but not the last. like everyone knows the name of

the first silver-plated b-29 to drop an atomic bomb

on hiroshima, but not the second ship’s moniker –

bockscar; or that nagasaki was only the secondary

target that morning: cloud-cover kokura’s saviour.

you were lucky cernan. the last three missions were

cancelled, the vietnam war having tripled the budget

spent on moon landings; besides you overdosed on

rocks. final mission experiment. you drew a line in

the moon’s sand; the three letters of your daughter’s

name. t.d.c. you were adamant; this never was an end.

we found fused orange glass on luna, evidence that

humans are not alone in harnessing raw power.

Skylab 3

28th July 1973

It took a long time in spider years to adapt

to something else being lighter than ourselves.

We needed to get our space legs after being on

earth all our lives. They gave us names, unusual

for arachnids – Arabella & Anita, we were females

of the species; European Garden spiders on an

American mission. Hardy spinners of our ilk, we

turned our attention to the boxy frame that stood

in for a window’s homely corner. Afterall, there was

nothing holding us down so, we had to intuit & spin

our silk. Could you imagine the scandal back in the

garden if they knew there was nothing holding us up

– no steel yarn to speak of. Arabella got going first –

but try doing anything right with your abdomen floating

upwards like a repressurising blimp. Her attempt was

half-hearted. You see windows on earth contain the sun;

its warmth we sew into each thread like water that hardens

a metal’s transformation into a sword with its abrupt cold

spell. Anyway, they knocked it down in a night-time demolition;

science provided the permit. Finally, they fed us; one house fly

& some water -prisoner’s rations! Who weaves on an empty

stomach? Arabella got stuck right in & wove the galaxy’s first

space web. Perhaps, in all the universe there was nothing to

compare it with. The ultimate weightless twine. A hundred

times stronger than steel comparatively if we lived in their

land of the giants. A unique creation in a unique creation.

For her effort she died, an eight-legged Mozart. They put

it down to dehydration, but I knew she was upset at what

they’d think of her final masterpiece. Her finer silk strands,

produced from her spinneret without gravity’s heavy tax.

Her radical improvisation of thinner & thicker thread,

like binary code thrumming through a machine language

sending out our message through her galaxy-wide web.

How to Debunk a Conspiracy Theory

3rd June 1976

We landed on the moon

                                                to fulfil the wishes of a charismatic, dead, young president.

We landed on the moon

                                                otherwise 400,000 people got paid to do nothing for a decade.

We landed on the moon

                                                because ideological hatred is stronger than the power of a hoax.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Karen, his two year old daughter died of brain cancer & Neil Armstrong did it for her.

We landed on the moon

                                                because you can’t fake seven million pounds of thrust on a Saturn V rocket lifting-off.

We landed on the moon

                                                or half a billion people all had a simultaneous mass hallucination.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Aldrin, pissed at being the second man on the moon, took one photo of Armstrong on the surface.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the last astronaut to leave, Gene Cernan, wrote his daughter’s initials in the lunar dust.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the Mythbusters proved it by bouncing a laser beam off a retroreflector left on the surface.

We landed on the moon

                                                because even in the vacuum of space, folded flags need to unfurl due to momentum.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Vivian Kubrick said her father’s involvement in filming

a conspiracy is a grotesque lie!

We landed on the moon

                                                because Richard Nixon had an obituary already written in case of a disaster.

We landed on the moon

                                                because lunar satellites have taken pictures of the six flags, dusty footprints and landers where we left them.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Alan Shepard waited ten years to get his chance to go back into space again.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Grissom, Chaffee, White, and many other cosmonauts died for us to get there.

We landed on the moon

                                                because in 2002, ‘Buzz’ Aldrin punched a conspiracy theorist in the face who said we didn’t.

We landed on the moon

                                                 because kids now have Velcro to put their rock posters up on their bedroom walls.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the Russians would have cried foul if it really was a hoax.

