Fragile filaments, and flowing webs
Of Gideon's Gold, gradually growing,
In the red of wrath, announcing the dawn.

My home is a hull of hot tempered steel.
Pressured and packed, provided for flight
Of star-studded space, great goal of man.
Yet I must wait, watching with woe.
For the times' termination, and the errand's escape
Free of the fetters of gravity's greed.

But now comes the cant, the challenging chant,
The tried, tense ritual of Ten - Through - One.
The freeing of force, the first thrust of flight
The reaching of a race for the riches of space
Around me the shuddering, silvery dart
Fleeing from Terra, by the wings of the sun.
Rising so rapidly, from God-given ground
That soon life's lost, in an infinite ether
Of bleak, black blanketing, and star-studded sky.
The white-way of gods, the house of the heavens.

A speed of no-motion, yet thousands each second.
The weight of no-weight, of friction forgotten.
Before me what lies? A ghastly gray globe,
A wronged-world of nature, a satellite sore stressed
Great giver of tides, life's lighter of night.
Around me vague-vacuum, container of cursed
Dangerous debris, shards of spheres
Gutted by gravity, flung by force.
The smallest of which could snuff one's being,
Giving as grave the flight of forever.

Now upon you I stand, oh spawn of the Earth,
And on you I find the curse of no-life.
The crunch of the crust, heard only by me.
The wind of the sun, the ether of light.
But now must I leave, this star-sailor worn,
For my time is so short and my home-hold so far.

Soon others arrive to freshen your face,
Bringing life-light sublime, and fortunes soon found.
And you beware, oh sky point so red,
With shifting sands, and warriors face.
Soon shall a dart, upon your face land
And spread forth a name, to the galaxy new
With the challenging chant of Ten – Through - One


I pity those college freshmen who enter their adult education with only the vaguest idea of what they want to do with their lives. I always wanted to be an engineer and a scientist. I was so focused that in my early years I felt disdain, or at best disinterest, for the challenges of business or the beauty of literature.

It would be many years into my career before I appreciated the challenge and adventure presented by marketing and business but my epiphany for literature began in the eleventh grade. My English teacher first introduced me to Shakespeare. Oh, I had read the great Bard's work before and found that the rambling, flowing stories could not hold my interest. Then, in one week, she wove into the stories a true rendition of their complexity and tied them solidly into their historic context and my interest sparked into life.

Brave lady that she was, we next engaged Anglo Saxon Literature. Ancient and heroic Nordic tales in a poetic style that hooked me solidly and marked the early flowering of my interest in writing and the arts.

"Ten Through One" is my eleventh grade attempt at writing a poem in the style and manner of Beowulf. I chose not to copy their old tales. Passing through high school in the excitement of the 1960's, I forged my love for science and our astronaut heroes of the day into the context of the poem.

"Ten Through One"; the last moments in the heroic countdown and first steps in mankind's journey to the stars. In this tale we travel to the only natural satellite of the Earth. Not satisfied, we boldly look forward to our next small step for mankind. A journey to the mysterious neighbor so often the topic of heroic literature, Mars.

This poem was foremost in my mind as, many years later, I stood on the shores of the Atlantic waiting for the shuttle Challenger to take off. The morning stars were out and the lights of the cape lit the dark skies. How I envied those on board! How disappointed I was when they cancelled the flight just eleven seconds before the lift off.

Had they launched the shuttle as I watched, it probably would have survived. As you recall, a frozen fuel line resulted in the next launch exploding on take-off on January 28th, 1986. Our second catastrophe in the space program.

Terrence E. Zavecz

© Copyright 2012, Terrence Zavecz, All rights reserved.
Webalizer Or Modlogan