Symbiosis (a short poem)

My previous works exploring humanity’s relationship with nature and the Earth are satirically abrasive and abrasively satirical*. So I wanted to try something subtle, something where different definitions of a single word could allow for different readings—as I hope I accomplished with the closing line.

Symbiosis

Mycorrhiza connects forests

Little hairs of fungus,
Like neurons in one mind
Intertwined with nature,
Create the rhizosphere
Where life bonds with life
—Kingdom with kingdom
Mutually interact, and enrich—

Titular goal of mankind

Cover Image: Mycorrhizal Fungi courtesy of Nourishme Organics

*Referenced Poems:
Turtle and a Straw
Meeting the Neighbors at Mother’s Funeral

Only a Box Fan [and Me] (a poem)

A Summer poem about box fans.

Only a Box Fan [and Me]

What is that sound produced by singing
Into a box fan?

Reverberation
Vibration
Vocal ventilation in the Court of Self
Sensation of the release onions feel when you dice them?
—And who knew so much water hid behind
The brittle skin of that root?
[Yes, onions liked to be diced
Just as you like deep tissue rubs]—
I’ve got it!
Is it the dissociation
Of harmonic buzz,
That elation
When two disparate notes
Like lovers in the salt of a honeymoon,
Compliment

But without the lover—or friend if you prefer
Of the second part, the harmony,
Because it’s only you singing

Into a box fan. . .

I’ll believe you if you tell me,
You’re not drying your eyes;
I’ll believe you if you tell me
It’s because singing into a box fan is fun
And not because it creates the illusion
Of another voice in the room.

Cover Image: Still from Childhood Box Fans, by ToryTheFanMan. YouTube, 2014

The Night Gaze (a poem)

Observation, or the act of learning by watching—monkey see, monkey do—is a hallmark of human behavior. Yet how often do we react to what we think we see, or fear we see, instead of what is actually there?

The Night Gaze

I dare to peek into night, across the window pane,

Where hands of death caress my neck

Like pearls

—an ancestral heirloom—

For though Dread be intertwined with time, I pray

My eyes will leave the monster slain;

.

I gaze on hooded secrets and a sickle moon in wane

And the shadow of a Nothing, billows with the wind;

Turn away—

shut your eyes and hide

The voice within begins to bray;

But I force myself to stay beyond the frigid pane

.

For I spy, at last, the hollow eye of Cain

And the paradox of fear, to receive what I had asked

I his future

And he my past—

I wipe fog off the glass, and I hope

My eyes will leave the monster slain

.

—Is this a face of wrath? No. A mask to entertain?

Does a man stand there at all, or is it only small

Illusions?

—Devils of pareidolia—

The moon is crescent now, and I tear the veil of nightfall

When I dare to lift the sill beneath the window pane

.

leaves,

wind-rustled from behind

.

There are such things as monsters, of nature and humankind—

But the one we fear most of all is the one within our mind;

I’ll look again, tomorrow night, across the window pane

And know my sharpened eyes will leave the monster slain

Cover Photo courtesy of WallpaperAccess, with edits by Daniel J. Nickolas

The First Astronauts

A little half poem, half aphorism, appreciating that we will never stop reaching.

The First Astronauts

What precious apes, who endure

Cries of cracked bones and vertigo

Which precede the treetops, where

They reach, not realizing—yet

unapologetically—

for the stars

Cover Image: Australopithecus anamensis facial reconstruction, courtesy of LiveScience

A Witch in Sunday School (a poem)

Learning and discovery, while rewarding, are a risk. To engage in learning, to welcome discovery—if done with an open mind—is to become someone more than who we previously were.

The dying of the old self is never simple, never easy.

A Witch in Sunday School

When Einstein bent space and time,
I was not prepared. I liked the line—
Liked life marked by simple notation,
Read straightforward and linear,
By kind women in sunflower dresses;
They’d pour water on my head—

When younger, I’d stargaze in pools of mirth
I liked the way the Sun went ’round the Earth
Unaware of my Ganymede behind a veil
Of distance; my classroom held no telescope
And the baptizms made the carpet wet

And yet, faintly, I heard a hiss, a crackle—
The mind by birth is heat, smoking in the waters;
A comming conflagration, inescapable,
Begged by heretical kindlings of an open window.

I never thought it special that Jacob wrestled
With God. He too once rested, nestled
In foolishness and step-by-step trickery;
But the ladder upward touched a dream
And led beyond the angel oceans, to E=MC^2

We were not prepared.

The onion skin that crumples in hand
Is linear
Wishpaper untouched by match’s phosphorous
Is linear
The book before you mouth “once upon”
Is linear
And my life, at last, is more than curved—

My life is the ticker-tape of ash rising
Off the burning pyre of childhood eyes
And the thought that strings pulled taught
Or stories without exponents and fractals
Were ever better than burning at the stake—

Immolate me with discovery.

A Witch in Sunday School is the second in a larger collection, which aims to draw on science and mathematics as tools for exploring the philosophical and emotional aspects of life. The first in the collection is My Holocene.

A School for U.S.

Removing organs from a corpse to save another’s life is illegal—unless that corpse, in life, consented to be an organ donor. One does not have the right to use a body to sustain themselves, even after that body expires.

One does not have the right to use a body to sustain themselves

One does not have the right to use a body

The Supreme Court currently has no plan to address laws which limit, or allow limitations on, comprehensive sex education in the U.S. despite said education’s direct causal link to a reduction of unwanted pregnancies.

A School for U.S.

No more lesson plan remains

In the U.S. school of life

Save only that, with compound interest

Two plus two is five.

.

We cut costs with the science text,

Now a single leaflet long

Asking how, if we evolved from apes,

Did the white man get so strong?

.

