Floating in space

The Americans were so jubilant

when they launched a man

into the reaches of space,

and splashed it on TV screens.


A triumph of civilisation.

The rhetoric of progress.

Thank god for the good old US of A.




Alan Shepard floated just on

the top of the stratosphere,

circling around this oval rock,

and he looked down

and saw the oval in its course.


And the Americans thought they were so grand,

and must be evolving into the species of promise

that would, one day, move out into the galaxy.


There was a reckless optimism.


For we are all but a speck here in this infinity.

Shepard must have seen that.


But did he see

this planet is covered

with the unrelenting growth

of human misery?


Even in America, at the time,

civil rights was a battle ground;

and the poor got no benefit

from the space race;

and women were just

women in their place.


And they all watched

the TV screens,

looking through shop windows

into the blackness of space.


And, if the truth be told,

the Americans did it to outdo the members of

the human race that they labelled as enemy,

just because they were not the first, like Yuri Gagarin,

and just because they feared the reds and the bomb,

in this cryptic battle of Us vs Them..


And what now,

in the passing of this time

to the annals of history,

have we learnt?


Where are we in space?

Where are we on earth?

Where are we as a species?


Are we not as tribal and territorial

as when we wandered out of Africa,

and sought to dominate with our tools

and our gods?