Wilkes-Barre poet Richard Aston is many-faceted -- a teacher, an engineer, a textbook author, a technical writer. And Aston writes of those whose passion he admires-- in his latest collection, Valley Voices (Foothills Publishing, 2012) we meet laborers, many of them miners from the Wyoming Valley where he makes his home. Aston also writes of scientists and mathematicians -- and he has given permission for me to offer below his poems that feature Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, and Galileo Galilei. With the mind of a scientist and the rhythms of poetry, Aston brings to us clear visions of these past lives.
Scientist by Richard Aston
It took more than a figure, face, skin, and hair
for me to become Marie Curie,
wife of simple, smiling, selective, Pierre
who could recognize — because he was one — my genius.
My contribution was more
than that of arbitrarily assigning
the names of alpha, beta, and gamma to
the particles that emerged from my
lead well into a magnetic field
that deflected them right, left, or not at all.
It was more than naiveté for me
to say, No, to the idea of applying for
a patent on the process of extracting
radium from pitchblende.
Preparation, planning, persistence and my
focus were only elements of
what counted more in my daily abandon
to a work I knew was going somewhere.
Newton by Richard Aston
He fritters his evening away
under an apple tree
watching the lunar light against the dark, rising
in defiance of gravity, he thinks,
as an apple strikes his head
reversing this to:
The moon is tending also toward the earth!
Thus Newton’s Law of Gravity implies
a quark on me exerts a force on Mars,
as the apple did on his brain,
captivated by why things fall
and are not flung into space as Earth spins,
by what happens to us in our last falling,
to our hope for a final fling.
Galileo Centering by Richard Aston
A pendulum fixed to a cathedral ceiling,
a chandelier, triggered in Galileo the idea of a clock
running independent of water flow,
as it beat more regularly than his heart,
which, like ours, was susceptible to arrythmias.
This insight, perhaps, made his heart skip a couple of beats,
a sure sign that he had another project in mind
to start and, in his style, complete.
Now when our hearts suffer AV block,
we can be saved by the others
who took up on Galileo’s idea
and designed implantable pacemakers that beat independently
and can drive a heart with just ten microjoules of electricity,
delivered by tined steroid-tipped wires,
in perfect step with the swinging chandelier
that distracted wayward Galileo
from centering on the ethereal.
"Galileo Centering" (Copyright © 2013 by Richard Aston) also has appeared online at The Poetry Porch.