Old Venus by David Barber

Old Venus
David Barber

Fuel gauge tapping empty, the rocket skims
leviathans awash in steaming seas,
before it sinks into the wet and suck
of lush swamps. A hero makes his own luck.

In the pulps, the feisty blond reporter
has to be rescued from the lizard men;
the Captain’s ray gun drops a sauropod
and local tribes fête us Earthmen like gods.

We dreamed of Amtor’s fevered jungles,
where Carson unearthed kingdoms and pirates
and a princess in peril. These were sword
and planet stories at one cent a word.

Ripened by history, in later tales
behemoths are hunted to extinction,
drunken lizzies penned in reservations,
and the world run by evil corporations.

We loved the future but it outgrew us.
Venus was nothing like we imagined,
a place so hellish that the lander burned,
we gave it one look and never returned.

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