MAVEN REACHES MARS: Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles
Jane McPhetres Johnson, author
I’ve called my collection Maven Reaches Mars: Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles. The title is a headline taken directly from The New York Times. The subtitle describes my sources and stages of this rocket ship, beginning in 1943 as a war baby, growing up in nifty-fifties Boulder, adding my own family satellites, and landing in an unrecognizable world––the Martian landscape of today. There are other space probes, both interior and extraterrestrial, facing mortality on both personal and cosmic scales: looking back at ancestors in Kansas and New England, looking out at inconceivable anthropogenic waste dumps, looking into the black-hole images our radio telescopes have just begun to capture, looking out from closed windows, from behind masks, on a world held hostage by the tiniest of aliens, not even living creatures, more like bits of information, like words. In the face of all this, a bunch of poems. An act of groundless hope. A book with the lowest of expectations. The shortest of shelf-lives. Poems to celebrate family in its mutuality and to examine humanity in its entirety. To redirect the mind from distraction towards sanity. To remind the heart of its capacity. Poems that try very hard to speak clearly to everyone I’ve ever known and loved, most of whom don’t read much poetry. Poems that try to please poets, mentors, believers, and deniers. Poems that don’t try to please anyone but simply to report. To remind. To record. A hopeful book, just in time for pandemic-closed bookshops and canceled readings.