Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Here Be Dragons...

Stuart Atkinson sent along a poem he wrote following the New Horizons encounter with Io last year. It is a great poem and he has allowed me to post it here. Stuart has a blog of his own called The 'Verse where he posted numerous poems he's written related to various space events that have occurred over the last year, such as the MESSENGER encounter of Mercury or the dust storm that affected the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity last summer, and is a site definitely worth checking out.


Through your telescopes I am

merely a star, a spark of light that slides

and glides ‘round proud Jupiter;

one night here, the next night there,

sometimes with company, often alone

on Jove’s left or right. One of four

fluttering fireflies flitting silently through

the blush of the Red Spot’s glow.

But dare to approach me, to brave Jupiter’s

cell-scything rays and you’ll crave

the safety of Earth once more, for I am a world

where chemistry screams at the sky

and tears at your eyes, with claws

of colour so sharp and so raw

you’ll turn your face away and seek

the comfort of Callisto’s cratered smile.

For where my colder, older brother

and sister moons glow shivering shades of blue

and grey, my tortured face is painted hues

of fiery red; instead of frigid plains

of painfully pastel tones, my bones lie under

seeping fields of sores and blistering boils.

A pox-infected moon am I, a leprous satellite

that brings my smooth-skinned family shame.

Yet, if they knew my secret, the mysteries

I keep hidden from their disapproving

view, they would feel envy, for the tangerine-

and clementine-hued splashes on my

face are not mere volcanoes, as your

Earthly scientists believe, but are great blooms

and plumes of fyre, breathed out by beasts

which bathe beneath my Jupiter-racked crust.

Maui, Marduk, Loki – dragons all, and with

Volund and Pele prowl and crawl thru my sulphurous

churning seas; wings outstretched, tails sweeping

to and fro below my scabby-encrusted skin,

swimming, spinning, gorging on my

bitter bile before breaking through to spew

their flaming breath out into space in great

gushes of furious light. What a sight!

And what luck you had, sending one of your

nuts and bolts butterflies gliding past me

just as mighty Tvashtar roared, vomiting his

dragonfyre towards the stars, howling with

Masubi and Prometheus in a choir of dragons

singing to the Great One’s swirling storms;

what fortune to soar through this cloud of worlds

on your way to the Belt, and Beyond…

© Stuart Atkinson 2007

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