true enough

I don’t shed tears for wasted chances-
for unsaid words with fleeting glances
the dried-out husks of old romances…
with nothing left to give

I’ve never lost myself in space
or longed for some forgotten face
that lingers lightly as a trace
of light that draped the room

my feet have never steered me wrong
to land where my heart can’t belong
or danced to wistful, quiet song
that stirs the mind to silence

my dreams have never birthed regret
(that mind-born mound of unpaid debt)
or drowned my days in hope, and yet-
without the means to make it

my words have never caused you pain
or wrenched the sky to incite rain
(the sort that falls upon one’s brain-
a most unwelcome flood)

your voice has always calmed my soul
allayed my fears and made me whole
and never made me lose control
of life and how I feel it

your smiles have never told me lies-
they clued me in to realize
the dripping paint of soft goodbyes
had lingered far too long

the years gone by have barely passed
the space between us, hardly vast
for things like this are meant to last
and bring us more tomorrows


far-off

I catch the outline
of your shifting smile

searching
for something

worth reflecting

the earth and sky
in your boundless eyes

I see you standing there

beautiful
delicate
strong

a spider’s web among the silence

filamentous
yet unyielding

I feel the edge
of your well-lit face

hands: shaking

as if outstretched fingers
grazed the halo

of some far-off star


On Poetry and Science…

What follows is the text of a short speech I gave to a room full of teachers recently. That should explain the majority of the grammatical no-nos and distracting asides. Cheers.

“Thank you all for being here. I’m very grateful to Dranoff for giving us this time. We’re about to wrap up, so I thought I’d say a few words. I know better than to lecture a room full of teachers about poetry- so I won’t. I’ll instead muse a bit about science- and the connections one might make to it using poetry.

Science can be dry. There aren’t many ways around that. In order to come to grips with natural phenomena that have puzzled greater minds than ours, we follow a process. A method. How does one, then, extract the emotional sustenance necessary for poetry from the embalmed husk of scientific research? I don’t know.

Being a graduate student, however, I am quite qualified to speak on the subject of ignoring the rules of the scientific method. Because that’s what needs to be done when poetry is on the mind. You don’t see many sonnets written about well-informed hypotheses- or any syncopated free verse that sings of testable predictions.

So what do we mean when we say we want to write poetry about science? That, in my opinion, comes back to poetry- the powerful form that allows its consumer to glimpse the emotions of whoever put pen to page in an act of creation.

It is the source, then- the object of the artist’s affection- that makes all the difference (as Robert Frost might say). Scientific poetry is the translation of the emotional response evoked by natural phenomena into verse (or prose, for you prose poem enthusiasts out there).

I could write a series of equations that describe the fluid mechanics at play when an ocean wave feels the shore and shoals up, scraping the beach (and, admittedly- the limits of linearity that allow us to properly describe such a phenomenon). But, maybe a haiku is better-suited to translating the awe inspired by one of nature’s rawest displays of power?

I believe the answer is somewhere in between- poetry that’s aware of the language used in the scientific community, but not hamstrung by its rigid methods or robbed of the soul that makes the medium so effective in the first place.

That could be advice given to a scientist just as easily as it could be advice given to a poet. The idea really is the same: to be aware of the message- the emotion- the soul- of the task. And to let that soul inspire the work, not limit it.

That is why I pursue science. And that is why I try to write poetry. I thank you all for your time, your patience, and your attention. And I thank you for helping the next generation of scientists and poets find what inspires them in their creative endeavors.”


home

when at the cusp of crossing roads
where land meets sea and sky unloads
a feeling long forgotten here
creeps back in time to close the year
and wrap the time in garish bows
that sear the eyes and scorch the nose
(yet leave a warm and soft desire
that cuts through cold like newborn fire)

a world away, in white repose
lies fragile home adrift in snows
that cradle lives with silent hands
as moonlit waves on sifting sands
the time is ripe for time to pass
and open days encased in glass;
to place on hold what softer things
the peeking light of new-year brings

so slippery words become a poem
and I forsake my world for home


Why?

the-place-beyond-the-pines-gosling-01

I just saw “The Place Beyond The Pines” tonight.

The film is a whirling, disjointed piece of cinema with enough gut-wrenching tropes and hollow characters to fill three movies. I can’t remember the last time I felt so thoroughly anxious and sad while sitting in a theater.

The movie seems to grasp at the strained but delicate artistry of “Drive” and the melodramatic darkness of some or other Lars von Trier downer. In its attempt to tell multiple stories across multiple generations, the film muddles whatever message it might have had in the first place. It’s like watching “Cloud Atlas” sans the carefully woven, overarching story elements. Perhaps certain parts of the film survive on their own merits (haunting bits of music smeared over hypnotic cinematography come to mind). But the disparate pieces remain so, never becoming sewn into a coherent, thoughtful movie. This is due in no small part to the wasted acting talents that filled the robotic roles on the screen. It’s very difficult to appreciate a movie if one can’t begin to find honest humanity in its characters.

At times, it seemed as if the director was purposefully trying to lose his audience. There can be value in such an endeavor- so long as the audience returns (and with understanding). What we ultimately received, however, was the substitution of flimsy prestidigitation for meaningful storytelling.


adrift

another dance of swirl and sway
will rise on high from night to day
and rock my soul with surge and swell
from evening song to morning bell

the slightest sense of creeping cold
does well to keep my temper dulled
and sweep soft thoughts on swells so swift
that fill the hours of night adrift

in sweetly singing, rolling seas
that pull the cares from hearts with ease
I’ll swim till surf sees hills of sand
that rouse and guide me back to land


stirring silence

a cool breeze licks my skin
and I shudder
silently and without emotion

no prayers of love or gasps of fear
will pass my lips
as evening laps against my solitary soul

and so I walk
in awe of my corner of the world
and the stirring silence
of the graceful moment that holds me


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