Solar System v2.0


While I was sound asleep the solar

system shifted silently around me,

its boundary pulsing,

rushing outward in a tsunami

of science and Sobel-graceful plans

that wrenched the much-loved two page

maps from every space-mad schoolkid’s hands

and ripped them to confetti.


In their place – this new-look Solar System,

a brave new Planetary Empire, ready made

for Old Earth and all her billions

to lovingly call “home”.

Where once nine worlds whirled and whipped

around the golden Sun now a dozen skip

and play, with many more bedraggled strays

waiting in the gloom to join the game.


Out on the Old Frontier a tearful

Pluto, fearful of demotion from

“planet” to “plan-not” now breathes easy

once again, its good name preserved,

its identity intact;

permission granted to carry on crawling

round Sol serenely, Tombaugh’s spirit

left to rest in interplanetary peace.


But nearby, ice-cloaked Charon celebrates.

Pulled from the crowd of countless moons she swoons

now in the spotlight,

a new celebrity, plucked from obscurity

to twirl for Hubble’s cameras as

Ptolemy’s paparazzi shout her name.

She beams “I never thought I’d be here!”

No. None of us did either, dear…


And Ceres! Are they serious? Vexed Vesta

and angry Pallas will demand a recount,

insist their size and shape make them

as much a planet as Piazzi’s preening peacock.

As for princess Xena, twirling in her barbarian

leather skirts, flirting with her neighbours

in the Oort she deserves the chance to dance

a planetary waltz around the Sun

twice each long millennium…







Looking up tonight, away from this flat

flickering screen the faithful sky I’ve known and seen

since reading my first book on “space” has gone;

the familiar street map of my celestial neighbourhood

defaced with garish Post It notes

marked “Maybe”, “Maybe Not”.

I’ll learn to love this Solar System version 2.0

I’m certain – but tonight I just feel lost


© Stuart Atkinson 2006

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