A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Scrabble is not really a word game; it's a mathematical game played by weirdly obsessive people who do abusive things to the English language.  Also, as a biologist and a research professor studying climate change, I suffer from seasonal poetry allergies.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


The stars blaze bright,
Unblurred by urban haze
That dimmed them, stole them --
A moment, a millennium ago --
From my childish gaze.
Viewed from this far-flung vantage
Deep in snow and silence
Orion stands undaunted,
The obsidian sky so timeless
That the dimmer details
Shine as lucid, as proud
As blue-white Rigel’s
Spectroscopic binary and Alpha Cygni variable primary.
Wide-eyed with wonder,
My own child looks, and points,
And asks about those fainter stars
Dangling from the constellation’s belt.
“Um, no,” I tell her. 
“That’s supposed to be his sword.”


My hands sink deep in loam,
Green-scented shoots exulting:
Live, live, live –
Waking from their fractal snowflake blanket
Rain-distilled and cleansed by sunlight.
Natural as wind,
As breath,
As birth,
As laughter.
Also natural as polio and damaging UV rays
And that spiny Amazonian fish, Vandellia cirrhosa.
Yeah.  That one.


I’ll wax iambic for five feet per line
And eulogize the symmetry of sound;
The assonance euphonious, labyrinthine;
The semblance of philosophy profound.

If onomatopoeia rings its chime
The tintinnabulation will be blithe,
The susurrus mellifluous, sublime,
The plink and chink and tinkle nimbly lithe.

And if a dactyl sets me widdershins,
Elision, anaptyxis let me cheat.
So anapest, clandestine, underpins
Nefarious trochee, erstwhile incomplete.

The sonnet’s lures snare logophilic nerds
Who wallow mathematically in words.


No matter how remote you are,
I’ll leave a light on --
A suffusing, fierce, embracing glow
That banishes the shadows;
A clear bright gleam that burns and waits,
Waits and burns,
An hour, a month, a year...
Even if unheeded, unneeded, unanswered,
Still it will shine, true and steady,
For you, for you, for you. 
It will not sap all energy or incinerate all hope.
It will not consume itself in its own endless heat.
It will not, in the fruitless space of decades, flicker and burn out.
These new-fangled LED bulbs sure are fantastic.


In raindrops coursing on the windowpane
I feel the rhythm of a long-forgotten chorus.
In ebbing evanescent clouds
I read a legend and a mystery.
The chaos of the circle’s ratio
Begs and whispers of the rational.
And in this complex dataset
I see pattern, shape, logic, reason,
Meaning, and truth – a bright epiphany --
Even though it totally isn’t there.

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