The uniforms were red and blue

But we bleached out all the colors

Erected statues of a traitor,

And were told there were no others

.

The library shelves are empty,

All offensive books now banned,

Save a gun, a Bible—never read

And condensed works of Ayn Rand

.

They God-Bless’d Mrs. Orwell;

She called the founders “theocratic”

With the new American definition

Of “The ‘truly’ democratic”

.

No more lesson plan remains

In the U.S. school of life

Save only that, with compound interest,

Two plus two is five

.

Cover Image: The Holdout, Norman Rockwell, 1959

I Can’t Focus Today (a poem)

Inspired by my ADHD and my human propensity to procrastinate, and the reality of time. 

I Can’t Focus Today

How many tired and sundry thoughts will stream and drip,

Like condensation on the lip, or rivulets of sweat the rag wicks

Without consideration of the mineral content,

Before I’ll be cooled down enough to clean house?

.

Hastily packed boxes, the mess I made of heirlooms and my art,

Scattering dissperate parts across the lawn as I rummage,

Throwing away distended trash bags—licorice and leaking;

A Hoarder, at least, finds gems beneath warped board games

.

Even the clock gets lost in these sun-drenched days of Solstice—

I hang that timepiece, crooked on the wall, and reprimand myself;

The autumn leaves will fall—when the clock corrects Summer’s drawl—

Obstruct, and bury the multifarious mosaic of my life’s collections

.

Obstructed even now by the reaching shadows of a twilight star—

The penumbra of time creeps to my door—I sweat from more than heat.

“Hours left.” They’ll dismiss with a flick of wrist. “Hours more of evening,

To unpack—” So I sit back and let the balm of summers pass

.

Yet—by midnight, my pen will have leaked away into the sky,

Another well of “possibly” evaporating into clouds and pareidolia

Leaving behind only piles of rusted rebar on the grass,

Stuffed black bags of disparate parts on the threshold of my porch,

.

 

Cover Image: Electric III by Philip Barlow, oil on linen 

Enlightenment (a sonnet)

More than a change, more than a one-and-done event, enlightenment is a reincarnation of shadow into light.

Enlightenment

Remember when our eyes were veiled with dark,
And every sound and shadow meant us harm?
In firelight, the grey Unseen grew stark
No respite from the death knells, or alarm—
.
Penumbras crawled with achromatic arms,
Sharp fangs, and venom—preying in the night
Webbed poisons of conspiracy as charms,
To terrorize we apes of freezing and quick flight;
.
But then our brilliance rose above horizon’s might
Like suns our eyes ignited from inside
Until we sheared the veil and found our fight,
Exposed the bleak crevasse where mysteries hide
.
Unshadow resisters to life, luminescent;
We once blind apes now see a world, iridescent
.

Cover Image: Florescent Minerals, Hannes Grobe for Wikipedia

Structure: A Spencerian Sonnet (iambic pentameter with rhyme scheme ABAB BCBC CDCD EE), with some intentional breaks of meter.

My Holocene (a poem)

A love poem from a new series inspired by science. Science and poetry both strive toward an understanding of what’s true, albeit in disparate ways. I hypothesize that, while science and poetry overlap little, they harmonize perfectly—the melody and harmony of a song may never overlap, but they compliment and enhance one another.

Holocene: The period beginning at the end of the last major Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, it is characterized by the development of human civilizations—art, culture, and science. (1)

My Holocene

You are my Holocene—

Upright—how distant the time before now seems,

Before I learned the language of your touch

Or the phonetics of your smile in the morning;

To be the Pāṇini(2) of your morphology, a dream

.

You are my Holocene—

How exquisite the patterns, how vivid the themes

The acoustics of your laughter reveals to me—

From my Beethoven ears rises a ninth symphony—

I the composer, you the muse, the vibrations of esteem

.

You are my Holocene—

You lift my gaze and draw the stars I’d left unseen,

And when I see that worlds expand within your eyes

I am Galileo discovering Jupiter’s moons, learning that it moves;

On the infinite elation of your astronomy I lean

.

You are my Holocene

1. “Holocene” (Paraphrase). The American Heritage Science Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, pg 297.

2. Pāṇini: [paːɳɪnɪ] Ancient Sanskrit Grammarian, and possibly the world’s first Linguist. 

Cover Image courtesy of NBC News, “Ancient Star Explosions Could Have Led Early Humans to Walk Upright

— and Jump (a prose poem)

An Experiment. Part of the joy of writing is getting to stretch yourself, try new forms, and experiment. In my life, I’ve been experimenting with the idea of embracing regrets as aspects of myself that have shaped my perception—perhaps for the better.

I hope one experiment will complement another.

—and Jump

An Instance:

You stand on the precipice with a regret. A sharp reminiscence of the words you kept for too long, or the failed insistence of an opportunity—now only a fading song on its last verse. Behind your lips, cast in thirst, words damn you for untraveled distance; you realize that your still legs—inertia—create a consistence of silence. Silence for the loved one you never met, for the experience you never lived, for the absentee memories you love—or could’ve.

Breathe. You let the escapable Silence feel benign—ignore, for a moment, that your fingers find it’s malignance balled in your throat. You lift the carving stone (a difficult self assistance) and point into the abyss:

You: Here is experience, here is opportunity, here is admittance.

Blood steams across the stone—bruise around the wound—a part of you missing. You toss The Missing down to the ground, and the malignant inertia is out—and the scar is something more than the subsistence you accepted before.

You are here on the precipice with a regret—a new resistance. Firm against the gale, you hiked to this moment with longing and persistence and the understanding that your companion now intertwines with existence. The cliff is the illusion of The Silence, The Inertia, The Missing—the abyss in front, not below.

Regret what you will, but you won’t regret the regrets you possess. They are the omniscience

to jump.

Cover Picture Courtesy of Adventurous Travels