In a last throw of the dice
The Russians launch their Zond rocket
at the moon. It’s just too late.
Fate has cleared Americans to drawl
their freedom in the dust.
Held captive in its capsule
a wooden puppet flies the mission.
Lifesize, this Pinocchio of space
proves there’s no barrier to
anyone in the Soviet’s cosmic plan.
The dummy wears Gagarin’s face:
In Star City, the analogue controllers
show their genius with wires as they
swing Soyuz on its arc around the dark side
and bring him safely home.
On this success, no agency propagandist reports –
there’s no space to read between the words.
The typewriters of the vanquished
are silenced in defeat.
A lost race of men stays on the ground.
I can’t think of another poet that writes so much and so well – that is with both artistry and technical confidence – about technology. The penultimate verse is a good example of the latter and the last verse a perfect example of the former: ‘The typewriters of the vanquished/are silenced in defeat.’ Like so much of your work this piece is rich in metaphor and allusions – and puns! ‘Fate has cleared Americans to drawl/their freedom in the dust.’ Splendid stuff, John. Thank you.