Future Loathing


I hate children. Not for

the normal reasons – noise,

mugging old ladies and “boisterously”

beating up nuns, but because

they’re young and when older they’ll boldly go

and see all the things I dreamed of seeing

when I sat in school, head in a book,

being promised, faithfully,

that I’d live on the Moon just as soon

as I was old enough to vote.

It was there, written in black and white:

holidays in space would be all the rage;

I’d walk on Mars’ dusty plains,

silently gazing up at Earth shining like

a Christmas tree bauble above Olympus Mons.

Instead I clickaclick my mouse, morosely

pouring over yet more unmanned rover

images of Mars’ barren lands,

trying to understand why Tomorrow’s

World lied to my face, why I’m still here

on Terra, peering up from the bottom

of its gravity well like a prisoner

in a dungeon as Mankind slumbers,

languishing in self-imposed exile

on Earth while the myriad worlds

of Sol’s System sing like sirens,

calling, beckoning, begging

to be enjoyed and explored and adored

in person, not through the unblinking

etched silicon eyes of “plucky” robots

the size of a golf cart.


That’s why, hearing a baby cry,

watching it grow I feel no ga-ga compassion.

I can’t sigh “Aaah” as it yawns

in its crib. Instead I glare at it

with tight, envious eyes, begrudging it

every year of the future that it will see

but will be stolen by Death from me.

“God, you’ll see that base on the Moon”,

I growl in my mind as I watch them

prowling round town in their chav

track suits and caps, talking crap, “not me;

you’ll be there on the day the first person says

“We come to Mars for all Mankind,

To seek and find Life…” Is that fair?

I see them sitting there on the steps of the bank,

sallow-faced, can-draining, shell-suited

hoodie hyenas laughing and sticking a finger

up at a future they don’t deserve to see,

surly street monkeys gibbering away,

night and day, night and day and I want

to scream at the sky “Why?!” Why them

and not me? Why should they see the wonders?

Why did everyone lie to me? Make me believe

that if I worked hard and followed the rules

I’d live in a world of wonder? How cruel

is that? Is this the Cosmos’ idea of a joke?


Looking at those old books now,

tt their lie-lined pages,

corners folded over, creased and faded

I feel rage and, yes, betrayed.

I’ve no hotel room on the Moon;

there’s no Armstrong Museum to roam

around, looking for That Footprint

on the dust-covered ground;

no bubble-domed greenhouse

stands on the ruddy surface of Mars;

no sleek starships slip between the far-

scattered suns; skiers have yet

to cut criss-cross tracks across

Europa’s cracked and cratered ice

because they lied to me.


Over and over.


Over and over again.


© Stuart Atkinson 2007

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