I like to read around in the sciences, everything
from Edwin Way Teale and Rachel Carson to Richard Feynman, and early alchemical
and medical books. My interest in natural history evolved through a series
of courses I took years ago at Morton Arboretum outside Chicago, an interest
revitalized by my younger sister’s botanical art works. The visual aspects
of scientific studies influences me as much as the textual.
Thanks to Aufgabe for first publication of
“Thirty Three Articles...” and American Letters & Commentary
for “A gradual disappearance...
A GRADUAL DISAPPERANCE OF INSECTS
THIRTY-THREE ARTICLES ON SOLAR NAVIGATION (& SEVEN
SENTENCES IN SHADOW
THINGS THAT FALL FROM THE SKY
A gradual disappearance of insects
One by one, those you love are being taken from you . . .
— Rachel Carson, in a letter to Dorothy Freeman
“Grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, mantids, walkingsticks, and cockroaches,”
the blue feels like his insides; order: Orthoptera, the tiny eardrums,
he’s enamored with damselflies: “many segmented, long, hair-like”
the “metallic greenish-black body,” she says she can see his intestines
sketches softly in her notebook, dorsal and ventral illustrated in charcoal
pinning insects; like her specimens, she’s grown antennae
her hands, dry tissue palmate. Under a lens, common skimmers
in a viscous drop, essence of ethyl acetate, “flight interrupted
by periods of hovering,” his thoughts affixed to genus Lestes,
“the way they hold
their wings at rest”; she imagines his brain: whirled larvae
heat washes over them, sucks the blue from his intestines, the “spread-winged”
algae and the green density, a pressed translucence in her eyes
Thirty-Three Articles on Solar
(& Seven Sentences in Shadow)
In the morning, she walks into the room and opens
That nothing happens by chance, but all things occur
necessity, even though necessity is difficult to admit.
She poured ice water from the pitcher into the
glass and noticed the pleasing
sound of the glass becoming full.
There are several firelit worlds and our insistence
on one tells us more about our selves than the universe.
There was a window in the room, but opening was
That the cause of a new act [or thing], or something
new produced depends on if
you are standing barefoot or wearing shoes, and who does the lifting.
- That the table on which you set your glass, which sits in the direct
line of the sun,
can be turned.
A potentially hazardous solar flare leapt from
the sun Thursday. Some suggest
the planet is overdue for another one.
At the time of the solar maximum, if left out all
day, the feather will fill with dirt
and wind. Across the film it will leave a speckled line.
When you write, speckled line, you curve the letters,
and squinting, see sun spots.
We said we felt no consequences from the solar
flares, as the tides rose and the
rivers fell back, and the drought came upon our flesh. When the itching
we envisioned grasshoppers. When the wounds broke open, we saw worms.
The bird had fallen and someone recorded it a book
about West Nile, another bird
fell and was counted. In the grass, we found the bloody feathers.
There was water in the glass, but it couldn’t be
She stood up and went to the window. She could
feel the cold of the glass
against her cheek, even though the sky appeared to be bright.
The poles of the sun’s magnetic field have apparently
Several powerful solar salvos are heading toward
earth where they could cause
another round of dazzling auroras and disrupt radio communications.
We watched her stand there, wondering what she
could have been thinking.
Suffocation was a single word intended, but unspoken,
left out for someone to
guess. Suffocation was the presumption there was one single answer,
at all. It was an infinite question that held no water.
A shadow emerged from the glass as shadows spontaneously
objects immersed in light.
We watched the water rings evaporate on the surface
of the table.
At the peak of an eleven-year cycle of activity,
the sun has become increasingly stormy. Prisms are born from fragrant
Sun’s storms may or may not cause lightning in
the southern hemisphere of the
brain, static behind the eyes, hence, sun stroke. Storms have intensified
nighttime aurora light shows.
She appeared to disappear into a blinding glare.
Someone spoke about taking a
There was so much sunlight; we were composed of
When she left the room, we had the impression she
remained somehow, both
leaving the room and remaining, as thought the dust particles illuminated
sun’s rays contained the inner workings of her ears. They danced
perhaps recording our words on infinitesimal microchips.
To look back is to romanticize, to comb the mind
with honey. The honeyed sun
attracts bees to its warm hive.
The paper was exposed and the comb’s white teeth
bled against dark blue. The
sun will cause an object to change into its opposite, it will cause
blue glass to
To look forward is to fantasize, to invent phantoms
where those who walk on the
other side of the sun have not yet been followed.
Exposed, the chlorophyll shivered for a moment
from the heat.
“coronal mass ejections, filled with billions of
tons of radiation and ionized
particles” / misquoted: “the alternative sun shown nothing on the
To look in front of you is to realize; it also
prevents you from falling, as sunny-
side up, the egg is free to stare at its immanent consumption.
The dry intensity of her stare was said to burn,
sear, scar the observer, who too,
stood watching, blind-sighted.
The hottest heat of a flame is blue; the oceans
burn more ferociously than the sun.
On that afternoon, sweat dropped across the shadow,
and the glass, surrounded by
shadow moved imperceptibly.
We left our fingerprints there, on the moistened
tabletop, glassy beads dripping
onto the carpet.
Movement is an attribute of celestial bodies.
The higher altitude, the more difficult it is to
breathe. In the lungs, the heat
photosynthesizes, the breath comes out in luminary song.
Song feeds shadows; orchestra halls are drowned
Reversals take place between intervals lasting
from 5,000 to 5 million years.
We replaced her in her room. We mirrored the minor
gestures of her glass. The
heat hummed around us like a house.
The energy converted the sun into cells, they mirrored
the liquid her glass
Things that fall from the sky
The neurons splinter in a brain. Electrical-chemical short circuit, and
deadens. Shall we attribute our restlessness to fever?
There was a moment in a museum thought precious and out of date; I will
admit it had a
distinctly Victorian flavor. A hall of dinosaur bones fixed in running
positions. The Spectrum
—bacteria swimming on turquoise video screens, stuffed tiger, bear,
chimpanzee, the wired
reptiles and amphibians, dangling arthropods, Birds of the World, and
that now infamous
She places green tea in a cup, and takes it outside, along with branches,
a torn piece of a
brown bag, a coin, a photograph of a bat. She is not afraid to like Tennyson.
The neurons begin a slow repair, stretching, then folding into exhaustion.
Her fingers understand what it is to tease song from paper. She makes
a crease in the page
with the edge of a ruler.
Somewhere in the western states, an enormous meteor fell to the earth
with such enthusiasm
it created an immense crater. Permanent is a word.
All night we taunt the neighbors with our voices
moon a reflection upon mirrors
Copernicus, Kepler, Herodotus
what keeps us revolving when we’re ready to jump off?
six of us
until simple mathematics
argues arpeggios, crystals of dehydrated Borax
inside even ourselves
what we thought
Venus is Jupiter
four moons stretched into infinity
visible through contortion, reversal
imagine Tycho Brahe
solar plexus against the moon’s surface
the indenture in gray matter
a philosopher’s stone
lingering after doubt
Bio: Catherine Kasper has been the recent
recipient a Writer’s League of Texas Fellowship. Blueprints of the
City, a prose poem series was published as a chapbook (Transparent
Tiger Press, 2000), and her chapter on poetics is published in the
anthology Vectors: New Poetics (Samizdat Editions). Her poetry
is forthcoming in the anthology Of Tangible Knowledge: Poetic Investigations
in the Sciences and in journals such as Aufgabe, Notre Dame
Review, McSweeney’s and on Web del Sol and Drunken
Boat websites. She is presently an Assistant Professor of Creative
Writing and Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
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