Saturn V


Unlike grief, escape
has only three stages,
and each stage is named




the first stage seething
with liquid oxygen
and kerosene then
the ululating flames,
the fat blast’s thunder


the second stage
sucker punch
after the brief pause
pushing its burn
nearly seven minutes


the third stage
the bullet’s piercing tip
fires twice: once
to lift itself into orbit’s
temporary doldrums
and once more
to knock a hole
through gravity’s skin
and slide past it


von Braun’s monster
will devour your denial
incinerate your anger,
promise you nothing,
depress you so firmly
to your seat you might
stop breathing


like grief, escape must end
in acceptance – you must
buckle in atop its scream,
fasten your hopes
to its eleven engines


you must calmly ride
its barely-controlled explosion
all the way past abort—
and then you must accept
momentum’s proffered hand
into the void.

Liz Ahl

Liz Ahl is the author of Talking About the Weather (Seven Kitchens Press 2012), Luck (Pecan Grove Press, 2010), and A Thirst That’s Partly Mine (winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest). Her poems have appeared recently and are forthcoming in MeasureBloomEcotone, and Nimrod. She lives in Holderness, New Hampshire.