We landed on the moon

                                                & the Soviets didn’t because their giant rockets exploded & they gave up on the space race.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the black & white video camera that filmed Armstrong stepping onto the surface, was really crap.

We landed on the moon

                                                as the astronauts took many many many bad photographs & NASA only published the three best ones.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the 100s of kilograms of moon rock collected could not have been formed under conditions on Earth.

We landed on the moon

                                                because when they returned, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins had to stay in quarantine for three weeks instead of partying.

We landed on the moon

                                                otherwise 25.4 billion dollars ended up in someone’s pocket.

We landed on the moon

                                                because these analogue missions created our digital future.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Alan Shepard wasn’t teeing off at St Andrews.

We landed on the moon

                                                because budget cut backs cancelled Apollo 18, 19 & 20 & everyone knows the pain of austerity measures.

We landed on the moon

                                                because no one employed by NASA or any of the industries associated with the program, has ever said it was a hoax.

We landed on the moon

                                                because Kubrick was too busy developing A Clockwork Orange for him to produce a fake moon landing.

We landed on the moon

                                                because of pure national pride & the Cold War.

We landed on the moon

                                                because when humans put their minds to peaceful

endeavours, anything is possible.

We landed on the moon

                                                because we put our faith in science & not in god’s machine.

We landed on the moon

                                                because the Vietnam War was not any type of achievement.

We landed on the moon

                                                because nothing beats the human exploration of space.

We landed on the moon

                                                because we are more than just a pale blue dot in the universe.

We landed on the moon

                                                so young women can now dream of landing on Mars.

So, the next time someone says to you,

‘We never landed on the moon’

You tell them, that if we didn’t land on the moon,

then they wouldn’t have their computer,

their internet or their social media

to tell you that we didn’t…  

DID U.S. ASTRONAUTS REALLY LAND ON THE MOON?

June 1977 – a found poem

on foot

was aborted

but returned to Earth safely.

from time to time

we are asked the question

lacking oxygen and water

the fact that

on television

on radio in real time

missions were not “faked.”

clearly comes from

an entirely different world

the U.S. President.

simulated-for-television

there is no visible crater

in a near-perfect vacuum.

scour the surface at a distance

dust is blown away

not a fluffy dust

wet sand or ploughed farm soil

resistant to penetration

soil mechanics.

came out in platy fragments

implanting the flagpole

achieve a soft landing

a thin film of dust

the light-coloured suits

too cohesive

to excavate a

large crater.

Skylab

11th July 1979

His mass of anticipation equalled earth’s gravitational pull.

100 tonnes of anxiety weighed him down as his fears grew

& Skylab’s path decayed. Something banged on his parent’s

Roof, kids chucking stones he thought, but the burnt black

Lumps radiated space mystery. Cutting up Milo tins he tried

To melt the edges with matches & wrapped in his lunchbox,

He took the smoky metal slices into class; his teacher binned

Them. 2,249 days he orbited through primary school & they

Never docked, those planned, unflown missions with Lorelle.

The increased heat from his face caused him to drag his feet,

Nothing could nudge their module into a higher altitude & by

1979 it was a failure. Their status declined, no launch vehicles

Were left, the technicians too busy. He tried to fix it by hand,

But some boy from Esperance had already claimed his prize.

Columbia (a)

12th April 1981

a technological taj mahal, glacier proud

the primitive bake of her white tiles gleamed

like a freshly scrubbed bathroom commercial

as the monument to the love of flight squatted

on her launch pad. an ice queen of the iceni,

she repelled budget estimates critics like romans,

the fierce pull of her abrupt culture frightening.

a ten-storey stalactite that the drip of invention

had built up over slow millennia, a mammoth’s tusk.

she was the exclamation mark at the end of skylab’s

short sentence. nothing had been launched for

five years, the Americans forced to suck up soviet

success; longest spacewalks, longest time in space.

she was renewable; crippen & young let it rip.

