Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #30: A Last Sighting Before This Apparition Ends

A last sighting
before this apparition ends.
Upon return
perhaps a different side will show
for an
irregular wanderer
that none will ever
call a star
but perhaps some
may think
more than a dim lump.


And with that, my participation in the 2016 National Poetry Writing Month is completed. :)  I'm pleased to have met the challenge of writing a poem a day in April for the 7th consecutive year, all of them can be found on this blog.

Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #29: I Do Not Believe

I do not believe in science.
It is not a deity
to which obeisance is owed
or in which faith is demanded,
nor a mystical force
working miracles
beyond ever understanding.

I trust in science
the way I trust a friend
(or coworker
to be more accurate)
whose behavior makes sense
and who I think has good reason
for acting as they do
even if I wonder
if sometimes
they maybe drink
a bit too much.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #27: Going Under

Cryo isn't so bad.
That's what I hear
from the vets.
"Only way to fly"
they say.
It's literally true
when going
to Alpha Cen
or even Iapetus.

But still I wonder
what will I miss
and what world
will I wake up to?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #26: The Next Expedition

Some of the men
watched the sun
sink into the
long-awaited ocean,
but she preferred
to look at the sky,
as befitting her name.

York joined her
and motioned
at the stars,
fixed and wandering.

“How long,
do you reckon,
it’ll be before they
send an expedition

She shrugged.
“However long it may be,
they won’t get there
without us, either.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #25: Rec Room

There is no glamor
in this aspect of the job.
We spend our days
checking and rechecking
seals and gauges,
buried deep enough
to keep all the letters
of the Greek alphabet at bay.

We don’t play golf,
we don’t plant potatoes.
We use a high-tech xbox
to drive a rover where
we could never go
to prove that
humans are indispensible.

But I’ll let you in
on a secret.

We have a room
the size of the galley
filled knee-deep
in regolith.
on break
we strip down,
put on heat lamps,
and pretend we’re on
the world’s tiniest beach
(or another world’s, anyhow)
and run our fingers and toes
through the sand.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #24: Re-entry

Begun with a
single step perhaps,
it will end with reports
and paperwork,
reimbursement requests
and digging out.
This re-entry
will have no
fiery dramatics
nor parades to follow,
nor medals to bestow—
only a sense of
increased gravity
and coming back to Earth.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #23: To Be With You Again

When can I next be with you?
We were always
You, the brightest star
in the skies,
and I the only one
to really get through to you.

I cannot deny
I’m still reeling from
the break up.
I’ve made moves
toward others,
but they’ve
utterly failed.
And I’m not blind
to others edging
closer to you,
with a
string of proposals,
one of which
will someday win.

But I can’t help but
feel we are
meant to share
a future.
I want to be with you again.

Friday, April 22, 2016

NaPoWriMo Poem #22: Never Return

I did not see Comet West.
It dominated predawn skies
while I rested up
for second grade.
Somehow schoolmates
were awakened to see it
I heard their accounts
and listened with envy.

I did not see Comet McNaught.
A half-hearted attempt
in poor conditions
It put on a spectacular show
too far away for me to reach
(I told myself).

I have seen
some spectacular comets.
But it’s hard not to regret
opportunities missed
that will never return.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #21: Unforced Perspective

Your beauty is
not skin deep
nor shallow.
I could explore
for the length of my life
and every other life and
not come to the end
of your wonders.

And yet.

Perhaps it is having
the distance
that helps me
just how beautiful
you are.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NaPoWriMo Poem #20: Saturation

When younger
it's easier to tell
what happened.
Each impact
hits a new place,
previously whole
and untouched,
the effects separated,
localized and contained.

But damage accumulates
as time

Eventually there is
no place untouched,
and each new event
churns and buries
the evidence of the past,
and creates a thicker mask
putting the original
deeper and further
from sight.

We are left to wonder
if we're missing
something really important.

2016 NaPoWriMo Post #19: Opening the Dome

"I'm afraid of heights"
she said from within
a nitrogen mist
with a shrug,
as machinery hummed
in the background.

