the weekly


Here on 438 (the ‘b’

is no more than an afterthought),

we spin with effervescent glee,

because, so scientists report,


there is a planet, not too far,

that might sustain our alien ways.

It has a plump and sunny star:

perhaps our scouts will give it praise –


do speak please, then – is it identical?

Will it chime with our frugal style?

And is it friendly? Mind your tentacle!

I see. Its rivers fill with bile –


its sun is bloodied, seas are thick

with plastic bits and bobs. The trees

are grimy. There it is, a slick,

across to the old antipodes:


something else? It smells of burning;

there is a stagnant pall of cloud.

Looks like this planet’s down for spurning –

another venue disallowed!


And was there life? It seemed a void –

a strange, benighted, blighted phase?

No trace of warmth (but quite destroyed)?

So, not for us.  But watch this space.



Click here a Guardian article


Click here to buy a copy of Bill’s poetry collection Ringers


Click here for Bill’s New Statesman research project



A new planet, Kepler 438b, plus eight or nine vaguely inferior others, has been added to the select group of planets thought to have about the same atmosphere as Earth (what is called the ‘Goldilocks’ zone of planets). It is said that it may have ‘alien life’. It is 470 light years away.

7 January 2015


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