Moon Shot

Some of you know that I’m very interested in the U.S. space program of the 60s — particularly the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. I have a healthy handful of poems about various moments in the program — and a few more that linger in the purgatory of “unfinished.” In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon, I offer this one — one of the earliest of my space program poems. For the non-poets out there, you might be interested to know that this is a sestina — a form which requires the repetition of the words at the ends of the lines in a specific pattern, through the whole poem, which must also be broken into six-line stanzas, with a final three-line stanza. Not my strongest sestina, but one I’m fond of nonetheless.

I was born in April of 1970. You do the math. 😉

Moon Shot

When Armstrong hit the moon,
my planet, country, dad and mother
watched on the black and white TV.
It was another hellish cold war summer,
the anchor leg of the space
race. When Armstrong took his step —

you know — that “one small step–”
and then many others, the moon
was somehow brought from distant space
into the living room. My mother
lit a cigarette. The whole summer
seemed to have led to this TV,

right here. But how could TV
do this? Another inexplicable step
into the future. It was the summer
of ‘69, and somehow the moon
was in her TV. She wasn’t mother
yet — still hadn’t filled the space

reserved for me, the tiny inner space
where I’d bud and grow. On TV,
Cronkite said, “Wow,” and my mother
and dad-to-be agreed. One solid step
ahead of the Reds! The moon
was ours! This was the summer

of Armstrong, the decade-capping summer
before I was born. The space
between the landing on the moon
and my birth: nine months. The TV
my third parent, a vital step
in my conception. Not vital as mother,

of course; TV can’t be mother.
Or father. But that hot summer
Armstrong took one foolish step,
the Fred Astaire of outer space,
and got my parents in the mood. TV
news got them happy and moon-

drunk, moon-eyed. My father and mother
made me. The TV helped, that summer
I was conceived. Such a wide space, such a small step.

2 thoughts on “Moon Shot”

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