Columbia (b)

12th April 1981

Entranced by the colour TV set, he sat in his pseudo

Friend’s lounge as the gantry crane of solidarity parted

At the end of year seven. Columbia rose on her launch pad

White scales glistening like an albino anaconda; her size

Magnified by pulp fiction & space opera tales of inter-

Planetary craft that shone with the goodness of human

Endeavour. Star Trek pale, she lifted; a great incandescent

Flare for the computer age, validating his ecstatic faith in

The Usborne Book of the Future. This witchety grub gorging

Itself on missile fuel, bent on self- transformation into

Some sleek resistant moth; he sat & sweated as booster

Rockets fell away on cue like his early love life. Speechless

He left Thruppy’s house, his only act of companionship

Opening the front door on the icons he found reusable.

Challenger

28th January 1986

The only time his mother woke him up from

His deepest adolescent sleep; his early morning

Dreams of Sharon Jones & her maroon school

Skirt riding high up her milky tennis-drilled thighs

Scuttled. Something major had happened by her

Voice’s tone he thought, maybe Reagan had killed

Off some more of Gaddifi’s children; the hot desert

Wind enveloping his daughter’s body in a sandpaper

Shroud. But no, the genie of death had escaped

From a space shuttle’s lamp. The plume of white

Smoke on the television branching out like a jester’s

Floppy hat. Rumours abounded around him, a glove

Was found with a hand still in it. That afternoon he

Barn-danced with Sharon; held her closer than space.

Halley’s Comet

8th March 1986

In the hot springs spa pool at Lighting Ridge

He observed the cute girl in her black bikini,

His voyage of discovery checked by the comet’s

76-year cycle & his parent’s caravan park curfew.

Their mini-bus tour took him underground, but

The earth failed to yield up its secrets, the opals

Of insecurity still played their fiery lights across

The sky of his awakening. He looked on the goat

Races with new sympathy. In the cold at 2am they

Watched the smudge of ice & fire wobble across

The universe, the great irony of his quest evident;

He could see the comet better at home through a

Pair of ordinary binoculars. He took it all as a bad

Sign, desperate to flee youth’s gravitational pull.

Voyager 1 (a)

14th February 1990

carl sagan’s caramel corduroy coat turned him

into one of tolkien’s wizards – radagast the brown

perhaps, as he wielded his nature charms at nasa’s

deep space mission. in this fantasy world you couldn’t

discern between magic & science as the programmer

sent his radio-wave spell directly into voyager’s susceptible

mind. the ten-tonne nuclear flowerhead shuddered as its

analogue brain obeyed his powerful suggestion & like an

old galactic clunker, did a five-point turn to face its maker

for the final time. it caught us, six billion kilometres away,

a poor photo that a stranger takes. a pale blue dot, a tiny

carat on an orange ray of light’s finger; something to be

worn with fervour. something valuable to be cherished.

a wedding of our brief lives to the universe’s eternal love.

Pale Blue Dot

14th February 1990

By the time you read this, our pale blue dot

would’ve hopefully been the progenitor of many

more pale blue dots throughout our galaxy, the Milky

Way. Maybe you’ve changed even that name to something

far sexier. If you don’t understand the meaning of that word

then don’t fret. It’s something we used to be obsessed with

in our day when having a body meant something. You light

creatures though – might have another term for it – lighter?

Brighter? An unbearable darkness of being? Some aspect

of the spectrum where you (we) live now that conjures up

home. Your galactic condominium of colour, or if you still

have such a thing as class, perhaps, how shiny you are in your

particle penthouse. But the original pale blue dot – Earth,

as it used to be known, will by now be a dead thing from

long ago. A deflated soccer ball in the galaxy’s backyard.

