Living on Mars in a Lava Tube

I’m fascinated by the possibilities of the universe, and by space exploration. But it always strikes me as odd that we get so excited about possible places which are “fit for human habitation” on other planets. These “habitable” places are, of course, still fraught with the most horrific challenges.

It was recently suggested, for instance, that humans could live in the massive ancient lava tubes which snake beneath the surface of Mars. Which initially sounds like some kind of permanent funfair lifestyle in a jazzy Martian flume. But what kind of existence would it be really? Dark, airless, hostile – and probably hundreds of other depressing adjectives.

Could we not perhaps try cleaning up our act, limiting our population growth, and staying on lovely, LOVELY Earth? Would that be SO mad??

Living on Mars in a Lava Tube

Living on Mars in a lava tube?
What fun, my dears, what fun!
We’ll surf on the flows, and then maybe – who knows –
we will gather when day is done
to remember the sea and the sun.

Living on Mars in a lava tube –
no actual lava, you say?
Just vacuum and dust in the cold of the crust
and the dark? Still, a great place to stay
as we cower from cancer all day.

Living on Mars in a lava tube –
it’s so smashing to know that we could!
If we poison our sky—never mind! We’ll just fly
to this welcoming new neighbourhood.
Hooray! It’s a plan then. Sounds good.

First published by Light Magazine in its Poems of the Week feature. www.lightpoetrymagazine.com

 

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I Just Don’t Like Walt Whitman Much


I Just Don’t Like Walt Whitman Much

I just don’t like Walt Whitman much.
I’ve said it now. Such heresy!
I mean, his stuff’s not bad as such,
but wordy Walt is not for me.

He penned some killer lines but still,
I don’t enjoy Walt Whitman much.
Just say, it Walt, then stop! Don’t fill
three pages up with double Dutch!

Americans! Condemn me! Clutch
your hearts and seize my boorish pen.
She doesn’t like Walt Whitman much?
What kind of poet IS she then?”

My cousins, you may seethe and tut,
but face it. He goes on a touch.
Perhaps I’m way too British but…
I just don’t like Walt Whitman much.

 

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Get Fit with Boris

I don’t really mind that the government are advising us to lose weight, although combining it with incentives to eat out seems not ENTIRELY joined up! Nonetheless, it’s a TERRIFIC opportunity to take the piss, and who am I to refuse.

Get Fit with Boris

Drop your chips and sausage patties,
get in shape for Covid, fatties!
Come on Maureen! Come on Doris!
Let’s get fit with beefy Boris!

OK, let’s start. To get us warm,
we’ll streeetch the truth. Feels good! Now form
a partnership with someone near –
aaand leave. NICE WORK! Next, let’s all veer

towards the right – and right again –
aaand right. Come on now! Feel the pain!
Now sink real low to please the press,
reach out and… take donations! Yes!

You’re doing great! Last thing – let’s weave –
AVOID those questions! Nice work, Steve,
and good job, Raj! Now, who’s with me?
It’s two for one at KFC.

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

 

 

STUFF

I sometimes preface my free verse poems with ‘I was in a weird mood when I wrote this.’ I WAS in a weird mood when I wrote this, but it was pre-lockdown. Now we’ve all spent far too much time at home with our STUFF, I don’t think it’s weird at all.

Stuff

STUFF trailed its tarnish across the Orient
then braved the oceans in first world gladwrap
like delusional human traffic.

STUFF squatted in a whorehouse warehouse
waiting for empty shelf-space, and the footfall
of an empty passer-by.

STUFF showed ankle in an email,
shoved its tongue in my High Street ear,
seduced me with sweatshop promises.

STUFF demanded its keep in energy,
whined for drawer space
and then crawled, feckless, onto my table top,
cheap plastic legs akimbo.

I looked it fresh in the eye and asked:
What do you want of me?
STUFF shrugged.

 

First published by Snakeskin Poetry.

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The Lockdown Lament

This one needs no introduction…

The Lockdown Lament

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

Have you ever tried video-calling New York
to talk about trends in a businessy way
while your kids disembowel the cat with a fork
and your husband walks by with his goods on display?

Have you ever tried tempting the kids from their screens
to do papier-mâché or make lemonade
or have ‘fun with a workout’ (whatever THAT means)
while they pelt you with attitude, grunts or grenades?

Have you ever tried teaching a nine-year-old maths
and a five-year-old spelling whilst muffling a scream
as you realise you’re living with sociopaths?
‘Is this it?’ you enquire. ‘Am I living the dream?’

