Mortal’s Tale Told in Bones and DNA #poem #poetry #archeology #history

I just read at a poetry slam, having reworked a previous poem quite a bit. Hope I didn’t read too fast! I’m always a bit nervous. Anyway, here it is:

Trojan HeroesTroy, the fabled city
where gods and kings made war,
contains a buried story
less epic
than its famous lore.

Damage to the joints and spine
from working in the fields,
malnutrition and disease,
less noble but more real.

They suffered from a different strain
than found
in modern distribution.
Eight hundred years is
a long time
in microbe evolution.

One sad story’s told in bones,
a memoir in DNA.
Infection struck an unborn child,
stole mom and babe away.

What poems are writ to infants lost?
Who sings of nameless death?
In Trojan ground, a mortal’s tale
of pain and loss
was left.

Kate Rauner

Inspired by archeology.


Some Mushrooms in the World Drive You Crazy – but insect feasts are the target #poem #poetry #poems #mushroom

Many kinds of mushrooms
Occupy the lands,
Genetics lets a scientist
Distinguish distant aunts.

Perhaps a virus grabbed some genes,
Transferred them here from there.
Horizontal gene transfer
Could explain this share.

‘Cause more than once these fungi
Have made a wild find,
Psilocybin chemicals
That alter human minds.

But that can’t be the reason
‘shrooms would develop this,
They sure don’t care if you or I
Are sent upon a trip.

What good does psilocybin do
For a mushroom fighting rivals?
Suppresses insect appetites!
Ensures its spores’ survival!

Kate Rauner

Since highs are often associated with the munchies in us humans, I thought it was funny that this chemical might suppress appetite in bugs. Thanks to livescience for this hypothesis, and also for an article on the possibility that psilocybin may relieve depression in cancer patients.

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

Colossal Jupiter Losing One Genuine Attraction – a hurricane that will not be forgotten #Jupiter #planet #space #poetry #poems

Since the sixteen hundreds
Science inspired poetry by Kate RaunerA giant storm has raged,
Largest in the solar system,
One Jupiter has made.

A swirling gale that could
Swallow our Earth whole.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Is known to one and all.

A vortex lasting centuries
Can’t go on forever.
Two hundred years have seen it shrink
By half, in Jove’s great weather.

And still receding slowly,
So in a decade or two,
It could become the Great Red Ring
That memory carries through.

by Kate Rauner

“The GRS [Great Red Spot] will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM, by which he means the Great Red Memory.”


This is Mud Season, one rain quickly changes everything #poem #poetry #season #nature #weather

Nature and science poetry - Kate Rauner

Clouds are prettier than the mud they bring

I grow an inch
with every step.
Clay grips my boots,
clay turned to mud.

The dog whimpers
as I towel his feet.
Between his toes are
balls of mud.

The car slides, slow motion
Across the drive
Till tires grip grass
at the edge of mud.

Some people have spring
And winter.

I have wind
And then the mud.

Kate Rauner

Ah, life in rural mountains of New Mexico. It won’t last. Sigh. When you live in a desert, you really can’t complain about rain.

Update: 5th day with rain! Compared to typical Februaries near Silver City NM USA, this year’s February is wetter than 95% of Februaries (I have 100 years of rain data by month), and the month’s not over!


Shelter in the deepest pines #haiku #poem #poetry #winter

Science and nature in poetry - Kate Rauner

Not going up there – nope – not going

Branches sway and bounce
Cold and harsh are winter winds
One lone bird blows by

Kate Rauner


Exo-Atmospheres Send Photonic Clues #poetry #astronomy #telescope #space #planets #alien

Exoplanets - check out Kate Rauner's science inspired poetryStars wobble in our telescopes,
Luminosities diverge,
And from such tiny signals
Their planets do emerge.

Thousands of stars host planets,
Giants of swirling gas,
And some that seem more earthly
In their orbits and their mass.

But each of these is distant,
Lifetimes away for certain.
How ever will we know if
There’s life upon the surface?

Light filters through their atmospheres,
When atmospheres they own.
Molecules split spectra
Into patterns that are known.

Life creates imbalances,
However strange to see,
Points to biology.

And so we have a protocol
As we gather specks of light,
Photons that passed through planets’ air
On their interstellar flight…

Will tell us if there’s oxygen,
Or methane, CO2,
Water vapor, nitrogen,
Or ozone in the brew.

And tease us with the knowledge
That, beyond our current grasp,
Creation may have left its mark,
A hand we’ll never clasp.

Kate Rauner

Inspired by an article from the latimes


Space Age Problem We Didn’t Bargain On – Trapped on Earth By Our Own Stupid Mess? #poem #poetry #space #NASA

Space Junk - read science inspired poems - Kate Rauner

NASA’s computer-generated image representing space debris as seen from high Earth orbit.

Space is vast and empty,
But not space close at hand,
Not the space around the Earth.
Our orbit now is jammed.

Every satellite we launch
Will someday be defunct
And hang above us, orbiting,
As billion dollar junk.

Everyone who’s serious
About the new space age
Has a plan for dealing with
Our quickly-closing cage.

Perhaps we’ll net the pieces,
Or blast each till it falls
To burn up like a meteor
In our atmospheric wall.

The million pieces of debris
Could trap us on our planet
Since even just a fleck of paint
Could crash a ship titanic.

Where is ET, we wonder?
Why don’t aliens
come to us?
Perhaps they’re trapped on their own worlds
By spheres of
their own
space junk.

Kate Rauner

The scifi movie Gravity began with space junk smashing a Shuttle, and that could happen in real-life. Read about laser and giant electric whip proposals to clean up near-Earth space. There’s a video here.