Not by anything we (you) did to it really, but just dead of

natural causes. You see by now our (your) alpha sun – Sol,

ran out of fuel like an empty gas tank, (don’t worry – an early

combustible device) way before we (you) learnt how to travel

by sunbeam. Yeah, neat trick that one! When our sun died,

well in its last throes of rage it stood up like a giant beast in

a monster flick & demolished our (your) planet – scorched

the lot like a barbie (think of the smallest sun you can) that

catches on fire. Ah flicks? Why a slang term for feature films

(you like these because the ancient fossilised light captured

on celluloid are quite collectable & hang on many of your

four-dimensional walls in frames made of neutron stars.

The Earth now has the texture of a basketball, (a round thing

you loved to bounce) no life, no water, no atmosphere. Not

even worth a visit to see where it all began. But we implore

you (us) to track down those radio signals we sent out into

the Milky Way for tens of thousands of years. They’ll be

halfway across the galaxy by now, (love like light doesn’t stop

travelling) but they’ll tell you all there is to know about your

(our) earlier selves, when being made of flesh was to our dismay,

just a shadow of our (your) future selves. When all of our info

was coded in bone & marrow & cells had such a short half-life.

When life was far heavier than it is now. All of your (our)

past secreted in reams of light-waves like poems sewn

into a prison jacket’s collar & smuggled out to freedom.

Now Earth is just a brown stone stuck in the Milky Way’s

sole, a nest torn apart by the cosmic wind, a cold firepit.

Our (your) millennia of technological achievement just a

poorly manufactured flint knife that broke on its first use.

Hubble Space Telescope

24th April 1990

I am that eye in the sky.

All the billions of eyes on earth that have

ever focused & looked up at the night sky,

& wished to see more. I am that eye.

I am that eye which has seen time flow

backwards, light’s linear narrative telling me

the story of the cosmos. This I showed you.

I am that eye which has counted the rings

of the universe’s tree & given you our precise age.

I am that eye which watched a comet punch

Jupiter in the stomach & leave a dark bruise;

I am that eye which has observed the corners

of galaxies to discover nurseries where the embryos

of stars wait patiently to lie in their dusty cribs.

I am that eye which has gazed into the very

heart of dark matter, perceived that which you

can only visualise in the mirror of your heads.

I am that eye which has had five operations,

straining for thirty years to see what’s ahead of us

& behind us at the same time. I am that eye

which has gawked at deep fields of galaxies

that your untrained eye might mistake for

just a photograph of stars. I am that eye which

has stared down super massive black holes;

a standoff at the centre of every galaxy.

I am that eye which sees things expand out

then collapse back, like the human will to

understand what I have shown you.

I am that eye in the sky.

Voyager 1 (b)

17th February 1998

jimmy carter’s southern drawl, pregnant with greetings, floats

through deep space, muted, gold-plated, a copper record on its

billion-dollar turntable. magnetic rays scratching nasa’s vinyl,

like an invisible dj at a private gig for no one in the universe’s

playboy mansion. jimmy’s memo to the future, stored in his

nuclear powered time capsule; angsty, cold war consciousness

preserved in binary code, his world fears reduced to noughts &

zeros, a language something might read with a computer’s aid,

after the earth has fallen silent; a last duet with its dead moon.

these impossible eyes scanning the cipher, sniggering at his sub-

text about the russians & how they’d really love to meet them.

raising the equivalent of an eyebrow over bach & beethoven.

this metal dust speck; humanity’s most distant object cast out.

Galactic one hit wonder, chart topper in the sounds of silence.

Pioneer 10

2nd March 197222nd January 2003

You were originally hired for twenty-one months

but your career spanned thirty years. We got our

money’s worth, you got a golden handshake & we

let you go. Your work had taken you to places

beyond your wildest imagination. You said you

didn’t mind long distance travel – your enthusiasm

at the beginning was impressive; the moon in eleven

hours, mars in twelve weeks, you ate up every sale

that came your way, learning firsthand on the job.

