Liftoff

My creation...ARISE.

I think this is the best poem I’ve ever written. It’s a sort of paean to the space shuttle. I wrote it back in 2005, when the shuttles were still flying.

Liftoff

The countdown closes quick upon the point
When hydrogen and steel will push as one
And will with flame tumultuously anoint
That beast which looks with envy on the sun.
A light! Two hundred decibels explode
The crowd exhales – a thousand boiling winds
Surround the glowing column and its load:
The shuddering leviathan ascends.
And up – and up – the azure curtain parts –
The well of black, ablaze with powdered snow
Reverberates through fresh-elated hearts –
The panoramic arc unfolds below;
And passing into silence with a sigh
The falcon skirts the surface of the sky.

I never got to see a shuttle launch, and now I never will.

Did you ever see one? Would you want to?

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4 responses to “Liftoff

  1. I really like it. It took me a couple reads through to put it together in my mind, but it’s very beautiful. I like the words you’ve used, like tumultuously and leviathan. I’ve always wished I could better put words like those into my writing, but I never think of them while I’m writing something, and trying to shove them in afterwards just because I want to use them ends up sounding really awkward and strange. Perhaps they still need to be assimilated into my vernacular.

    And, no, I’ve never seen a shuttle launch, and I don’t really want to. I’d rather read a book about it.

    • Thanks Evlora! I struggle a lot with the line between simple, natural-sounding language, and “higher,” more formal/poetic language. I’m glad this one worked for you.

      You’re right about trying to shove words in after the fact – it’s awkward, and doesn’t work very well. My advice would be to just write naturally. The more you read, the more your working vocabulary will grow, and you’ll begin to incorporate those new words naturally too. As you said – assimilating them into your vernacular. 😉

  2. “CountDown”

    Lit up with anticipation
    We arrive at the launching site
    The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
    On the Florida coastline

    Circling choppers slash the night
    With roving searchlight beams
    This magic day when super-science
    Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

    Floodlit in the hazy distance
    The star of this unearthly show
    Venting vapours, like the breath
    Of a sleeping white dragon

    Crackling speakers, voices tense
    Resume the final count
    All systems check, T minus nine
    As the sun and the drama start to mount

    The air is charged
    A humid, motionless mass
    The crowds and the cameras,
    The cars full of spectators pass
    Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife
    Technology…high, on the leading edge of life

    The earth beneath us starts to tremble
    With the spreading of a low black cloud
    A thunderous roar shakes the air
    Like the whole world exploding

    Scorching blast of golden fire
    As it slowly leaves the ground
    Tears away with a mighty force
    The air is shattered by the awesome sound

    Like a pillar of cloud
    The smoke lingers high in the air
    In fascination
    With the eyes of the world
    We stare…

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