"The views
on the way here
are really lovely"
I offered.

She nodded
and opened the dome.
"I've heard that.
But I'm too scared to look down
so I just look up."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #17: Sacred and Profane

Will we find
sacred places
on other planets?
Masses to celebrate?
Will we set aside
shrines to
Scotts and Pengs?
Will we make
to dead orbiters,
buried rovers,
ancient wreckage?

And will we understand
another culture
to erase famous footprints
to erect a telescope
that really needs to go
in just

Saturday, April 16, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #16: Some Clocks

Unstable atoms
unable to remain parents
leaving noble children
in crystalline prisons,
and hoping to be counted
in our laboratories
and set free
to demonstrate
there are some clocks
that can
never be stopped.

Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #15: She Dreams of Slurry

she dreams of slurry
thick and frigid,
toxic and alien.
she can picture
the scene
through tubes and screens:
a land where
the sun
never shines.
no pleasure domes,
no time
to explore.
she wishes
she could run 
her hands
through the muck
and dance barefoot
in the oily rain.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #14: Zealots, Dabblers, Tyros, and Emeriti

Science isn’t the
photons we receive
from distant worlds
nor the
grains we collect
from powdery surfaces.
It isn’t the curves
that trace data points
nor the pdfs
stacks of paper
found on our drives
and in our cabinets.

Science is the
of understanding
made by the
of zealots
and dabblers
and tyros
and emeriti.

Science depends on people,
which is beautiful
and terrible.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #13: Leading a Horse

Each has its own personality.
One a gracefully aging,
well tended giant—
a Kentucky Derby winner
now gently taking students
for a ride through pleasant spaces.
Another a cantankerous beast,
entering its dotage
with loving but poor caretakers.
Some thoroughbreds are so skittish
you can’t even approach
without the jockey facilitating any contact.

Tomorrow we take the reins,
and our mount seems sturdy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #12: Waste

It seems oddly unfair
for light to travel
hundreds of
millions of
from the Sun
to a tiny
and then return
hundreds of
millions of
toward our telescope
only to be thwarted
by ten meters of cloud.

On the other hand
that light only spent
eighty minutes
making the trip
and the
one-hundred forty minutes
of “Attack of the Clones”
was a much
bigger waste of time.

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #11: I Know and I Need

i know the sun
loves me no less
when it shines on the other
side of the world
and i know the stars
love me no less
when they spend months
close to the sun,
hidden from me
in its glow
i know this
yet i find
i need
to be reminded


Maybe a bit off theme, but it came to me more or less as is as I was waking up. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Post #10: Amnesty Bay Meteoritical Society Press Conference

“You’re all missing the
importance of this study”
the scientist said, furrowing her brow.
“We have shown
via a combination of
isotopic study,
mineralogy, and
textural analysis that
the Smallville parent body
was Earth-sized,
orbited an M-type star,
and disrupted via an internal process
not a giant impact.

The speculation as to
whether this planet
was inhabited,
let alone how
exposure to its debris
might affect life forms is
one sentence
in a much larger, compelling body of work.

We look forward
to finding more pieces
similar to Smallville,
and thank an anonymous
who is financing a
citizen science project
to scour the Earth for more.”

A reporter shifted
in his seat.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #9: Unfilled Manifest

We generate
more ideas
than we can use.
History is littered
with best-laid plans
passed by.

Apollo 19 and CRAF
Champollion and JIMO
Pioneer H and Mariner Mark II
and others without
Wikipedia pages to
tell their story.

Maybe the funding
was used for something useful,
though I haven’t the
heart to ask nor
the clearance to
find out.

Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #8: We Never See The Same Sky Twice

We never see the same sky twice.
No fixed mark, this maddening gyre.
And though it seems to swirl entire,
note: wanderers will blunder through
on retrograde and showy loops
before rejoining a forward track.
The Earth itself has shifted tack
since pyramid or henge aligned.
While looking up now we may find
a little bear has its tail pinned
but it will anon escape.
Even stars jostle on the charts
and inch along on ancient courses
a priceless herd of luminous horses
in an infinite pasture.

