It came from outer space.

Not from our own solar system’s sleepy suburbs,

Oh no. No weary commuter from the Kuiper Belt, this;

No wide-eyed tourist on vacation from the Oort.

Its home was somewhere… (cue Sagan stare)…Out There,

Somewhere so far away it fell through the black

For millions of lonely years before our Sun began

To brighten ahead, and as Sol grew slowly from a Tinkerbell spark

To a phosphorous-bright flare, Oumuamua felt warmth

For the first time in millennia…


Falling through the void like a stick kicked off a bridge,

Tumbling end over end over end, a pen twirling between nimble fingers

It flashed past the Sun then dashed away again,

An alien child playing “knock a door run”

With Humanity, teasing us with a fleeting glimpse

Of its strange beauty before continuing on its Littlest Hobo wanderings

Around the Milky Way. So strange to think

Its next encounter with a star could be as far

In its future as the dinosaurs’ roars are behind us.


Online, astronomers adored it; drooling

Nibiru Nutters declared it proof of their pathetic fable’s truth;

Excited SETI and sci-fi fans alike swapped memes and dreams

Of Rama, Galactica and other beloved craft.


But the experts insisted “It’s just a rock.”

And of course it was: a rogue asteroid, a piece of useless rubble

Tossed away by some distant Sun with billions more to spare.

Definitely not a probe, not an eatee Voyager or New Horizons

Flying through our neighbourhood snapping photos

Like a socks-and-sandals sightseer in a foreign land,

Listening for the mournful melodies of whales…

Not an alien Enterprise sent by another spiral arm’s Federation,

On a mission to see if we were ready

To be admitted entry to their shiny Galactic Club.


But if it was


Imagine the horror as the scanned us, the screams

As their Bridge’s view-screen filled with images

Of Earth: hate-drenched American Nazis

In their Dawson’s Creek loafers, chinos and polo shirts

Sieg-Heiling on Norman Rockwell’s streets;

Screaming children thrown onto crackling bonfires

By cackling African warlords; women gang-raped

On buses in India, to a Bollywood soundtrack of laughter;

Oceans choking with plastic and wire;

Rainforests burning like funeral pyres;

Butchered elephants on their knees in pools of blood,

Tusks hacked off to feed ivory traders’ greed;

Refugees crammed into leaking dinghies,

Crossing storm-tossed seas, searching for new lives free

From snipers’ bullets and the mushroom clouds of barrel bombs;

Trump, grinning smugly on the White House lawn,

A mandarin-hued Mussolini playing god

With the lives of billions, poking Armageddon

In the eye like a child tormenting a cat…


Not hard to imagine an alien Kirk’s reaction

To witnessing all that: “No… Not yet… Perhaps not ever…”

They’d sigh, turning away, before ordering their Sulu

To quietly fly right on by.


Which, of course, is exactly what Oumuamua did…


© Stuart Atkinson 2017

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