pulsar poem

pulsar

(Just trying out a new way of posting. This is a recent poem written quickly after listening to Jocylyn Bell talk about pulsars.)

travelling too close to a pulsar

at the start     only a throb

like a lighthouse beam     sweeping

the dark in narrow arcs     beware

spaghettification as you    get closer

you’ll find your head      separated

from your feet     your chest pulled

violently from your    abdomen

the magnetic field    will wipe

your credit cards    clean

along with     all your memories

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Turn Left at Orion

hs-2007-04-a-web-nasa

Another one for National Poetry Day. I used to do a fair bit of amateur astronomy so this is where this poem came from.

There was an astronomy book, titled, Turn Left at Orion!

Turn left at Orion forty years ago

I tried my best to follow directions

but the vast empty spaces proved

difficult to navigate. The hero’s belt pointed somwhere:

go straight on at Gemini, turn right at Taurus; going by the book

I was at home splitting double stars and measuring

eclipsing binaries, but still wobbled

when I came down to earth. How I longed

to feel solid ground beneath my feet.

*

Today I wander into my back yard and greet

constant Orion again but know eventually

the pattern will change, that his belt will loosen,

that even a Greek hero will drift apart.

Star Gazing in Gateshead

casseopiea

Another about astronomy/star gazing. I may try and do a series if I can get out in my back yard with binoculars on clear nights! People forget that our sun is a star so this poem starts off with my memory of drawing sun spots when I used a 3″ refractor ‘scope to project the image onto paper. Note: Cassiopeia is Queen of Ethiopia.

I remember the summer of ‘78
chasing sunspots across paper,
not that they were fast and loose,
more a case of drifting an inch a day
from right to left, pock-marked face focussed
through pristine lens. Since then the years
have drifted by, now I have only my eyes
as I grope my way into my urban backyard
light pollution rinsing grey what should be
lamp-black sky. I still recognise them;
the W of Cassiopeia, the pan handle of the Great Bear
and Leo the Lion – yes, my yard faces north – Orion
chases a bull out of sight, Sirius is barking
at my front door.

Thirty seven Earth years since I star-hopped
from Cassiopeia’s knee to her head, thirty seven
since I admired her anatomy. Ethiopia’s queen
is 45 light years distant – may no longer exist –
but tonight I have her in the palm of my hand.

Orion

orion

 

I’m doing an online course on Astronomy which focusses on the constellation of Orion to explore the life story of stars and nebulae. The poem is one I wrote before the course started.

The Fiction of Stories

how reassuring to see Orion again
striding across the sky – a trio of gods
piss on a cow hide and a giant is born
yet gods have no time for us -use us
as playthings   – with mighty club raised
and faithful dog at his heels Orion
pursues a bull  –  the death agonies there
have no time for us
once we sent stories into space  -supermarket junk
a naked man and woman   –   a magic flute
a whisper voyaging to the edge of the universe
a ripplewake in space time   –   this is us
radio waves are collected in a dish –
essence of far fetched relative facts
filled with miraculous births and deaths

today the gods have fallen from the sky

yet how reassuring to see Betelgeuse and Rigel

each time we glance up from the dark

knowing they have no time for us