Challenger

I love to revise and revisit poems. This is one I have never been satisfied with and I haven't touched or looked at it in nearly three years. I recently revised it and want to share it with you. The poem at the top is the original draft. Below that, I have included the latest draft, finished this morning. I hope you read them both and, if you're so inclined to provide feedback, that would be terrific.

Either way, enjoy!






STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.
STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik. | Source

Challenger

dedicated to the 7 crew members of that tragic shuttle mission



On television, the rocket ascended forcefully towards Heaven.

There’s a teacher on there, mother told me.

Like your kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Clark.

With the astronauts.

She’s going to heaven?

I asked.

No. She’s going to explore space

and talk to her students from there.

I watched my parents embrace, heard them cheer,

as the rocket soared higher and higher, a black outline disappearing into the blue sky.

And then I saw a small flame.

A puff of smoke.

A blast of smoke. And then

an engulfing. Look, mom. It’s on fire!

I clapped my little hands, and giggled thinking this

was the desired result.

My father stood, with mouth agape.

Mother shrieked as debris plummeted

away from Heaven.


Later, upon seeing the pictures

of the teacher and the astronauts on television, I asked

how they made them look alive.

Did they use strings like puppets to make them stand up and fish hooks

to hold open their eyes and

make them smile?





all rights reserved. copyright Justin W. Price Jan 28th, 2012

*****

Challenger

(1/5/2014)

Dedicated to the 7 crew members of that tragic shuttle mission






In reality, I thought it was a television show,

But, I was only five, what else could I relate too?

I saw them. They smiled, they wore spacesuits.

They waved as they climbed aboard the rocket ship.

From somewhere, a voice began to count and then,

With ferocity, the rocket ship blasted into Heaven.

There’s a teacher on there, mother told me.

Like your kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Clark.

With the astronauts. She said. So it was real.

I watched, sitting too close as I always did.

My parents were close also-- too each other, in a

Small, rare embrace mom rested her head upon

dad's shoulders. Small smiles. I could see this

in the reflection as the rocket soared higher and

higher, a black outline disappearing into a blue sky.

And then I saw a small flame. A puff of smoke.

Mom gasped. A blast of smoke. Dad dropped his jaw.

Soon there was no rocket ship, only flames and smoke.

I clapped my little hands, and cheered thinking this

was the desired result.My parents pulled apart, Dad 's

mouth still wide open. Mom shrieked as debris plummeted

away from Heaven. And like that, it was gone.

Weeks later, upon that very same television, I saw the

astronauts pictures again. Mom, I asked, How do they

made them look alive? Do they use strings like puppets

to make them stand up and fish hooks to hold open

their eyes and make them smile?


all rights reserved. Copyright Justin W. Price Jan 2015.

My poetry collection

Thanks for Reading

A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)IS A POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHY AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION,DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND THROUGH YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

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HE WORKS IN A MEAT AND SEAFOOD DEPARTMENT FOR A HEALTH FOOD GROCERY STORE. HE ALSO WORKS AS FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOSTWRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, AND A NAMED SHPOO, SAUVEE.

PLEASE VISIT HISPROFILE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!

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Comments 70 comments

Honey 23 months ago

That really brings back memories as I was in Florida watching it too. My daughter was a toddler and she had no clue why our excitement turned to sadness. You probably asked the questions she would have asked if she could. Very descriptive..thanks for sharing.


Joyfulcrown profile image

Joyfulcrown 23 months ago

Wow, I still remember that day. I was driving, and I saw the smoke in the sky. Thank you for sharing, I had not thought of the impact this had on someone so young.


Dip Mtra profile image

Dip Mtra 23 months ago from World Citizen

Beautiful write, sad though. Voted up.


Dip Mtra profile image

Dip Mtra 23 months ago from World Citizen

Beautiful write, sad though. Voted up.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 23 months ago from Planet Earth

I remember that day so well - it's interesting to view the events from the perspective of one so young. The video of the parents in the stand played through my head for a long while afterward. I also did some research on the ethics issues surrounding Nasa's decision to launch the Challenger in the face of recommendations from Morton Thiokol engineers (although management at MT relented under NASA's pressure). A sad day and one America will never forget.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 23 months ago from Planet Earth

I remember that day so well - it's interesting to view the events from the perspective of one so young. The video of the parents in the stand played through my head for a long while afterward. I also did some research on the ethics issues surrounding Nasa's decision to launch the Challenger in the face of recommendations from Morton Thiokol engineers (although management at MT relented under NASA's pressure). A sad day and one America will never forget.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks, Ruchira. I certainly hope so!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

that sure was a sad day but you captured it beautifully, justin.

I am sure those souls reading it will be so proud of this beautiful tribute :)

voted up indeed


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for sharing deborah. I was so young when this happened... I often wonder how I would have viewed it had I been an older child or even an adult.


