Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Ice Age


Ice Age by Nancy Yu


I remember ages ago
when the ice wind could dry even the ocean
off our backs. It came in at first
in small crests then Avalanched into wooly mammoths.
I licked my lips and held on—frozen
to your mighty fur coat that slowly unraveled
into a hundred tiny tresses of naked hairs.

As I slipped, you reached up to touch
the widow’s peak above my Everest eyelashes
and I let you, afraid to blink for fear that
everything would disappear into a white canvas
of minimalism. It’s contemporary, my dear — what’s in
your heart is like an Alaskan oil mine,
Eldorado that cannot be pursued.

Back then I would always carry a comma
in my pocket and perform incantations
to protect myself from run-ons of
speeding icebergs and sabertooth bobsleds and
plate tectonics
that would certainly crash together
before I had a chance to slip away. All the while
you just sprinted after me, laughing
in my drink, you didn’t notice
that my chased white wine was
beginning to blush a crimson vermilion. We dined
beneath the Cambrian explosion the night
you whispered in my ear that
I was your Arctic enchantress. That
was the big secret behind my polar bear smiles.

But the fairy tale began to hang over like icicles
when you wrinkled the sheets between my toes
sprinkled salt on my snow angels, and
I covered the hurt in my eyes as
You just stood by, watching
Frosty’s magic melt between our fingertips
away with the spring.

— Poem and image by Nancy Yu.

First Place Winner in Summer 2008 Science Poetry Contest.

Posted by Joseph, under poetry contest  |  Date: August 30, 2008

One of Those Fundamental Quantities


hope by Clarissa Keen


What if time doesn’t really pass?
What if we just live one day over and over
in a circular paradox of infinite points.
The concept of moving forward,
moving on,
exists only in our minds.
The world of physics suddenly rearranged.
Momentum = present position;
We’re all standing still.
Schrödinger’s cat is alive and well.

They told me I was an artist,
that they could see it written on my palm,
along with my love, life and future,
yet I chose the other path;
To live
with nothing but numbers to count down the days
and the molecules which loosely hold us together.

Yet I wish entropy would just take over
and release me into the universe.
It’s irritating that my feet are so firmly planted to the ground.
I feel the need
to leave gravity behind and escape the atmosphere,
gaining speed at approximately 9.8 meters per second squared.
But I feel like time is continually dragging me down.
I’m stuck here getting inconsistently older,
and sometimes I think if I knew what was to come
things would be different…
But that’s what we’re all thinking, isn’t it?

Time is the scientist’s optimism:
That each second which ticks by will lead us to something further.
That each apple will fall from the tree, just as before,
and that it’s no longer one big coincidence that everything goes down,
Spreads out,
And stops.
The progress of man has reached its limit:
it is infinitely possible that, after all this time,
we’re not really getting anywhere.

— Poem and image by Clarissa Keen.

First runner-up in Summer 2008 Science Poetry Contest.

Posted by Joseph, under poetry contest  |  Date:

Relativistic Effects


Relativistic Effects by Bevan Weissman


By granules of sand
Under gravity’s grip

By the slap of the hand
Jolting sixty times ‘round

By epileptic fits of pixels
Screaming their conformity

By recording the rot of a cesium atom
If you want to be precise.

The whirl around a skewed axis, the flash of night to day
The whisk around a path
Five hundred eighty million miles long.
The times you’ve fallen into eclipse.

Scrawled in 4/4 signature
Imprinted on the inside of your ribs by your hammering heart
Engraved with the number of scars you bear,
——tick marks.

It started the moment
your lungs felt first air
And an infinity before.

It will crawl
to that final place
to die with you
But will continue to endure

— Poem and image by Bevan Weissman.

Second runner-up in Summer 2008 Science Poetry Contest.

Posted by Joseph, under poetry contest  |  Date:



I’m turning pages in my French dictionary
when the elevator breathes open. An entire class
wedges out, amoebic around a tall man in fleece: le prof.

