Sonnet: Knowledge of the Precipice, a Fable for Our Time


We start the journey and think nothing of how long.
We know where we’re going. We studied the map.
We reckoned on troubles, promised to be strong,
We agreed that complaining is itself mishap.

But we didn’t count on the whorls of light
Which our science doesn’t yet understand,
That never by force can we make it go right
Since the way curves also on the other hand

And destinies ebb faster than we think.
You look down suddenly, it’s the edge —
Some way across? No way back. On the brink
You discover the gravity of knowledge:

You know that alone you must bind up the fear
That beggars your mind as the fact looms near.

Sonnet: Against Pseudodoxy

What you don’t know you know you need to know.
Those who laugh and call it gibberish miss the mark.
They assume your language is nothing but show
When it’s your anguish trying to free your heart

From the barbs and hooks of the grinning tyrant
Extorting life from you with gibberish for real:
“Worship my god and believe in my cant …
You’ll go to heaven — it’s a helluva deal!”

Eons ago on boiling ocean floors
From minerals and chemicals life evolved
And rose to complexity which even now soars
To seek answers to questions only solved

Refusing pseudodoxy to cooperate
Before what we don’t know we know we know too late.

Neuroandum #5

Brain Hemispheres

When you look at your body what do you see?
You see two of everything everywhere.
Wherever it could nature deposited two.
Philosophy has long been mistaken:
One is nothing unless divided — think two.

Next, think brain. Just take a minute or two.
Like Gaia herself, two conjoining hemispheres
Cooperate in opera no one composes
Other than Nature, impatient of one
In all she does — she feels two are sweeter.

The work is divided, as much work should be,
So a work of love flourish from a love of work
Our bodies evolved to perform at will
If will and body only embrace
Like lovers who give not merely receive.

Sharing and shearing the same parent share
(Even as my line shears the caesura’s share),
And let our pride swell as much as it will,
Like a stroke crippling the brain, it can only end
In a solitary lesion’s emptiness.

Divided in two the brain is itself
And can begin to finish its life’s work,
Assembling the mind from neuronal charges
Distributed alike in all but, in each,
Reciprocal uniquely with time and space,

No two brains deprived of the law of two,
Which is difference for all, even for twins,
Who cannot be connected unless apart,
The mystery of belonging by longing to be
A part together together apart

Where separation empowers union —
As sexes couple to forget themselves
The better to remember the bodies they bear —
So hemispheres of cells billions in number
Chemically coordinate feeling and thought

Until mind emerges conscious of self,
Conscious, then, too, of the selves of others,
Each desiring the real of recognition
Which affirms you are apart but not alone,
Each of you bound alike in freedom’s thrall

To live and die responsible for yourself
Just because you are not alone, most of all
When you boil with envy, greed, and hatred,
For then you belong to the other, their thing,
Proving the power they have taken from you.

You must instead like your brain live divided
(Beware the snake oil of what you want to hear,
It will melt your mind), so your self will come
To challenge yourself by the glass of death:
What is worth having if it is not worth living?



Neuroandum #4


There are no substances in language, only differences.

Ferdinand de Saussure

Our bodies evolved in a web of things.
These things precede us and define us.

Every denial is a myth appropriate
To power only, to deny freedom to all.

Each must freely resign a freedom
To a sign that each can carry in joy and peace —

All else is tyranny imposing its will.
Power hates and fears any human accord

Responding to things that preceded us
With care and concern for the planet’s life,

Without which our life is just another
Species vanishing in habitat loss,

Such islands as remain savaged by greed
In frenzies of murdering evolving bodies —

Remember: the thermonuclear device
Can vaporize life all over the planet.

The mind that devised that hideous end
Alone can cure the horror conceived.

It has to admit the brain its mother
(MATERpia, arachnoid, and dura)

Swathing the cortical folds with her quilts,
So that it can soar to the stars and back.

