7 12 2008


… to my poetry website! Just click on one of the tabs above to read my astro-poems about Mars, the Mars rovers, and more.

If you’re more interested in the universe and the beauty of the night sky, this page “Out There” is a good place to start…

Thanks for visiting!

Through The Plumes

7 12 2008


What strange, warm-water wonderland will lie beneath me

as I fly high overhead?

Below me, rushing past – a snow-globe scene,

a fractured, cratered wintry plain of gleaming

ice as hard as stone, criss-crossed with groaning

fissures that open and close like the bone-

dry maws of some fearful buried beasts

that feed on vacuum, and scream in pain

each time they feel Great Saturn’s pull…


Peering down upon the gravity-sculpted ground

I’ll feel a million Terran eyes upon me,

wondering what wonders I will see

when I fly into bright sunlight once again:

miles-high plumes of tinkling, twinkling vapour

shining bright against the endless night

of space? Racing through them might my face feel

the gentle touch of Enceladean dust?

Tomorrow I will know, and as snow falls softly

on the moon below I watch it grow and grow and grow…


© Stuart Atkinson 2008


From A Distance

7 12 2008


Just think…

To the eyes of an alien Voyager,

built on and flung hard away from

an exotic, alien world whirling ‘round

some faraway star, Earth would look like that:

a soft focus blue and white ball,

all its cultures and countries concealed

beneath congealed-cream, candyfloss clouds,

little more than a Christmas tree bauble

bobbing about in an ocean of ink…


Just think…

On one Far Future day, a pale,

proud martian kid will say “THAT’s Earth?

Big deal!” as they gaze grudgingly

into a telescope eyepiece to peer

at Barsoom’s Evening Star…

But they’ll secretly marvel at the view,

wondering if all the blue really is cool,

clear water, as the computers they use at school say…


How strange…

To think that some day people will see

an image as vague and watery as this,

as a telescope aimed at a faraway star

sees a glint in the distant sun’s glare;

a roomful of scientists will stare at its

magnified portrait and whisper “We’ve

found it, an ocean-washed world just like ours,

an Earth circling an alien sun…”


But for today…

See how dark the disc of Luna is

as she skates past Terra’s face?

Against Earth’s hues of white and blue

Selene’s gown is as brown as dirt, as dark

as just-ploughed soil soaked by rain.

So strange to see the brilliant Moon

that has made so many lovers swoon

reduced to a mere muddy sphere…


© Stuart Atkinson 2008

Flight over Tiger Ice

7 12 2008


High above the growling Tiger Stripes

a fragile metal butterfly closes up

its frightened eyes and waits

for the first hissing kiss of vapour on its face.

Beneath its outstretched wings

tide-tugged ice screams out and sings

a song of oceans, deep and hidden,

home to who-knows-what? And little

by little Enceladus grows larger,

Cassini charging onwards, reaching out

with all her senses, her camera lenses

glinting in the ice moon’s frigid light

while here on Earth, awe-struck by the sight

of diamond-dust crystals gushing into space,

we can only sit and wish that we were there…


(c) Stuart Atkinson 2008

Beneath the Sky

7 12 2008


Stand church statue-still on a so-clear-it-sends-chills

down-your-spine night and you’ll feel

the Earth trembling beneath your feet, swooning

as she’s swept along in the Galaxy’s carousel waltz,

dancing with grace at a chaste, respectful distance

from its myriad sequin-starred partners.

Look up and imagine those pollen-thick, pinprick

suns as the flickering flames of lighters being

held aloft, waved from side to side

in the deep darkness of the Universe,

swaying in time to and celebrating the siren song

of the cosmos, and be glad,

glad that there is Wonder still, that

in this Internet Age, when life rages so wildly

around us, screaming its banshee cries

from rose-blush dawn to marmalade twilight

just by raising your tired eyes to the heavens

you can bathe and soothe them in beauty.


© Stuart Atkinson 2008

Messenger’s Memories

7 12 2008


See, below me – a new landscape neither

wet and wide human eyes

or robots’ glass and metal minds

have ever seen before.

