As part of the new year’s Free-range Writer Plan, I’m going to try and write at least one or two poems each week, inspired by things I’ve picked up in the news or online (or perhaps from the Fortean Times, which I was lucky enough to receive a subscription to for Christmas).
Sometimes it’s useful to choose a subject and make yourself write a poem about it – so that’s what I’ve done with Apophis. Yet another threat to the Pale Blue Dot (as Carl Sagan called Earth) is passing us at the moment – the Apophis Asteroid, which will also pass within 22,364 miles of our planet in April 2029, giving it a 2.7% chance of whacking into us. Which would be annoying.
As ever with such astronomical phenomenon, I’m not sure how scared I should be. As scared as we should be of Nibiru/Planet X, the mysterious elliptical-orbit planet that was meant to run us off the solar-highway recently, perhaps? Well, this is real – so a dial up the Fear-o-Meter a little, certainly.
Curiously, I wrote the following poem and then looked up what else is 2.7% – and found that, “The house advantage in single zero roulette is 2.7% and for the double zero game it is 5.26%”. So there we are: my roulette ball image was not so off-the-cuff.
This is largely as it popped out of my brain, with some tweaks as I typed it out. I hope you enjoy it – and May The Odds Be Ever In Earth’s Favour.
Pick One Fleck
Just one, from the hole-
punched carbon sky and wonder
at its stats, its vital ballistics. Wonder
whether cosmic winds blow it
our way; whether Newton or some other
more modern, more menacing, model
may stack odds against Earth’s favour.
The roulette ball: Apophis
freewheels the not-so-clockwork model
above my head. No, not
above our heads: around them,
spinning like cartoon concussion,
a character impacted. The Micky Mouse
the life-expectancy of this
billions-years-young billiard ball,
awaiting its gong for supper.
So that will be the next time:
twenty twenty-nine. Visions blurred,
screens thick with dust of fear. When
Hollywood Lears hover near
cinema seats, with light-shows projected
from our eyes and bouncing back into
the dinosaur-mind. When masses
collect on mountaintops, praying
through rehashed prisms of extra-
terrestrial life-guards and super-
natural knowledge of ancient civilisations long-
since ceased and of hyper-
sensory conspiracies of governments who
govern the stars (but who can barely keep their own
noses clean of the tar of smear).
When shots are littered each second
at worlds within our own, this speck of glitter in
the eye of space could make it blink
the ground into its own reflection, infinite bits,
out of being. But how lucky we would be
to see it, to be here: when there are more dead
than living than ever before. How lucky to be
the last crater-act,
the final flaming curtain,
the ones who saw
And in case you have never read it, here’s Carl Sagan’s piece of writing about our Pale Blue Dot – which is a wonderful reminder of both our insignificance and, perhaps, the need for perspective when dealing with other Humans.