But the mind must come back — this is the call
It is death to refuse, the duty to stand

Before the real and acknowledge its name,
Which is not your own nor ever will be,

But another’s, who is different from you,
Yet claims from you what you want from all:

Recognition of the need to love yourself
In a life you didn’t choose but die in anyway.

Neuroandum #3



Click here to read the legend for the diagram of the synapse above


For Juliet’s sake, for her sake, rise and stand;
Why should you fall into so deep an O?

Romeo & Juliet 3.3.90-1

The gift of gap is little understood.
Commonly people ridicule science
That corroborates life’s dependence on clefts.

But try to get through a day without filling
Or emptying holes — do a few of these
You’ll soon be in sorry shape … and stink;

A few more and you’ll also likely die.
Your pride may not like it but you’re nothing
Without the cavities that wound your body.

Of these the synapse is the most enlightening
(Coming in second is Juliet’s O
Although Nurse Capulet would disagree);

The synapse is the gap that measures “is,”
The “copula” we call it, the verb “to be,”
Which gives meaning to mammals copulating,

Though, like most animals, we hardly care
When the rut is upon us and estrus constant
In our female hominid, “for better or worse” —

Why should you fall into so deep an O?
Indeed. The poet asks the salient question
For which even the synapse has no answer

Other than instinct utterly mindless.
But the brain, enormous in size and energy,
Can imagine a life beyond the rut. Listen.

In that 200-micron(μm) gift of gap
Connections multiply into trillions —
Pay attention, please: trillions, as in stars.

Earth-evolved chemicals flow across the gaps
Transmitting charges over those trillions,
The charges of life that fire into mind,

Where they precipitate the being of thought
And, so, the thought of being, which is freedom,
Born in the instant the brain knows its mind

And ineradicable in our species
Regardless of color, culture, or sex —
Abolish freedom, abolish it all.

The brain proposes the mind to itself
To negotiate the gaps nature cleaves
In tissues that burn to cleave together

In a body of parts that must be apart
To be a part of the animal that imparts
The play of love that tyranny hates

Since in its language, also full of holes,
It exposes the plague on all our houses —
Why should we fail in so deep an O?

Selections from “Conversations Between Poetry and Physics,” #4

The Romance of Entropy

Everything in the future is a wave, everything in the past is a particle.

Lawrence Bragg 

It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.

Søren Kierkegaard

He should not have given the clue to her.
It fits more secrets than she realizes,
And once they’re open there’s no going back,
Cry as you might or thunder as you will.

Our towers never reach heaven, much less god.
They collapse in the dungeons we raise them on,
Pretending our meters are measured perfectly,
Ignoring the terra we romance in.

The higher we soar the further down we plunge,
Oblivious to the rhythm the real exacts —
The copula random, the tunneling blind,
Life unreasonable reason forming

As energy plays with matter and mass
In stellar nurseries beyond our ken
In which we’re kin to quanta uncanny
Which measure the world we miscomprehend …

Order comes after — effect, never cause —
But we in our universe think in reverse,
Desperately hope for what we know is false,
Return to a truth which was never mortal.

But nothing in the past can save our kind.
The past has taught us nothing and never will.
Now for us is the fullness of time. Now —
While you can — live the future you’re dreaming of.

She should not have given the clue to him.
It fits more secrets than he realizes,
And once they’re open there’s no going back …
Only going forward into your life.

Selections from “Conversations Between Poetry and Physics,” #3

What’s the Matter?


In the deep-sea vents billions of years ago,
Molecular star-stuff boiled in chemistry
We can comprehend: proton pumps energized
Archaic cellular procreation.

But we are too vain to share beginnings
With matter that does not matter to us
Unless someone like us created it —
No matter what, our image must come first.

So theocrats by fickle forgeries
Murder their kind to praise some deity,
Suppurating endless greed and cruelty
And contempt for the stars they can’t command,

From which they flee in fantasies they fable
Fearful only forgiveness finally matters.