"Mission Accomplished": Poets at NASA. Sign the Change.org petition to put poets on NASA staff.
NEW! "Mission #2 Accomplished": Starship DARPA. Read about it, sign the Change.org petition.
     If you work for NASA, we'd be interested in hearing from you. to the mission status board:

to 'The Poem Not Taken'
(a work to influence public policy)


click this button to send NASA a message to hire staff poets.

Mission Accomplished

Hope is the thing that kicks in when worry isn't enough
and every direction is met with stalls, blocks and defeat,
when the way up is not up; when it is, you can't get to your feet.
That's what hope is. Rough resignation disguised as "I'd rather,"
promises wearing the gowns of maybes, tomorrows that never happen;
"why bothers?" whenever enough really isn't "Enough!"

Change ain't hope. Has no use for it, and if it did, it can't wait that long.
Change is a nag that says " Nothing has happened and probably won't
in the endless revisions of what ought to be, with nothing to help it along.
"Not my bag?" well that's fine and dandy, on the way to nowhere at all,
where the 'what-ifs' eat yin-yang like candy, the I Ching is too indecisive.

Rocket science is not required to know what needs to be changed,
there's war and hunger and a list of inequities, far too long to be named;
and the looting of those who had barely enough to begin with,
and those who have nothing at all. Take your pick, all serious problems,
each crying out to be solved. So why pick on one that seems
last on the list? What bites about NASA that I couldn't resist?

I asked them just this, "Does NASA have any poets on staff?"
to document things otherwise left unsaid. "If not, why not?""
I asked in reprise. I'd hoped they had poets to render
the beauty and wonder of all as no one else could.
What I got in reply was surprise:

"Thank you for writing to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
To learn about working for NASA, please visit the NASA Jobs page
<link here>.
The NASA Occupations page <link> lists the types of jobs at NASA <frustration>
and has links to the qualifications for the jobs." (in which 'poet' doesn't appear)

Should I worry or hope for the faint light of change
and the clearing of smoke in the air? It's not like the hungry,
the war-torn, the homeless. No nuclear plants gone awry,
or tsunamis that don't care if victims survive. Why bother?
I thought. It doesn't much matter, if something at NASA is rhymed;
they do wonders on little enough; & there's much bigger fish to be fried.

Still, it was the place where change once hung out,
where hope gladly stepped to one side, to let "Do it!"
take over in launch after launch; a new sense of pride
and a change in the world that no one could hide
(three years NASA tried;  Stewart Brand made 'em show it);
where "Mission Accomplished" meant what it meant
and much more than a flag was unfurled.

I'm not looking for work, didn't ask for a job; as for hope,
it's not needed where change is in store. But is it,
if such simple questions are bobbled and the challenge
thrown into the mix so evaded, that one suspects much more
is broken, than mere o-rings that needed a fix? Could I refuse,
after all that I've said, to pen one more letter to NASA
while you click the button; TEN...NINE...EIGHT...SEVEN...SIX...

    To the Mission Launch Pad


Red Slider lives and works in Northern California with writer and poet, Frances Kakugawa. Past publishers of his work include BigBridge Press, Jacket, Recursive Angel, Snakeskin, Lynx, Riding the Meridian, The Journal of Anthropology and Humanism, Brownflower, Realpoetik, Exquisite Corpse, and others. Chapbooks include, There Is No Such Thing as a Minor War and Stewards of Mortality. Major works include 'The Ballad of Emma Good' and 'Noguchi - The Man Who Entered Stone'. Other interests include stewardship of The CEAV Project, Poets for NASA (Mission-Acomplished), Michael Rothenberg's '100 Thousand Poets for Change' , public commons preservation , support of the homeless, seed saving, community gardens and anti-war efforts. Other poems can be seen at Red Slider's Poetry Offerings; Inquiries can be made to holopoet.com.

Mission notes & documents [from most recent to earliest]:

The Poem Not Taken

Today, we begin the dismantling of our pride and so much more
as the last shuttle weaves into the loom of the sky,
for NASA was a public commons of a most uncommon kind
where our imaginations journeyed free among the stars
for all to see and none to own, the wonders we discovered there
with launch upon launch to thrill us as it rumbled in our bones;
that took us to the shores of space and well beyond,
and let the curiosity of children play endlessly in its embrace;
where all might wander on that sheer expanse of wondering;
for NASA was a public commons of the mind that none
should ever own, where the wealth of what was kept
in that repository, stewarded for all to see,
belonged to all of humankind.

To step upon the moon, to glimpse the birthplace of the stars 
and far beyond; to watch amazed as telescope and island sky
made limitless those gifts delivered wondrous to our surprise.
All that was ours, and more, dearer us than precious life
and dearest of all,  an image taken from the shores of space
of that other public commons, concealed in a photograph
that NASA kept, until one of us compelled it to be shown;
an image all of us know well, a gown of blue-white mist
revealed as it shone upon the heavens, too;
a fragile globe that slept within the arms of space
that we then knew was all we'd ever know of home; 
the Whole Earth was ours to keep and hold or, to let it go 
should we insist dismantling it, piece by piece, as well.

