We apologize for our ship
and the poor souls who occupy it.
It’s piloted from afar.
Distant computers have guided
it through meteorite armies
and the clouds of cosmic dust,
but the engines cannot burn their fuel forever.
We had to land it somewhere.
I’m sorry it had to be your planet.
I feel pity at your welcoming.
Your red carpet would be more appropriate
if out had broken out in boils.
For these faces, these bodies, you see,
may look alien to you
but they are alien to us as well.
The word, I believe, in your language,
In ours, it’s “get them all the hell
out of here with no way to return.”
Maybe you’ll be immune to their disease.
Most likely you will not be.
Before your sun sets in the west,
so many of you will be
rupturing, being eaten away,
spitting what you call blood.
I’ve always believed that
contact between such different species
presents the opportunity for learning,
of each other’s cultures and achievements.
Sadly, we do not come in peace,
we come in death.
Let’s shake hands anyway.
If we’re all going to die,
why not of friendship?
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.