Thoughts After Five Years

18 02 2009


For five long years I’ve walked with you;

Slogged through dunes of corpse-dry dust;

Rushed at a snail’s pace through wastelands of rust-

Red rocks and boulders split in two by Barsoom’s

Frigid air; stared up at skies turned cinnamon

Hues by talcum powder clouds, and all the while the only sound

The gentle purring-whirring of your gears

And the crunching-scrunching of your wheels

Across and through the crusted ground…


Together we’ve seen wondrous sights stolen from my dreams:

Earth reduced to a mere pinprick of light,

Lost in a Bierstadt sunset painted lavender and blue;

Ares’ famous pair of jewel-bright moons skating ‘cross

The sky while shy shooting stars dropped

Silently to the sea of shattered stones below;

Dust devils waltzing to the whispered music of the wind

Before fading away, the ghosts of Mars That Was…


But you are struggling now, I feel it.

I feel the waves of weariness breaking o’er you

As you steal another precious sol of life just as I

Feel the dead weight of half a decade’s fallen dirt upon you,

But I can only shake my head helplessly as you fight

To stay alive to feed on the warmth of another amber dawn.

If I could I would send a cup of cool Cumbrian rain

To clean your dusty backs; kneel down next

To you to wipe the grime from your travel-tired eyes

And help you see clearly again.


You long for the peace of well-earned sleep, I know,

And no-one walking by your side would blame you if you chose

To sigh “Enough, my work is done!” and stopped roving

At the next sunrise. But do not leave us yet;

there are more wonders to behold, and although one cold,

Cruel day your lives will surely end, while a flame

Of life still flickers in your hearts you must press on,

Proof of what Man, when challenged, can do.


© Stuart Atkinson 2009 

Remembering Columbia

1 02 2009


Drawn silently across the sky – a laser-straight line

Of fresh-snow white, yet as the diamond-bright star

At its tip skated across the blue, no-one watching

Knew seven souls were being set free,

Fleeing from and climbing through the hail of debris

Trailing through the air as brave Columbia

Tried in vain to keep her fragile charges safe

For just a few miles more…


Six years later and here I stand

Staring sadly at the winter sky.

The Pleiades’ seven suns are shining

Like fireflies o’erhead, one for each bed

Left cold and empty on that cruel night

When Columbia broke apart

And broke the hearts of those like me

Who long to touch the stars.


© Stuart Atkinson 2009