We never see the same sky twice
even with members of the same crowd.
And that’s not to mention clouds.


Picture from

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #7: Waiting Impatiently

Cinnamon surface, rarer than saffron
though its taste of old pool water
bars a good mix with blueberries.

In my parents’ time some still
wished you likened
with green flashes and seasonal drought
before an ancient Mariner
found nary a drop to drink.

Project humans to Mars
many might say, waiting impatiently
for a negative to be proven
before we journey
and spread our crap around.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

NaPoWriMo Poem #6: Poem Six

eventually i’ll write about
the elephant in the room
or that’s not in the room
you’ll know if I have
you’ll know it
by studying the topics
of poems
others have written
(and may write in the future)
and comparing to poems
i haven’t written
and notice a pattern
others will write poems
about what I’m not
writing a poem about
and you’ll infer
my poem exists
i wrote the poem
i’m waiting for a book deal
to let you see it
or not

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #5: What Not To Expect

we expected swales and ridges,
signatures of an atlas
too relaxed to hold up the world,
content to let things slide.

we expected a world
of pencil lead and chalk,
laxative and kitty litter,
permafrost foam on frozen brine.

after a year
we don’t know
what we have
and we still don’t know
what to expect.

Monday, April 4, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #4: With and Without

Our finest schools
are holding pens for teenagers
if nobody tries to teach or learn.
Our most skilled surgeons
are mere butchers
if they operate with no purpose.
Our finest museums
are storage sheds
if we do not
appreciate art

Without science
our greatest voyagers
are shiny curiosities
on distant playgrounds.
Without science
the most intrepid odysseys
are taken by
high-end adventure tourists
vicariously checking boxes.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #3: On the Dome

The sun has set on the Karoo,
leaving an orange smudge as a
brief reminder.
Jupiter reigns
as the sky’s brightest beacon
while Sirius and Canopus lag behind.
The deeper delights await
darker skies
but we won’t be up here then.

We shouldn’t be up here now,
not this late,
not at all.
We wave furtively to
earthbound colleagues,
scurrying to open their domes
and get to work
while we sit on ours,
finishing our Windhoeks,
considering a second
(or third?)
and talking about everything
and nothing.

Were I asleep
this would be the makings
of a
stress dream.
I am awake enough now
to have a better grasp
of what’s important
and where
stress resides.


A little poetic license, for what it's worth. :)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #2: Light Is A Bully

light is a bully
if you’re the wrong size
in the wrong place.

it will claw at your surface,
cracking and peeling
your very essence.
it will flip you around
and leave you spinning
until you break.
it will drag you
from a path you’ve followed
for millions upon millions of years
and beyond your control
send you to the heart of the sun
before blasting your ashes away
to the void of interstellar space.

light is a bully
but darkness a thief
that slowly takes and takes
until you equilibrate
with nothing left to give.


Video of YORP Spinup from Derek Richardson's multimedia page:
Related paper: Walsh, K.J., Richardson, D.C., Michel, P. 2008. Rotational breakup as the origin of small binary asteroids. Nature 454, 188-191
Also see: Walsh, K.J., Richardson, D.C., Michel, P. 2012. Spin-up of rubble-pile asteroids: Disruption, satellite formation, and equilibrium shapes. Icarus 220, 514-529

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 NaPoWriMo Poem #1: To An Empty Place

there was enough sparkle
for the landing,
which was not
a small affair.
one flash of light
but no smoking pistol.

there's no sign of life,
just the power to charm.
but do you remember
the bills we have to pay?
after five years
of humble pie or bitter fruit
it seems there’s nothing i can do.

i heard a rumor from ground control
i won’t be king
but no, love, we’re not alone.
if there's life on mars
really never was the point.


I'm telling myself that I'm warming up. I'm not even convinced I can call this "my" poem.