What To Do When an Alien Spacecraft Lands and the Visitors Come Out to Greet You

This was originally published in 2004 in Starline, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. It was also nominated for a Rhysling, and is still one of my favorite poems to date.


What To Do When An Alien Spacecraft Landsand the Visitors Come Out to Greet You (A Poem in Three Parts)

by John Teehan

Part I

Walk away

Do not talk with them
Do not tell them about humanity—pretend to be a visiting here yourself
Do not tell them about Earth
Don’t take them to our leaders, and don’t let them near a TV

Do not offer them food
Do not offer them sanctuary, medical assistance, or fuel
Do not offer them directions
Just get the hell out of there and don’t look back

Do not call the police
Do not call the mayor, your wife, or the papers
Do not call your shrink
Take out your cell phone and throw it into the nearest river

Do not board their ship
Do not sign any papers that look like deeds or construction approval forms
Do not agree to an exchange program
Keep on walking, remember every B-movie you’ve seen and keep on going

Should they hail you…
Do look the other way and pretend you not to hear them
If they ask you…
Do stick your hands in your pockets and continue on your way

Quicken your steps
Trust me on this.

Part II

Offer them some chewing gum
And ask how their trip was
Take them to the movies
or a local SF convention

if you are so lucky

Have a camera on hand, with a flash
And plenty of high speed film
Get a visitor to take your picture
With the rest of the crew

if you are so lucky

Call your parents (they’d be so proud)
And your siblings (seething with envy)
Call an old girlfriend and say
“Look who’s laughing now!”

and while you’re at at

Find a notary public. Find a reliable witness!
If you own a tractor or a pet pig
Hide them
Before giving any major interviews

and while you’re at it
Find out if there are any more like them back home

Part III

Call me.
No, seriously.
Call me.

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