Category Archives: science

Ting-a-ling-a-ling

This poem was written after reading an article in New Scientist recently. The article shone a light on current thinking about human brain transplantation.

As the magazine’s leader suggested, whatever we might think about some of the ideas discussed, it is important that they are talked about. Scrutiny matters.

The title of the poem refers to a
World War I airman’s song:

The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling / They’ve got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling? / Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me.

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Ting-a-ling-a-ling

The man who would transplant
a human head, or properly,
exchange a human frame,
Frankenstein or Doctor Strange?
He talks his plan, so far so good,
and sure, well, perhaps, maybe?
Until chillier air keens a chime,
whispering the unsafe word,
                                                      immortality.

An itinerary reminder bings aloud,
it’s Monday, almost midday,
whether my head is there or absentee,
in two minutes the Bute in test
will scream alarm like a scorched banshee.
And in my arms a little twitch,
fingers flicker startle ready,
fumbling set to save my ears – fair warning
                                                      for you and for me.
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Review: Harmonious Complexity

I enjoyed a visit to the exhibition Harmonious Complexity at the University of Dundee Tower Building.  This is part of a season of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of D’Arcy Thompson’s book On Grown and FormContinue reading


eyeline

I originally wrote this intending to send it in to Visual Verse for a great image of a horse by Bruce Connew. I never got around to it, and I’d forgotten about the poem until I happened on it today. Anyway, I still kinda like it, I hope you will too. As often from me, there’s also some sciencey inspiration – see below…

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Karen McComb, who heads the research group and co-lead author of the study, said “Horses may have adopted an ancestral ability for reading emotional cues in other horses to respond appropriately to human facial expressions during their co-evolution. Alternatively, individual horses may have learned to interpret human expressions during their own lifetime.”
Source: ‘Horses can recognise human emotion, study shows’ Guardian 10/2/2016

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eyeline

scary sounds tinder
my right brain.
my left eye
flares.

you. your voice. angry. anger. danger. is it?
do i? do we? does the herd?
set, set, set.
my heart revs.

a dren a lin.
ready, twitch, ready.
muscles cinch.
ears prime.

time made your mood our threat.
your anger the wolf on the prairie.
your impatience an adder under-grass.
your oath hard iron in flight.

so if you don’t need to, just don’t.
step calm. breathe gentle.
speak less. listen more.
hear. my. gaze.

quietly.

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We are krill

A while back I half joked with a colleague at work who was asking about a website for a conference for international researchers studying krill – “I could write you a poem as well, if you like.”  He was back in touch with another question last week, and asked in passing, “Did you ever write that poem?” Well, I hadn’t, but I have now – so here you go, Andy!

My apologies to any krill-gurus out there for possible wild inaccuracies, but please remember, it’s not science – just a poem.

But also, it’s not entirely about krill…

 

We are krill

I am the meal that’s in-between,
a format suiting one and all,
for seals and squid and penguins,
converting the smallest of the sea,
for fish and shrimps and people, the
unseen convenience food that’s me.

No legends sung about us krills,
shape shifters of seven seas,
they ping us under pressure,
exoskeletons creaking we dive, dive, dive,
cosy swarm lights rising fallen,
gills bless this brine to wines of life.

More of us aswim than any other
swelling life in each ocean alive,
and not much here without us,
no great whales baleen or blue,
without some fish-free small fry,
brother, without us – me and you.

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SciArt ‘Embodied’ Interview

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-1-52-00-pm

SciArt Magazine has published an interview I did following up on my work in the recent ‘Embodied‘ exhibit. They had some hard questions!

More here…

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Déjà vu

This piece (words, sound, image) was made in response to a New Scientist article by Jessica Hamselou about studies by researchers at the University of St Andrews, and the University of Western Ontario into the phenomenon of déjá vu.

You read more about the science in Jessica’s fascinating article online at New Scientist.

My reading and the poem are below, click on the wee tiny thumbnail for a larger version of the image.

Continue reading


Cosmological Constant

Chuffed to have a new poem ‘Cosmological Constant’ appear in Poet’s Corner this as part of their theme ‘Identity: All of Me’

You can find it at https://leavenerspoetscorner.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/identity-cosmological-constant/

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