HomeEarth from outer spaceGeo-poetryAliens and MigrantsLooking BackRubbish and SurvivalSustainable NotesHumerous HumansCheese and IceThe Poetry of MathsBack Page

Antiform, Tenby, Wales

This selection of geo-poetry looks at the significance of the Earth beneath our feet, starting with a simple riddle ...


Geologically Speaking

I burrow down holes
digesting the sods
via umbilical pods,
by subterranean calls
I chart my maps
like a global bat,

flying through time
I come from the past
like a beetle in cast,
as an ant moving mountains
I slide and thrust
boulders and crusts,

like a permanent albatross
held on the breeze
I patrol the seas,
and as golden eagle
I view life’s drama
in panorama.

I am worm, bat and beetle
I am ant, gull and eagle.
Who am I?


Immortals falling - Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain



The grain of sand saltates and rolls
The river tumbles and roars
Airs and oceans – they gust and gall
Rise and fall

The lowly worm digests and turns
The bird sings songs and sours
Fish and beasts – they hunt and call
Rise and fall

And we
What do we do?
We argue and war
Rise and fall

That path, that determination
That history, that convocation
That intension, that undulation
It was only sand

Silicon dioxide crystals
bouncing in H2O.
Beautiful, fascinating sand –

Immortals falling.



Holding the line

I am a survivor
from a long line of survivors,
about four per century, or forty
since the doomsday book, and eighty
from the Roman empire – anno domini
or indeed eight hundred since the maximum extent
of the last glaciation (or Palaeolithic).

While the probability of survival is low,
extremely low – this planet, this species,
this time, this place (here and now) – 
the probability that you and I come
from a line of survivors is one.
History has odds of 1:1, while
the future has odds of N:1 (where N is large).

That we have survived
gives us no right to hasten
the demise of others, or to forget
the grim history and happenstance of survival.
Indeed, the improving survival rate for our species
threatens us all, and sustainability

is the new line.





Ice line - East Greenland, 2005





Glacial delta, Jameson land, Greenland

Tidal Deposits

Led by an Emeritus Professor and a second still in his chair
the select party set out across the flats
to watch the Wash go by –
but why?

Ignoring the twitchers – proud watchers of dinosaur descendants
we absorbed the subtle biota on the shifting sands
Between land and sea –
but which?

Salt corn and other halophilic plants, algal mats and myriads of shelly fauna
Arenicola, Cardium, Mya, Pecten, and Scrobicularia
Mussels and Oysters for dinner –
but where?

Balanced at the interface between rising sea, subsiding marsh and migrating bars
abused by the conflicting interests of farmers,
tourists and industrialists –
but when?

Two thousand years after Romano-Britain began to re-work the shore
now with 3km of agricultural and industrial coastal progradation
still trying to hold back the sea –
but how?

Dykes, drains, pumps and groins
Which cannot ultimately hold back the sea
Which rises with our technology

We’d be better to understand
the writing in the sand
as we live on a shifting land

We should learn from the captain’s hand
And the wise professor’s wand
That’s why.






Folly Bridge

All around the green cloistered quads
of ivory towers sponsored by queens and gods
over the bridges of folly, sighs and Magdalen
from inside and outside the camera –
theatres of the mind
the nerds are at it again
turning worlds into coded trains
of logic. Algebraic expressions
for everything from termites to terminal ends
of life as we know it.
Who’s in charge here? No one and everyone.
We stumble along the banks of partial democracy
through the shadows of temporary autocracy
from deniable pasts to deniable futures
inevitable history
And now we’re voting with our feet
assembling at the stalls where Asia and Europe meet.
Huang, Smith, Da Vinci, Nngugi,
Jesus, Mohammed, Miriam and Mary –
they are all here.
While democracy can control the foolishness of the few,
it fails to limit the folly of us all. It is true that
disseminated knowledge can liberate and empower us
but a smidgeon of disinformation – hidden lies –
can trap us all.
Now we know that access to knowledge
is a pre-requisite to freedom of choice
and that human rights and the passage to survival
need science as an arbitrator.
So then, the nerds are needed now.

Bridge of Sighs