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The Astronauts

earth’s one blue eye stared back at them
they were smaller than they’d ever been

& after the descent, giants for a day
or was it a month? everything looked paler

the space to their wives unbreachable (what was it like?)
vodka peyote Church of the Latter Day Saints

they couldn’t see a way back
one sells autographs at Star Trek conventions

another took to acrylics but did the moondust last?
or is he in his backyard at midnight

rubbing dirt particles into fabric
to cut and fix on beaten plywood; to sell a gritty dream

a speck of possibility
out beyond the reaches of possession

                                                                        Janis Freegard

Tuesday Poem

This was originally published in Turbine.  I’d just like to make it clear that it’s a purely fictional and speculative account and I am in no way suggesting any astronaut would ever really use garden dirt instead of moondust in a painting.  The idea of an astronaut artist is real though.  Alan Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 12 mission, and later became a full-time painter.  He paints astronauts and the moon and uses the hammer he took to the moon to provide texture, his moon boots for footprints, and the cut-up emblems from his suit as a source of moon dust (from the Ocean of Storms) to mix with his paint so that every painting has a little bit of moondust in it.  How cool is that?

This week’s poem is by Dr Peter Clayworth, who is an historian and my partner, as well as a fine poet.   He wrote the poem after spending a night on Smoky Beach on Rakiura (Stewart Island).  According to southern legends, Rakiura is the anchor stone of Aoraki’s canoe.

November 1992.

Full Moon on Smoky Beach,
Rakiura, Lakiula, the Anchor Stone,
Coming up like they told us,
When we were kids,
They say it moves the tides,
And the salt sea within,
Seeing we are mostly water,
I could see the Moon there,
Marama letting down her lines,
Like Maui with his fish,
Dragging the ocean up,
Pulling it into the sky,
I felt that if I didn’t,
Have so much love for my mother,
And feel her loving hold on me,
That embrace Isaac Newton felt,
Sitting under the apple tree,
If not for that I’d join,
Old Rona up there,
Riding along watching the tides,
On this pebble way down here,
Anchor to Aoraki’s canoe,
Smoky Beach on Lakiula.


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August 2020

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