Seasonal Poem: Ark II

Ark II

            Captain’s Log, Earth-date December 25, 2121:

It’s time
The jigsaw puzzle sky
Is backlit with the dawn
Of a new age; the fowl
Have already flown South
And all the beasts of the field
Have scattered; over the ridge
The ocean grows black


Prepare for launch
Electromagnetic storms
Approaching, atmospheric
Ablation, imminent

           Cargo is secure, Captain
           Winds southwesterly at three zero knots
           Temperature forty degrees Fahrenheit
           Temporal rift materializing at twelve-o-clock

Main engine start on my mark:
…three, two, one…
Engage rotating fields
<emergency alarms activate>

           The hull’s creaking, Sir
           Approaching stress limits

Monitor telemetry
Maintain trajectory
Accelerate to zero point four light-speed

           Magnetic coupling complete
           Going superluminal


           Target galaxy on sensors, Sir
           Descending through Virgo cluster
           Engaging dark matter decelerators

Well done
Planet on screen
Calculate orbital insertion
Prepare to land


Release the animals
Plant the flowers and herbs
And these two trees, the evergreens
           In the middle of the garden

John C. Mannone has poems in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His forthcoming collections are Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2021) and Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2022). A retired physics professor, John lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He is poetry editor of Abyss & Apex who contributes a seasonal poem every January.

Backstory: This poem originated from an Ekphrastic workshop and a photograph of the setting sun backlighting some would-be storm clouds. There was something inviting about the luminosity while still portraying an ominous mood. Weatherscapes are often excellent mood-instillers or setting-suggesters. The “dark” clouds coupled with a feeling of doom and pending disaster reminded me of the Biblical flood and the ark, which played into this futuristic poem with a spaceship providing salvation. But the poem evolved beyond that and suggests a different mythology. Ark II is set up as a dramatic dialogue adapted for a poem.

Image credit: Rocket launch (

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