Pylons

The secret of these hills was stone, and cottages
Of that stone made,
And crumbling roads
That turned on sudden hidden villages

Now over these small hills, they have built the concrete
That trails black wire
Pylons, those pillars
Bare like nude giant girls that have no secret.

The valley with its gilt and evening look
And the green chestnut
Of customary root,
Are mocked dry like the parched bed of a brook.

But far above and far as sight endures
Like whips of anger
With lightning’s danger
There runs the quick perspective of the future.

This dwarfs our emerald country by its trek
So tall with prophecy
Dreaming of cities
Where often clouds shall lean their swan-white neck.

The Secret of the Machines

 

We were taken from the ore-bed and the mine,
   We were melted in the furnace and the pit—
We were cast and wrought and hammered to design,
   We were cut and filed and tooled and gauged to fit.
Some water, coal, and oil is all we ask,
   And a thousandth of an inch to give us play:
And now, if you will set us to our task,
   We will serve you four and twenty hours a day!
      We can pull and haul and push and lift and drive,
      We can print and plough and weave and heat and light,
      We can run and race and swim and fly and dive,
      We can see and hear and count and read and write!
Would you call a friend from half across the world?
   If you’ll let us have his name and town and state,
You shall see and hear your crackling question hurled
   Across the arch of heaven while you wait.
Has he answered? Does he need you at his side?
   You can start this very evening if you choose,
And take the Western Ocean in the stride
   Of seventy thousand horses and some screws!
      The boat-express is waiting your command!
      You will find the Mauretania at the quay,
      Till her captain turns the lever ’neath his hand,
      And the monstrous nine-decked city goes to sea.
Do you wish to make the mountains bare their head
   And lay their new-cut forests at your feet?
Do you want to turn a river in its bed,
   Or plant a barren wilderness with wheat?
Shall we pipe aloft and bring you water down
   From the never-failing cisterns of the snows,
To work the mills and tramways in your town,
   And irrigate your orchards as it flows?
      It is easy! Give us dynamite and drills!
      Watch the iron-shouldered rocks lie down and quake
      As the thirsty desert-level floods and fills,
      And the valley we have dammed becomes a lake.
But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
   We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
   If you make a slip in handling us you die!
We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings—
   Be humble, as you crawl beneath our rods!-
Our touch can alter all created things,
   We are everything on earth—except The Gods!
      Though our smoke may hide the Heavens from your eyes,
      It will vanish and the stars will shine again,
      Because, for all our power and weight and size,
      We are nothing more than children of your brain!

LIGO

 

It didn’t look like much – just a jiggle of lines on the screen,
Like the ECG chart of the heartbeat of a dying man
Dragging every precious breath from the air,
Or the marks scratched by a pen onto a paper scroll
As a tremor rolled along the San Andreas Fault.
But it was History, there for all to see, an image
As glorious as Galileo’s asterix-etched sketch of Jupiter’s
Mischevious moons, or Rosse’s portrait of the great
Whirlpool drawn at the Leviathan’s eye;
A record of a whisper that had travelled for more than a billion years,
So soft, so faint that the slow turn of a page
In a library’s quietest corner would sound as loud
As a hurricane’s howling wind to the instruments’ ears,
And the lifting of a single strand of a sleeping new-born’s hair
By a passing summer breeze would crack like a Balrog’s whip.
Hard to believe, looking at that jagged mountain range trace
That we were staring the deepest of deep physics in the face,
Looking back in time to when a pair of black holes danced,
Swirling dervishes, dense as 60 Suns,
Their shirts and skirts of Hawking radiation twirling as they whirled
Around each other in a giddy reel, then
Hurtled together at half the speed of Light –

What a sight that must have been,
But hominid eyes would not look to the sky for an eternity more,
And when it finally cocked an ear in their direction
LIGO could hear only echoes of their ancient laughter,
Waves tumbling in from the depths of space and time,
Lapping at our feet, rippling round, through and past the Earth
Like the melodies of distant whale-song.

© Stuart Atkinson 2016

 

Farewell Philae – For now

 

Beneath sheets of sparkling frost,
Lost Philae sleeps now, and will doze
Until, one day, who knows when,
Men and women from Earth,
Their boots crusted with clods of soot-black comet
Dust and snow will crump slowly across
67P’s frozen plains and see it –
A glint of gold in a shadow,
High up on a crumbling cliff’s side,
Shining like a wolf’s eye.
And then the Fellowship of Philae
Will hike up Seth’s serrated cliffs
Until, high above Hapi’s sands
They’ll reach out with shaking hands
And drag it from its icy tomb
Into the light, setting it upright again,
Brushing years of ice and dust
From its face before taking it
To its final resting place – a glass case
At ESOC, spotlights warming it,
Thawing a century of frostbite…

But for now, Philae sleeps,
Without Rosetta’s alarm clock beep-beep-beep
Interrupting its dreams
Of what might have been,
If only those hapless harpoons had fired…
If only it hadn’t bounced like a rubber ball…
If only it hadn’t fallen into that dark place,
Landing, legs splayed,
In a lonely hole hidden from the Sun’s precious rays…

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2016

https://astropoetry.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/farewell-philae-for-now/

interstellar space: a diptych

 

interstellar-space001

 

 

A February 28, 1914 Scientific American article redacted into a poem about Voyager’s journey into interstellar space.

 

from TychoGirl : https://tychogirl.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/interstellar-space-a-dipytch/

A ray splits twice

A ray splits twice, then twice again
Divergent paths striking on the glass.
So too with you. So too with you,
Who I once thought to share in life,
Divergent ran, along the border of a knife.

Molecules dance in space, the void becomes
Their stately, mystic tango of the soul –
And so, with the light of ten thousand suns
I’d like to dance with you. I would be whole
If I could wake, content, from such an atom dream.

Please. Numbers…can’t compare. I’ve spent my life
Determining values, of sin and pi
But you just laughed and said
“I’ve heard some say it was a sin
To eat too much of apple pie.”

And so a world was broken, and a new
Based not on numbers, but on you,
Was made. What is this fire?
Is it the bunsen that I know so well,
Or does my broken heart now stir?

I shall be Keats in words for you,
I’d sacrifice my play with lithium,
My focus on Potassium.
Instead, I’d whisper of Byzantium
The city of a thousand loves.

So please. I do not beg – how could I?
But still… I wish to ask, if I could,
Whether you would consider me,
Whose heart, only now, is free.

—by Andrew H.

 

Another great poem from tweetspeakpoetry

Earthfast

Architects plant their imagination, weld their poems on rock,
Clamp them to the skidding rim of the world and anchor them down to its core;
Leave more than the painter’s or poet’s snail-bright trail on a friable leaf;
Can build their chrysalis round them – stand in their sculpture’s belly.

They see through stone, they cage and partition air, they cross-rig space
With footholds, planks for a dance; yet their maze, their flying trapeze
Is pinned to the centre. They write their euclidean music standing
With a hand on a cornice of cloud, themselves set fast, earth-square.