What Up Is

NASA got so
pissed off about the Russians selling slots
on the international space station to
millionaires like Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, that they
promulgated new rules, new
criteria, for just who can, and who can’t be
what people are now calling
space tourists.

Conduct,
dishonest, criminal, infamous or notoriously disgraceful
conduct, (apparently discrete disgrace is just fine), suffices
for rejection. My mind thinks “they’re worried
about OJ.” Can’t you see it,
the tabloids would have an
outer space field day. Low speed
chases in orbit, OJ in a space suit.
They’re trying to nip this publicity stunt
in the bud because everyone knows —
astronauts prefer
tang.

But seriously, the other
factors that can disqualify you
from space-flight include
fraud, excessive drinking, and
drug abuse. And I’m trying to picture this,
thinking of some 800 pound gorilla. Some
coke-jonesing,
gin-chugging,
smoke-stacking reefer
madman playing three card monty
with John Glenn. You know they say
weightlessness can cause spacesickness even without
someone’s chasing screwdrivers with
tequila shots while he watches the
moon rise. Imagine it, way up
there above the continent-sized
lacey galaxies of cloud, luminous
spiral white fluff poised against
the blue-glowing ocean, a
giant opalescent, marbled jewel
sprawled against humanity’s
intensely arbitrary conception of
what
up
is. Imagine that scene
wasted on someone in orbit
before he even
arrived at the launchpad,
some moron too high on
himself to notice the glorious
beauty that surrounds him
everywhere.

He’s getting
queasier and queasier by the minute,
until the swollen weather balloon of his
zero gravity stomach starts to collapse, eject, and
catapult-spew the vile, putrid Mulligatawny
stew of his chemically-ridden,
industrially irradiated, and
genetically modified diet of
ever-so patriotically American
“food”.

No. Now I’m seeing him in a space station
that’s become a gargantuan
vomitorium
of his own making,
because if he is weightless then his vomit
is weightless too. And it is sloshing and
bouncing and rebounding all around
the cabin. It’s got nothing
to stick to, what with all the
precision-machined metal and plastic
surfaces designed to repel it. And just then,
imagining this intersection of progress
and malnourished disgust, what do I see
but the balding domed septuagenarian pate
of John Glenn, and he’s flushed with all the
senatorial outrage he can muster —
and dodging puke, and I think to myself:
wait . . . WAIT.
This is perfect. This, is,
perfect. I think
“what better place can there be for all the
nauseous politicians in the world?” Every
president, prince, king, pasha and potentate, every
emperor, czar, dictator, and shah,
every grand mufti, premier, and papal nuncio
each vice chancellor, senator, and MP,
even the representatives of the Icelandic
Althing — load them all onto some
orbiting
international space station.

After all they like to think of themselves as
above the fray, ten feet tall.
Loftier minds, concerned
with the big picture.

Upper class. High
brow. If they want to
look down on us why not
let them? Why not make them do it
from a place high enough so they can
piss all over everybody in the world,
— but where their piss,
won’t fall? Where they’ve got to live with their own
predigested messes which won’t
trickle down. Where people drunk
on power have to dodge their own
projectile vomit. And like the poverty and war
they make for the rest of us,
there’s no escape.

I wonder how long it would take before they stopped
concentrating on their own emissions, bodily
secretions and ex-
cretions for long enough to notice
that there are no borders and no skin colors
painted on the land and sea
down below. Wonder if the mid-day sky,
black as Texas crude
might not wake them up to that thing so near,
and impossibly far, the news
they hold in the palm
of their hand, like us,
the rest of their victims,
the reality that we’re all equal,
the miracle of the life
we are.

Terry Provost*
*to read more of Terry Provost’s poetry, please click on link “Chomsky in Chains”

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2 thoughts on “What Up Is

  1. D says:

    Hmmm– I presume that this one must have been written to be performed, so that people can’t just skim past the long loving description of drunk people vomiting, but have to listen to all of it.
    Bukowski does it better.

  2. monkey says:

    D — come out from behind yr one letter & give us yr name!
    i stand behind this poem. this poem is one of my favorites in the universe, floating around the skies. this poem is not meant to be bukowski. provost has never meant to be bukowski. i love & revere bukowski but i also love & revere provost. send me a little poem of yr own & see how you compare!

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