Following the success of our first poetry competition last year, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Jonathan Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, have now run a second competition, in which Creative Writing students at De Montfort University in the U.K. were invited to write poems inspired by some of Chandra's findings. The final two entries of the four winning pieces are included here. Congratulations to all four winners.
Want more astropoetry? See these previous pieces.
In Praise of Old Age
We are both very old and exotic and surprisingly active:
Good role models for the older patients on this ward.
Like me, you have been examined and diagnosed:
classified as PSR J zero one zero eight dash one four three one.
Your heavenly motions are constantly monitored.
Here, they only record my bowel movements.
Like me, you are slowly decaying,
with X-rays used to understand your inner being.
You gleam brightly for a pulsar of such advanced years.
I’m not too bad for my age, either,
and I glow quite nicely after my nightly nip of whiskey.
Like you, I radiate more efficiently than the younger ones,
and have extraordinary properties.
You hit four hundred, forty thousand miles per hour.
I am making rather slower progress with my walker.
I complain about the distance from my bed to the john,
but you are seven hundred seventy light years away.
You move South from the plane of the Milky Way,
but the furthest South I’ve been is my sister’s in Richmond.
You are said to be alive and still kicking,
so there’s hope for me yet.
After all, you are 200 million years old,
and I’m only 93.
No wonder at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory,
they call you the geriatric pulsar.
Inspired by: www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/09_releases/press_022609.html
25 years and you walked.
I thought I knew you.
Like Dark Matter
you surprised and stunned me,
bombarded my core.
grasps for measure.
I calibrate my agony
desperate for a handle
on your new
to a star-dusted beach:
looking up, panting.
sizzle into me.
Heavy chunks of exotic particles
as your missing light
is revealed at last.
"I'm dynamiting my life," you said,
my apparatus goes haywire
"Its not you, it's me," you barked,
Our shared past,
sucked out, zapped.
I gaze at the radio sky,
Inspired by: http://chandra.harvard.edu/xray_astro/dark_matter/