Poem ‘Terrorform’


From the first day let us start to terraform Mars,
make oceans from melting ice caps

and rivers run red through the rusty soil.
Day two let’s release plankton into the sea,

let out vast shoals of fish to feed on them
and steely predators to feast on the fish.

Day three we’ll throw spores into the sparse air
and watch the forests grow, the trees

stretch high up the slopes of Olympus Mons.
Day four let’s release mammals, birds

and other fauna into the forests and fields,
to watch them gorge on the goodness

of the land, enjoy the clarity of the sky.
Then on day five we’ll take ourselves

to the former red planet, to become
the feared Martians we thought were there.

Day six let us wage glorious, total war
among ourselves, make the rivers run red

in the name of the god who named this place.
And day seven let us rest, exhausted by labour

and lust, to examine our new abomination
from the safety of space’s vacuum,

in orbit with Phobos and Deimos
without fear or dread of another first day.

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

*poem first published in collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.
**image created digitally.



  1. cromwellshead · February 7, 2012

    Now that had me enthralled, appalled and then just plain frightened 🙂
    When I stare at the skies above our dear land and see aircraft spewing God knows what into our atmosphere, this does not seem too far fetched.

    A pity that mankind, capable of so much good, cannot see the self imposed limits he must adopt.

    A well crafted set of words Sir, prophetic in their nature and a sign of where we must not meddle.


  2. Ina · February 7, 2012

    Hi David
    This is a great, disturbing and apocaliptic piece, terraforming Mars as if we are the Bog Creator ourselves, or the week after the bomb before … I don’t want to go to Mars, we will make a mess of it like we did here… 🙂


  3. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Thank you very much! I appreciate it.


  4. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Thank you Ina! No, I don’t think I’d like to go there either, but doubtless ‘mankind’ will one day and probably live there. Ah, well. Thanks Ina – I do appreciate it.


  5. journeyintopoetry · February 7, 2012

    Hi David

    This is a terrific poem but very scary for me!

    I have difficulty facing stuff like this and tend to enfold myself in my own cosiness to protect myself from it all.

    Your “mushroom” cloud picture would have gone down very well on the CND posters we used to put up everywhere, but even then I did that with my eyes closed!



  6. Catherine O'Meara · February 7, 2012

    Sad poem. The artwork is perfect!


  7. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Hi Christine! Thank you.


  8. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Thank you so much!


  9. Ina · February 7, 2012

    lol I meant big not Bog 🙂


  10. Colline · February 7, 2012

    Scary: we believe we are creators but instead seem to be destroyers. A thought-provoking poem.


  11. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Lol indeed! No worries, thank Ina.


  12. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Thank you!!!


  13. rangewriter · February 7, 2012

    Strong and powerful. Both the image and the poem. Well done.


  14. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Thank you!


  15. claudia · February 7, 2012

    ugh…so enjoyed the creation in the first part..but then of course it turns…like it always does…and no matter on how many planets we had the chance to start again…it would always be the old game again…sad truth..well written


  16. dfb · February 7, 2012

    Claudia, thank you so much!


  17. Lindy Lee · February 7, 2012

    Destined to repeat the same mistakes; inevitability?


  18. granbee · February 7, 2012

    DF, thank you for such a powerful admonition to us about our lust for misplaced power and mayhem. Thank you for this comparison to how are are currently treating planet Earth.


  19. Thomas Davis · February 8, 2012

    This reminds me of one of Ethel’s poems in her latest book–both of you invited all of us to look at ourselves and change our ways. The painting and the poem are magnificent. The question that you pose is, can we ever change? Or are we doomed to repeat the baser parts of our humanity over and over again into infinity or total self destruction?


  20. reflectionsinapuddle · February 8, 2012

    I am the only one who sees hope in this poem?


  21. Betty Hayes Albright · February 8, 2012

    David, you nailed it – this is exactly how it would be, were humans to colonize Mars – or any other planet. Humanity has the potential to evolve itself to a higher state of consciousness where this wouldn’t happen – and where we could save our own planet. But will we?

    (stepping off soapbox now….)

    Wonderful satirical poem!


  22. Heather Whitley Gibson · February 8, 2012

    wonderful post!


  23. SarSaparillameliSSa · February 8, 2012

    really enthralled by this, took me back to childhood days reading Ray Bradbury and fearing the end of the world x


  24. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Thank you for your comments!


  25. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Granbee, thank you for your comments. Yes, are we inherently bad?


  26. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Thank you Thomas! Are we inherently bad? We seem to be when we get in power!


  27. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Thank you! Hope? If that’s what you see that’s all that matters. I’m just grateful that you’ve read it.


  28. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Oh, thank you Betty! Yes, a higher state of consciousness. If it happens, it will occur quickly, I should say. Let’s hope we colonise Mars peacefully.


  29. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Thank you so much!!!!


  30. dfb · February 8, 2012

    Ah, the Martian Chronicles and all that. Loved the TV thing, too, with Rock Hudson! Thank you so much for comments.


  31. susartandfood · February 8, 2012

    Powerful – very nice.


  32. Eve Redwater · February 9, 2012

    I think the picture fits this one perfectly! As I read this one, I could see all the images you’ve laid out evolve and tumble around in my thoughts. They stemmed from each other and merged into others. I really enjoyed reading this David! 🙂


  33. bardessdmdenton · February 18, 2012

    Very powerful message here…artfully expressed!


  34. dfb · February 18, 2012

    You’re so kind, thank you!


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