It’s been an eventful week of loss, both personal and professional. We’ve witnessed devastation in Nepal in the form of a major earthquake, so-called aftershocks (more like significant earthquakes generated from the first one), and resulting avalanches on Mt. Everest.

This week, we said goodbye to NASA’s Messenger probe, which ran out of fuel and crashed on the dark side of Mercury, a planet we thought we knew until Messenger’s extended mission changed that.

A few days ago, we lost a dear personal friend.

Somehow, to me, these events share a common link, but I’m not quite sure what yet. I won’t know until I write, and I may not know then. I’m not equating the loss of a thing to the loss of human life. I’m just doing what I do, which is to attempt to connect dots.

As usual, I’ll write with no end state in mind. We’ll see what comes out together, and together we’ll find out if there is a link or not.

It could be interesting or it could be crap, but that’s not the point. The point is to write.

.   –   .   –   .

A Message Lost

Launched fly-bys, orbits of Earth, Venus, Mercury

Mercury, Mercury, Mercury

4,100 times Mercury

.   .   .

255,000 Messenger images

Captured at 91,730 mph average orbital speed

As if 91,730 anythings is average

.   .   .

Out of energy and fumes

Self-reporting self-destruction in a series of final tweets as if alive

As if disappearing behind Mercury’s dark side by choice

.   .   .

Final low trajectory to impact point

Messenger still collected data but selfish probe stopped sharing

Or it cared enough to protect us from its last 1,000 images

.   .   .

Messenger’s speed at impact was 8,750 mph

Read that speed aloud – do it

That’s 12 times faster than sound from mouth to ears

.   .   .

Images never-seen, never to be seen

Man-made creature in its final dark moments, deciding for us

Suddenly 255,000 images are not enough

.   .   .

Why not die in the light where we can see?

Because scientists who see could never bare to watch

Would never look away

.   .   .

The kid in my head

Can see Messenger’s fall

Like a cartoon on violent early television

.   .   .

A whistle’s descending pitch

The “boing” release of an over-sized, over-compressed spring

Object growing in size, falling toward Mercury’s one living thing

.   .   .

And the one living thing we never noticed

Because we chose to examine dirt and not the eyes

Looked up curious at the weird new sound

.   .   .

Yes the kid in me sees the one living breathing creature we never saw

Never will

Forever captured, caught in Messenger’s final frame

.   .   .

A cosmic selfie

Expression of shock
, split-second-frozen between existence and extinction

Messenger’s last recording is the first alien-speak: “What the –?”

.   .   .

Head split green antennae peeling left and right

Crumbling face pile of green body parts mercurial poop of dust

The kid in me wants to ask, “Do aliens say ouch?”

.   .   .

What is the chance that Universe’s only alien is flattened flat by a falling Messenger

Searching for proof of alien life?

Yes the kid in me wants to ask

.   .   .

What is the chance of Messenger reaching Mercury and refusing to leave?

What is the chance of finding frozen water on the 400-degree planet?


.   .   .

What is the chance of being hit by a falling probe?

Is it really much less than the chance of being eliminated in mid-Everest ascent

By earthquake-generated avalanche as you stand looking up, a curious explorer?

.   .   .

The chance of life swept clean by snow shook free from shaking earth?

What is the chance that Mt. Everest drops in elevation while Kathmandu rises?


.   .   .

Life below is turned sideways by the impact

Lives vanish faster than your ears can hear you speak

“What the –?”

.   .   .

Buried evidence like images lost, never seen

Dropped deep in carved craters
 in a place exotic, alien

Existing to me only in photographs

.   .   .

Those of us who remain continue in low trajectory

Stagger in the aftershock of life

Begin our new exploration in the dark

.   .   .

Dig for found things and sometimes find life

On this side of rubble

A life we sometimes can’t bare to watch but never look away

.   .   .

Sometimes I think the dark is better

Sometimes data should remain un-transmitted

Taken with us, held, kept close

.   .   .

Like a lost messenger

Because sometimes we feel cold here

Even when it is warm

–   .   –   .   –