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7 12 2008

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Winds

21 03 2016

winds jpg





LIGO

16 02 2016

LIGO_2Image (c) Christine Rueter     tychogirl.wordpress.com

LIGO

It didn’t look like much – just a jiggle of lines on the screen,
Like the ECG chart of the heartbeat of a dying man
Dragging every precious breath from the air,
Or the marks scratched by a pen onto a paper scroll
As a tremor rolled along the San Andreas Fault.
But it was History, there for all to see, an image
As glorious as Galileo’s asterix-etched sketch of Jupiter’s
Mischevious moons, or Rosse’s portrait of the great
Whirlpool drawn at the Leviathan’s eye;
A record of a whisper that had travelled for more than a billion years,
So soft, so faint that the slow turn of a page
In a library’s quietest corner would sound as loud
As a hurricane’s howling wind to the instruments’ ears,
And the lifting of a single strand of a sleeping new-born’s hair
By a passing summer breeze would crack like a Balrog’s whip.
Hard to believe, looking at that jagged mountain range trace
That we were staring the deepest of deep physics in the face,
Looking back in time to when a pair of black holes danced,
Swirling dervishes, dense as 60 Suns,
Their shirts and skirts of Hawking radiation twirling as they whirled
Around each other in a giddy reel, then
Hurtled together at half the speed of Light –

What a sight that must have been,
But hominid eyes would not look to the sky for an eternity more,
And when it finally cocked an ear in their direction
LIGO could hear only echoes of their ancient laughter,
Waves tumbling in from the depths of space and time,
Lapping at our feet, rippling round, through and past the Earth
Like the melodies of distant whale-song.

© Stuart Atkinson 2016

This poem is one half of a special, two-part work produced by myself and American artist and poet
Christine Rueter, who shares my fascination with, and love of astronomy and science. The painting you see at the top of the page was created specially to illustrate this poem. You can see more of Christine’s beautiful work, and read some of her poetry, on her blog: tychogirl.wordpress.com

 

 





Another One Falls

6 02 2016

ed m

No mournful blare of trumpets but a forlorn Tweet announced
Another one had gone;
Another of the tallest redwoods in the forest of history
Had fallen, leaving a poorer world behind.

One by one they pass – the giants who dared to step
Off Terra, fly through a quarter million miles of deadly night
And stride across the Moon. On huge TVs in living rooms and schools
We watched them bounce across its ancient plains,
Snowmen stained by dust as cold and grey
As crematorium ash, mischievous boys with smiles flashing
Behind visors of burnished gold as they lolloped along,
Hopping like drunk kangaroos between boulders
Big as cars, so, so far away from Earth that their words
Came from the past –

And another one has gone.

To the children of today – their pale faces bathed not in sunshine
But in the cold turquoise light of tablets and phones – those Apollo
Adventures are like Greek myths, ancient history,
As far down the raging river of Time as Viking raids, Cleopatra’s
Braids or Magellan’s voyage across the sea; something seen
On documentaries sandwiched between “Ancient Aliens”
And X Files repeats. Their heroes and heroines, to our shame,
Are clueless Kardashian Barbies, rappers who believe the Earth is flat, or worse.
Some, their young brains washed in the filthy waters of YouTube,
Addled by the FULL CAPS blogs of idiots, liars and fools
Believe we never even went to the Moon.
“It was faked!” they whine, staring up at a Chemtrail criss-crossed sky,
Sneering at the crazy idea that there was a time, years before they were born,
When humans were smart and brave enough to walk
Across Luna’s frozen lava lakes, to take One Giant Leap
And see Earth shining glorious blue and white in an ebony sky…

© Stuart Atkinson 2016





And we saw…

19 11 2015

cryo v b2





LAIKA’S GHOST

27 07 2015

Laika’s ghost is my companion on lonely stargazing nights.
In winter, shivering beneath Betelgeuse’s blood red eye
I reach down and quietly scratch her head,
Smiling as she nuzzles my hand, content,
Making no demands, her warm breath
Thawing my frozen fingers
While I fumble with eyepieces in the dark,
Firefly sparks of year’s end stars shining around us.

In summer, standing beneath the Milky Way’s arch,
Struck dumb by the beauty of its mottled clouds
I feel her running around my legs,
Weaving in and out again, a puppy at play
Until, wearily, she settles at my feet, leaning against
Me, fighting to stay awake, failing, finally
Falling asleep on the dew-damp grass.
Feet and tail are soon a’twitch, whimpering, lost
In dreams of fields never ran across,
Of icy rivers never splashed through,
Balls laughing children never threw for her,
Cartwheeling sticks never chased and returned…

I watch her eyelids dance as memories return.
Thunder rolling up from far below, tossed and thrown
From side to side, trapped within a tiny metal tomb
With steel walls inches from her face –
Suddenly, peace…quiet…she is in space.
Panting in the darkness, fascinated
To see dust and hairs drifting in slow motion
Through the already stale air –

Then the world spinning, round and around,
Needles of heat pricking from all sides,
Lungs filling with lava as the air grows furnace hot,
The last hours of her stolen life slipping away,
Thankfully asleep long before she has to see her sweat-matted fur
Catching fire before her eyes –

She wakes with a cry and I stroke her shaking head
Until the nightmares fade and she knows peace again.

Looking down I see her sitting beside me now.
Quiet, still, savouring the chill of this Perseid night,
Bright eyes staring at the murdering sky,
Remembering how she died a shooting star.

© Stuart Atkinson 2015





Minus 2 Hours

19 07 2015

MINUS 2 HOURS





DEPARTURES

19 07 2015

What are they? we wondered, leaning towards our screens,
Staring at four ghostly splashes of grey,
Knowing they would soon be carried away
From the Golden One’s gaze.
Murky methane lakes? Hydrocarbon dust plains?
Exquisite agony to speculate while hating
Those who will take our place in 20,000 days
When the next visitor speeds by…

A century after that, fat, wine-sipping sightseers from a dozen worlds,
Gliding in from the black in galleons with solar sails unfurled,
Will gaze down upon this place and yawn, impatient to be tacking for home
After roaming the Outer Realm for months.
Bored by bland Uranus and Neptune’s bridesmaid-blue bands
They’ll demand of the Captain “Take us back to Terra, now…”
But today all this is bright and new; who knew
LORRI’s lenses would transform this lonely bead of bone
Into a geological jewel? Out here, in the Kuiper Belt’s blizzard
Of ice and stone, bathed in the cruel light of a billion unreachable suns,
No-one predicted this mad Picasso world;
No-one expected the first maps to be marked with donuts and whales;
No-one dared to dream of a pale heart tattooed
On its cellulite-dappled thigh. ..

© Stuart Atkinson 2015








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