Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Stuart Greenhouse


"Why the Space Shuttle Challenger Exploded"


 

A busted O ring, everyone knows that

now, but that day

there was no knowledge

anywhere, there were only

some pebbles in the schoolside

rock garden

white in the sun;

our bus beside them

yellow in the sun;

1984

on my lap,

Reagan and America

twining out of the loudspeaker

to one hand over

our undivided hearts:

   I pledge now under

   this cloud made two ways

   by what should have been

   one rocket bright as

   a smaller sun under the sun

   fate cannot divide us

   from our singular destination

   it cannot misstate our resolve.

Then the radio

went static,

that weird voice of the void

going nowhere;

then the driver, not bothering

to turn it off, instead

his foot pressing

the school bus to begin

moving again

began again

my confusion

at its always forward

appearing, disappearing

behind.

 

 


"Enceladus is Happy"


 

like sitting nei gong is like watching a warm sea inward —

or maybe happy for Enceladus looking inward is like

being shut in the dark, watching a movie, “Grand

Budapest Hotel” again maybe       maybe nostalgia    

receding inward upon its own signifying ruin is

for Enceladus happy life seen taking hold

in the chasmic depths of its outer core’s mantle tidally broken

to a fortuitous syntax of preorganic precursor

molecules even as (jump-cut!) fate intrudes

and androids from a naked

far world (ours!) begin to drill inward from the sterile outside

Enceladus never noticed before; from where Enceladus

is most armored — most inert — from the void —

 

maybe Enceladus is happy

as the androids sink their geothermal

turbines through its miles-thick ice crust

to power their mainframes and

resupply stations

 

maybe like Da Mo sitting before a monastery wall nine years still,

village children pushing nails into his unresisting flesh,

Enceladus doesn’t even notice

so intent its fullness is on the movie it is

watching      projecting inward        thinking what future                   

frames will it hold as it holds in its belly this slosh

of ocean     what will these little cells just starting to find themselves be

when they find each other

married at the climax       arrangements

of happy little oceans moving freely

inside of themselves     inside larger oceans    inside its one tide

 

this is all supposition

this is the future

you and I dream time is

an eternal spread of light outward through darkness

the androids will too      I mean

when our movie is over and

our movie isn’t over though theirs

theirs has already begun

 

maybe Enceladus feels free

knowing nothing

of our roofless world;

knowing, like Da Mo

sitting, happiness

is freedom constrained

by its own circumference.
 

 

note 1: One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus was thought to be a solid ball of ice until recently, when it was disovered that, through the energy of tidal friction, it was warm enough to maintain an internal liquid sea, possibly one mineral-rich enough to support the beginnings of rudimentary life.

note 2: In the sort of internal qi gong Da Mo practiced and taught, the internal cultivation of vital qi was described as an abundant warm sea in the the lower belly.

 


Stuart Greenhouse is the author of the poetry chapbook "What Remains" (Poetry Society of America), and the recipient of a 2014 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Writing has most recently appeared or is presently forthcoming in Boaat, Jellyfish Review, Laurel Review, North American Review, and Tinderbox.