Friday, January 28, 2011

Science Poems for January 2011: 28

Last April I posted a science sonnet a day in celebration of National Poetry Month (index with links here). This month 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" ran from Jan. 13-16. Click on the logo below to access the conference page, which has links to posts, tweets, photos, and videos from the event.

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.

(Click here to see Andrea Kuszewski's gorgeous cover!)

Today's poem takes its cue from "Scanning salmon smelling streams" (Zen Faulkes, NeuroDojo, Jan. 24, 2011). Click on the article link to learn more about the research. To learn more about the traditional poetic structure used, click on the form name.

Scent and Sensibility
(Form: French Ballade)

The years have passed since they were born
As hatchlings in a tiny stream,
When suddenly they're called to spawn.
They orient as in a dream
And focus like a laser beam.
What trips their ancient memory?
Their place of birth could be a gleam
When sockeye salmon smell the sea.

fMRI was trained upon
The brains of fish to find what seem
To make an odor's impact dawn.
What drives those shining schools to teem,
The better for their path to ream
The open ocean, finally
To rise as though the richest cream,
When sockeye salmon smell the sea?

Within their telencephalon,
As far as researchers could deem,
A deep brain signal cues the brawn
Of fish, to make them gather steam.
Amino acids in the scheme
Might trip their bulb olfactory,
But those are held in less esteem
When sockeye salmon smell the sea.

They're pushed ahead to life's extreme,
To mate and die, for fry-to-be.
Their offspring will their ways redeem
When sockeye salmon smell the sea.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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