Stationed on a Gas Giant

5 McBride_gas giantaround noon, the dark
swirling clouds
turn yellow and the
gas miners can see
to read outside

by sunglow
for a blissful hour
they switch the lights
on their pressure suits

— Lauren McBride


Lauren McBride finds inspiration in faith, nature, science and membership in the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA). Nominated for the SFPA’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous speculative, nature, and children’s publications including Dreams & Nightmares, The Grievous Angel, Songs of Eretz and Star*Line. She shares a love of laughter and the ocean with her husband and two grown children.



Editor’s Notes: This is a timely poem with the recent arrival of the Juno probe in polar orbit around Jupiter. This poem also fits well with the Deborah’s poem, “Persephone,” which reminded me another fairly recent mission to Pluto (Horizon mission). The poem is a speculative extension to the manned missions to those places. Notice the interesting enjambment, especially in the second verse. The image is from a Voyager flyby in the 1979:


“At about 89,000 miles in diameter, Jupiter could swallow 1,000 Earths. It is the largest planet in the solar system and perhaps the most majestic. Vibrant bands of clouds carried by winds that can exceed 400 mph continuously circle the planet’s atmosphere. Such winds sustain spinning anticyclones like the Great Red Spot — a raging storm three and a half times the size of Earth located in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere. In January and February 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft zoomed toward Jupiter, capturing hundreds of images during its approach, including this close-up of swirling clouds around Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. This image was assembled from three black and white negatives. The observations revealed many unique features of the planet that are still being explored to this day.” (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Video and images courtesy of NASA/JPL)