return to the lost planet


Microscopic particles of time
rain upon our lives.
Paper promises grow brittle,
mapped forgiveness folds, unfolds,
frays and tears along the creases.
Our memories refract through prisms
until the brightest day is lost
in anesthetic runes.


I heard a motor revving in the carport,
and from my gate,
I watched my Kia Starfish drive away,
with the spindly legged carport
galloping behind.

My clothes were winding on the clothesline,
they flapped themselves unpegged
and found their friends inside my wardrobe.
They told me they were not appreciated
before they left for Vinnies.

Between the pages of a book
and just above the stars,
a proton sought a radical hydroxyl
to make a drop of water.

I cleaned my glasses, blinked and blinked,
but every word had fled;
sometime words, already over,
already voiced and gone.

Adeus, adeus, my object-oriented
applied technology, ambiguous digitality,
spell checker of my frozen dinners.

Too much of me for anyone,
no-one’s to blame.

Bricks and books, fantasies and floorboards,
the chinaware, the chaise longue,
each parting word of disparagement
echoed down the street.

To make a claim on my insurance,
I read through all the finer clauses.
They mentioned tidal waves and inundations,
unexpected turbulence, supernovas,
and you.

Once the quotient’s gone,
life’s remainder must be lived in stealth mode.
Memories must never be awakened,
they must sleep in stranger’s bedrooms.

Now I’m dressed in nothing
but a version of the truth,
with a virtual canary
and some photos I don’t care for
in a safe without a combination.

The canary’s leaving soon,
she’s planning an Antarctic cruise,
and she’ll take my message
in her tiny backpack
to a fortress carved of ice:

Will you come back?
Please answer in the space provided
to three significant figures.


  • Title borrowed from Return to the Lost Planet, Angus MacVicar (1954).
  • Kia is a trademark of Kia Motors Corp.
  • Vinnies: Society of St Vincent de Paul, volunteer charity organization.
  • Clotheslines are acolytes of Ra, this one departed helicopter-style.
  • The North Pole, especially, is so crowded with ice constructions it’s basically a slum. My favorite appeared in Frankenstein Unbound, Brian Aldiss (1973).

anesthetic runes (detail above)

64 thoughts on “return to the lost planet

  1. So much goodbye in this, Steve. So many memorable runes, too, though that is now usual. A ‘spell checker of my frozen dinners’ is worthy of much contemplation in its own right.

    I think the art work is stunning.

  2. The image is bright and draws the eye in. The poem does the same but feels so sad the opposite of the picture… Either way, I’m drawn in.

    • Thanks, I really appreciate the feedback. I think that memory has a lot to do with sadness: we remember past joy and that runs to sorrow because it’s gone. With the image, I wanted it to have an old-fashioned look, and with an empty center, with something missing. Perhaps this is what draws the eye.

  3. Some strong images here: “Microscopic particles of time rain[ing]” down on us. & some nifty melodies too: “Bricks and books, fantasies and floorboards,the chinaware, the chaise longue,”

    • Thank you, Daniel. Those particles contain bleach, which explains what has happened to my hair. I knew roughly what aspects I wanted to span with the list, but, curiously, it seemed to need the chaise longue, although I don’t have one.

  4. My most favorite of yours yet. So the insurance clauses mentioned ‘you’? How interesting; I should go through those tiny prints with a finer tooth comb next time. I love the artwork, too — it goes really well with your piece.

    • Thanks, Annie, I really appreciate the feedback, you always hope you are going somewhere with your work. We all should read our insurance policies, but we don’t, until we want to make claim. Actually, there might be some other complications with a claim in this situation. 😃

    • Thanks, Sascha. Yes, people cause all sorts of complications, don’t they? They are such a nuisance. Fortunately there are compensations.

  5. “…with the spindly legged carport galloping behind” – this reminds me of an old Loony Toons cartoon. The part about the clothes flapping their way into the closet does too. Disney’s early animation of inanimate objects brings back the 50s. “Too much of me for anyone. No one’s to blame.” Ah, yes. “Three significant figures.” Me, myself and I? Father, Son and Holy Spirit? My mind is trying to make sense of something that only the heart can understand. What a beautiful, poignant way to start my Easter morning. The graphic is serenely lovely.

    • Thanks, BG. Yes, you’re right about the inanimate objects, it probably says something if even they want to leave.

