Monday, January 10, 2011

Science Poems for January 2011: 10

Last April I posted a science sonnet a day in celebration of National Poetry Month (index with links here). This January I am posting a science poem a day, written in various traditional forms, in honor of Science Online 2011.

The "fifth annual international meeting on Science and the Web" occurs Jan. 13-16, 2011. Click on the logo below to access their daily digest (already active) on

As with the sonnets, my January poems take their cues from science-based articles. I also have two works in a special science poem section (vol. 33 #5/6) of Star*Line, journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can read my "Ciliate Sestina" here.

Also, two sonnets from last April's collection, "In Development" and "Manipulations," have made it into Open Laboratory 2010 Click on the badge below for links to the 50 essays, 6 poems, and 1 cartoon in the collection.

Today's poem takes its cue from "Russians Will Be First To Explore Untouched Antarctic Lake Vostok, In Hunt For Weird Life Forms" (Rebecca Boyle, PopSci, Jan. 7, 2011) and "Mysteries of Lake Vostok on brink of discovery" (Olivier Dessibourg, New Scientist, Jan. 2011). Click on the article links to learn more about the research. To learn more about the traditional poetic structure used, click on the form name below the title.

Beneath the Bottom of the World
(Form: Pantoum)

Signs of life on distant, icy moons
No longer seem far-fetched. Extremophiles survive
Conditions that could kill us in a flash.
To find those alien life forms here at home

No longer seems far-fetched. Extremophiles survive
Volcanic vents and stark Antarctic cold.
To find those alien life forms here at home
Takes scientists to our planet's edge.

No volcanic vents, but stark Antarctic cold
Surrounds a Russian team at Lake Vostok.
Scientists standing on our planet's edge
Drill through four kilometers of ice.

Surrounding a Russian team at Lake Vostok,
Questions extend to super-oxygenated waters
Buried beneath four kilometers of ice,
Fourteen million years into the past.

What could live in super-oxygenated waters?
What could live, trapped in the Miocene Epoch
Fourteen million years in the past?
Ancient water, pushed up through a borehole

Could tell what lives, trapped in the Miocene Epoch
Lifted to the twenty-first century.
Ancient water, 100 meters below the borehole,
Next year will be a frozen sample

Lifted into the twenty-first century
Once Antarctic summer, then winter, passes.
Next year that captured, frozen sample
May show us beings never-before imagined.

Antarctic summer passes; winter will set in.
Conditions that could kill us in a flash
May yield beings never-before imagined
Except, perhaps, on distant, icy moons.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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