Mars, Phobos, Deimos
Mars, the god of war, is followed through the universe by his twin moons,
the hounds of fear and terror, Phobos and Deimos.
Mars is now mined to its core
the vast glowing space-drills
never stop, never slow; demand
is insatiable: uranium, iron,
the rarest of rare metals, some never
seen elsewhere; raw materials
for brake pads, satellites. The god
of war is fostering his own.
Phobos is one huge strip mall;
everything you could possibly want
is here – electronics, clothing, games,
McDonalds’s, Kentucky Fried Greed,
Costa Coffee, all the brands now
banned earthside, all discounted –
from what, nobody knows. The hound of
fear now tells us what we need.
Deimos is dark, except for the red lights
of the observation towers
glinting in the wild blackness, overseeing
the worst of criminals in chains
(or so they say); but who can tell what is
locked up by the hound of terror;
who can say, any more, who is or who is not
a terrorist. Except by their remains.
T’ang Dynasty; in the wildlands
Rust-mottled yurt, a four-day ride
from Ulan Bator, a sabre-toothed youth
gives an ambiguous welcome from their side
but I can’t understand a single name
which makes it difficult counting up to truth.
Yellowish-green stew steams with game
pleasantly enough; then they produce
fiery liquor in a bronze flask
and pass it till my tongue is loose.
Waking fearful to the morning’s task
broad as the sun and empty as a stream
I fear I have insulted the imperial dream
or that of some official. I need not dread;
they’ve understood no single word I’ve said.