The Spaceman – by Rodd Whelpley

The Spaceman

If I were the new Neil Armstrong,
my craft sling-shot past the moon,
in transit or, perhaps, in orbit,
mapping ice lochs, finding purchase

for settling on the light side
of Proxima b,
I’d do for you that
anti-gravity shtick, flipping,

flying through my capsule,
floating toothpaste out the tube –
Apollo old-school stuff
broadcast in high-def to your phone

almost like you’d be with me.
Maybe just as good.
Imagine it: Me, your dad,
perfect on paper,

but a failure
on the earth-bound plane
now a voyager, mission-ready,
laughing at your laughter

of my pinwheel, sleeper,
walk the dog – tricks impossible
on solid ground, now accomplished
with airless ease,

from me, your different father,
yo-yoing the exoplanet
closest to a different sun.

Both of us delighted
at the smallest provocation.
As if weightless were a way
that we could be.

Rodd Whelpley manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield. His work has appeared in numerous journals, and his poem "BBC Cosmology" was nominated for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology. He is the author of the chapbooks Catch as Kitsch Can (2018) and The Last Bridge is Home (coming in 2021). Find him at

Art: "Deep Space" by Sandy Coomer - 6X6, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: “As if weightless were a way we could be.” I see a bit of the filaments of space here, tendrils that reach out in undefined exploration, similar to how a father and child relate at times, connecting within the bounds of love.