Going Native

F. J. Bergmann
Going Native

no lifeforms here
just these rocks
that move in the night

hailing the mothership:
we wait for the indigenes
to evolve laser capabilities

adopting native costume
to wow the folks back home …
it won’t come off

we emptied our stomachs
once we realized what they were—
they emptied our minds

is it still colonialism
if they’re the parasites
and we’re the host

no longer alien
once we evolve
planet-specific mutations


F. J. Bergmann is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com) and freelances as a copy editor and book designer. She lives in Wisconsin and fantasizes about tragedies on or near exoplanets. She was a Writers of the Future winner. Her work has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. While lacking academic literary qualifications, she is kind to those so encumbered. She used to work with horses. She thinks imagination can compensate for anything.

Backstory: This poem’s genesis is quite uncomplicated—I was just thinking about more things that could go wrong with first contact, and thought it would be fun to try a haiku series rather than a longer poem or poems. I have thought a lot about situations where contacter/contactee end up victimizing/exploiting each other.

Editor’s Notes & Image Credit: The image I chose was inspired by the first verse: no lifeforms here/just these rocks/that move in the night, which took me to an original Star Trek episode, “The Devil in the Dark.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_in_the_Dark)

It was the 25th episode of the first season; it was written by Gene L. Coon and directed by Joseph Pevney. It first aired on March 9, 1967.

In this episode, the Enterprise is called to investigate deaths at a planetary mining facility. Spock and Kirk go on an away mission to the facility, leading to them facing off against a deadly subterranean creature. See this trailer to learn the image came from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_keWvLweF4

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