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By Mingpei Li From Issue No. 5

the curiosity rover hummed

happy birthday to itself

exactly once

(inside a martian crater, sound

waves asphyxiated

by the thin


and it probably

never will again

if i survive

the apocalypse (and

why would i, it is

called apocalypse

for a reason)

may it please what remains that

i have enough

to coax my vocal

cords arid as the last

meter before

an oasis to vibrate

out precisely the frequencies

to sing happy birthday

to myself in all

my stark lonesome

metallic fear

perhaps even

enough to remember

and sing happy birthday

to curiosity too

on the anniversary

of its landing on

its forever planet

the song a reminder

that here is breath

still, to stoke the fire

of each mitochondrion

whose membrane a tiny

bulwark against

the inevitable and

always coming

and for curiosity a hymn

that this earth was ever

verdant, ever noisy, with air

pressure that helped you

hear what i sang

that it ever belonged

to us, and us ever to life

About Mingpei Li More From Issue No. 5