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

great writing and memories of this time event...I was living in Tampa Florida when this happened we were watching on TV at work when it happened.. so sad

I can hear us screaming and the tears like it was just yesterday.

great hub

Debbie


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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Sharyn, thanks for sharing. I was recently cleaning out my garage and I found the original newspaper clippings from Kurt Cobain's death. That was really probly my JFK moment. It's interesting the events that play such significant roles in our lives. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sharon.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Justin ~ I remember the Challenger event as if it was yesterday. So sad. I recently was going through some things that were my mother's and found pictures and articles that she has saved all these years. Beautiful tribute!

Sharyn


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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Tanks, Aurelio. I sometimes wish I was a little older so i could remember it better.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

You brought back the memory -- I remember watching this on TV live. Voting this Up and Interesting.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks, Theresa. We'll see where it goes. Poems can always be changed and revised :-)

Thanks for sharing your memories.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I had small children and I had just started back to college to finish my BA. I walked into the music building to find that classes and lessons had been canceled because of the tragedy. What tragedy? Returning to my car, I turned on the radio, listened for awhile, and began to cry.

If you had asked me I would not have thought it was 26 years ago. Time is a funny thing. Keep working on it, but it is already a good and very moving poem. Theresa


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

It's one of my earliest memories, though it's very fuzzy. Thanks for commenting!


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

I remember this incident, as our school televised the launch in our classroom. Tragic...


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Sunnie Day, thank you. I'm pretty sure I knew they died, but I think everything else was mysterious!


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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

well, wd, perhaps you could just draw them!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

ts, perhaps someday I will be your age, but, for now, I am still a young whipper snapper. Interesting perspectives between different age groups


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

I remember this so well. To a little boy at the time, how could you grasp such a horrendous event. A haunting image for sure.Great dedication PDX.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Good idea. I should have pilfered the photos. They were unique. We didn't like having them around, and tossed them. You can probably get some of them on eBay.


tsmog profile image

tsmog 4 years ago from Escondido, CA

Thank you for sharing. Thank you for bringing the anniversary to mind. Now, I wonder.

Awesome poem, PDXK, funny I always thought we were the same age until now. Now, you are about the age I was when this event occurred. A lifetime of perspective.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Credence2. I appreciate the feddback and I'm glad I could give you a reminder!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

b. malin, I was always struck by the happiness in that photo. I watch the video now and I keep hoping for a different result. I read that the crew didn't die on impact, like i always thought, but actually plummetted 50,000 feet in the cabin of the ship before dying. I'd be curious/horrified to know what those final moments were like.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

wd, I always enjoy your comments and stories. I'd like to see this answer expanded into a hub. I'll bet there's more to it... thanks for sharing and commenting!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Shimnmering dawn, thank you I was trying to capture that childlike innocence/end of innocence. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!


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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Martie, I still don't understand the wisdom in spending billions of dollars to explore space when there are starving and needy people all over the world that would be better served by humanitarian efforts.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Well PDX, you are off to good start, that was quite an event and I had almost forgotten the passing of that grim anniversary (26 years) Thanks, Cred2


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Interesting how a Child's eyes view Tragic events...Wonderful, Heartfelt Poem and Tribute to Lives Lost before their time. I Love how the picture shows how Happy they were to be going on that mission. Thanks for sharing.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Challenger . . . "The Commercialization of Space". That was the title of the trade-show display we were working on for an aeronautics and space convention coming up in Orlando. I worked for Harris Corporation who was instrumental in all aspects of avionics and space exploration. We had been sizing, mounting and installing photos of the crew for a week. We had three days to finish a five day job. We were working feverishly on a peculiarly frosty morning.

It was time for the shuttle launch. We got our third cup of coffee and headed out to watch. We were 30 miles away, but would have a perfect view of the entire flight path. Someone cried out, "What's happening?!" No one else said a word.

We went back in and started processing the stacks of photographs for the display. Someone turned the radio on. We listened to the bewildered announcer babble in confusion until lunch. After lunch, there were reports of body parts being found on the beach. This turned out to be nonsense.

I turned off the redundant radio. No one complained. I gathered up all of the photographs I was working on, and shoved them into a flat file. I went over to the assignment board and pulled the tracking number for the next job. My manager asked, "What are you doing? We only have three days left to get this done!"

I said, "Give me a break, Ray. The project is dead."

You can only have a day like that in the corporate world of the Space Coast.


shimmering Dawn profile image

shimmering Dawn 4 years ago

This is indeed a sad, sad story.. precious lives lost. You have captured the moment wonderfully through the eyes of a child. Well written! Have a blessed day!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

That was such a horrible accident... tragedy! And all of a sudden the sense and purpose of exploring space were questioned worldwide.

Justin, I am a still a child when it comes to this kind of tragedies.

Thanks for sharing this memory of yours with us, and for the precious videos.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

PM, what an interesting perspective you must have. I've read about the launch and what caused the craft to explode, but, it's always in these lofty terms. Perhaps you could explain the cause of the failure to use in laymans terms?


