first dog on mars

I volunteered to go to Mars with Stanley
said goodbye to the rest of the family
jumped in the rocket
plenty of poop bags and treats in my pocket
a coupla good books I’d been meaning to read
a nice warm jacket and Stanley’s training lead
the launch technicians slammed the hatch
lit the match
hurried back
we shot up with an impressive oommph!
pressed back in our seats and then into the roof
when weightlessness kicked in
and we hadn’t strapped ourselves in

nine months later we were still travelling
which I’ll admit was challenging
in what was essentially a studio flat
with a camping cooker that wasn’t all that
an exercise bike to give extra watts
for washing up the plates and pots
but all in all it wasn’t too bad
like the longest lie-in anyone ever had
our noses pressed up at the viewing space
in awe at the vast Netflixlessness of space

but finally
after an ACTUAL eternity
the console lit up mightily
alarm bells sounding
as the shields took a pounding
Stanley put his paws over his ears
as we blasted through the martian atmospheres
glowing like a trash bin
tossed in
a volcano
it was quite a show
I was glad when it stopped
and we quietly dropped
the last few feet or so
landing in a cloud of dust and boulders
screwed our helmets onto our shoulders
opened the doors
stepped outside to stretch our paws

And it was all ours!

I looked at Stan; he looked at me
in five seconds we’d seen all we needed to see
I dropped some rocks
in a plastic box
Stanley sniffed some grit
(the helmet got in the way a bit)
then we went back to the rocket
I gave him a tripe stick outta my pocket
and we settled down to wait a year
for the mission control all-clear
to press the green button
(I argued the toss but they ended the discussion
without their say-so I couldn’t do nuttin’)

now we make a living on the chat show circuit
we both learned quickly how to work it
saying how Mars was tragic and eerie
and I share my theory
how the planet was really
a big red gumball God couldn’t finish
on the seventh day and all that business
and Stanley has a clothing line
branded t-shirts of his own design
mugs, mouse mats, decals for cars
his face and the words: First Dog on Mars

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