This piece was originally inspired by the Keep America Beautiful public service announcements with the crying American Indian weeping over the pollution of the land.  It's also inspired by by various spacescapes I saw as a child, particularly Don Dixon's and Chesley Bonestell's, and the visual pun is a nod to Dali.

I commissioned Christina Sng to write a poem about this artwork.  She liked this piece so much, apparently, that she wrote three.



by Christina Sng

(inspired by Keep the Universe Beautiful)


The seas,

They reflect red light

Into the skies.


Swabs of crimson

Smeared schizophrenically

Across the surface


Of the bland gray planet,

Oddly alone

In this ghost town galaxy.


We fly through

Its thick atmospheric skin,

Caught in the smog


We choke.

The seas rage like lava,

Smacking us


With red rivulets,


And the sky rocks


With a strange thunder,

A shudder, as if something

Is stirring, asunder.


We dart back into space,

Sensing danger – a twister,

A runaway hellraiser.


The planet swivels,

Turning a lone eye

Embedded in the dust


At us – unwanted visitors.

And the giant orb,

Red with bloodlust


Yanks us

Back into the clouds,



Toward its magnetic core

Till we plummet

Into the crimson sea,


And realize too late

It is a mixture

Of acid and blood.




by Christina Sng

(for Keep the Universe Beautiful)


They did it again.

This time on my planet,

Leaving their shrapnel

And other jettisoned trash

Scattered like bones in a park

After a group picnic, the grass

Drowned and withered,

Sullied by drivel and mud.


Later the crows and maggots

Crowd around to feast,

Cracking the marrow

Of long-dead creatures,

Their flesh previously minced

And mangled beyond recognition.

Of course, we don’t do that here,

Not on this desolate planet.


Now I rise from my skin,

My eye and aurora


Into the thick vacuum

Of space, where

I hover, gargantuan,

Blocking the path

Of that tiny metal box.




They spit fire at me,

And I, outraged, suck them

Into my bottomless core,

Crushing them against

The singularity of my soul.

Hark, what an implosion!

A stirring of the gullet.

Black-lettered mud.


Descending back

To my beloved planet,

I open the ground, cleaning up

The mess, letting my stomach

Slowly digest.

Then, quietly, I return

To the depths, to rest

Within my undisturbed nest.




by Christina Sng

After jettisoning

Their deadweight scrap metal,

The Voyager 13 left


The planet CX24


And bound for home.


Ahead, a spiral storm loomed

Above the horizon, red and pulsing;

Like a wormhole to another world.


The pilot hastily

Reprogrammed their route,

While another appeared,


Standing vertical, hung

Center in the universe. Twin

Concentric rings; almost ornamental.


The crew watched spellbound,

Jaws fallen, and clenched in fear

As within the maelstrom center


A town-sized eye

Slit open the merriment

With its chastising glare



At the mess

They’d made on the planet

It was assigned to protect.


Holding unblinking

The gazes of the horrified crew

It pulled the ship


Through its maw;

Event horizon

Of an uncharted black hole



For those who abused

The universal rules.


While they were

Crushed to pulp

Their single unified thought


Was that

There wouldn’t be anything

Left of them to bring home.

Write to Christina and tell her she's great; or visit her website.

In addition to Keep the Universe Beautiful. I commissioned Christina Sng to write poems for The Sad Girl, Resurrection Man, and Indifference.



Email to Frank Wu

Image (c) 2001 Frank Wu



To the next piece of art.