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Rant #74
(published Early, 2002)
Living On the Moon
by Fritz Swanson

One thing that they will never tell you is that all of the astronauts are still on the moon. Forever and ever, playing golf, jumping hundreds of feet in a single bound, falling to one knee in perpetual awe as the gray ash runs forever through the heavy padded fingertips of their gloves. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have monster truck rallies in the Sea of Tranquility with suped-up moon buggies built by the Rand Corporation's aerotech division. Tin-foil manifolds tear as giant metal mesh tires bounce over each other, the two very aged men falling lightly to the ground laughing and crying in glee, the tears like bubbles bouncing loosely through the sphere of their helmets.

That is one of the many millions of things that they will never tell you.

Visualize the truth now, on the moon, a group photo, Mercury astronauts alongside the mysteriously ethereal Challenger men and women. Christa like Botticelli's Chloris, transformed forever by the cold breath of death, delicate rose hips, morning glories and mistletoe covering her thick space suit, reflecting in the golden shield of her helmet. The flaming men of Apollo kicking themselves in a circular spectacle of iridescence like a catherine wheel. Jules Verne and Icarus are there with Baron von Munchausen, Werner von Braun, Orlando, Roland, Dead Falstaff himself, spinning in orbit, as cold as any stone. The mystical men, the dying and the dead, the villains, the heroes, Jove and Gabriel, all of the astronauts of the soul, they dance and sing, their respirators pumping in the wines of Bacchus and out the icy flames of Persephone, their suits recycling fire into wine into fire again, forever exalting at having escaped the smothering bosom of mother earth.

There are mysteries within mysteries and we, sad on Earth, are only lonely men with rifles now, Ryder trucks, exploding cigars, assassination canes, conch shells littering the ocean floor poised to detonate at a touch, an aggressive environment encroaching like angry spines on the walls of a shrinking room.

We are not supposed to know that the gods are children and that the stars are fireflies squashed against stiff black velvet, the glow of their exploded abdomens fading and fading.

We are not supposed to know the sun is just for show.

We are not supposed to know about all of the clockwork people that are placed about us to fill out the ranks, giving the illusion of compression and density of population, alienating us forever from one another, building mechanical men to ask us out on dates, mechanical women to forever play with their hair at the distant end of the subway car never opening themselves to conversation, only reinforcing forever our isolation by their presence, reflecting the solitary terror back against us one thousand times with the flat glass diodes of their eyes.

The shining dance swirls now on the other side of the crystal mirror walls of the mundane. The dance has all been kept from us, secreted away, locked deep in a mountain in Switzerland, jettisoned to the cold surface of the moon with Roland's memory, the Amber Room, the Brazil Boys, the contents of the Library at Alexandria, the kind lightness in your step long gone.

We are not supposed to know.

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