Category: Poetry

Merry Christmas and a Snow Carol

3 snowflake basblgrnMerry Christmas (or happy whatever solstice holiday you celebrate.)

In honor of the season I’m posting one of my Geophysical Christmas Carols, and to help the words go with the music, a recording of my singing it. I’m not much of a singer, but this might help you hear how it goes together. (I’m still trying to figure out how to do this sound thing, so you may have to go through several clicks.) Meanwhile, to see the words while listening to the song, open the blog in two windows, click the audio link in one and then switch back to the other. (And you’ll catch me making a couple of mistakes that way!)

In the air, vapor’s swirling,535basblyel
On the pond, folks are curling,
The vapor makes drops, the drops freeze and pop,
And six-sided snowflakes fall down.

On the lake, skates are gliding,
Overhead, clouds are hiding,
Ice in the sky is growing, oh, my,
And six-sided snowflakes fall down

snowflakeSnowflakes could be square or five pointed,
Or octagons, or spherical, you know,
But water with water is jointed
So that only six arms can grow.

On the slopes, skiers swish on,
Snowflakes hide stars to wish on,
They fall through the air, and catch in your hair,
The six-sided snowflakes fall down.baslev

(The snowflakes were Photoshopped from those included on the CD-ROM with Bentley’s book.)

I don’t usually post twice a day, but after mulling over Rachael Harrie’s second campaigner challenge overnight, I came up with this:

©Sue Ann Bowling

How did we come here, sheltering from the storm beneath a crumbling bridge,
leaning against its rusted girders?
Once we had dreams.
You kicked a soccer ball along this very bridge;
I yearned to hold the ocean in a wooden spoon.
Now your hair is wet with rain,
and my leg is cut to the bone by the trash we pick.
Our lives are no more than smoke.
But does not smoke make fantastic patterns in the air?

I was going to post this Thursday, but I have more than enough ice art photos for Thursday and Saturday both, so I’ll get my entry in now. See the original post for the prompts–and this is not my usual genre!

Poems and Songs

Here’s an index of the poems, songs and song parodies I’ve posted.

The Bargain 5/17
Cat and Man 6/22/10
Love Song 7/26/11
Old Gods 4/28/11
Haiku 5/26/11
Things my Dogs have Taught Me 6/16/11
Thunderstorm 6/30/11
Sheep 7/7/11
Calypso 7/14/11
On an Exhibition of Photographs by Barry McWayne: 1932-2010  7/23/11
Readiness 8/4/11
The Place Where You Go to Listen 8/18/11
Sunrise 8/25/11
Skyscape 10/13/11
Rain Clouds 10/27/11
To the Poet, from His Cat 11/3/11
Dreams 3/6/12

Songs (not parodies)
Apart 8/1/10

Songs (parodies)
White Christmas 11/23/10
O Christmas Tree 11/25/10
Here Comes Ice Fog 12/1/10
Plate Tectonics Carol 12/3/10
Where have All the Glaciers Gone 12/7/10
Arctic Haze 12/10/10
Climate Change 12/14/10
Snow Carol 12/16/10
O Permafrost 12/21/10
There Were Three Quarks 12/23/10
The Greenhouse Carol 1/1/10
The Twelve Days of Christmas 1/5/11
The Glacier March 12/1/11
Let it Snow 12/15/11
Merry Christmas and a Snow Carol (audio) 12/25/12

500+ posts is too many for me to keep track of, and quite a few are “reference” posts, such as the ones on planet building or horse coat color genetics. So I’m putting in a new feature, an index page that links to posts linking to the posts on a given topic. (Sound confusing? Try doing it!)

These indexing posts start today (see below) and will appear occasionally until the reference posts are all indexed. After that I’ll just be updating the index posts, which will be accessible from the Index tab above.

