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  #1  
Unread 05-15-2019, 08:28 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Default Smallish red planet

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A Family Holiday on the Red Planet


Enjoy a Luxe Vacation! said the sign.
The lakes are peerless, the vistas are divine.
The sky’s a lovely cinnamon, the strands
are neither hot nor cold, so make your plans.
The best part? You will get fantastic tans!

Mars, now terraformed, is quite the spot
for a family holiday!
No fear of losing muscle tone. We’ve got
artificial gravity rooms that dot
a land as grand as Martinique in May.


They’re dressed in Terra garb—a tasseled shawl
on the girl’s shoulders, a skirt
that matches the sand and sandals on her small
pink feet; a summer dress on mom; a shirt
symbolic of ancient tunes on dad. The doll

inside its Maya wrap is slumbering
against its father’s chest.
Inside its dreams it hears the sand dunes sing,
follows the billows as they drift and wing
en route to the copper skyline in the west.

Yes, there’s a city in the distance, first
of its kind on the clays of Mars.
It will not help them as they die of thirst.
Sand-bullets have already left deep scars
across defenseless skin like scimitars.

Nobody hears them wailing, sees them running,
their faces paling, though they have been sunning.
As sand grains fly, some large as creek rock gravel
(whose fault is it they caught the bug for travel?),
they feel their suntanned flesh start to unravel ...



A Family Holiday on the Red Planet

Mars, now terraformed, is quite the spot
for a family holiday!

This mom and dad with their little girl and tot
are sunning on Coral Beach, neither cold nor hot
and picturesque as Connecticut in May.

They’re dressed in Terra garb—a tasseled shawl
on the girl’s shoulders, a skirt
that matches the sand and sandals on her small
pink feet; a summer dress on mom; a shirt
symbolic of ancient tunes on dad. The doll

inside its Maya wrap is slumbering
against its father’s chest.
Inside its dreams it hears the sand dunes sing,
follows the billows as they drift and wing
en route to the copper skyline in the west.

Yes, there’s a city in the distance, first
of its kind on the clays of Mars.
It will not help them as they die of thirst.
Sand-bullets have already left deep scars
across defenseless skin like scimitars.

The sand grains, some the size of creek rock gravel,
make their flesh unravel.
Nobody hears them wailing, sees them running,
their faces paling, though they have been sunning.
Whose fault is it they caught the bug for travel?

Enjoy a Luxe Vacation! said the sign.
The lakes are peerless, the vistas are divine.
The sky’s a lovely cinnamon, the strands
are neither hot nor cold, so make your plans.
The best part? You will get fantastic tans!

Last edited by Martin Elster; 05-16-2019 at 07:08 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-15-2019, 10:17 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Martin, this is well done, but why not end here:

Whose fault is it they caught the bug for travel?

The last stanza is redundant, and the last line is overkill, as it were. I like the form - is there a name for it? Good work on your rhymes.
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  #3  
Unread 05-15-2019, 10:34 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Thanks, Mary. You may be right about cutting the last stanza. The last line is, indeed, overkill. I guess thatís what I wanted, though your point is well-taken and I could change my mind. I also wanted the last stanza to echo the beginning and round out the poem in a way. But maybe thatís not really necessary.

Regarding the form, itís a nonce form I made up. Thanks for liking the rhyming and I'm glad you enjoyed the poem!

Best,

Martin
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  #4  
Unread 05-15-2019, 10:42 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Martin, this is sort of fun as an imaginary travel ad and okay as a poem until you realize that even if the air is thickened to the density it has here on home plate, very little can be done to terraform the Martian gravity. Which means, um, that everybody who spends a significant amount of time out of doors on Mars away from a centrifuge or a yet to be invented artificial gravity room will grow up feeble and unlikely to be able to return to earth and live comfortably here. Martians will rapidly become another species, closely related but so different. This is less likely to happen on Luna, which also has weak gravity, since no one will go outside much. Centrifuges will be the indoor thing there. Dizzying, but maybe fun. Gravity has serious and heavy gravitas! Nonetheless, rock on with Elon Musk in the Martian dusk. Exoplanets are something else, sir. Who knows what whirls around Alpha Centaurus or its buddy star Proxima Centaurus? Itís just harder to get there without suffering a puncture at near the speed of light. Ping. No thing.
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Unread 05-15-2019, 11:19 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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You are right, Allen. After Mars is terraformed and people actually start living there, after a while they will evolve to be very tall and thin. They would not be able to go back to Earth. Theyíd be a different species, yes. Iím wondering now (pure speculation) if bionic people (or maybe genetically enhanced) will be better able to function in various gravities without having to go through evolutionary adaptations.

Anyway, you are correct that we canít do anything about the weak Martian gravity. Iím glad you enjoyed the poem (at least until that ghastly gravity business).

By the way, itís Alpha and Proxima Centauri (not Centaurus, which the constellation itself).

Thanks again for stopping by, Allen.

Best,
Martin
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  #6  
Unread 05-15-2019, 11:59 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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This opens as retro-Jetsons satire but midway through shifts into narrative. I was with it through three stanzas, but then it becomes Martian, though a lot less fun. The voice needs some consistency.
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  #7  
Unread 05-16-2019, 04:04 AM
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Ed Shacklee Ed Shacklee is offline
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Martin,

From idyll to kill in one stanza! This was not what I was expecting, which I can't help but think was your intent. On the one hand, I'm rather charmed by it. It made me think of young children dressing up dolls, unscrewing their heads and tossing them across the room, then moving on to other play -- fascinating, savage in a matter-of-fact way, and ultimately mysterious or unfathomable, according to one's taste.

It seemed to me that what happened to this family would happen to just about every family that vacationed there, a kind of conveyor belt of tourists who arrive and either get blasted by sand bullets, fatally dehydrate, or both. This is kind of amusing, but not really sustainable as a tourist industry. Perhaps there should be a stanza early on with a sign discreetly warning them not to go to a certain place that they went to anyway to enjoy the lovely view?

That's my main reservation, for what it's worth. No need to give the game away, but like a mystery novel some clue might have been planted that would make that abrupt shift suddenly make a kind of sense. I liked the ending, myself, and generally enjoyed the slaughter, actually, I just wish something had led up to it. Or perhaps I just missed it?

Best,

Ed
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Unread 05-16-2019, 04:22 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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You're right: Centauri. See what happens when I write off the cuff. I also admit that we know lots and lots about the three stars in the Centauri system. I confess to being too conversational. Smile and do another.
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Unread 05-16-2019, 06:53 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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I think you should start it with the existing last paragraph - then the flip to Mars at the beginning of what would become the second paragraph is more of a grabber.
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Unread 05-16-2019, 07:56 AM
Jim Hayes Jim Hayes is offline
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I’d go with Cantor on the last stanza first suggestion, but I’d also like to see this finish with the ‘flesh unravel’ line as offering a more dramatic climax. I don’t have a problem with narrative or the nonce form

Jim
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