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Sunday, February 11, 2007


by George Held

The smeared mascara, the rouge and lipstick,
The face of a washed-up circus clown
Stares out at us from online news.

The diaper jokes on Imus in the morning
And Leno at night turn a space hero
Into a space cadet.

The dark wig and the light trenchcoat,
The pepper spray and the restraining
Order—you know all the sordid details

Of Captain Lisa Nowak’s bizarre descent.
From crew on Discovery and capsule
Commander on the next space shuttle flight.

How we love to bushwhack the right stuff
And turn them into the latest humiliation.
Bring her down from the heights

To the muck where uppity women
Belong. So what if she’s still grieving
Lost friends from the 2003 disaster;

So what if she feels a deep queasiness
About her own fate above the clouds;
So what if she needs the love

Of her fellow astronaut now that she’s lost
Her husband and freaked under pressure
More than you or I could bear?

Paste her sorry face on all the tabloids,
Print or electronic, mock her, make her
Pay the price of daring to fly too high.

George Held publishes widely online and in print. His tenth collection of poems, The Art of Writing and Others, will appear from Finishing Line Press this year. He lives in Greenwich Village with his wife, Cheryl.