      My experience (from both sides) is that simply being oneself can be too much. I don’t think it’s a question of pretending to be someone else, maybe just dialing it back a bit sometimes. Three figures, three symbols, and so many options. I will have to ask the wood ducks.

      Glad you enjoyed, the graphic is a bit different: I wanted it to have a kind of emptiness at the center. I wonder whether that gives it serenity. I had a break at Easter, but now it’s back to it, chasing my carport down the street. 😃

  6. I love this, especially the beginning, but all of it is so vivid and original. I shall need to read it many times for a deeper understanding. Thank you Steve, brilliant as ever!.

  7. Reading this a second time, I realise, it does not need deeper understanding. The delightful poem is just what it is. The bizarre beauty totally puzzling and acceptable. Thank you again. I so much enjoyed reading this.

    • My pleasure, Margaret. When I read well-known poetry, and afterwards speak to someone else who has read it, or come across a discussion, I sometimes find that my own understanding is completely different. I don’t think it matters, and having space for the reader isn’t a bad thing.

    • Thank you Steve. You say such interesting and thought provoking things.

  8. If my car, clothes, and canary all left me, I would be inconsolable. I wouldn’t be capable of making an insurance claim until much, much later.

  9. “a proton sought a radical hydroxyl”……..aahhh, to speak of the poetry in chemistry/ the chemistry that is poetry….beautiful poem Steve, you are in a league of your own, love the artwork too…you get a lot done in a week.

    • I am so glad you appreciate a little chemistry, Jim. I have to admit I was a little uneasy about it, because I don’t think it’s accurate: in space, I think a third particle would be needed for a recombination reaction. Mind you, it’s not the only inaccuracy in the piece. 😜

      Thanks so much, unfortunately it feels like I get almost nothing done in a week…

  10. I was kind of disappointed when I realised it was going to be much longer than I first thought ….. but then, reading it slowly to the end, I became enchanted. ‘Enchanted’ is not quite the word I want but it is near enough!

    P.S. Love the image also.

    • Thanks, to be honest, when I start writing, I also imagine that each piece will be much shorter than it winds up being, and I wish they were. They seem to have minds of their own, and they’re not finished until they’re finished, even though I have stacks of other things to do. Thank you again, I’m good with ‘enchanted.’ 😃

  11. My fave line: “Spell checker of my TV dinners.” But the entire thing smacks of genius. For me, the art is light and reflects simplicity. The poem is, at once, deep, intricate and philosophical but echoes the candor of the image.

    • Wow, thank you for that, I may be blushing a little. 😃 Although I don’t actually eat TV dinners (or have a TV), we live in a connected world, and some of it is dangerous. Although we are not there yet, I hope we don’t reach a new order where artificial intelligence is more human than some humans.

  12. hahaha
    oH where do I begin?
    First of all I read you’re poems too quickly, like scanning a new box of chocolates looking for the diamonds. Then I slow down realizing that the poem will not disappear into space. I breathe and read. Third time round I allow my visual side to join me for the ride. You see Steve, if you were boring and only wrote ‘roses are red violets are blue’ I would not have this problem ahahah.
    Lastly, thank you for the inclusion of a clothesline which happens to be one of my favourite thing of all time. I have drawn and painted them forever. I have always seen them as having an existence of their own.
    Always entertaining Steve, Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Tamaya, thank you for reading and reading (I hope the words don’t disappear), I really appreciate your comments, and it is my pleasure. I’ve had a really busy week and now I’m chasing my tail because it’s almost next week and I am still catching up with last week. I hope I don’t meet up with myself. 😃

      Hahaha, I’m sorry to make problems for you. 😄 If I wrote that, I would wonder: maybe roses are violet, and violets are rose. I’m also very fond of clotheslines, they’re like the very early radio antennas, and when I was young I used one for that, I listened to what it had to say.

    • That is so funny! Artistic minds!! My heavens would the world be without us.
      Radio antennas!!! how brilliant is that ahahah. I imagine them being like morse code ahah .
      Sock sock sock – towel towel towel -sock sock sock
      To simplify: there could be meanings for each item of clothing. two socks then one pair of jeans could mean one person walking. Sorry just lost my mind again 🙂

    • It makes perfect sense to me. 😃 Now I’m thinking two clotheslines, one straight, one rotary, each with towels and linen with their own insignia, T-shirts with their own harmonized images. They are both sending and receiving, attempting to communicate.

