Friday, January 28, 2011

Science Poems for January 2011: 29

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 "Mathematical Model Could Help Predict and Prevent Future Extinctions" (National Science Foundation, Jan. 25, 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.

Balancing Act
(Form: English Quintains)

A food web network is complex,
For when a keystone species dies
Its untimely extinction wrecks
The ecology. A cascade applies,
Killing more animals, severing ties.

Now a mathematical model
Could stop a cascade in its tracks
Through suppressing an urge to coddle.
To compensate for what habitat lacks,
Some species numbers should not wax.

Instead, removing an animal
From a compromised environment
Might make extinction preventable.
The land recovers before it is spent:
A twist on the conservation bent.

It sounds counterintuitive.
Removing a species seems unjust.
But in scarce times, something must give.
Avoiding extremes of boom and bust
Underlies this argument's thrust.

To deal with environmental change,
Estimate uncertainty
And then, by the numbers, rearrange.
Treat ecosystems dynamically
To maintain biodiversity.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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