In all directions sputtering chains

of coffee cup stain stone rings;

endless venn diagrams of thin

and rocky ranges, strange talon-sharp mountains

moulded from donkey-grey, razor-backed rock,

all born in the shockwaves of planet-shattering impacts,

countless asteroids and comets smacking

into Mercury’s pale face

like an angry god’s great fist,

each hit leaving a charcoal-shaded bruise

behind on its aching, sun-baked cheek…


This weary world has been assaulted

by the very Sun herself. Time

has tortured it, abused its body

with a hail of screaming stones.

Each crater and pit was once a bubbling

lava bowl, a broiling witches’ cauldron

of meteor-melted magma, malevolently

glowing, growing brighter and brighter

in the cold Mercurian night until brutal sunlight

baked their heaving crusts in place,

replacing swift Hermes’ perfect face

with a pockmarked mask of scars…


Now El Capitan cliffed rupes snake around and up

and down those ancient crater walls, their long shadows

crawling and falling over wide and wrinkled floors

that dwarf all glories on Earth’s Moon.

“There can’t be room for any more!” I’m sure you thought

when my first close-ups lit your screens,

but now you see a cosmic pox has has ruined Hermes’ looks;

he took a savage beating after birth.


But what of Great Caloris?

“Where is the inner Solar System’s greatest wound?”

I heard some groan as those first images

returned. Expecting jagged, rippled rings,

a cataclysm-carved scar, they saw only

a pale stain, a patch of pearly-white against

the planet’s ashen grey; dappled here and there

with spots and smaller rings of smoky,

dusty hue – new craters within Caloris’

epic bowl, reduced to lonely, lowly spots

of frosted white by the high Sun’s savage light.

In the months and years to come I’ll share with you

a better view, I swear: Great Caloris will be

a gaping gunshot wound in Mercury’s

furrowed forhead, but ‘til then instead

you’ll know it as a mere memory of mayhem,

an unknown wonder on a solar-wind baked stone…


And so farewell swift Hermes, I flee

from thee, my first glimpse of your secret

lands already just a memory, lost

a million miles behind me as I fall

towards the Sun. Now, my work here done

I shall embrace the endless dark again,

relishing the brittle taste of space’s icy cold

after these first famous, furnace days.


© Stuart Atkinson 2008

You’ll Miss Us

7 12 2008


Once you all spoke our names with pride;

cried “Godspeed!” as we screamed into the sky

on twin pillars of roaring bright dragonfyre.

You punched bunched fists into the air as

we speared through Florida’s tattered cloud,

the crackling of our engines loud enough

to make you gasp in pain. You watched us

fly and pierce the sky again and again and again


Now you mock us, call us “foolish”,

say we were mistakes that should never

have been made; betray us on your Blogs,

kick us like dogs, turn your backs on

all we have achieved and, with perverse glee,

some even watch half-hoping that we

fail to reach the Dark so they can crow

“See? Another one gone! I told you so!”


How soon you forget; how soon you’ll

regret our passing when you see

what takes our place. When Orion finally flies –

that flat-assed capsule on its rocket pencil-thin –

you’ll stop and think “How wrong, how small

it looks.” When Ares eventually reaches out

for the blue you’ll stare into the NewSpace-

conquered sky, remembering how fine we were:

sleek as swans and blizzard white; sunlight

flashing off our wide wings, engines singing

with delight, leaving Earth far, far behind…


You’ll fall back on fond memories of com-sats

repaired and spared early orbital graves;

the golden arrays of a good-as-new Hubble,

bathed in sunlight as night turned to day;

seven-hour space-walks by grinning space

voyagers, grappling with struts, nuts and

bolts, their sausage-fat fingers clinging

to spanners and tools, laughing like fools

as Earth turned in silence below, and you’ll know

when you see that first Ares fly

that our lives were triumphs, not mistakes,

and staring into the sky, sighing at those red and white

parachutes flapping and slapping in the wind

you’ll shake your heads sadly and gladly swap the sight

of Orions falling back to Earth with a splash

for that beautiful double-tap crack of Atlantis

heading for home…




True, our time may be passing, our Age may be through

but you’ll miss us when we are gone.

No more orbital ballet, RCS pirouetting,

no more space-walkers waving “Hi Mom!”

No more look at that! pictures of tiled wings reflecting

Earth’s sapphire blue oceans and skies;

only memories of launches and Welcome Home landings

that brought tears to a weary world’s eyes.


© Stuart Atkinson 2007