10-20 Neighbors

On MSN this a.m., NASA’s Maven showed photos of Mars, which inspired me to post this old poem I wrote years ago.



. . . only 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 of our universe is hospitable to life. Thirty-six zeros before the one. The rest is cold, radiation-riddled

black vacuum.

—Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot




Sagan’s book lies on the sand as asteroids

from the south wind pack between pages.

The breakers’ cadence pounds the sand

and my mood.


A drunk snores under a hazy sun.

A child squats in a tidal pool.

Gulls brawl over a chip.

Two lovers probe beneath the waves,


and on a dazzling green dot

one and thirty-six zero years away,


feathered beings paw in emerald sand

remembering a winged Messiah,


who soared among them a billion years ago.