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I’ve had the good fortune to be included in two online journals recently.  The most recent was in Rose Red Review, a quarterly with a charming, but sideways, picture of a woman wearing a rose.  I like to think that the name comes from the Rose Red who was the sister of Snow White (not she of the seven dwarfs, the other one).  My poem published there is titled “Reflection on a Line by James Wright.”

http://roseredreview.org/2012-winter-ellen-roberts-young/

In late fall, Untitled Country published my poem “Atomic Power”.  Unfortunately this ezine is going out of business, just as I’ve discovered it.

http://untitledcountry.blogspot.com/2012/11/final-issue.html

I find myself in good company in both places.  I recommend both as worthy of your time to explore.

“Atomic Power” is a poem which is not about what the title first suggests, on purpose.  It is a part of my collection of poems, Made and Remade, based on William Paley’s Natural Theology, a text from two centuries ago which had a long influence on thought and education in England and America.

Viva New Mexico

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This desert globemallow is a southwestern native plant growing in my yard.  This one grew from a seed dropped by a plant I dug out of the sand in the arroyo near our house and transplanted several years ago.  Transplanting from the desert is tricky because the plants very quickly send their roots down deep for water.  If you cut the root the plant most likely won’t survive. Desert globemallow is a short-lived perennial, so I was pleased when two new plants arose to replace the old one.

I am setting up this post to go public while I am at a writing workshop at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  That’s Georgia O’Keeffe country.  I hope to see, and photograph, some beautiful rocks, and perhaps some New Mexico native plants that don’t grow in the desert.

To experience more of New Mexico, click on 200 New Mexico Poems in the side bar.  This site has poems relating to many areas, landscapes and cultures of new Mexico.  New poems are being posted almost every day, growing toward the promised 200 poems.  It’s worthy of frequent visits.

Archimedes, Aristotle and Earthquakes

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I’ve been thinking about the Greeks and their science, as I try to pull together a chapbook of poems on themes related to Archimedes and his lever.  Archimedes is not the only Greek scientist who intrigues me.  Aristotle is one whom I like first for his ideas on rhetoric, still the basis of many classifications on that subject, but also for the ideas described in the middle stanza of the following poem.

The Search for Order

The ancient model,
in polished brass, expressed
proportions undisturbed
by motion.  Harmonic
spheres keep turning.
Had the world such music
there would be no static
on the FM radio.

Aristotle understood:
the world beneath
the moon is set apart
from celestial, perfectly
governed spheres.
We are the spoiled core
of an ideal cosmos,
its worm-eaten pit.

Aristotle stood at
the center.  My universe
runs away at light speed,
while beneath me tectonic
plates shift, collide.
I long for balance: spheres
encircling the stillness
of mere decay.

The idea that the ground beneath our feet is unstable is not new.  I grew up in California, where earthquakes are a fact of life.  I used that as an image in an earlier poem:

Fire At The Center

My mother came home
from a course on personality
with a slip of paper:
“Your dominant emotion
is rage.”  She went on being good
and dull as plowed dirt.
Where is sure footing
when ground shifts?
The San Andreas fault
did not run under the house,
but whether it lay east
or west I could not say.
Which way would the earth tilt?

When she muttered
“Death and transfiguration!”
I heard a danger
no “Damn!” could hold.
The fluid at her core
lay ready, like crayon
melting under an iron,
to stain us both.  Her fire
never broke the surface.

And I?  The astrologer
finds Mars at the nadir,
“fire in the depth of your being.”
Eighteen years we spent
adjacent, distanced
by unacknowledged fire.
It is safer not to ask
where the fault lies.

In this poem, the shifting ground is largely metaphoric.  Although I knew about earthquakes, it was more an idea than experience: I only recall one small quake from my childhood.  I missed the big ones that later toppled the Oakland freeway and broke the walls of my cousins’ home in the mountains.  My awareness of shifting ground was not in the body.

By the time I wrote “The Search for Order” I was in a more unsteady place psychologically, a more mature understanding of grounding and groundlessness.

I decided this was a theme worth exploring further.

“The Search for Order” was published in Bibliophilos, which has published several of my poems on Greek themes.
“Fire at the Center,” first appeared in Metis, August, 1995, and is included in my chapbook, Accidents, described on the Books page.

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