Sunday, March 29, 2015

Science Verse

Recently coincidence has brought to me two collections of poems about  science -- first, the 2014 issue of The Nassau Review, a gift from editor and poet Christina M. Rau. The second collection is a "used" children's book, Science Verse (by John Scieszka and Lane Smith) found at the wonderful Kensington Row Bookshop (scroll down their webpage to find out about their monthly poetry readings).  I include below two rhyming stanzas from Science Verse, followed two selections from The Nassau Review 2014 -- a poem by Diane Giardi which is a parody (or isomorphic image) of a nursery rhyme and a poem  by Katherine Hauswirth which may or may not consider infinity.

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle, what kind of riddle
Is this nature of light?
Sometimes it's a wave,
Other times a particle . . .
But which answer will be marked right?

from What's the Matter?

Miss Lucy had some matter.
She didn't know its state.
She only had three choices,
So tried to get it straight.
   . . .

Giardi's poem below follows the form of "Sing a Song of Sixpence"; her use of the structure of the familiar rhyme contributes to the horror of the tale. It is (like the opening limerick, "Hey Diddle Diddle) a parody (the result of a structure-preserving correspondence that in mathematics is called an isomorphism).

5,000 Blackbirds     by Diane Giardi

Sing a song of sadness
a gasp, a gulp, a cry,
5,000 blackbirds
fell from the sky.

In Arkansas, in Beebe
on New Year's Eve last year,
the red-winged birds came raining down,
their life cut short from fear.

They landed on the roofs
they blanketed the lawns,
They covered roads in glossy black
that evening before dawn.

The Poultry commission
found no sign of bird disease, 
instead they suffered trauma,
acute, physical, ill of ease.

A guess was that the fireworks
hurt their beings in some way.
The noise?  The sparks? The heat?
It is hard for one to say.

Sing a song of sixpence,
a pocket full of rye,
5,000 red-winged blackbirds
fell from the sky.

When the sky was opened
the birds began to fall.
How is it we keep damning
God's creatures large and small?

In several recent postings (here on 21 February, for example) I have reflected on meanings of "infinite" and Hauswirth's phrase "too numerous to count" in the following poem again stirs that reflection.

All that Glitters     by Katherine Hauswirth

"Too numerous to count" is
the term we'd use in the lab for
this unceasing abundance.

Far from the strong lights of science,
specks of glimmer shine through
even the shadiest section of trail.

Out on the path, your eyes are
the only microscope: 
lean close to study the
numerous, numinous mica.

Peel back each layer to read more,
every turn more translucent,
the final page too brilliant a paragraph to toss.

Days after, the entire load of laundry
sparkles from the chip you left
in your front jeans pocket.

You  wear the glimmer
through the workaday grindings,
the sheen reminding you of
blessings too numerous to count.

No comments:

Post a Comment