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

 

 

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Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

Upwards


Maybe it’s the dim midwinter light, but January seems to be dedicated to  taking a rather harsh view of ourselves. In reality, most of us are already doing our best with a lot, and need to be taking on not more, but less.

Well, at least until cloning machines are up and running.

Upwards

I am scaling a mossy wall
whilst plate-spinning
and playing the bagpipes.

[On distant asphalt, a
side-plate smashes.]

Before I know it, it’s January 1st.
“I will now also paint
the wall as I climb!” I proclaim.

[My bagpipes flail
like a spent lung.]

The wall giggles.
“You should have just vowed
to grow more hands,” it says.

[I kick the wall.
Descent is rapid.
Cancel the paintbrushes.]

 

Geek notes: I don’t often post free verse here because, er, domain name. But I do enjoy a little tango on the free side from time to time. As far as I’m concerned, keep it surreal, and it’s OK.

 

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

 

 

If laundry be the food of love

If laundry be the food of love

Because it never ends…

If laundry be the food of love

If laundry be the food of love
then my love’s food is abundant,
crammed into its glutted mouth
with potions grim and pungent.

If laundry be the food of love
then I am served with plenty.
May ketchup pour on shirts galore
so my platter’s never empty.

 

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Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Napkin Rings

I wrote this for women (and men, but mostly women) everywhere who are massively overstretched by the million details of Christmas – and by their own, and others’ expectations of perfection.

I’m personally not a napkin rings sort of a girl, and my husband cooks the Christmas dinner, so the “I” in the poem is not me.

Me, I just try to get the basics of Christmas done – and that is stressful enough.

Napkin Rings

This is the season of love’s ascendency.
Zealously measured by each carolling eye,
love is wrapped, trussed, and sacrificed to the tree.
My love is napkin rings, time spent, and a sigh.

In the grim drive for the prescribed contentment,
I creak under wreaths and jaunty snowman lights.
My love is napkin rings, concealed resentment
and the surfeiting of sugared appetites.

It’s not the love of photo-story yearning;
my love is napkin rings, mistletoe and cheer,
aching arches, and the dream of adjourning
to the welcoming cloisters of the new year.

My love is napkin rings, endless and florid,
and as angels beam from ceramic altars,
I defile the turkey, and stem the torrid
outpourings of aunts. My smile never falters.

 

Geek notes: This is a syllable-counted poem. Although this poem is unmetered, the even number of syllables across each line (eleven, in this case) creates a feeling of symmetry without interrupting the poem’s conversational style. It’s also a variation of the “quatern” form, where a repeated line moves from line 4 to line 3 to line 2 to line 1 in the four successive stanzas.

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Photo by Taisiia Stupak on Unsplash

Measure the Children

The increasingly Orwellian nature of education in this country inspired me to write this. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful teachers, it seems that the emphasis  is firmly on conformity and performance – as if our children were washing machines off a production line.

If it helps by the way, I picture “the meddlers” as being little oompah-loompah-crossed-with-Michael-Gove figures  – but please don’t have nightmares about that!

Measure the Children

The school was a cauldron of mischief and learning,
and children were children, their impish minds turning,
until, at the will of political men
came an army of meddlers with rulers and pens
squealing “measure the children, measure them!”

“Let art be abandoned! Let music be killed!”
cried the meddling ones, “There are forms to be filled!”
Then they pored over stories of magical horses
impatiently counting subordinate clauses
to measure the children, measure them.

“More!” they screamed, hurling out brain-popping sums
while the tape measures tangled small fingers and thumbs,
“Forget curiosity! Curb innovation!
We’re sending your teachers for recalibration…
Measure the children, measure them!”

We strive for a future where oneness prevails,
but there’s no place for play on the measuring scales,
and as tables and tests burn the light from their eyes,
we say “Hush, little citizens, think of the prize…”
and measure the children, measure them.

 

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Bobbing Mummy

Is anyone else more than a little bit broken from PICKING SHIT UP?!

Bobbing Mummy

If you knock something from the shelf,
No need to pick it up yourself!
Just leave it there upon the floor –
Whatever else is Mummy for?
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

What joy, a new construction set,
With bits that are the smallest yet!
Mummy’s here! It doesn’t matter!
Open box, prepare to scatter!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Got a wrapper in your hand?
Don’t worry! Drop it where you stand!
Perhaps your paper missed the privy?
Don’t despair! You have a skivvy!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Mummy has an education,
Wild ideas above her station,
Visions of equality,
I know right? That’s insanity!
She’s bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

 

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