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Tuesday, April 27, 2021


by Chris Vola


The winds declined to rip
the helicopter to pieces,
its carbon-fiber blades
spinning furiously,
defiantly, churning
for a few seconds
in the flushed sky,
even though sooner or later,
like all expensive toys,
its sunken parts would be left
to fill with dust,
even though a storm
would eventually
take an antenna,
the circuitry would garble,
landing gear would be
plucked like scabs.
Still, NASA applauded.
Elon Musk re-tweeted.
Someone proclaimed
“a red-letter day on the Red Planet!”
From 178 million miles away,
another data burst confirmed
that the helicopter
had touched softly
back down on the rutted 
ground, where only rovers
dared to tread.
The waiting was finally over
for the engineers,
who, giddy from their screens,
began to believe the future
could be tolerable.
They immediately forgot 
the gorgeous sunlight that
filtered through the oaks
outside the command center,
or the clogged freeways 
where blood & plastic 
spilled like SpaceX
propulsion fluid across
our still-living desert.
The Earth's concerns
had become irrelevant  
to them, like a neighborhood
with unknown sirens & sickness,
or the bus-stop profile 
of a sleeping family.
The Earth itself, unmoved
by progress
on another sphere,
would only turn
& brace its stem
against its own putrid winds.
Most of us would continue
to stay in the homes
we’d been staying in 
& busy ourselves
with the swipe-&-click
routines that could never
really sustain us,
pretending not to hear
the whirring in our heads,
or see the ugly
bubble cockpit
of a much different chopper,
one fueled by muzzle-flash,
& boredom,
& lungs twisted
full of loss,
its impact heavier
than a verdict,
emptier than the spacesuits
we’d never wear 
while prancing
in the Martian gravity,
awaiting Elon’s rise
from cryogenic slumber
to save us
on the third day.
We'd long
given up wondering
why it came
for us this way or
if we might escape
it, its appetite whetted,
its wide blades
ready to grind us into
the only dust
we’d ever know. 

Chris Vola is the author of six books, most recently I is for Illuminati: An A-Z Guide to Our Paranoid Times (William Morrow, 2020). His recent poems appear or are forthcoming in New Pop Lit, The Collidescope, The Main Street Rag, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Horror Sleaze Trash. He lives in New York.