Art by Cindy Duhe
Astronaut Down

He staggers across the last stretch of yellow brick sky,
following in the shadow patterned footsteps
of the forbidden dance, out of place and out of rhythm
like a needle kissing heat-warped vinyl.
Measuring his progress by the piles of dead animals
stacked in alphabetical order along the throughway,
he resonates with the vibrations of home
and packs his head with hummingbird sounds
and heroin sunshine, combining to leave him
free of charge and full to the bursting.

These are the things he's missing:
value meals and mood rings,
humbucking guitars and ball-bearing fans,
a beautiful wife and a meaningful past,
baseball bats and circus clowns,
but most of all
a safe place to land.

Startled out of his reverie
by the disconcerting sound
of a chainsaw rumbling and grumbling
where it doesn't belong,
he catches a whiff of gravity and splashes
down hard in the buzz-cut fields of grain.

All mission control can do is watch on cable TV
as he slides beneath the boiling horizon,
arms waving, legs tangled hopelessly in the chaff,
lungs quickly swelling with the home-baked
possibilities of Wonder bread and blackberry tarts,
his fingers still frantically programming in
the final descent.

John Whitted

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