(for Wordmonger's Masque: Poets' Ball)
(a disaster epyllion in the style of William Topaz McGonagall.)
(who was surely the greatest Scottish poet of them all.)
'Twas the February 1st, in 2003
When before the TV cameras of those who could see
Space Shuttle Columbia, mission STS-107
Did break and disintegrate amidst the arches of Heaven.
And of this I must sing my lay
Of the Columbia disaster without dismay.
Upon its launch the crew's hearts were light
As up to into space was their flight
With research projects of weightlessness on worms
And of course also on germs
As they were charged, in no uncertain terms
To conduct learned research without delay
And so the Shuttle went up without the least dismay.
But alas! the greatest misfortune since that hated day
when the Storm-fiend blew down the bridge of Tay
As, upon re-entry, much to the crew's dismay
Columbia's foam insulation did start to flay
Itself apart, at 8.59 EST
On that fateful February 1st, 2003.
There was no time to rescue the crew
Nor anything else save them to make do
And thus the Heavens did make
the Columbia shake.
And the Gods they did bray:
"I'll demolish the Shuttle today!"
And the word did fly from heart to heart,
"Good Heavens! the shuttle Columbia is blown apart!"
"Was it O-rings?"
"No, it was other things."
Thus spake the Texans under the debris's spray
as they ran to collect it all without delay.
Then the Government came from near and from far
In a variety of vehicles including cars
With amateur radio operators as well
to rescue the pieces from their desert hell
But some men unscrupulous they got others to pay
for bits of the doomed Shuttle up on eBay
This only redoubled NASA's efforts to catch the bits
But the eBayers didn't give a shit.
Thus of the February 1st, 2003
I must now conclude my poesy
By telling all without dismay
Of what happened on that ill-fated day.
Oh! ill-fated mission STS-107
Who did break apart in the heavens
And whose grim fate could have been leavened
Had the foam insulation not been so weak
At least many sensible men do speak.
For the more robust our spaceships we do create
The less chance we have of falling to fate.