  13. “I cleaned my glasses, blinked and blinked,
    but every word had fled;
    sometime words, already over,
    already voiced and gone.”

    Just one part, as usual, that I love!
    And I really like the artwork too.
    Hope you are well and had a lovely Easter weekend.

    • oh my, this reads wrongly…I didn’t mean that I normally only like one part hahaha that actually made me laugh out loud when I re read it. I am pretty sure in my hope that you knew what I meant. One part of a gazillion micro parts that I love lol. In which case I guess that would be a lot of parts of micro parts.
      Time for tea 😀

    • Thanks, Vanessa. The truth is that I read that you loved the poem (and the artwork) and the quote was one example.

      Now I know your comment doesn’t say that, and this shows why I am so poor at editing: I just make it all up.

      Thanks, I had a cruisy and quiet Easter, but the current short week has been a series of computational disasters so far, mainly caused by Microsoft. I’m way behind with WP, don’t know when I’ll catch up, and currently on a tea break, wishing it was a wine break but better not.

      Thanks so much for the re-blog and your generous words there, ❤️ and I appreciate your sentiments extending to the quantum mechanical realm, although I haven’t made detailed calculations of Heisenberg uncertainty. 🤓

  14. Beautiful , oh the moments when inaurance gets involved…and will ahe come back?? Oh the ending …leaves such wonder, heart vulnerability and intrigue to whats next.

    • Thank you, Kerri. I can’t predict the future, but experience tells me she won’t return, and for that matter, neither will anything else. The canary might come back for a while I suppose, if she needs somewhere to stay.

    • So much unpredictable but then again change is our growth. Somehow experience shapes our perceptions in such depth . Then light comes in and outlook of that window through the same standing view can return something other than ,” neither will anything else.”

  15. The way you toy with words is wild. I keep repeating this stanza to myself: “Bricks and books, fantasies and floorboards,/the chinaware, the chaise longue,/each parting word of disparagement/echoed down the street.”

    • Glad you enjoyed, and thanks also for mentioning that stanza, I was pleased with its flow. When the piece was finished, that stanza wasn’t, but it finally sorted itself out.

    • And I love to hear that, Randy. If there is a reason to chop yourself up into words, for me, that is it: that someone else might get something from the slicing and dicing.

    • Thank you, glad it went somewhere for you. I started writing, and was kind of swept along myself. (I always go with the “Don’t hold back” writing advice I was given.)

  16. Now I’m dressed in nothing
    but a version of the truth,

    my mind has this imprinted between a subconscious realisation and real life acceptance that we never tell the whole truth because who listens anyway. people just see us for what they want to make of us and direct us to provide answers to questions they already know what answers they want. I was carried away by your story telling genius.

    • Thank you, Gina. Yes, we can become just kind of symbols to other people, and mostly we’re diplomatic, part of living in society, But people have so many layers, that’s the way it seems to me, anyway.

    • I agree with the layers, I think I hide more than I reveal. it’s easier to write about facts that feelings, we hide those the most. and we end up being kind because we don’t want to hurt others with the truth about ourselves.

  17. Our memories refract through prisms… imprismed – not a bad state to be in!
    The quotidian through the looking glass, awesome stuff – will I ever get back out of your website? 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, glad you enjoyed. Ha ha, you’re a prismoner.

      Hard to know, I suggest following the ridges and not the valleys, Bell’s Line of Road perhaps, steer clear of the event horizon, and if all else fails, get the NBN. 😄

    • Too late on all counts – spent six weeks in Oz, two in the BM, without even realising the Bell’s Line Road existed – shows my powers of observation – and NBN was still a twinkle in someone’s profit margin. And, alas, I am communicating through a wormhole, or maybe Alice’s looking glass 😉 Keep up the good work, breath of fresh air.

    • Ha ha. For me, GPS has been a lifesaver. Mostly living here has not helped me find my way anywhere. Now I put in the destination and follow the instructions. Admittedly I drove off towards Perth once when I accidentally chose the wrong location for the street I wanted. Fortunately I realized before I left Sydney.

      Thanks, SoundFlyer, and I try, but as you can see, I fall way behind, because I have to feed the ducks, and so on. More and so on.😸

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