Today's poem is by Martha Silano

Gerbils in Space

and geckos. Fruit flies, kernels of com.
Amoebas and bacteria. Black mice

and white mice. Once upon a time a dog
named Laika ascended in Sputnik 2,

egregious PR on account of no plan
for a safe return. But once they figured out

re-entry, up went Belka and Strelka,
public support. Two Russian tortoises,

a posse of mealworms, a few dozen
wine flies, all aboard Zond 5, first

orbiting of the moon. Before a human
could venture into weightlessness,

six rhesus monkeys named Albert preceded
, each one charmed with his own uniquely

abysmal end—explosions, suffocation,
failing parachutes. The French launched

Felicette, electrodes jammed beneath
feline skin, transmitting her condition

to the safely on the ground. More than hers
a hundred miles above our penny-loafered feet,

I wonder about the condition of the brains
beneath bouffanted, mop-topped heads,

of a wavering between staunchest enemies
and let's-do-this-moon-thing-together friends.

A dozen gerbils 350 miles above me as I type,
high-tech gadgets sucking up ethereal waste

for the broken-free and the gravity-blessed
for the constantly pulled in, constantly falling back.

Copyright © 2014 Martha Silano All rights reserved
from Southern Indiana Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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