Life on Mars: It’s not for everyone

    Astronauts are training for the mission to Mars as we speak, but take it from ‘someone in the know’, their major  worry is not ‘being there’. That part will be ‘piss-your-pants exciting’, for anyone who loves visiting new travel destinations.
    No the big problem is in-flight-boredom. Our current propulsion technologies give cabin-time estimates of over a year, spent mainly watching the planet Earth grown teenier.
And ‘Ain’t it a small world?’ jokes among the crew will only kill so many months of mute tedium.
And therefore, without much media fanfare, NASA initiated the ‘EPIC’ program about a year ago. And I am proud, if that’s the word, to be a part of it.
Short for Extreme Poetry Immersion Chamber’, I now know quite a bit more about the training module, there in the spacious compound at Huntsville. A mock-up of the crew-compartment, it is totally sound-proof, as befits the deadening silence of inter-planetary space. In fact, that was the reason they gave to fly me to their own studios to record my poetry and commentary. I’d offered to save the government money, but you know, $1000 toilet seats and all, they insisted on their perfect zero background noise.
Dick Thorenson, veteran audio engineer with the US space agency, sat me down in the booth. A Sennheiser, a wind-screen, a pair of headphones a bit more serious than my Radio shack version at home, and a cue from the console, and we were On the Air.
I finished the poems, and Dick stopped the taping for a moment to tell me to, like, ‘talk about ’em, explain ’em…’ in his words.
Talk about a compliment! I tried to kinda summarize my poetic theories in succinct sentences, but he kept waving his hand; ‘More’. And so, an hour and a half later, I’d estimate, in the middle of a particularly complex sentence, Dick finally gave me the hand-across the throat ‘Cut’ sign.
He told me to wait a second, while he opened the door to the room with the recording console and shut off the machines, waking up the Sound Engineer in the process. Groggy, the fellow gave me a thumbs-up, and I was led to the office to get a check. Three-hundred bucks + airfare, and a chance to be a small part of history. I felt like a million bucks on the flight home.

I just wish I hadn’t Googled ‘EPIC/ NASA’(!)
My verses, and even more-so, the attendant explanatory blah-blah, were chosen by a panel, according to Wiki, for their ‘soporific, mind-numbing character’ (!) I quote:
“The Module’s task is to acclimatize the personnel to repetitious, essentially meaningless noises, to attempt to explore their capacity to remain alert and functional in the face of this unavoidable aspect of inter-planetary…” I quit reading at that point, a broken man. I’m not sure I even want to cash the check. Somebody will know. Tellers will talk. My career is shot.
    Dick did email me a week or so ago, since we promised to stay in touch, that at least one astronaut-trainee, a combat veteran ex-USAF, had quit/resigned from the program as a result of my ‘significant contribution to the selection regieme.’ Yeah, they probably woke him up to tell him he wuz ‘outta there’.
“I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit here with a digital thermometer up my ass listening to this idiot drone on about vowels!” were his last words as he collected his things and left, on his way back home to Kansas. At least that part’s not in the Wiki. Yet.

Poem 714

An over-eager ogre bought an
auger at a sale
Drank  Little-leager Lager®, watched his
logger data fail

A less-than meagre cougar got Pete
Seeger out on bail
‘An overt egret yogurt’ gets thumbs-up
in The Daily Mail

Excerpt from my commentary:
“.. and so, yeah, like, you know, with the Kiki and the Bouba, the sounds of the words, their vowels especially, have this kind of primal essence of their own. I mean, ‘Lloyd leads a load of loud, lewd lads from Leeds to Lodz’ just say it out loud, or even “Luke likes to look at the leak in the lake, but he’s out of luck; lacks the key to the lock.” And sometimes they even happen in order, AEIOU, long and short, like in
For the sake of some saki, I seek just one second
My psyche is sick, and I can’t soak my socks
There’s no succor in a sucker
So for the flavour I savour
Just fill up my sack and I’m gone
Now, I’m not sure why this should all be so intensely fascinating. The Greeks, beginning in the third century…”


27 thoughts on “Life on Mars: It’s not for everyone

  1. dirtbubble

    Don’t be so discouraged. Someone at the Department of Defense is studying this program right now to determine how to make weaponry from your poems and commentary.

  2. murisopsis

    A true trick or treat kind of poetry blog! Are you sure it isn’t just a preliminary tactic to soften the fertile mind prior to planting the seeds of obedience and self doubt??

  3. jsolberg

    @murisopsis – I *am* planting seeds. just dont what will come up yet. ‘Looking at the Ur-language’ might be your title style. You know, like ‘Mama’ in 593 languages from all over the world. Only I’m working on ‘Ogre’

  4. twoberry

    This might be your best blog ever.  Or, This Bites Me your messed Moog ever.My first thought was to bring some Scrabble sets along and have a tournament amongst the Astro-Nuts, to relieve the boredom —  (to believe the roardom?) — but then I realized that MY OWN BLOGS could have been used instead of your poetry.  I’m speaking of the Anamonic Blogs, of course, such as the one just posted.Your poetry’s better, of course, but mine’s more boring, and isn’t that the point?


    As long as they don’t include the poetry of Edgar Guest – our Astronauts would arrive on Mars totally insane.  On the other hand, maybe it does take a heap of living to make a capsule a home.

  6. chromepoet

    Good to see you’ve been busy. I’m sure NASA appreciates yer verse. Ad agencies generally pay more. Consider sexing it up a bit and you could help fill a few garages with unnecessary stuff, keep the economy moving along and contribute yer one-percent to the one-percent. Know what I mean? Get my drift? As always, outta state man.

  7. jsolberg

    @chromepoet – Thanks. All humour aside, I actually kinda like the ‘Ogre with an Auger’ poem here. (# 714 in the Rohrer Catalog) Says something to me; not sure what yet. Oh hell, it’s probably just because the hebrew natives can’t voice the “-er” sound, they pervert it to “-air” as in “eag-air” for eager. Makes me feel proud to be able to ‘talk normal’. So to speak.

  8. jsolberg

    @ordinarybutloud – Haha, clever. But now practice reading it aloud in a scrupulously affect-less tone. Stellazine helps. And see if you can bargain the price up to $500. I’m curious whether I sold out cheap, just for the flattery, you know.

  9. Roadkill_Spatula

    Ogre with an Auger is oustanding. Reminds me of Walt Kelly. And to a lesser degree, of Danny Kaye in The Inspector General: “The vessel with the pestle holds the pellet with the poison. The flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true.”

  10. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – Ah, I remember that DK role. Kelly less so, although you alerted me to his crafty work. I’d always thought that the ‘we have met the enemy’ quote was from a ‘Pogo’, albeit, but that the guy was some greek one-name poet.

  11. Roadkill_Spatula

    In the Pogo comic strip, Churchy LaFemme, the turtle, used to come up with wonderful lyrics, like Home on the Range:Whom, how many rageweary beer in a canteloupe ageAunt Selma is hurtamidst Corsican wort(Can’t recall the last line. Maybe he got interrupted at that point)And Pogo once sangJosher fraught the brattle of Jerichoand the waltz come a-trumblin’ down.The classic yearly carol, of course, was Deck us all with Boston Charlie,Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!Don’t we know archaic barrel,Lullaby Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!


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