Your first big deal was negotiating a contract with

the asteroid belt, which you secured & passed on

to a higher grade. Then you made your most famous

business decision, opening up a market that had been

closed forever, attaining the liquid assets of Jupiter.

Your heyday was almost over, but the desire never

faded. You scored deals with Pluto, secured rights

to solar wind & cosmic rays before those stocks

became fashionable. Your contract expired in 1997,

but we kept you on as a consultant, afterall no one

could replace your wealth of experience overnight.

Your job officially ended in 2003 when your billings

weakened. After 7.6 billion miles of door to door sales,

we gave you a golden plaque, so you’d remember what

the team looked like. You said you were going to retire

to the constellation of Taurus & bath in the red light

of the star Aldebaran. We thought you were joking;

you said see you in two million years.

Columbia

1st February 2003

When the news shattered through, I was knee-deep

shovelling powdered glass soaked in soft drink, the fault

of gravity that led some of the bottles lemming-like over

the conveyer belt’s brink to smash on the concrete floor.

The air was hot & rancid, sickly-sweet; the noise, engine

thrusters going off in your ear. The rats loved it as they

ran along pipes over our heads, high on sugar at the tail

end of summer. The crushed silicon built up on the factory

floor like plaque on teeth & had to be dug out routinely;

the confined space cramped as a command module. The

sound of the shovel’s blunt head as it scraped up granules

was the sudden gasp of a capcom uttering that something

had gone terribly wrong. On the train home, people kept

their distance; nosed in solitude this catastrophic event.

On the Death of Astronaut John Young

5th January 2018

My family didn’t own a colour TV set until two years

after you’d flown the first shuttle mission; & then

only because mum remarried a sorghum farmer who

kept his little Hitachi set on top of the fridge beaming

like a lustreware vase or a magnetised beer opener.

So that’s why I was over at Thruppy’s grand place;

the first two-storied house I’d ever entered, huge

as a launchpad, walls as white as a spacecraft’s tiles.

Vertigo sucked me down as I passed the threshold.

The terrible awkwardness of our fringe friendship

set aside so I could watch my first launch in colour.

Millions of pounds of thrust that would shame day.

Flames in real orange. An original blue televised sky.

NASA was one giant acronym to a boy who’d spent

half of his life without a launch. Nothing in six years

since Apollo-Soyuz, the Americans investing in reusable

ships, powerless gliders that would touch down like any

Airforce fighter running on empty. Video cams zoomed

in on the giant black cathedral bell thrusters that vented

gas; booster pheromones attracting a televised audience

in the millions. Too many things were going on at once,

so computers muttered machine language to Columbia.

These powerful artefacts that I’d never get to touch for

another decade. I thought ‘software’ a new moniker for

underwear. Prayers & butterflies; all the clichés needed

to advise me of how dangerous it was. I didn’t even ask

if Thruppy was into space, or notice if he sat beside me

on his vinyl couch, (more luxury than I was accustomed

to) or was outside on his BMX doing jumps. Trying to

get some air himself. Every time’s the first time if you’ve been

there or not. God speed John & Cripp his new set rattled off.

Emotionless countdowns hid fear of failure; what ifs?

threatened America’s main engine start after Vietnam’s

aborted mission. In the wide shot of the shuttle, with

twenty seconds to go, the Stars & Stripes appeared

faded as old graffiti on a bathroom wall. At t-minus

four seconds, the inverted magma spurt of rocket

fuel ignited Thruppy’s screen, followed by a titan’s

death rattle that gurgled from Cape Canaveral, shaking

the tinny internal speakers on their plastic mounts. I knew

that noise was the loudest we’d ever made as a species.

Talking back to god. Then, over the cumulus smokescreen

a voice, a son of Morrison urging, Come on baby! Go honey go!

Fly like an eagle! American thunder in the skies! You ascended

emptying a swimming pool of fuel per second John Young,

until some minutes later, Columbia morphed into the small

bright flare of a television set suddenly switched off.