The great minds in Transportation have decided
that the answer to all traffic problems
is simple, you replace troublesome intersections
with traffic circles, but you call them roundabouts.
They know that the young and wish they were
in their muscle cars will avoid them like the plague,
for even they cannot defeat centrifugal force,
and inertia is one thing they never lack.
And for the old, the plodding, either they won’t
enter the circle, or will revolve around its center
like a small planet bound tightly to its star
marking the center, and then only after they
have paused for an indeterminite period, trying
to figure out how to get in, where to get out
and wishing they had called Uber to begin with.
And I, behind them know, I can take this time
to get in a day’s meditation counting my breath.
The truly sad thing is not
that billions were spent
on the voyage to our most distant planet
only to discover, on arrival
it wasn’t a planet at all,
merely a dwarf, a near planet
and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade.
Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan
and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.”
No one asked Charon what he thought
watching it all as he wandered about
knowing he will remain moon
for so long as there is someone, somewhere
assigning names, unless he grows bored,
breaks free and wanders off into being
a dwarf planet all his own, after all
it’s not like Styx would give a damn –
better to be a moon of the first order finally
and as for those billions, if you can’t
leave the solar system every now and again
there’s not much purpose
in escaping the atmosphere.
The universe is more vast
than we could begin to contemplate
forty billion galaxies of
forty billions stars, thrust out
a child, an aged one bent by time
mothers with children in tow,
giants standing above with
names belying their stature.
Sitting here, pen in hand
it is comforting to know
there is another, and another
stretching infinitely, secure
in their uniqueness, in the shadow
of their suns, casting
words into the void.
Pluto is now undecided
though that does not seem to trouble many.
It was one thing to be a god,
albeit always thought of as lesser,
for that is what happens when
you rule a place no one wants to visit,
like being the greeter at the door
of the largest Wal-Mart in Hell.
It was nice being a planet, even
if no one ever visited, but that
was taken away by those
who now deem themselves gods,
replacing all of his peers
and consigning them to orbit
a star that has no real name.
But now they say, just perhaps,
Pluto is a planet, and that has
given rise to a debate, while
no one asks Pluto’s opinion, and he
just wants to be left alone
in his dark corner of the solar system.
His is six and deeply confused,
and asks questions to end that state.
He wants to know if Adam and Eve
had two sons, and one killed the other,
where did all of the people come from?
Ask your father seems and easy answer,
but one he cannot accept, too easy
for a mind that needs timely response.
I stumble around, try to deflect,
and finally admit I don’t know but
that some stories cannot be taken literally.
He knows what that word means, and it
is a sufficient explanation for now.
In a week we’ll have the conversation
once again, this time not Adam, not Eve,
but Shem, Ham and Japheth, and how
the three sons of Noah repopulated
the entire planet, and I will once again
admit to my sad lack of knowledge,
and silently curse the Religious School
for creating the abyss into which
my grandson is all to pleased to lead me.
If you set aside the small fact
that earth is the only inhabitable planet
it’s fairly clear the cosmos gave us
a surprisingly bad deal when the cards were dealt.
It’s true that Mercury and Venus
got no moons, but it wouldn’t much matter
for they can see a sun we can’t
begin to imagine, huge and ever-present.
Even Mars, bloody warrior planet it is,
got two, and it got gypped in the grand scheme.
From there is a wealth and you can be sure
Jovians and Saturnians hardly know
which way to look to see a moon rise and set.
But we have the one, and it is frankly
rather boring, its primary claim to fame
being that it is just the right size
to blot out the sun every now and again,
but the sun never seems amused and quickly returns.