“Major Tom Turns into Light” by Colin Pope

Colin Pope


for David Bowie

All those years of training and G-force tests
and bone densities and the anti-gravitational
endless drop in the belly of the airplane
would be plenty to forge the metal
of his genius into a NASA-approved alloy
whereby the notion of death nested behind
the vacuum of the eye sockets like an organ
awaiting some second adolescence
to begin churning its unpredictable hormone
into the blood and since

we believed in more
we tuned in to watch the rocket ascend
as though it were pulling our hearts behind
the way a wedding car clanks its lovely cans
toward a waterfall or white sand beach
or a bed upon which a definition waits
awakening and then proving over and over
and over with the ink of moan and gasp
until it disappears into a hope as perfect
as a needle puncturing the sky

which is why
he was chosen to be lost and never found
and spinning in a mass of every wire and element
and sound the whole human race
had taken millennia to discover for this one trip
from which we knew he would not return
since he knew there was nothing but limits
and the blinding phosphorescent joy
it would take to destroy them.

Poets Respond
January 12, 2016

[download audio]


Colin Pope: “I was always a huge Bowie fan. As soon as I heard about his passing I began writing poems frantically, simply to cope with the loss of such a giant talent. It was incredible to me that he could, in the span of a few seconds, move from the hopeful to the terrifying to the comically ironic. I remember hearing ‘Space Oddity’ for the first time. It was on the radio as my mother drove me home from school. We both stopped talking, almost automatically, as though there was a secret pact that we wouldn’t interrupt each other’s experience. That’s what Bowie was—an experience.”

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