Feature Friday: The Lost Cosmonauts by Ken Hunt | Book*hug Press

Feature Friday: The Lost Cosmonauts by Ken Hunt

The Lost Cosmonauts by Ken Hunt

In this week’s edition of Feature Friday we are pleased to bring you an excerpt from The Lost Cosmonauts by Ken Hunt, an elegy to humanity’s fledgling efforts to explore outer space, and to those who lost their lives in pursuit of this goal. This wide-ranging collection of poems looks deep into the largely unexplored cosmos for experiences of the sublime, not only in celestial bodies and mythical figures among the stars, but also in those astronauts and cosmonauts who dared to explore them.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Lost Cosmonauts. Happy reading!

From The Lost Cosmonauts:


for Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

Grade schools refused a pupil marred by

scarlet fever, deafened by the virus,

as if time snagged his ears and amplified

their natural decay. Imposed silence

framed childhood vistas of frozen skies.

Rejection fostered an autodidact

and numeric artist, his recompense:

discovering a landmark equation

raised from the mulch of his readings. Intense

study revealed the key to Heaven’s maze,

the mathematical passphrase for the

stern doors of sprawling ballrooms we have gazed

into since we put fire in reins. A sea

of magma parts for Rodin’s gates, knowledge

twisting each self-imprisoned figure. We

struggle against the air we breathe, an edge

of caustic friction, amnion of flame,

while crammed into the cones of crafts alleged

to dethrone gravity. These structures tame

explosions violent as a tyrant’s purge,

each craft sustained by its design, each frame

shaming predecessors. The boy emerged

a teacher, irony of ironies,

this student of himself. His brightly merged

imagination and constraint conceived

of steering thrusters, multistage boosters,

airlocks, and the rocket engine. Appease

the Hyades and Pleiades, lest Zeus

defend his kin, when launching these golems,

metallic guzzlers of rare fuels,

liquid O2 and H2 like silos

of chilled vodka, toasts to the sage who split

the beating organ of his youth before

a cold altar, in order to transmit

his dreams beyond his name, if we permit.



for Christian Waldvogel

Harvester ants transform their sand dunes, legions locked

in automated frenzies. Streams of drones connect

for shared imperatives, patrol their hoarded stocks,

protect languid queens that necessity elects.

Clamped in the vice of their design, these eager slaves

deliver larvae to the vaults they carve, dissect

the clay that blocks expansion of their sprawling maze.

Bewitched by instinct’s chemical refrains, they race

to brace storerooms and passageways for the Great Rains.

Humans enact a plan to increase real estate.

Four sattelites grow toward the Earth. These progeny

of Babel reach halfway to Luna’s doleful face,

with ductile needles of silicon, citadels

for Terra’s oeuvre, soaring arks and archives knit

to house and to preserve, while we construct a shell

nourished by tendrils clad in graphene lattices

that siphon magma from our overburdened globe

into a vacuum-porous scaffold in orbit.

Centuries of construction change the dawn we share,

viewed through transparent sectors of silica glass

that invite sunlight to ideal plains and shores,

to empty seas conceived by architects to grasp

the fleeing hydrosphere of Terra, her mantle

coaxed away by infernal transfusion. At last,

we find the final gift of matter Earth will grant:

the cradle, sacrificed to shape its future urn,

presents its hoarded core of iron, for transplant

to complete an exo-Earth as wide as Saturn,

a bubble that captures Terra’s vital weather,

the restless atmosphere that hovers, clots, and churns

above wildlife roaming vast, verdant reserves

and land masses conserved as artifacts, displayed

terrains to which pensive adventurers sojourn

from cities, the crowns of tailored horizons, made

to glean glimpses of Sol until we build his cage.



for all apostles of Icarus

because defects in

electrical systems caused

apogee problems

because a goose smashed

through the cockpit, Plexiglas

clogging the engine

because the weather

disagreed with their intent

to test metal wings

because of a grievous

mechanical failure

in the aileron

because parachutes

may refuse to open like

stubborn buds in spring

because the pilot

veered to avoid tearing through

a weather balloon

because the water

of the Black Sea invaded

the cosmonaut’s lungs

because the feathered

re-entry system deployed


Order your copy of The Lost Cosmonauts here.

Ken Hunt’s writing has appeared in Chromium DioxideNo PressMatrix and Freefall. For three years, Ken served as managing editor of NoD Magazine, and for one year, he served as poetry editor of filling Station. Ken holds an MA in English from Concordia University, and is the founder of Spacecraft Press, an online publisher of experimental writing inspired by science and technology. He lives in Calgary.

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