He looks around for affirmation but his flock
hunches, head-bent, impelling graphite
onto their forearms. He waits, stationed in front

of the elevator like Hades at Avernus
and tells himself: So the scale-clutching it-
is a function of time between floor one

and floor three. The elevator doors belch
into his side; he bucks them back into their
sockets with his hip and presses: Let’s go again;

acceleration versus time for the round trip, he says,
backstepping into the mobile classroom-
so your velocity going down will be negative.

His voice hits the back wall where the echo stops
and the doors close and all twelve are vaulted up
like the value of y when m, x, and b

are enough. I watch the metal plate
above the doors that make it impossible for anyone
to get lost: 1 2 3 2 1. And again

the steely labra divide, the professor
out first, holding the scale in front of him
like a cheese tray. He weaves between his students,

following their work with a finger
waving tildes down the page. Pencils flip
and shake the spines of notebooks and then

they’re corralled back into the elevator, but this time:
with their teacher on the scale, yes, he is
standing on top of it-my own neck lowers

as they double-over to the numbers. And suddenly
I’m in it with them, in a split-second I’ve decided
to race them to the second storey, le deuxième étage,

that is: to clobber up the stairs to the poem’s ending
and rewrite it. So I do-I race them like I raced
my brother in every hotel we ever stayed at,

and I beat them, just like I think I beat him,
and I can’t keep myself from doing it, not even
now, as I rewrite, because they won’t even know

who pushed it, this tiny lucent interruption, because it’s white
and then it’s orange, and it rises into my fingers
like the knuckles of infinity, and it feels soft, and warm, and

when I close my eyes I move inside and I hum.

by Melissa Barrett, Poetry Editor. Photo by Vladimir Vladimirov/

Posted by Joseph, under poetry  |  Date: June 26, 2008

Steamed Dumplings


We were eating steamed dumplings from the Chinese place on Yonkers Avenue. The place where they know our friend Cole by name, by sight. “You moved?” the delivery guy asked when Cole once opened my apartment door.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Yeah”-and he laughed the laugh where his hair shook. Nervous laughter, but he wasn’t kidding. Joe’s eyes widened and he repeated: “I would not have any kids if I were you.”

“But that’s really . . . sad . . .” I said, stumbling. Not that there was anything in the oven, or that I was even sure I ever wanted kids.

“I’m just sparing my future generation the absolute disaster we’ve created.”

Joe wasn’t an apocalyptic guy. He didn’t even have the personality to exaggerate with a straight face. He was my one friend who was really into science, and I hung on to every word that came out of his mouth, knowing everything was rooted in tireless experimentation and research. He reached for the last dumpling.

“You’ll see. In ten years-you’ll see what I’m talking about.”

— by Melissa Barrett, Poetry Correspondent. Photo from

Posted by Joseph, under climate change, poetry  |  Date: May 8, 2008

disregard in a field of overhead projector light

behind the metal doors a dusted acre

of schoolhouse technology. sixty

or more but now even just one

too heavy.

           the shrine

we call it, the tour guide said,

because      the light, the purr

of fan, nearly breathing—and all

lined up like this, you get

the feel of cathedral, slope

of votive candles.

                 of course they pretty

much did worship the stuff, she added,

leading the edge of tourists

in and purblind, they foraged for

anything—glint of steel rolling

from a squared neck or bulbs

naked, obvious as teeth. but

only black

                    wide open

inarticulation people must have

once known looking at the sky.

in the hips of an old school they were found, settling like a necklace of prehistoric bones, and placed here, in a room wired for the twenty-first century. Electricity— sixty-four bulbs at six hundred watts, you might even hear it, she said—small motors of minnows, her voice an ellipse handswidth apart through the undimensioned room, and looking up, a few dozen laundry lines divide the darkness, or cracks in a ceiling, who knows—because you can always make out something, even when you blink and you blink because nothing’s really there. Stasis in darkness and then the countdown: ready set sudden splash of squares, hitting like the two-tone wings of spring moths. the light on, projectors now projecting—the machines from their carapaces blind and make hostage of each silhouette, tacked to the wall and dark as the first time you had sex because it wasn’t love.

— by Melissa Barrett, Poetry Editor

Posted by Joseph, under climate change, poetry  |  Date: March 26, 2008
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