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Stessily, I will keep that in mind when editing. It was a pretty abrupt flash and, if you listen to the commentary from the anchor, it's very subtle. He doesn't even seem sure something is gravely wrong. Thanks for reading, my friend!


pmccray profile image

pmccray 4 years ago from Utah

You know until reading this hub, I did not adequated the jubilation and then sadness at this tragedy. I was working at an aerospace plant that manufactured the parts for the fuel tanks. The entire plant stopped working while the lift off was played over the loudspeaker, our cheers soon turned in to screams and crying for the astronauts, their families and our jobs. The company never was the same afterwards.


stessily 4 years ago

PDX, Awesome tribute! The transition from excitement to confusion to horror is conveyed well through your perspective and that of your parents. I've found the photos, like the first image here, of the disaster to be among the most compelling images I have ever seen. The colors and shapes of that unforgettable, tragic trail in the sky are embedded in every cell of my being; it's amazing the times that those images have flashed unexpectedly across my heart as I've gone about the so-called business of living.

Wonderful tribute! Personally I wouldn't change a word!

This poem resonates with me and shares the summit with "I spilled my corn flakes" as two of my all-time favorites among your writing.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Ruby. i think your reaction was similar to that of my parents. Jubilation to horror!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Bizzymom. it was neat for me to write this, even though it was such a tragic and scary thing. It was interesting to remind myself that I once had a childlike innocence :-)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

well, i don't really know. I think space exploration si a bit of a waste of money anyway.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I remember that day very vividly. I was standing in my living room cheering. It is difficult to think about. I can understand your confusion as a child watching it unfold. Thank you for sharing that day with us..


bizzymom profile image

bizzymom 4 years ago from New York

I remember it well. Thanks for your lovely poem and for reminding us all of that day when our childhood was rocked by such a tragedy. While there are many other events in history that we should not forget, this should be one of them too.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Rebecca! What do you teach?


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Pickles, that's the only perspective I'd be qualified to share it from :-) Thanks for reading and commenting!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Justin, every shuttle launch was live on TV in Florida and on CNN. I'm not sure otherwise.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Ghaelach


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Alastar, certainly it was a defining moment in my childhood. Crazy and sad situation.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

GYpsy, that's a terrific phrase. I'll have to jot it down and use it somewhere! Thanks for leaving your comment!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Kimberly, you're welcome. I think everyone who saw it and was old enough to comprehend it remembers it. Thanks for commenting!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Duffsmom, thank you. I only remember it in snapshots. Thanks for stopping by an commenting


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

SubRin, I don't think I was able to grasp the concept of them all dying until much later. My reaction and this poem surely would have been different had I been a teenager or an adult :-) Thanks for sharing your story


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

LABrashear, the Kennedy connection is a pretty good one that I've never considered. 911 and the Challenger are both Kennedy moments for me. Thanks for stopping by!


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PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Capedium, Thanks!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Linda, am I wrong, or was this the last shuttle launch showed live on television? How cool to see those launches in person from the comfort of your porch


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you, Susan, I'll be sure to let you know when and if I do any further revisions


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Audrey, thank you. Looking at the video now, I realize I remembered the explosion wrong, but, then again, memory is always imperfect


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Speaking as a teacher thanks or this tribute!Well done!


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

well done! Don't think anyone will forget that day...loved hearing it from a child's perspective.


Ghaelach 4 years ago

Hi Justin.

The memories stick in my head.

A very sad day.

LOL Ghaelach


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

A memory to make an everlasting impression on a wee ones imagination- or anyone's really. What a breath taking tragedy it was. Nothing so special as the innocence of a child which you've expressed so well here Justin.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up. I always will remember this. I felt so terrible for everybody but especially that teacher she didn't even need to be there she was thinking she was going to do something great and inspirational. I hope she was given a medal up in Heaven and that everyone found comfort in the Lord.They printed this tragic event in the N.Y. Daily News with my all time favorite and inspirational Latin phrase - Per aspera ad astra - through hardships to the stars.


KimberlyLake profile image

KimberlyLake 4 years ago from California

I remember that day too how sad. I remember their lift off. Thanks for SHARING.


duffsmom profile image

duffsmom 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

It was quite a day, I remember it well. Good job in sharing your perspective as a child.


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Well said, KaraokieGuy. I was upstairs listening to the radio when Challenger lifted off, and when what happened, happened, I came flying downstairs and turned on the TV where my parents were. I know there were six other people on board, but all I could think about was that darling teacher. I still sometimes think about her.


LABrashear profile image

LABrashear 4 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

Wow! Well put. My husband and I say this is our "Kennedy moment." I wasn't much older than you at the time and I remember our teacher wheeled a television into the classroom so we could watch. I remember the look on her face and not completely understanding what was going on. Our generation remembers it like our parents remember where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot. Such a sad moment in history. Voted up!


Capedium profile image

Capedium 4 years ago from Texas.

Interesting piece..


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

That was a sad day! I moved to Florida the following year. I was able to watch shuttle launches from my front yard for the past 25 years. I was always thankful never to witness a repeat tragedy. Awesome poem!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Wow 26 years ago...I remember this as if it were a few years ago. How ironic you said to your mother "She’s going to heaven?" This was a horrific accident. I look forward to your revision but I do think this is a wonderful dedication.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Sad write Justin! I liked the last stanza--it shows the child's view so well--

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    Justin W. Price (PDXKaraokeGuy)742 Followers
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    Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award- nominated author based out of Portland, Oregon.


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