Earthrise, December 1968, Image by Apollo 8

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From the Deck of the New Horizons

Athens, Georgia
February 7, 2016

I have been here before, swept 
to the stars by an artist’s rendition 
bound in my childhood Book 
of Knowledge. Lost in the pages 

on Pluto, I stood on a cracked 
and frozen plain where Sol is 
but the brightest star whose light 
is hours old. From eternal 

twilight I turned my back 
to the sun-bathed Earth, seared 
by the ancient, wandering call, 
set off to inhabit infinity. 


On a farther end of forever 
I find myself as in a dream 
sailing shotgun on a spacecraft 
the size of a grand piano 
at the climax of a nine-year fling 
approaching the double-dwarf 
planetoid world which waltzes 
with Charon face to face 
on a multi-century solar swing 
in two/three time with Neptune. 


I fly by the moons of Hydra and Styx 
the realm of Kerberos and Nix 

dodging the darkened pole of Charon 
covered with cryo-geyser debris 

I shoot past the methane plains of Pluto 
over the frozen Sputnik Planum 

above the Virgil Fossa Canyon 
land where ice volcanos flow.

I see a strangely familiar world — 
a touch of haze in the light blue sky 

as warm days climb to fifty-three Kelvin
across the fields of crystallized nitrogen 

mountains of ice as high as the Rockies 
dusted with hydrocarbon snow.


I have been here before, swept 
aloft to far-off worlds. Now 
I gaze behind to a sun-bathed 
youth lost in a dream that could 

never come close to riding 
the deck of the New Horizons 
Pluto in the rear-view mirror 
universe ahead.

Photo by NASA
/ Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
/ Southwest Research Institute