Category Archives: Arts, Poetry and Music

A poem made with geological vocabulary

I meant to look up just a few words for a poem about a geologist friend, but the language was so rich, I couldn’t resist.

The Eruption

We are absolutely dating, he said
As they glided across the abyssal plain.
In the aftershock if that, she
turned on her earphones to an acid rock channel
an aggregate album recommended by Amber.

It’s your angular unconformity I object to,
he continued, and your acting
as if all of us, your Achaean companions,
are just an archipelago about you.

It was a basic, bedrock complaint,
and she buckled a little, inside, like
some kind of breadcrust bomb.
She cast about, cleaved clean from her continental crust.
She was shaken to the core,
He could be so crude.

Don’t think I mean to degrade you, he continued
as he prepared to drill to her core.

It seemed an eon (it was erratic at her epicenter)
Then the erosion began.
The exfoliation of one layer, another,
she fractured, froze,
Her guts as if gastroliths ground them.

In the half-life it could have taken for her heart
to turn to hardpan, something creaked,
a hinge line opened to something inside
a hotspring, an isotope of her essence till now hidden

A kettle, steam kinking upward within,
Then, lava, a liquefaction of the lowland of her soul
Mantle, oozing massive, moving toward
a sudden metamorphosis

Mica, he wanted to mold her
but her orogenic beginnings were leading to a piercing point.
It was plutonic, yes, but now, what a
pneumatolytic,  pyroclastic rift!


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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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Stop fighting fires (except to save lives)

Stop Fighting Fires

It releases the minerals, you know.
Let it burn, snap, roar, blast back out again the sunshine
that’s been trapped in there for the past forty, seventy,
two hundred years.

Who wants a cold, clammy forest
shading nothing but its own dry twigs
and dead brown needles,
sheltering nothing but cicadas
and a few hungry birds?

Let it burn to ash, and then
burst into wildflowers, grass, and tree seedlings
inviting small scampering things
leaping crickets, slithering snakes, bees,
and releasing a thousand smells.



A poem about having more that the usual fingers

Standards in the classroom

When I learned that the gene for six fingers per hand is dominant,
I thought about all the children who, in infancy and in secret,
Had had two of their twelve fingers cut off
so they could be normal.

Five fingers plus five equals ten —
the basis of the decimal system and Arabic numerals
and Metric, all very clear-cut.

But why not let twelve digits be the norm
and count in dozens?
(Could it be that the dozens we do count
are because of dozens of fingers in some baker clan?)

Or, some could have theirs amputated at the knuckles
and count by fractions.
The teacher would say, “My aren’t they sharp!”
and divide the class into sections
so they could teach their five-fingered friends
(who would wear prostheses to get a slice of the action).

This would be better than listening to the dull teacher
as she lay equations on the board
and told everyone to do their exercises,


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Posted by on October 8, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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Poetry is also adaptive, of course.

Poor Richard

I explain to Peter
as I drive him to work
that all our apparent goodness
is really a variation on self-interest.

I feel guilty saying it,
but also, driven.
Shattering illusions is a compulsive act.

One hopes someone will
be able to shatter back.
Isn’t that right, Mr. Dawkins?

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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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Science teacher attends poetry conference two years in a row.

Last year about this time I went at a friend’s invitation to my first ever literary weekend, a poetry retreat called LiTFUSE in Tieton, Washington. I have never mentioned it here, though I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. The other poets were very welcoming, and I met some rather well-known ones, though I’d never heard of any of them, being from a different line of study and work, and not yet retired enough to go to poetry events or spend much time getting caught up with that scene.

I wrote a few fragments I liked, but they didn’t come to much I would want to share. It will take me years, I suppose, to learn about the craft and get enough practice and feedback to refine and publish, except occasionally here. Officially I have a lot of blog followers, although all but a handful (a very small handful) seem to have signed up hoping I’d help increase the traffic to their own blogs, because they never visited mine more than once.

I just got back from my second LiTFUSE. Next year I hope to have something to share at the open mic, and my friend and I plan to join a poetry circle to help us stay writing., as well as attend some events though the year.

The poem I just wrote and posted plods along awkwardly, but it made me laugh when it was done. It is also heart-felt. The line, “Shit! grow more trees!” came to me at a very solemn and profound moment during a reading at the conference where the poet mentioned a certain tree, and I thought, what if no one had bothered to plant that tree? That’s the background. I like getting some background to poems, if possible. I changed that line, as you can see.

The other thing is, I had to write something that did not promise to be any good, keeping the bar low so I would post it. My other poems are much more precious, so I hope to get them to the same I don’t care phase, as that always helped me get more drawing done in the past. Practice over production, at least for now. .

Tieton is a beautiful small town west of Yakima, consisting of small houses inhabited by mostly field workers, with a few more wealthy folk in fancy condos with watered gardens and rentable conference rooms. Two of the residents were put out due to dog turds in the garden, one implying the other’s dog might be the source.

One side of the town is edged with fruit warehouses and equipment shops, all quiet now. The landowners and fruit warehousers live up in the hills for the view. The light is soft and clear, the hills dry and undulating, topped by purple stone ridges in some places. Someone has put money into a square, grassy park, but the trees in it were planted long ago.

As my friend went for a walk between sessions, two small dogs started wildly yapping at us from a little front yard surrounded by a three foot high chain link fence. We responded with a few encouraging words, and out from some other corner came a black kitten not yet weaned. We melted and cooed at it as one must, then tore ourselves away out of concern for the little dogs’ vocal cords. When we were few yards down the sidewalk, the kitten squeezed right through the chain links and tottered after us. This was was really too much. Being between cats myself, it would have taken nothing for me to inquire if it was up for adoption (there was a half-grown tabby now walking interestedly toward us too, and the black cat’s mother was somewhere further down the street). But our Siberian husky would just as soon practice small mammal predation on it as make friends, so that was out of the question.

I picked the kitten up, explaining all the while in infantile tones how inadvisable it was to act in that manner, resisted my maternal impulses, and poked it back through the mesh.

Next we came upon two young Latina girls carrying brown paper envelopes, doing some sort of solicitation. The older one asked if the kittens were ours, and we explained that, no, they were just curious about us and belonged, we thought, with the dogs’ family. The girls kept walking, and I overheard them debating whether they should ask us (to sponsor them). I initiated a conversation about their fundraising drive, and soon they were sweetly thanking me for helping out. It was a warm, clear day, and I was happy.


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First in a new series of original, low-quality poems

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees.
Some people bothered long ago, and look at them now!

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees.
They take decades, centuries to be full grown.

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees.
It this urban wasteland, they won’t just happen.

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees
We need the shade, water retention, roots digging soil.

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees,
They remove carbon dioxide from the air, add oxygen.

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees
Do it now, tomorrow, this week at the latest.

Plant more trees.
Grow more trees.
Grow more trees, dammit!


Posted by on September 25, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music, Beautiful Earth


Poem #2

If I cooked like you, I’d start with a box of recipe cards
Heritage, very precious, perhaps worth some money, published
stored under six other heavier boxes of old textbooks
in a locked storage unit across town.
I’d have key, somewhere
Where was it, again?
It will turn up eventually, for sure.

In that box would be a card
with a recipe for divinity
which had never actually set properly
any of the times your mother made it,
but if only the temperature and humidity were just right,
it really would be to die for.
I would remember her making it,
and would put it on the menu for our anniversary–all for the
special memories, sweet smells,
and a burnt pot that had to be thrown out.

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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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