Category Archives: Poetry


Jorge Luis Borges once wrote, in a 1960 essay called “Mutations,”

In a hallway I saw a sign with an arrow pointing the way, and I was struck by the thought that that inoffensive symbol had once been a thing of iron, an inexorable, mortal projectile that had penetrated the flesh of men and lions and clouded the sun of Thermopylae and bequeathed to Harald Sigurdson, for all time, six feet of English earth.

This line came to mind when, a few years ago, I had to write a poem for a poetry workshop class. Looking back, it was the easiest course credit I ever got.
Continue reading Homunculus

Cuttlefish Wins Teh Internets

To those familiar with the Cuttlefish‘s habits, this is, of course, old news.

I wouldn’t think you could get anything useful out of a blogospheric ramble about Blavatsky and Theosophy, but the Digital Cuttlefish was able to see past the blather about “fifth race humans” and the “girasas race” to find artistic and comedic gold, with just the proper bite:

Ceiling Cat is watching you post
From up in his lofty location —
The comments make Ceiling Cat shudder and say
“O Hai. You can has medication.”

(Image from the Lolcat Bible.)

Open Laboratory Needs Poetry!

Coturnix says that the second annual anthology of science blogging needs “more poems and more original cartoons.” Well, sez I, if it’s poetry you want, then you must needs talk to the Cuttlefish!

To wit:

Similarity shows that a common designer
With similar blueprints and parts
Constructed the human and cuttlefish forms—
I swear by all three of your hearts.

The God who created the heavens and earth
And killed dinosaurs off in The Flood
Used the same old ideas again and again
You can tell by your copper-green blood.

Read the rest of Cuttlefish in Genesis, and stay for Noah’s Flood.
Continue reading Open Laboratory Needs Poetry!

All Hallows

To begin at the end:

This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo!

Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night… so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business.

So goodbye everybody, and remember please, for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian… it’s Halloween.

Tonight, if you aren’t spreading madness over the airwaves, as the Mercury Theatre did; if you’re not showing off comets as you hand out candy; if you’re not dressing up as an antiparticle seeking to annihilate with an attractive particle, as Jennifer Ouellette suggests; then you should at least have a song in your heart.
Continue reading All Hallows

Sing the Cuttlefish Electric

“Cuttlefish” was recently inducted into the Order of the Molly, joining the nice folks (Kristine, Scott, Zeno, Kseniya, Torbjörn, etc.) and the ill-tempered illiterates (me) in the most elect group of Pharyngula commenters. Whoever this “Cuttlefish” might be, they’ve showered the Pharyngulans with delightful verse, each poem a fitting anti-prayer for the hymnal of Atheist Pope Richard I.

And, of course, Cuttlefish has a blog.

One of my favorite Cuttlefishsticks so far has been “Version 2.7,” the poem which dares to answer the question, “Will humans marry robots in fifty years?” Eat yer heart out, Kurzweil:
Continue reading Sing the Cuttlefish Electric


Jasprizza Will asks Language Log if rotely is a “real word.” Mark Liberman replies that it occurs in newspaper writing — even, on occasion, in the New York Times — and in the scholarly journals. For example, Carol Sue Englert et al. write in “Influence of Irrelevant Information in Addition Word Problems on Problem Solving” (1987),

Blankenship and Lovitt (1976), for example, found that in the presence of irrelevant numerical information, LD [Learning Disabled] students rotely added all numbers.

The more subtle question is whether rotely can be used as an adverb. In this example, it modifies added, and Liberman provides instances of rotely modifying turned out, tinkled out and affixed, in addition to usages like “material rotely learned” and “rotely feminized ‘conformity’.” Now, sometimes the -ly suffix turns a noun into an adjective (for example, kingly), but television raised me to think that its main use is turning adjectives into adverbs:
Continue reading Rotely

And Ringo Shall Restore Amends

This Friday, for your viewing entertainment, the panda gnomes which keep the bits flowing through the tubes and stop the Blagnet from unraveling present the Beatles in 1964, performing “The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe.”

Hah! And you thought the only thing the Beatles had to do with Shakespeare was the BBC production of King Lear which John piped into the background of “I am the Walrus.”