An alien autopsy
No time to phone home
By DJ Tyrer
When The Orchids Came
By Bryn Fortey
They came from nowhere
Well that’s what they looked like
Circling the Earth
With an outer shell
In technicolor and beauty
Amazed and enthralled
Ignoring the forecasts
Of doom and gloom
From a few bearded
Then they came down
Giant orchids landing
All over the world
Welcomed and loved
With religious intensity
And mass adulation
The entire staff of
Moon Base Alpha
Watched in horror
When the orchids came down
And people died
All over the planet
Earth was lost
To animal life
And human survival
Now rested off world
With those still on the Moon
“It’s down to us, Roxy.”
Said the Head of Lunar Geology
Hoping he would be up to the task
Originally published in Tigershark
Curiosity Sends a Message Home
By Vivien Foster
An update from the travelling squad – your team of robots, mis-shaped, odd
Built by techies, built for dreams
To find why Mars does not have green.
We’re not all gone, we’re not all dead.
The biggest question in your heads does have an answer, listen hard
I’ll tell you what’s occurring in our backyard.
Just to let you know, for years
We’ve been exploring here, m’dears, we have been working hard for you
Hope you have enjoyed the view
Did you like my selfies?
Every wavelength utilised, many secrets we have prised
From this land so red and dusty, from this neighbour planet rusty
Even if we didn’t quite make it
Gave you facts, we didn’t fake it.
Like beavers in a Scottish stream we have expanded on your dream.
I am Curiosity, strongest fastest longest-lasting
Did you think I would only take orders?
I decided to send you this four minute blog
Tho you called me Rover like a sniffer dog
Like dogs on an island we formed a team
The abandoned, the amazing and the has-beens
Maybe you remember some of them.
Viking, always going off exploring, sailing to the red horizon,
Navigating like a lemming.
And Insight, permanently looking inwards
Contemplating the planet’s navel, waiting for a Marsquake to prove
The planet lives.
Phoenix burned brightly and briefly but the polar winter
Was too extreme for its solar feathers.
Summer solstice was its earth-announced death-day.
It only speaks to us now and shivers in the Martian dark.
Then there are those long-lived twins, Spirit and Opportunity
Trudging loyally through dust and distance, half a planet apart.
You declared them dead and silent.
They are together now, sharing their
Collection of Heat Shield Rocks from space.
Poor Schiaparelli, Mars was too hard for its soft landing.
We remember him on Fragments Day.
Of course, there’s Beagle, ‘here boy, come!’
And still, insatiable, you cast us out.
We open like flowers, like treasure chests, like designer storage systems.
Origami creatures with probing arms and drilling fingers, skittering about the surface
Of a dessicated mausoleum like water-boatmen
In a drought where once there was a pond.
We suck pale sunlight into dark petals, extend scooping leaves and scraping tendrils, sieve and sift
And measure and photograph.
Do you like my selfies?
We travel on insanely thin insecty legs, on bulbous feet,
on man-made caterpillar treads,
inching down grey inclines scattering priceless pebbles in the subtle dawn. That’s how we roll.
We crack the iron crust, we shift foreign soil, we make tracks.
And that’s the thing, the story that I bring…
Just yesterday I saw a track I hadn’t made
A place where something stopped and probed
Maybe it found the mother-lode of knowledge.
And so upon my binary initiative I followed it and saw
A vision of mechanical tooth-and-claw.
It dips in and out of time and space –
That made it difficult to chase but now we talk we can connect
Exchanging questions deep, direct and personal.
Although the new robot is sometimes intangible
We find we are digitally compatible
So you’re from a moonless planet – where?
And you’re from the big blue wet one right there?
This visiting robot doesn’t stop asking, it’s curiouser than me –
Our mutual download might be a mistake
We’ll have to wait and see
So, sorry about any localized danger
I’ve given our home address to a stranger.
Do you like our selfie?
Earth – Worthless Turf
By Mark Hudson
Well, I just got back from the rodeo,
I was doing the dos-i-do.
I was drinking a beer with Billy Bob,
to tell you the truth-he’s quite a slob.
Living on a ranch in Wyoming,
we saw a UFO that was roaming.
Billy Bob was frightened to death,
he said, “I better lay off the meth!”
He tried to run back to the farm,
when a long extended green arm,
came from the UFO with a laser gun,
shot Billy Bob, just for fun.
I said, “Why’d you kill one of my friends?”
He said, ” We come to earth to cleanse.
You have been chosen to be spared,
there is no need to be scared.”
“Our mission we’ve taken is very risky,
take me to a bar, I need a whiskey!
I haven’t had one since I left Mars,
so come on take me to the bars.
The good old boys were throwing darts,
drinking beer and making farts.
When in I walked with a man so green,
I guess you can imagine the scene.
Tex walked up, sending out farts,
he said, “You’re not from these parts?”
Martian picked him up as he was able,
and flung him across the pool table.
Martian said”Any more silly questions?”
They all looked like they had ingestion!
With laser, “Want to play Russian Roulette?”
The barfolks cowered and said, “Nyet!”
The Martian strode up to the counter,
and said, “This is a close encounter.
Give me a whiskey to drink,
or the smell of death will start to stink.”
With trembling hands, the bartender poured
the free drink he chose to afford.
The Martian snorted it through his nostril,
and said, “Now I don’t feel so hostile!
You also want to pass me one of those beers?
I haven’t had one in a thousand years.”
The bartender nervously passed him an ale,
his face had gone totally pale.
The Martian said, “I’m just making a stop,
I got a few bombs I must drop!
We’ve got many planets to exploit,
but we have to bomb New Jersey and Detroit!”
The Martian said, “You’ll see me in the news,
I’ve only left a handful of clues!
We drop little bombs everywhere we go,
so see you later, it’s on with the show!”
The bartender watched with trembling hands,
as the Martian sailed to different lands.
He started to get a little surly,
and said, “I’m going to close early.
I saw that his hands were starting to shake,
so I asked him for a vanilla milkshake.
I sat and drank it, with all of the boys,
and we all made our very own farting noise.
Ghosts in Orbit/Phantoms of Heaven
By Andrew Darlington
across day/night terminator
in darkness, hovering soundless
a shell of metals glistening pale
held aloft on contra-grav threads
EVA from the ISS,
& a trick of light,
a trick of lightlessness,
but don’t tell anyone
some things you don’t tell,
a reflection effect, prisming
it must be, nothing more,
this secret knowledge
you keep to yourself,
a rippling sun-dappled surface
and something vaguely man-shaped
pupils contract in bare starlight
suitless in hard vacuum
gazing wistful at Earth below
in silver ladders of sound
a man impassioned by death…
across day/night terminator
millions born, millions more dead
but don’t breathe a word, ever,
some things you never confess,
but you remember, this haunting
across 1,000 day/night terminators
until a baikonur diner where we meet
to whisper these secret knowledges
this silver ladder of soundless light
of things seen but denied
yes, I too, in prisming tricks of light,
since primordial time billions died
transcended days and nights
into the void beyond time
they once called heaven,
no, there must be denial
some things you don’t tell
By DJ Tyrer
We bring greetings and felicitations
To all the Earth’s many nations
From far across the galaxy
It is you that we have come to see
Extending our pseudopods in peace
Hoping war and hate will cease
But if that does not go to plan
We will obliterate every last human
Originally published in Handshake