Ad Astra Ex Machina

The nearby star in the daytime sky
And the faraway suns at night
Do not necessarily fool the eye
But they manage to trick the sight.

We have given these objects such names as we please
While not questioning meanings grown old.
Thus our minds grew besotted with Hobson’s disease,
And we bought nothing more than they sold.

Then we conjured an “almighty God” from our brains
To explain to us why things go wrong.
“So you wanted some sunlight,” She says when it rains.
“Quit your bitching and just go along.”

Now this “almighty God” grown impatient and bored
With the routine of space flight on cue
Wonders just what would happen if astronauts soared
Through the sky with a mishap or two.

Then Her Mightiness plucks out a tile from its place
Just to see how the craft would rebound
From a defective heat shield, returning through space
Not to land but to crash on the ground.

So the loved ones they wail and the newspapers cry.
And the President orates for days,
Pimping solace for random events with no “why,”
Blaming “God” and “mysterious ways.”

Only “God” doesn’t care, or then maybe She does —
Who can tell if She’ll make up her “mind?”
Do the astronauts live, or when push comes to shove,
Do they die cursing Her fat behind?

Just the same, the “Creator” who named all the stars
Missed a few of Her black holes and such
And forgot to give thought to the drunks in their bars
Who — astrology wise — know as much.

So the astronauts trained and they gave it their best.
Can’t we just let the families grieve?
Mr. President, please give the country a rest
And try wiping your “faith” off your sleeve.

Now some know that the sun neither rises nor sets
And that planets revolve as they spin.
But the nation’s chief priest will try hedging his bets
On some biblical bullshit called “sin.”

For the stars will remain at a distance so great
That we never will know them for sure.
All the same, we should study their light so our fate
Won’t depend on the charlatan’s lure.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2006,2009