Tuesday Poem: Touchdown, and some Cool News


The engine ceased and silence fell.
We had made it. Nine months,
nine months in a metal womb
drinking recycled urine
eating recycled crap
watching our dosimeters glow.

I earned my place as captain. Sure,
there was the PR angle: Venus flies to Mars!
Great for the ratings, all that sort of thing.
But a dream born in girlhood
honed through years of preparation
had fitted me to take command.

“We’re down,” I said, “we’re clear and down.”
Fifteen minutes later
they would be cheering the news in Houston
but for now we had the planet to ourselves.
I looked at my companions. Dazed, exhausted,
but a spring of joy flowed in every one.

A human was about to step on Mars.  The moment
I had dreamt about had come. I crawled into the airlock.
I waited till it cycled. I stepped outside
and felt the Martian sun.
The cold air chilled me. The red light was eerie.
The great deed of my life was done.

Credit note: “Touchdown” was first published in my second poetry collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007 – contact me if you’d like a copy), and republished in Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, ed Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (2009). In All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens, it forms part of the “Red Stone” sequence about the colonisation of Mars.

The Cool News: I’ve just heard from IP, the publishers of Voyagers, that the Frankfurt Book Fair has requested Voyagers for its upcoming Books on New Zealand exhibition at the Fair. After all the hoops that other authors have had to jump through to get their books on display at the Fair, I feel just the tiniest smidgeon of guilt about this – but mainly, I feel very pleased!

A little bird tells me that, since the Voyagers concept worked so well in New Zealand, it might be repeated in a neighbouring country … watch this space!

The Tuesday Poem: You can check out the other Tuesday Poems for this week on the Tuesday Poem blog:- the hub poem at the centre of the page, and all the other poems to the left.

13 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Touchdown, and some Cool News

  1. Fun far-out poem, Tim. And gosh what terrific news about Voyagers. Congrats and I'll look forward to reading it auf Deutsch when the Germans go wild over it! Keep the updates coming — and also please send a sample to the Aotearoa Affair so we can highlight the book and your news. We are posting NZ poems through the end of the month so we'd love to include this and your wonderful news!

  2. I flicked to the page about New Zealand books at the Bookfair and it took me a while to figure out the title 'While You Were Sleeping'. That it didn't mean that the books would put people to sleep…and then perhaps get up and walk around and have parties. Time differences confuse some innocent Southern Hemispherers. Congratulations on this, Tim (and Mark).Also, I didn't know that New Zealand had any neighbours. Talk about space exploration.

  3. Many congrats, Tim! You must be stoked 🙂 Love the anticipation and how it builds in 'Touchdown', ending with the rhyming sun-done. Great stuff!

  4. Thanks, everyone! My apologies for taking so long to respond – I was at work all day, and then out at my book groups, at which (side note) we discussed \”Persepolis\”, which we all loved and which I recommend to anyone who hasn't read it.The congratulations are much appreciated – though they deserve to go as much or more to Mark than me, as the anthology was his idea in the first place.I've already been in touch with Michelle about her feature. Penelope, I'm just trying to follow the advice of the philosopher who once said \”Everybody needs good neighbours\”, and further animadverted that \”With a little understanding / You can find the perfect blend\”.Part 2 of this epic comment to come…

  5. A J, Johanna and Mike, thanks!Kay, I am worried that, if the force is with me, I might be tempted to the Dark Side – somewhere between \”these are not the books you seek\” and \”I am your editor, Luke!\”Rachel, perhaps we should produce a new edition entitled \”Interstellar Voyagers\” – I hear there's a really big book fair on the ninth planet of Betelgeuse :-)Harvey and Elizabeth, thanks, and I'm glad you enjoyed the poem.

  6. Hello Tim,adding more congratulations to you and Mark. To be asked is so very cool! great that you have a woman landing on Mars. Glad it wasn't Venus. Great storyline in this poemI really want to know what happensnext? This is my third try…last time I got caught up with a headerog…wanting me to prove my skeletal make up. fingers crossed!

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