Saturday, April 18, 2015

Interlude: Other People's Poetry

The Mangroves
by Mary Oliver

As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, "Listen,
we are trees too." Okay, I'm trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don't
they know it, can't be done. "Are you
trying to fly or what?" I ask, and they
answer back, "We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can."

photograph by Barbara Fernandez

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I've Been Busy!

In February, I started writing weekly science articles for mental_floss.

I'll be doing that for as long as I can, because I love it, and I get to write about things like pooting. And pooping.

I've also got two articles in the May issue of mental_floss (the magazine), which should be on newsstands soon.

You can find a constantly-updating list of my articles here.

art by Daniel Downey

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I will use any excuse to write about snails.*

Here's my latest for mental_floss, in which I discuss snail caviar (pictured), fish sperm, and more:

5 Animal Byproducts That Are Also Expensive Delicacies

*Blame it on my mucus trail.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Interlude: Other People's Poetry

The Art of Disappearing
by Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like 
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time. 

art by Danna Ray

Friday, December 19, 2014

Save (Me From) the Whales

"Cetaphobia" by June Park

Some people are afraid of heights, or airplane travel, or public speaking, or spiders. I am not afraid of any of these things--in fact, I like them all--but, as some of you may remember, I am afraid of whales.

Read the essay at The Atlantic.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Seeing Stars

I went to Los Angeles to appear on Jeopardy!. 

My invisible illness came with me.

Read the story in Pacific Standard.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

To the Sylacauga Meteorite

Phil Plait's piece on the Sylacauga meteorite jogged something in my brain. ("Didn't I write a poem about that?") I remember reading about the meteorite years ago, and being especially touched by one detail: that, in the middle of the day, Ann Hodges was lying down.

Looking through my files, I found that I did write a poem in 2008, but never posted it--so here it is.

To the Sylacauga Meteorite
after Ann Hodges

It has been no end of misery
to know you. There is so much
you have demolished. Certainty.
Faith. The old foundation.
And like a flaming angel you crashed
through my house,
into the cold rooms where truths go unspoken.
I need you, bright destroyer, but you will be

my ending.
I know this desire is short-range.
It will not be returned. For all the days
I blistered my sealed lips with an ember tongue I tell you now:

I love you. 

That is as much
of a home as I can offer,
and this charred body more
than I expect for your apology.