On July 20, 1969, I held tightly to a stuffed animal and my breath as I listened to the “30 minutes of terror” as a tiny space ship 250,000 miles away from my Iowa home descended toward the Moon’s surface.
Humans ventured to new lands throughout civilization. Exploration pulsated in our species’ DNA. We sought out new lands both for adventure and for their economic riches. Many people died in the attempts. Discoverers too often became conquerors, harbingers of hate, disease and genocide. We wasted Nature, resources and the barbaric “Other.”
Humans looked up to the stars. At first, we placed ourselves in the center of the heavens, only one step below our so-called Creator. Those researchers like Galileo who questioned such assumptions were vilified (as are many scientists today). However, Earth and its ally Gravity blocked any attempts to escape from its grip.
But on that day, more than 40 years ago, in a den in Iowa, I gazed at a flickering black-and-white TV screen as humans surmounted Mother Nature, escaped physics’ anchor and sailed toward a oceanless New World. Humans left Earth’s influence twice before (Apollo 8 and 10) and orbited her many times previously. With less than 30 seconds of fuel left, a cool, confident, relatively calm Neil Armstrong landed his ship Eagle on the soft dust of the Moon. Earth and all her inhabitants watched in wonder.
Neil Armstrong (and his crew mates Edwin Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) contradicted the Columbuses of old. They came in peace for all humanity. While they unfurled the American flag in less than firm lunar soil, they also placed flags from every United States and foreign sovereignty. They collected samples of another celestial body, not as plunder but to unlock secrets of millennia and share with scientists Earthwide.
After their fiery return to Earth, the explorers spent three weeks in quarantine least the unseen aliens we always fear somehow trespassed. The trio must have contemplated the steps they took beyond what past civilizations could ever have dreamt. Surely, they surmised, humans, inspired by their success, by the wonder of the deed, by our exploration genes, would continue research expeditions to Luna. Why, nothing, besides lack of will and wonder, could even stop humans from walking across the closet planet so steeped in mystery and myth — Mars.
Nothing, but a lack of will and wonder….
Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon inspired both my sister and me to dream of working for human spaceflight. We both accomplished our goals, — she as a Space Shuttle Mission Controller; I as a planner and public affairs officer at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
When Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25, I felt despondent. Not only did we not lived up to his boldness, we confined our country only to Earth orbit and, at least for the short term, with the USA lacking even its own transport there. When the First Man on the Moon died, he received less recognition in the new 24/7 social network, cable news media than did pop star Michael Jackson’s demise. Even one major TV network news website announced “First Man on the Moon, Astronaut Neil YOUNG….”, confusing the pop-folk singer with the astronaut. The Twitter generation often referred to “Lance” rather than “Neil” in their Armstrong posts.
Neil Armstrong was a true hero, both as an astronaut and man. He was the “test pilot’s test pilot” and survived many never-fatal disasters with focus and confident calm. While other astronauts exploited their fame for fortune, Neil Armstrong taught at a university (for professor wages) and donated many space-related proceeds to charity. He inconspicuously lived for many years on a farm near Lebanon, Ohio. He had two sons. He lost one daughter to brain cancer as a toddler. He preferred the attention of young people to that of presidents and celebrities.
In memory of Neil Armstrong, I posted two poems I wrote for him many years ago. Please link here for them:
And next time you catch a glimpse of the Moon at night (or during the day), please give it a wink to remember its first human visitor.
I’ve added the Longer Poems section for your reading pleasure (and to prove I can write in more than 140 character spurts).
I also play with digital art, thanks to the convenience, patience, forgiveness and delete function of the IPad and my Mac laptop.
I do NOT consider myself an “artist” in any nuance. Any freehand drawings I attempt pale compared to a pre-schooler’s etchings (or those sketched by captive animals as enrichment activities).
