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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


by Martin Elster

Even Elon Musk, engineer of the circus show, was surprised that his audacious stunt worked. “Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he tweeted. His plan is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster—with the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers—to cruise through high-energy radiation belts that circuit Earth towards deep space. —The Guardian, February 7, 2018

Elon, you’ve lost one of your cherry cars.
We doubt you miss it, though, for Starman steers it,
piercing the emptiness en route to Mars
and the ring of rocks beyond. What flyer fears it,

the absolute of space? Not this fake pilot!
Its gaze is black as the gaps between the stars,
and yet the worlds and suns seem to beguile it.
Who would have thought that dummies in red cars

could zip into earth orbit and keep going?
They flabbergasted us, your booster rockets
which settled like a pair of sparrows (owing
to bang-up engineering). In your pockets

were all the funds you needed for a test
that bested your most hopeful expectations.
Now car and mannequin are on a quest
to beat our wildest visualizations

as earth recedes with all its blues and whites
as Mars grows closer with its browns and coppers
as space becomes spectacular with lights
as we audacious apes become star-hoppers.

Martin Elster is a composer and serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poetry has appeared in Astropoetica, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Chimaera, and The Road Not Taken, among others, and in anthologies such as Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 and 2015 Rhysling Anthologies, New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan, and Poems for a Liminal Age.