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Poems

The Beauty of the Stars: An Ode to Mathematics

The beauty of the stars is there in pi,
And in the forms that all of us conceive.
Eternity, the sea and land and sky
Are in the mathematics that we weave.

The human race has wondered, “What am I?”
Through history, and since the dawn of man.
We do not know; and yet we study pi,
And we perceive, but dimly, what we can.

Whatever law was writ to govern this,
Our universe, is there in what we know.
It fits together! Nothing is amiss;
We study pi, and by that study go

Beyond our weakness, foolishness, and pride
To where the things that matter wait inside.

The Poet

“I think that I shall never write a verse.”
So said a friend; and yet he could do worse
Than stringing words together, line by line,
In rhyme and meter, saying, “This is mine.
I’ve written down and rendered into thought
What I have felt. Therefore I think I ought
To share my little poem with the world.”

And when he’s done that, when he has unfurled
His poem’s sail, and set it on the wind,
There may be some who say, “This man has sinned.
He’s written nonsense. Verse like this is trite.”
He may hear this; yet many others might
Respond, “It’s humble, yes; but it’s a start.
I see in this the promise of an art.
I hear a voice with something wise to say
If only it persists, and finds a way
To sound a deeper and a stronger note.
I hear it echoing in what he wrote.
I hope he’ll keep on writing, so we’ll see
What comes of it: on this we all agree.”

The Spaceship

A spaceship hurtled far across the realm
Of galaxies. Her captain at the helm
Said, “Crew, take note. Remember where we are.
On this historic day, we’ve come this far.
Our destination waits. We’ll reach it yet!”
The navigator said, “Our course is set.”
The crew responded, “We’ll traverse that space.
We’ll push the boundary of the human race
Beyond what any thought that we could do.
We’re ready, captain. We will follow you.”

The Monarch

A gilded palace, walled with ancient art.
Inside, a brooding monarch. “I must start
To think of what will happen when I die.
I owe it to my kingdom: I must try
To name an heir. If I but had a son!
Of all the claimants, I see nary one
To whom I’d trust my legacy, or give
Administrative power while I live.
Therefore, I do not know what I shall do!”

Dear monarch, we can sympathize with you.
To rule alone would humble any man.
So why not change the system, if you can?
Why not share power? Let the people choose!
It’s not what’s come before; but what’s to lose?
The people may choose badly, that is true:
But really, what else is there you can do?

A Little Poem

A little poem is a precious thing.
It may be humble, but its voice can sing
With clarity: it is precision-cut,
A tiny gem, not ostentatious, but
Appealing to the one of well-trained eye
Who turns it in his hand, emits a sigh,
And says, “I wish that I had crafted that!”
Much longer verse he’s written now seems flat.
He starts to write short verses of his own,
Persisting at his craft until he’s shown
That he can also author something small
And lovely. Satisfied, he says, “That’s all
This subject needs. I’ve said what I must say.
I think I’ve done it. I have found a way
To write with focus. And the writing’s good!
It has just the proportion that it should.”

And when he turns back to his longer verse,
He finds that what he’s doing is not worse
For time spent writing shorter poetry.
And others know this too: it’s not just he.

Pedantry: A Dialogue

Gent. 1. I pride myself in my orthography.

Gent. 2. And would you like a prize? Perhaps the key
To some divine realm, where all speak and write
As words were graven blocks, and change were blight.

Gent. 1. Dear sir, you judge unfairly; you are wrong.
This tune you’re strutting to is not my song.
I like good grammar and good spelling, yes;
In well-honed language there is loveliness.
And yet I hardly think that words are blocks!
They are the mechanism that unlocks
The mystery and beauty of the mind!
But only when correctly used, I find.

Gent. 2. And who’s to say what usage is correct?
It’s what you learned in grade school, I expect.
But why stay bound by what some teacher taught?
Why not set free the running of your thought
To places that might violate a rule?
Why be constrained by what you learned in school?

Gent. 1. A thought should not mill aimlessly in space.
In structured thinking there is no disgrace,
But beauty. Grammar draws the thinking taut;
Without it we have weak and flabby thought.
The discipline of following a rule
Sets off the conscientious from the fool.

Gent. 2. Well said, although a bit ridiculous.
I see the chasm now dividing us.
But don’t you think that making something new
requires creativity?

Gent. 1.                         I do!
Adhere to rules in a creative way.
Don’t violate them, though: that’s what I say.

On the Phillies' Loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2023 NLCS

The snake bite was too potent; they succumbed.
The venom made their bats go cold. Defense
Was very good, but not enough to win.
May next year’s efforts bring them better luck.