As I grow older, the creative muses kvetch at me to express myself in new and frequently in ego-deflating fashion. I attempted a dance class expressly as a fun means to exercise. Paired with a jazz company apprentice and surrounded by rebuking mirrors, I bruised both knees and confidence. My jewelry crafting ventures produced mangled necklaces and lacerated thumbs. Gardening yields drooped, oozing plants.
With the wonders of electrons and $4.99 computer apps, we dweebs can purport to some semblance of aesthetic acumen.
My dalliances with several art apps (I highly recommend “Art Set” and “Flowpaper” for IPad) attained some acceptable results. My “style” tends to lean towards Rothko or Pollock. I enjoy playing with the new color-block fashion trend in my “paintings” and dripping-dots-as-art works for the lackadaisical in me.
Since Poetweetry serves as a creative writing experiment, I decided to embrace my inner “artiste” and occasionally add some of my etchings to my Poetweetry posts. Please let me know what you think.
Thanks for joining me in my journey.
I wrote a few poems back when Hurricane Ike hit Galveston and Houston’s Bay Area near where I live.
I never posted them. But with all the interest in “Hurricane” Isaac and the GOP convention, I thought they became timely again.
Hurricane Ike truly devastated our area, only miles from my house. Many favorite business shuttered forever. Some business and residents continue to rebuild today.
For the first time, I’m including some photos to illustrate Hurricane Ike’s force. Some I took. Others I “borrowed” from the Web (thanks if I included yours).
The following are the names of the Hurricane poems:
Before (based on my visit 2 days prior): “Storm Warnings”
Thanks to all of you who indicated you like and/or follow my Poetweetry posts.
That means so much to me!
I appreciate your interest and time you take for reading.
Bless and Peace!
Somewhere I misplaced 2011!
Due to personal, hurricanes and health issues, an entire year escaped without my contributing one poem to either my @Poetweetry Twitter feed or this Poetweetry blog!
That embarrassing fact alone warrants a couple of poems, forthcoming. Promise!
My 2012 resolution demands I discard my creative doldrums, shake my tokhes and write!
I published several poems on Twitter in 2010 which I failed to post here. Catch up becomes first priority. And, current events inspired several upcoming new poems.
I apologize for my indolence and thank you for your continued patient following. I can and will do better.
As a symbol of new beginnings in my blog and for the New Year, I want to dedicate my first poem of 2012 to a new friend, Maysoon Zayid.
A comedian, political pundit, philanthropist, cat lover and destroyer of barriers — physical and emotional — Maysoon fights against prejudice based on religion, disability, politics and gender — the four strikes (Islam, cerebral palsy, liberal, female) against her. Add to the fact that she is a regular contributor to the lightening rod “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on Current TV as well as ardent Palestinian seeking a peaceful, inclusive and rightful home for her people, she too often becomes the target of hateful comments. She attempts to handle all with courage, humor and desire for understanding.
Her charity Maysoon’s Kids provides scholarships to the only main-stream school for Palestinian children with disabilities. Her organization also provides playgrounds designed for special needs youth there.
While we’ve only “met” via her “Countdown” and UTube appearances as well as daily Twitter conversations, I’ve come to feel we are “sisters” despite differing religions and minor geo-political conflicting ideas. Maysoon’s life and work exemplify that comedy and humanity should know no borders. I look forward to meeting her during her upcoming comedy tour.
Please enjoy my new poem “Sisters” for Maysoon and all my ideological sisters, coming up next.
Shalom and Assalamu alaikum
Audrey S. Rivers, Poetweetry
Poetweetry writes poems for Twitter in 140 characters or less.
Our most recent Twitter creation may be viewed on the left side bar.
However, if you do not bother with Twitter (and I applaud you), the poems will be reprinted in the blog for you to read — and hopefully enjoy. We also welcome comments.
Please remember our Poetweetry entries are copyrighted. You may reprint or link with attribution or RT on Twitter, again with attribution. And if you don’t understand “RT” — you likely make much better use of your time than I do!