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Tuesday, April 03, 2018


by Martin Elster

A composite image of the planet Venus as seen by the Japanese probe Akatsuki. The clouds of Venus could have environmental conditions conducive to microbial life. IMAGE FROM THE AKATSUKI ORBITER, BUILT BY INSTITUTE OF SPACE AND ASTRONAUTICAL SCIENCE/JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY via University of Wisconsin-Madison News, March 30, 2018.

On Friday, astronomers announced a new paper laying out the case for the atmosphere of Venus as a possible niche for extraterrestrial microbial life.—EarthSky, March 31, 2018

We’re microbes in the clouds of Venus
of an otherworldly genus
gobbling CO2 and spitting
out sulfuric acid—fitting
for a life form that can waft
akin to an ocean-going craft
far above the rocks and soil
whose heat will make lead bullets boil.

We’re vitamin D3 gourmets,
drinking ultraviolet rays
as we have done for donkey’s years,
wild about the atmosphere’s
asphyxiating greenhouse gas,
so reflective that your glass
sees only jewel-like radiance.
You scientists are on the fence

on whether there is life on Venus,
but only cause you haven’t seen us
yet. And we don’t want you to,
for if you poke and probe, you’ll strew
our virgin world with noxious matter.
All tranquility will shatter.
Goggle at our planet. Stand
in distant awe. But please don’t land!

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.