Karen Dennison

Poet and artist


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Poetry and science 8 – Event Horizon

Event Horizon

Untouched for months, your non-slip ruler
measures empty space. On the cutting mat,
a bone-folder remembers your index finger,
thumb, push of your palm. Dust has fallen unseen

on handmade maquettes, on the polished sheen
of the angle-poise lamp. Its moon of light hovers
over an empty pamphlet, casts a blade and a lip
of shadow from the knot and thread of its stitched spine.

Tracing-paper pages show hairline cracks
in their creases. In-between, the arthritic limbs
of a Photoshopped tree glow like a bone x-ray.
Your desk is flecked with gold paint.

I think of the traces of gold in our bodies, how all the gold
on earth was forged by stars; how you read that its glitter
is caused by the speed of electrons in its orbit,
the relative slowing of their time;

and of the crazy idea you had
that the point of death was like falling into
a black hole’s event horizon, where you could cram
a lifetime of thought into a second.

From The Paper House (Hedgehog Poetry) and first published in Under the Radar Magazine.

Image from NASA website.


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Poetry and science 7 – fibonacci poem

How
do
I weigh
this sorrow.
What is the volume
of grief, can this house contain it?
Some people say that the universe is made of love.
Others say it’s mathematics that matters and reality is what we measure.
If I close my eyes, my gaze is boundless, size is meaningless, and sadness is reckoned by the heart’s imperfect clock, a mind that can’t keep count.
Karen Dennison
First published in the fib review.
Featured image – Raymondprucher, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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Poetry and science 6 – At Point Nemo

At Point Nemo

At the height of youth, I circled earth.
It spun at my feet, a distant beauty;
admirers attracted into graveyard orbits.

For me the sun was another star
and though I learnt its physics,
I worshipped it as Ra, studied its secrets.

I was unbreakable and made of light
and time was for other people. I witnessed
the fall of peace – Mir breaking up

on re-entry with smoking hands and fireball-
fingertips, crashing into the South Pacific.
My own descent into waves was sudden,

knocked off course by junk and debris.
For decades I lay on the seabed
with other wrecks and remnants of life.

Diving down through miles of water,
you swam into the sunken city of my heart,
emptied my drowned mouth. I listened

to your stories of the surface, began to believe
in rebirth, in escaping gravity’s grip on my bones;
felt like I was back in high orbit. But you left

how you arrived ― a lone explorer on a mission,
fearless. And every night is terminal velocity,
nothing but the cemetery to break my fall.

Karen Dennison

“Point Nemo” (oceanic pole of inaccessibility) is the area of ocean
furthest from land and is the location of the so-called Spacecraft
Cemetery where retired spacecraft are sent

From Of Hearts, published by Broken Sleep Books. First published in Riggwelter.

Featured image ©strelkamag.com – “cemetery of spaceships” found in point Nemo


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Poetry and science 5 – after you’re gone

After you’re gone

I scour dead light,
coded impulses hurtling
through blood-dark space;
island suns that broadcast
their lonely semaphore.

My heart’s a pulsar
sweeping the night,
warm breath on cold glass
condensing to gas clouds,
constellations.

I search until
the stars switch off
and the shore of sky
weathers your bones to dust

Karen Dennison

From Of Hearts, published by Broken Sleep Books. First published in erbacce.

Featured image from NASA website


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Poetry and science 4 – Bedrock

Bedrock

At the window, light bounces
off me, journeys to glass.
Most passes through this solid pane,
tunnels away into night.

You can’t predict which photons
will reflect. There is only probability.
The five percent I see looking back
ghost the window with the shell of my face.

Our bedrock is not rock at all
but shifting sands, particles that slip
in and out of space, find themselves
in different places at the same time.

I think how no-one is ever truly seen,
how what we know is a surface
of a surface of a surface.

Karen Dennison

First published in 14 Magazine


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Poetry and science 3 – imagine chasing a beam of light

Imagine chasing a beam of light

Imagine life as an impression
in four dimensions where time
is space, where an image
of each moment is held
forever in its place.

Imagine the traces each person
would make, human-shaped
hollows, tunnels that meet
and split and stop; and never fade.

Imagine the sky embroidered
with bird-shaped loops,
each fanning of each wing caught;
the sun a pulsing streamer
of endless figures of eight.

Karen Dennison

First published in Popshot and also in Shoreline of Infinity.

Featured image by Anthony Ayiomamitis from http://solar-center.stanford.edu/art/analemma.html


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Poetry and science 2

She began in the long unlit, not knowing she was alive

The first thing she knew was light,
          then heat, the attraction of matter;
contours of her body curving, turning.

For measureless time she grew,
          gathered the dust of old ideas,
made them bright again; set them

spinning in blackness, throwing
          circles of light, molecules speaking
a language she taught them.

Now she tries to peer beyond her edges,
          but she’s trapped in a spiralling self,
a growing emptiness. Dark holes inside

suck her substance; she senses in them
          the before and after, the secret geometry
of her birth, the shifting shape of a slow cold death.

Karen Dennison

First published in Corbel – Nature and Death.

Featured image – By European Space Agency – https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2013/03/Planck_CMB, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108189337 


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Poetry and science 1

Over the next days I’ll be posting poems of mine with scientific themes and / or metaphors.. Starting with Light Travellers, first published in The High Window and also in Shoreline of Infinity.

Light travellers

To net the light before it escapes
our horizon, stretching
in the expanse between us; stars
migrating like geese.

To learn the language of distance,
pull the furthest past into focus
like a new-born child her mother’s face.

To unlearn the boundaries of skin,
to know how mass and energy
are twins, that all matter
knows light’s touch in its seed;

that light, knowing
nothing of time, is the ruler
we use to measure it by.

To unravel our limits, navigate
liminal space like ancient ocean explorers,
galaxies our candles, guides,
sails stitched by light.

Karen Dennison


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Scratching at the Surface of Tears

As part of Abegail Morley’s series of posts on The Poetry Shed on the theme of Unlocking Creativity, I compiled a film as a prompt with a call out to poets to respond. Jill Munro wrote a fantastic poem in response and here is the resulting film poem. The written poem can also be found below.

Jill Munro author picJill Munro has been published in major poetry magazines including The Frogmore Press, Popshot Quarterly and The Rialto and her work has been anthologised by Paper Swans Press, Candlestick Press and Calder Valley Press. She won the O’Bheal Five Words International Poetry competition 2017/18 and was 2nd in this year’s competition. Jill’s first collection ‘Man from La Paz’ was published in 2015 by Green Bottle Press. She won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Competition 2015 with ‘The Quilted Multiverse’, published April 2016. Jill was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2018 and lives and writes in the depths of Ashdown Forest.

 

Scratching at the surface of tears

There’s no magic rubber wands to wipe away these tears.
I drive down to you again, an undertow drags me past closed cafés
and open Costas, a route my car can auto-drive alone
to a place I once called home, across roundabout after roundabout,
past parks with empty swings and other kinds of roundabouts
to a time-lapsed place hyphenated to the ocean
where huge wind turbines turn above fields,
great grey gulls hanging, wind-surfing their way to sea,
by huge pylons disappearing to nothing in the sky,
the same as you are now.

Do you dream of grey days, splashing on like this,
of twirling brollies, can you remember in technicolour any more?
I know I will have to travel here again, my welling tears
rain-dropping the screen, I will still feel the pull
to come this way while anything left of you remains.

Jill Munro