Some wish to own what we now tear asunder, and insist
the marketplace and profit is the best that we can make of it;
that competition and invention are a private thing that only
their self-interest  can release; that progress isn't plunder
and what they do with what is left  is to our benefit. 
The best of us will hesitate, the looting of the public commons
is an art that those who practice it do well;  the worst
can only calculate, they cite "the bad economy" as reason,
and know the ways to profit from excuses. Even now
they claim that other public commons for themselves
and eye this little NASA prize among the spoils,
to strip her of her gown and lay her bare, and usher in
what may be the final season of her shine, for we've cut 
far more than fat, we're into bone and muscle now,
and what remains; but one bright moment left
before the window closes; "mission scrubbed."

Before the darkness drops and what once shone above
is gone; before the face of death lays heavy on her brow,
without tears, nor any witness to express what happened
where we stood and, dry-eyed, watched the crumbling edifice 
of human joy 'til nothing more  remained of it, and less of us;
before the final cut is made and all is lost, there is a moment
to stand up, in full possession of our own uncommon art,
and put between the knife and what remains, that one prize
that is ours and ours alone, what those who would wage war
on our imagination cannot dismantle, nor will they ever own;
a photo no one else can take but us, and from a place much further
than the furthest star, much closer than your eye is to this page;
a picture of the 'Whole Earth Heart', residing in ourselves,
and there unto the keeping of ourselves alone or, 
to give away.

İRed Slider, 2011. All rights reserved.

[Mission #2: from redslider to NASA 3/31/2011 3:13 pm]
Subject: Question not answered

Dear NASA, 

I do not think you understood my previous question (see below, 3/28).

What I asked was,  "Are there any poets on NASA staff?"  and, "If not, why not?"

I am not interested in a job, I am not looking for work.  The question is self-explanatory.  If that is difficult to understand
then you may go to http://holopoet.com/Poems/mission-accomplished.htm  for a more detailed specification.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Red Slider,
California Advocates for the 21st Century
[Mission #1.b: from NASA-Education 3/29/2011 7:22 am:]

Thank you for writing to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

To learn about working for NASA, please visit the NASA Jobs page http://nasajobs.nasa.gov. The NASA Occupations page http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/jobs/occupations.htm  lists the types of jobs at NASA and has links to the qualifications for the jobs. As with many government agencies, NASA uses contractors at the various NASA centers to help fill positions. If you go to the link below, you should find some helpful information.

We hope you find this information helpful and thank you again for writing to NASA.
      -- NASA Education

You are encouraged to visit http://www.nasa.gov frequently for the latest NASA news and information.

To stay aware of current educational opportunities and new NASA educational products, subscribe to the EXPRESS mailing list. http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/Express_Landing.html

NASA also invites you to consider using one or more of the following easy and convenient communications tools for receiving NASA Updates on the exciting work NASA is doing.
*         Subscribe to E-mail Delivery - Simply go to www.nasa.gov, enter your e-mail address, set your delivery preferences, and choose your area(s) of interest.
*         Receive Updates by RSS (Really Simple Syndication) - NASA RSS Feeds are available at http://www.nasa.gov/rss/index.html
*         Join Twitter at http://twitter.com/NASA
Mission #1.a From: red [mailto:red@holopoet.com]
Sent: Monday, March 28, 2011 6:16 PM
To: education@nasa.gov

Does NASA have any professional poets on its staff; to document its history, its people, its ideas, activities and projects in ways that cannot otherwise be said?

If not, why not?

Thank you,
Red Slider


Mission Name Mission Description Status Reference
Ite/Agog 7/9/11: launch 'The Poem Not Taken' completed poem
Inyan 7/4/11: Change.org Petition for NASA Poets Launched Pending Change.org
Ksa2 3/31/11: Resend question to NASA Education Pending hololtr2
Ksa 3/28/11: First Inquiry to NASA - "Are there poets on staff? if not, why not?" mission failed hololtr1a

Mission Name Mission Description Status Reference
Aiode I 8/18/11: Launch Change.org petition pending Change.org Petition

© March, 2011; red slider. All rights reserved.

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[Mission-Accomplished 4/1/11 11:40 am:]

TO:  All Mission Control Status Board Stewards:
FROM: Red Slider,  MIssion-Accomplished Project Steward
SUBJECT:  Status-column Designators

Please note the following Status-column designators for Mission-Accomplished components:

'Mission-Accomplished'  -  To be used only at the time a Poet-in-Residence 
                           is installed within the NASA organization and their 
			   office and staff are fully functional.  Mission completion.

'completed'  -   Any part or subpart of Mission-Accomplished that has been carried to 
                 completion.  "completion" does not imply a satisfactory result; only 
		 that the part/subpart was done as specified.

'pending'    -  Any part or subpart of a mission that is still active and awaiting 
                further developments.

'failed'  - Any part or subpart of a mission that concluded unsuccessfully.  
                     This may generate further mission/subpart descriptions in the future, 
		     but the failed item is done/scrubbed.

'abort'  -  Any part of subpart of a mission that was terminated before completion 
                    for reasons other than failure (see above).

'Mission-Unaccomplished'  - not an option.  
                             This term must never appear on the status board.  
			     Don't use it. Don't think it.


Red Slider, Steward
Mission-Accomplished Control

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