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;
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

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 discovered 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.