Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetry & particle physics

Has anyone else been following the BBC’s awesome Atom programme these past few weeks? OK, I know it conforms to the formula of similar TV Science shows: sweeping panoramas of Earth and Space, ghosted equations floating across the screen and a casually dressed scientist walking across desert landscapes in casual attire, but the message it conveys, Wow! As many of us have always suspected, nothing is as it is, and matter (ergo the material world) is an illusion.

So what has poetry got to do with this? Well, poetry will prove to be as intangible as reality, but as meaningful as a presupposed vacuum, when the torch of science finally gets to shine on it. Poetry will take its place as the creative manifestation of the exploratory impulse in the arts, and I, humble poet and follower of these trends in particle physics, consumer of popular science and interpreter of such to anyone who wants to listen, will be shown to be at the forefront of this poetic Hiroshima.

Cue a poem I wrote over twenty years ago, part of my collection Signs (available on Amazon or from my website):

Speckled Universe

I see fragments of a sun
split by infinities
into the normal parameters:
Earth; Moon; stars.
All black, except for
the speckled space
everything is composed of.

I can’t stop there;
inside the wieldy atom
protons, nucleons, quarks
split sub-infinitesimally into
further components. Lurks
behind any of them,
fragmentary meteorites,
the face of the aliens?
Should I smile politely?

The humming world goes by:
inside a test-tube, whole galaxies
millions of worlds, that it would take
all our evolution to cross to
over a great divide,
might be living
the fire of existence.

What goes on inside
the elements
what goes on outside
this frosty hole?
Look, the world our Earth
is only one of many
green, blue and white-wisped
worlds, and
shall we still be alone?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gaia’s song

The North Wind and the elementals
some call sprites, are real creatures -
they bear their names, given by deity,
or the imaginations of men,
with pride, and the task they have:
to clean up the stale nothingness,
with equal force – their nature
is against ours, if we think we are
immune to the retaliation of the Earth…

Extract from my poem ‘Gaia’s Song’.

If you are interested in reading more, contact me for a pdf of the whole poem.

Feeling like a poet

Up early and having  a look over recent scribbling. When write a poem I usually have a good impression in my head of its worth. Some poems are just tunings, to get the head into gear. We could have a long discussion here of the sources of inspiration, but I generally find that I cannot sit and stare at a blank sheet for too long. i need to begin the process, so I write the first thing that comes to mind. The act of writing is a catharsis, and after a while my poetic concentration kicks in, and something of worth comes out.

Anyway, after a day or so I go back to what I have written. If I have that feeling that a poem is good, I carry that fact around with me as I go about my daily business. The fact of writing a decent poem makes me feel good. I am alive, a poet, a worthy, and I can survive work and the constant niggles of life in a better frame of mind.

Then comes the moment when I sit back down in front of the work. Sometimes I am disappointed – it is not as good as I hoped. Often there are parts of the poem that shine, and I see parts I can prune, or condense, or change. The best feeling is when I can see one or two words that are out of place, but generally the poem is good. That’s when i start to feel like a poet.

It’s a great feeling, giving life to a sequence of words, engendering a poem. I remain convinced that poetry is the best use of language. A proper poem holds mystery, the seeds of prophecy, is entertaining in the highest sense, has a rhythm in it that echoes the spirit of all poetry previously written, is a communication unlike any other. Music runs it close in purely emotional terms, but poetry remains the essence of human communication.

One heart talking to another.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


I tell of the lost hours
playing games – in the fun
of distant worlds, and words framed
from disappointment, another hour ticks by.

My disease is tamed, in a circle,
two remote hands edge, semaphore
to the knowing, ever closer,
nearer now then far apart…

…is it an element, Time?
or division of the moment, anticipation
over before indulgence:
convenience, or torture?

Dragging us onward, admonishing;
the wagging finger of electronics
or the old Grandfather,
monotonous, severe,

heirloom of the family, that ticks
over arguments
and the door that closes
for the last time.

Extract from Signs, a collection of poems by George Wicker

Our day is divided into arbitrary units, governed by the clock. In the past life was ruled by natural time, but with the Industrial revolution came working days, and hours, pressed on society in order to get the most out of workers. We no longer rise with the dawn, go to bed with the moon. Our biological clocks have been artificially shifted, with consequent damage to social and personal order. The fact that we can still feel these rhythms, despite the technological and cultural overlay of the seven day week and the twenty-four hour clock, is testament to their potency.

We need to feel more, and ‘wake up’ to the limits of the clock. My poem Time uses the clock as a metaphor to reflect on a personal incident; the death of a relative and the apparent closing of a physical door at death. In other poems I explore what lies on the other side.

More information about Signs can be found on the author’s website.

Poetry & prophecy

The root of poetry is in prophecy.

In the present age, science is held to be the tool by which our universe will be explained. However, our dislocated and disenfranchised selves tell us the opposite. While science (and its sister, technology), order and rule our lives, we increasingly look for something “outside”.

The soul is searching for sustenance.

Science doubts itself. Look at the vast project being undertaken in Switzerland, search for the Higgs boson, so called progenitor of ‘Dark Matter’, the substance that we are told fills most of the universe. Why?

Science can’t explain everything: UFO sightings, crop circles, synchronicity, love, poetry are all outside its realm.

Reiki, near death experiences, ghosts – we are getting closer to the mystery. Our conscious sense allow only one tenth of one percent of all information reaching us to be recognised. What about the rest?

We know that by meditation and other therapies unauthorized by science we can reach the soul. we are also aware of the unsatisfying clamour of modern life. We should be more aware that poetry is a way into the mystical world.

Here’s a proviso – I am not talking about verse here, being the regular and eventually monotonous ‘mnemonic’ form of the art. This, like modern life, is eventually unsatisfying and lends itself more to the cult of celebrity rather than art – no, I talk about the finer parts of Shakespeare, Ted Hughes, Rumi, Lorca, Zbignieuw Herbert, Yeats: poets who have heard the call and pushed their poetic abilities to the limit.

Closer to prophecy than science, and the message is: Nothing is clear.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

After a fashion

We live in troubled times. Here in England there is an election underway. We have had 13 years of Socialism (although the Socialism I grew up with seems like communism in comparison with this ‘New’ Labour). It is time for a change perhaps, but no-one quite knows whether to take the plunge into Conservatism or not. Could it be any worse? Yes it could be. Might it be better? Depends on your definition of better. it could be a lot of the same – trouble is, the economy is as shafted here as it is elsewhere in the world. If you were rich to start with you will probably thrive under either regime.

There is an alternative it seems – a hung parliament where no-one has the majority and a party like the Liberal Democrats holds the power of veto over the main parties. This could work – nothing much will get done, there can be no radical change and we will all just muddle along until the Stock Market drags us back into another round of boom and bust. Hard hats everyone…

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Start a fire

A poem is like a spark. It is lit by endeavour, fuelled by energy, and gives its heat to the world. Yet unlike a spark, which dies only to be regenerated in the same form, a poem remains unchanged. The poem always starts a fire.