With 550 posts as of today, I’ve started to have problems remembering what I’ve already put on here. This is particularly a problem with posting existing content such as poems, short pieces from the Summer Arts Festival, or science explanations originally written for the Alaska Science Forum. I can’t remember which books or DVDs I’ve posted reviews on. It also is starting to be a problem when I want to link to a previous post and can’t remember when it was put up or what the title was. And there are posts on this blog that have permanent information, like the series on planet building and the one on horse color genetics, or the book and DVD reviews. I want to make it easier for my readers as well as myself to find things.

I made a start some time ago by adding an index page, which can be accessed from the menu at the top of any page. Right now, the only links are to index pages on my author site. This takes you out of the site and sometimes back in, which is rather clumsy. The index list is also incomplete.

I’m going to start posting an occasional entry which is strictly an index of past posts on a particular topic. These posts will be linked from the index page, and will link forward to the individual blog posts. As it takes a while to find all the posts that belong together, this will be a slow process—probably extending over the next few months. The first in this series, on DVD reviews, is already queued for January 3. Others will follow, most on Thursdays.

I probably won’t be indexing every post. Some, like those early posts which were simply glossary entries for my books, are on the author site and really belong there. Others, like the regular Monday updates on North Pole weather starting in November 2010, can be found easily enough just by using the calendar on the site. But I hope that by the time I have finished this, older posts of interest will be easier to find.

This was a Summer Arts Festival assignment, to write a poem about writing and inspiration, using the word “swipe.” It wound up as my contribution to Feathers, hence the embellishment.I’ll probably have another post, later today, announcing a contest.

Rain Clouds

One of our assignments at Summer Arts Festival this year was to look at several paintings from one of the water color classes and use them as inspiration for something to write. One that appealed to me had heavy clouds over a mountain valley, and inspired this.

Beyond the clouds heavy with rain,
Beyond the blue we call the sky,
What galaxies! What nebulae!
What other worlds
Where clouds may float
Heavy with rain.

The assignment, from Summer Arts Festival 2009: Take lines from one or more existing poems and rearrange them to form a poem of your own. The result?


A hawk high in the soft sky,
Silly with light
As the trumpets of Mahler
Is only a smudge of motion.

And the clouds moved,
And the grass growing fast below,
And the volcanoes haven’t yet awakened,

And so on the long day of the summer solstice,
For their small Chinese brushstrokes arrowing blue
She dances messages.

(There’s a bit of wishful thinking today, with the days becoming rapidly shorter.)



©Sue Ann Bowling

The scarlet sky repeats itself in the glass river below.
Wind rustles the grass on the banks–
A broom on a dirt floor might make such a sound.
High above birds circle, black flecks against the lightening sky.
Eagles, perhaps?  Kites?
Far off a radio babbles, mere noise against the wind.

An eddy moves toward shore, spinning a dismembered hand.
A torso follows, cleaver-hacked, trailing the coppery odor of blood.
Blue sky, sun risen now, the river
Still dyed scarlet with blood and anger.
The radio rises to a scream; cuts off.
Kites and eagles gather for a rare feast.

Another poem from 2007  Summer Arts Festival. I’ve forgotten the exact prompt, but I believe it involved specific words like glass, copper, radio. Somehow it came out as this image of conflict. Poems, for me, quite often form themselves into something totally different from anything I have in mind.

©Sue Ann Bowling

The music of the spheres–
A trite phrase, and one with little meaning
Since universal gravitation replaced crystalline spheres
And first man
And then the sun
And then a point in the center of the galaxy
And then everywhere and nowhere became our center.
We drift, uncentered.

But here
The music of the sun, the moon
The deep rumblings of the moving plates of the earth
The colors of our world–now gold below, blue above–
Make up a different music of the spheres.
Monotonous at first.  The heart of earth
Beats slowly by the beating of our hearts.
But change does come, bacteria
Gave way to jellyfish,
And dinosaurs to man.

These notes change slowly, night to day,
Season to season, the cycles of the sun.
Here we are centered once again.

What’s this about? There is a room at the UAF museum in which the rhythms of the earth — seismic tremors, sun, stars, aurorae — are expressed as musical tones and colors on the wall. This poem was inspired by that room.