Gardeners of the Forest
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
17h ago
Rumbling roamers till the earth, treading lightly on giant feet to tend their plots with trunk and tusk and toe. Nature’s plough digesting bark and seed to renovate old paths as fresh and thirsty beds; memories etched deep in the wrinkles of their skin, reaching for a certainty that will not out last their touch. African forest elephants and lowland bongos on the banks of the Sangha River in the Central African Republic (Image Credit: Gregoire Dubois). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that elephant extinction could have a major impact on atmospheric carbon levels. Meg ..read more
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Unnecessary Deaths by Fire
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
1w ago
Artificial ignitions light the touch – flames leaping high above fiery crowns to rain heat and light and smoke. Fetid air that leaks into every breath with perverse unspoken ease. Malignant alignments of all that we are and could yet become – casually trading lives for commodities and convenience as ephemeral as the air we now breathe. A raging wildfire in a forested area with a responding helicopter in the sky (Image Credit: IOP Publishing). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that human-initiated wildfire smoke is responsible for around 20,000 premature deaths per year ..read more
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A Lungful of Flying Lead
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
2w ago
Poison passed from paints and pans to streets and homes and lives. A build-up of bile broken only by promises of pure, mandated air. Yet shadows linger, hidden from sight in flying sores that ooze and seep and spew. Mists of lead caught on artificial eddies that march downwind on wings too large to break, drip-fed into lungs whose mouths can’t form the words they need for help. Reid-Hillview Airport in Santa Clara County, California (Image Credit: Cleipelt21, via Wikimedia Commons). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that children near airports may be exposed to dangero ..read more
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Sunburnt Algae
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
3w ago
Balls of sunken green sloshing in the seiche, velvet, bouncy growths seeking shade beneath the frosted roofs of floating, breaking glass. Frail and muddy ghosts that dance across the lake with lithe unease, filaments severed by the scintillating grasp of a cruel and rising sun. The algae Aegagropila linnaei can live as free-floating filaments, grow on rocks, grow into the signature ball shape and form flattened balls when squished, depending on their environment. (Image Credit: Yoichi Oyama). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that marimo algae balls are at risk from de ..read more
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Deep-sea Soot
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
1M ago
Layers of ashen swill stack and stock and soil. Discarded remnants, squandered thoughts now buried deep beneath a bitter broken sea – out of sight out of mind out of time. Vaults of tarnished sand to seal away our grimy guilt, absolutions assigned a wasteful blighted price. The Mariana Trench is the deepest ocean trench on earth, with a maximum depth of 11,034 m (Image Credit: ratpack223). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that carbon, soot, and other particles from combustion end up in deep-sea trenches.  In most areas, the ocean floor lies 4 to 6 km below the su ..read more
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A Lethal Climate
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
1M ago
The soil bursts into flame, mercury rising through fevered trends to bring another kind of heat; a frenzied force that shoots to maim and kill. Collars itching with intent as triggered fingers expose fault lines in how we choose to live – degrees of harm unduly falling on those already branded by our febrile, fatal touch. A protestor at the March for Our Lives demonstration in New York City, March 24, 2018 (Image Credit: Mathias Wasik for Flickr). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that warm days are contributing to gun violence surges across the United States. As of 20 ..read more
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Breathing Plastic
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
1M ago
Waves break against the shore, every quiver spitting scree and scum into the warm and flawless sky; heavy mouthfuls of unseen waste that cut and prod and delve. We try to count the cost with eyes too wide to see, every breath a sharp and rancid taste of what we failed to save. Microplastics pose a growing concern, and not just in aquatic environments (Image Credit: Oregon State University, via Flickr). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that the microplastics in Auckland’s air are equal to 3 million plastic bottles every year. Over the last 70 years, 8.3 billion metric ..read more
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Risky Resilience
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
1M ago
Cloaks of brown and green huddle close to sustain shared lives and leaves, shifting in time to bend, not break with the wind – catching each blow to regulate, mature, and grow. But western fronts bring harsher times – plagues of insects, heat, and drought that push and pull with rigid doubt. A final recoil to a stark, untimely end. A forest at the headwaters of Ritchie Run, Clinton County in the United States, at the West Branch Forest Preserve (Image Credit: Nicholas_T via Flickr). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that in the Western United States, an increase in for ..read more
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Binding the Coast
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
2M ago
Sunken meadows swagger in the tides, awnings of green that lurch and lean and weave. Leafy locks that tangle waves, dulling the corrosion of their coastal homes. In sandy dunes matted roots take hold, unseen anchors that bind each grain against the coarse and ever-coming sea. A seagrass meadow in the Baltic Sea (Image Credit: Pekka Tuuri). This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that seagrass roots strongly reduce coastal erosion rates in sandy sediments. Coastal erosion is a result of both human activities and natural environmental changes, resulting in coastal land being s ..read more
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Caring Corals
The Poetry of Science
by Sam Illingworth
2M ago
Colonies of colour stretch out beneath the sea, sessile shelters of life whose calcite frames sway with the tides like ribbons in an autumn breeze. Bands of sickly white scratch their skin, exposing sun-bleached bones from base to tip – progressing pestilence that strips and maims and kills. As pigments drain diversity persists, forming barriers of care that suffocate the spread – a healing presence of collective strength. UC Davis Assistant Professor Anya Brown dives in a coral reef in Little Cayman as part of a research study (Image Credit: Julie Meyer/University of Florida). This poem is i ..read more
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