(scroll down or search for “Kolodji” on the page)
“On the Fourth” was written for NASA’s Deep Impact mission in July. This mission, if you’ve forgotten, was the one where a flyby spacecraft released an “impactor” spacecraft into the path of a comet, as a third spacecraft watched. Upon impact, there was a release of debris which could be seen by telescope on Earth. The point of all of this was to determine the composition and origin of the comet.
From a layman’s eyes, this was simply one of the coolest missions NASA has launched lately. As interesting as I personally find the results from the Cassini-Huygens mission or the data from the Martian rovers, the average person seems to be interested in space only when there’s drama – Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, for example, or a shuttle which may or may not have trouble landing.
In our video game culture, there’s something very striking (pardon the pun) about hitting a comet.
As poets, it may seem that our words don’t have much of an impact. We may write about comets but that’s simply not as impressive as hitting them with a spacecraft. We may write about things that we think are relevant, issues that we feel are pressing, and publish our words in small journals that relatively few people ever read. So, the question is, why bother?
Yet, it’s the old pebble in the pond story. We never know where the ripples will spread.
Last year, I wrote an essay for Poetry Life and Times about a cinquain sequence called “The Peace Rose” and an extraordinary letter I received from a reader about how my poem impacted her.
We may never win Pulitzer Prizes for our poetry, be named SFPA Grand Masters, be included in lists of “must read” poets for English lit classes, receive much monetary compensation for our poems, or have name recognition outside the various close-knit poetry communities we associate with, but if our poetry has the chance to impact just one person, then I think we’re fulfilling our mission as poets, and need to keep on doing what we do best….writing.