Should Space Art be Absolutely Banned? Our Use of Space Turns to Insidious Orbital Clutter #poem #poetry #space #satellite #spacecraft

News follows the poem:

NASA concept of items in near-Earth orbit

Stuff orbits the Earth like a swarm of gnats

Every satellite we send
Turns into space junk in the end

Runs out of batteries and fuel,
Orbits decay, a physics rule.

It may break up,
It may crash down,
Strike other craft,
Or hit your town.

Will a loose bolt
Cause a war
When one of mine
Runs into yours?

Perhaps an artificial moon
Will light your streets
Sometime soon.

The space above us
Once seemed grand.
No need to plan.

Who gets to choose?
What uses should?
Profits? or spies?
What’s public good?

Kate Rauner

I’ve rhymed about space junk and apparently limitless natural resources before.

The news is longer than today’s rhyme. Maybe a Space Sanitation Force is what we need:

City officials recently announced plans to build an artificial moon, launching it to hang over Sichuan province’s capital city by 2020, Chinese news site People’s Daily Online (PDO) reported… [it] will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite.

Regarding concerns about the Chinese artificial moon interfering with astronomical observations or disrupting animals that are active at night, Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said that the light would amount to only a “dusk-like glow,” PDO reported.

However, research has shown that many animals are highly sensitive to the light and phases of the moon.

What belongs in space? What deserves a spot in our crowded orbit? Is your opinion different if what’s launched is called art?

There are more than 1,800 active satellites currently in orbit around Earth, carrying out a myriad of jobs: collecting weather data, helping drivers navigate roads, spying on enemy targets, the list goes on.

[Soon, SpaceX will carry a CubeSat into orbit. When the] CubeSat reaches a point about 350 miles above Earth, it will break open. Its silver, plasticlike contents will then unfurl into a 100-foot-long sculpture in the shape of a diamond. The result is called Orbital Reflector, the work of the artist Trevor Paglen… The sculpture reminds some astronomers of another satellite, launched in January: the Humanity Star, a three-foot-tall spherical object built by the U.S. spaceflight company Rocket Lab and covered in dozens of highly reflective panels. Its purpose, too, was simply to be seen from Earth.


Planet X in the Far-flung Outer Solar System #poem #poetry #astronomy #solarsystem #planet

Man From PLanet X movie poster

This is the best I can do, since there is no image of Planet X yet

Watching perturbations.
In planets far away,
In cold realms way-past Jupiter,
Past Saturn, wobbles sway.

When Lowell discovered Pluto,
A store of luck was spent.
The famous dwarf is just too small
To tug

But orbital mechanics
Cannot be denied.
Something’s out there, far away.
Perhaps a Planet Nine.

Dwarf planets with companions
Among the plutoids hide.
The more we find, the better guess
Where Planet X resides.

Kate Rauner

Thanks to for their article on Goblin (2015 TG387), another Pluto-sort of object tripped over in a long-term, ongoing sky survey that may ultimately find Planet X.

And we expect
Someone will spot
This Planet X.

The more plutoids
That we find,
The more our theories
Are refined.

Most Basic to Life #biology #science #poem #poetry #whatislife


Are you alive?
How do you know?
What do you look at
To see if it’s so?

Is it because
You oxidize food?
Consume and create

Or the homeostasis
That you maintain?
Do you need cells
To be in the game?

What if the planets
Hold a surprise?
Organized data
May say you’re alive.

Kate Rauner

Thanks to for raising the question, even if there’s no consensus answer. For you and me, “I think therefore I am” may work as well as any other answer.

Ancient Tragedy is a Stunning Ice Age Find #paleontology #Siberia #mummy #poem #poetry

mummified foal

Credit: Michil Yakovlev/SVFU/The Siberian Times

Forty thousand years concealed
In the arctic frost,
Mummified from tip to toe,
A baby that was lost.

Millennia did not erase
The tragedy we found.
A mare whose foal,
Just two months old,
Fell, was trapped,
And drowned.

How many days
Did she graze
Along that fatal shore?
Calling for a baby gone
Who would respond no more?

A herd, like time,
Is never still,
And soon away will drift,
To leave behind,
For us to find,
Her unintended gift.
Kate Rauner

This story reminded me that we share a lot with Ice Age animals.

Paleontologists found the mummified body of the young horse inside the 328-foot-deep (100 meters) Batagaika crater during an expedition to Yakutia in eastern Siberia… Its mummified remains were so well-preserved by icy conditions that the skin, the hooves, the tail, and even the tiny hairs in the animal’s nostrils and around its hooves are still visible.

Ages of a Dog #dog #puppy #years #poem #poetry #Shakespeare

With apologies to William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II Scene VII.

dogs playing tug-a-warAll the world’s a stage,
And all canines upon it merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one dog in his day plays many parts,
His acts being six ages.

At first, the puppy,
Snuggling with his litter mates,
Warm at momma’s side.
Then the happy junior,
Chewing everything in sight,
Drooling on humans much-beloved
In his forever home.

And next the adult, quite content,
Who knows his home and family,
Where best to snuffle for fresh scents,
Prepared to defend pack and den.

And then mature,
In fair round belly with good kibbles lined,
Escorting his owner on long walks,
Calm and wise with muzzle graying;
And so he plays his part.

The fifth age shifts
To senior dog,
His youthful energies, now rationed
For the occasional rabbit,
Deep baying sometimes hoarse,
Still willing, even as his legs betray.

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Wags and smiles when hears his name,
Content within his doggie bed.

Kate Rauner

With thanks to for the age of dogs and cats. Write your own version 🙂 We especially need a cat poem.

Silver City Quarterly Review – don’t miss the summer edition #newmexico #newmexicotrue #literary #literaryfiction #reading #stories #poems

Raven Painting © 2016 by Silja Erg

Painting © 2016 by Silja Erg

Find a delightful mix of essays, short stories, and poems in the summer 2018 edition of the Silver City Quarterly Review, including one of my poems.

My little corner of southwest New Mexico, site of copper mining for centuries and gateway to the Gila National Forest and Continental Divide trail, is home to a lot of talented writers. We have a thriving artist community too. Imagine discovering a little version of Santa Fe before the crowds did. If you’re ever in our vicinity, spend a few days.

Thanks to Chris Lemme for all the time and care he puts into the review. And for finding such a wonderful illustration for my poem. (Painting © 2016 by Silja Erg)




Fatal Fashions #poem #poetry #chemistry #arsenic

Victorian demonstration of chemistry

Victorians loved chemistry

A gorgeous pigment,
Lovely green,
Made dresses sparkle
Like emeralds.
Bonnets to display with pride
Brought happiness
So ephemeral.

The fanciest paper
On the wall,
To grace a baby’s nursery,
Or a parlor
Kept for guests,
Brought pain and death,
But no mercy.

Even books,
My comfort close,
Collected in old libraries,
Can curse a modern reader still,
As they did to their

Arsenic makes that glowing green
So irresistible.
Its compounds deadlier than sin
Their poison touch

Kate Rauner

The Victorians knew villains used arsenic, but somehow missed understanding that not all victims were killed by a human murderer. Unless you count the manufacturers of these dreadfully beautiful pigments. Interested in the grisly details of death by arsenic poisoning? Read here.