Three men atop a rocket-fuelled colossus, Saturn Five,
A decade’s work, half million minds behind it all – a hive
Of scientific brilliance, to this pivot point arrive,
To get this trio of brave souls, to the moon and back, alive.
A hundred thousand gallons of rocket fuel combust,
A calibrated cauldron, mind-melting upward thrust,
Those half a million minds now in precision tuning trust,
For three there’s no way back now, it’s to the moon, or bust.
A quarter of a million miles, the odds don’t easily stack,
The jangling nerves of half the world will soon be on the rack,
To achieve it, NASA’s plans cannot afford a single crack,
To get three men out to the moon – and then to get them back.
Approaching lunar surface, low, and skirting crater deep,
Two astronauts land flimsy craft, while millions watch, or sleep,
Of famous lines, Neil Armstrong uttered one we’re sure to keep,
That one small step for man, for mankind’s a giant leap.
Of reveries in space though, there are deeper yet to plumb,
One astronaut discovered that all things on earth, the sum
Of everything that has been, and now is, and is to come,
This globe, the span of human life, could sit behind his thumb.
A moment of profundity for humans (prone to preen),
Questions like our place in things (that life will tend to screen),
A reminder that a part of us will always probe, and lean
To ask, from such perspective, what do our frail lives mean?
Such magic God-like viewpoint inclines my thoughts to soar,
And after ‘moon at fifty’ fades out from the media roar,
That photo of a fragile earth will still have power to awe,
Prompt thoughts: are we alone, is this it, or is there something more?
And though I’ll surely never in a lunar trip take part,
Connect direct with the wizardry and wonder of space art,
I may yet be inspired to take small baby steps, a start,
To better grasp that other journey – of the human heart.
For the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.
Radio version uses REM ‘Man on the Moon’ track.