Finger Pointing Solward by Donato Giancola


Somewhere, in a parallel world,
My life has gone the way I’d wish –
Well lucky me, with a wink and swish,
At least I made it somewhere !

Out there in a parallel world,
My work fulfils, my dreams bear fruit,
My wife is smart, my kids are cute,
And I really made it somewhere !

Statistic’ly, I must be me
So he can be what I cannot –
Ah well, at least he got a shot,
No need to be a hater.

So have your perfect life on me,
And make the most of happenstance,
The luck is yours, so grab your chance –
Who knows what’s coming later ?

Somewhere, in a parallel world,
My life has gone the way I dread –
Oh woeful me, with a heavy tread
At the horrors yet to come there.

Out there in a parallel world
Another me, whose dreams are shot,
May sigh, with all the breath he’s got
“I hope I made it somewhere…”

Statistic’ly, I can’t be them,
Though this is sounding zero-sum…
But surely that’s just rule-of-thumb
To make sense of the mayhem ?

Ev’ry bell-curve has its ends,
And all the rest are inbetween,
Regressing to the boring mean
As prophesised by trends.

Yet, somewhere in a parallel world,
I know I must have beat the odds –
Well good for him, the jammy sod,
In a universe unfair.

But right here in this parallel world,
If reckon with some sweat and pluck
We all can work to change our luck,
And make this world a ‘somewhere’.

Tidal Locking

Tidal Locking

The Moon is locked into the Earth,
She only shows her best side,
Keeps her dark side turned away.
But the Earth has nothing to hide,
Beneath her gaze, we spin on full display,
For the Earth is not beholden to the Moon –
Not yet, at least –
And it won’t be soon,
For the Earth is a massive beast.
Yet the Moon is trying, trying,
And will yet succeed, one day –
But not before the seas have boiled away.

Now take a smaller star instead,
Like Proxima Centauri –
Very dwarven, very red,
But orbiting we see Proxima b
A planet similar to Earth,
A tenth as close as Mercury
With liquid water on its bed –
Except, to be precise,
More likely steam and ice,
With one side always baking dry,
The other frozen, dark and dead
You see, when this close in, it does not spin –
But wait, that’s wrong,
We ought to say it has a year-long day.
(About eleven Earth-days long).

Now let’s imagine orbiting round Rigel,
A super-blue, so hot and bright,
And though a massive mass, his heat and light
Outpace his gravity –
So if we were to move the Earth to where
We’ll get a decent share to keep it all anthropical,
To keep the Arctic icy and to keep the tropics tropical,
We wouldn’t be so deep within his spacetime cavity.
You see – we’d need to be about, say, twelve-times-Neptune out –
That’s over two light-days.
Our seasons would last centuries, our year now thirteen-hundred years
And all to catch enough, but strictly not too many rays.
And actually, the daylight would be rather dim, I hear –
As most of Rigel’s output, it appears,
Is in the UV band,
And not the visible so much, not that far out.
So even though it’s warm, no doubt,
The photosynthesis of plants now won’t get such a shout,
While all of us get super-tanned.
His stellar wind is vicious, but I think we could withstand
From this far off – but satellites may end in tears.
But at least we get to spin on our own gears,
So that’s a win.
Rigel hasn’t got a hope to lock us in !

As I understand it, a planet wouldn’t naturally form so far out from its parent star, as there’s not enough material. Of course, it could be a captured rogue planet or ripped from another star.

Also, I saw Rigel’s name written bown in the astronomy books of my youth long before I hard anyone ever pronounce it, so gor me Rigel will always have a hard G.

How I Wonder What You Are


How I Wonder What You Are

I spy…well bless my eye,
A comet shot across the sky.
Is this a sign ?  For good or bad ?
Is this how God would toast the lad ?
I know what doubters say:
That comets happen anyway.

I spy…well how ’bout this:
Two planets close enough to kiss.
And sure they’re bright…but bright enough ?
Is that how God announces stuff ?
I know how doubters mock:
Conjunctions happen by the clock.

I spy…hang on…alright,
A supernova bursting bright !
Now those are rare, so what’s that worth ?
And yet…A death to hail a birth ?
I know how doubters sneer:
These things take months to disappear.

I spy…well here’s some more:
A nova ?  Or a meteor ?
I guess…but not the clearest clue –
Is this the best that God can do ?
I know the doubters’ line:
Why not just magic up the sign ?

I spy…I know, I know
A pagan myth that steals the show,
When ev’ry ancient hero born
Was heralded before the morn.
I know what doubters see:
That stars are stars, so let them be.



Another eclipse I’ve missed, I’ve missed,
Just like the others that passed me by –
Ev’ry couple of years there’s one
In Vladivostok or Uruguay –
But they never shine round here these days,
They never shine round here…

I s’pose I could go chase them, chase them,
To the Hindu Cush or the Cape
But all that cost, and what if it’s cloudy ?,
For two-odd minutes of tickertape…
And they never dance round here these days,
They never dance round here…

Stand in a spot a long time, long time,
Eventually, an eclipse will call –
But nothing can ever be worth such a wait,
In longer than empires rise and fall.
And they won’t rise up round here these days,
They never rise round here.

Another eclipse I’ve missed, I’ve missed,
And maybe I’ll miss them ev’ry one –
But life goes on regardless if
The moon may cross before the sun
And the sun still shines round here these days,
The sun still shines round here.


DSC_5185 by Iwtt93


The books call this an igneous province,
As if a country of lava –
They also call these rocks an intrusion,
So more of an empire, rather.
But due to the terraces up the plateau,
They mostly call them traps –
As if they’re prisoners to their nature,
Till their lands collapse.
Rocks push up from underneath
By stealth or by explosion,
To reinforce the battle
With the forces of erosion.
The books call these the flood basalts
That roll across the shield
Unstoppable, a stony horde
That sweep the battlefield.

First Love is Always the Hardest

The Young Astronomer by Olivier van Deuren

First Love is Always the Hardest

I’ll gladly say I love you,
If you don’t ask if I love you
More than all the stars above –
For what mere girl can stir up so much love
To turn the sternest head ?
Nuclear fusion, supernovas, black hole cuties,
Diamond-cored and shifted ruby-red –
It isn’t fair that I compare you
To the very heavens’ beauties
Turning all the inky velvet pearled –
For they are truly gems from out this world.

I’ll gladly say I love you,
If you don’t ask if I love you
Till the saline seas run dry.
For what mere girl can draw out such a sigh
To spring the harshest heart ?
Continents crashing, mountains leaping, plates migrating,
Magma-cored and slowly wrenched apart –
It isn’t fair that I compare you
To the very land creating
Granite, quartz, and crystals, forged and furled –
For they are truly gems within this world.

I’ll gladly say I love you,
If you don’t ask if I love you
Even more than life itself –
For what mere girl can equal so much wealth
To spark the jadest eye ?
Bejewellèd beetles, primrose blossom, eagles soaring,
Helix-cored and left to multiply –
It isn’t fair that I compare you
To the fruits of blind exploring –
Trunks and scales and proteins tightly curled –
For they are truly gems upon this world

I’ll gladly say I love you
If you don’t ask if I love you
Like a this or that or other-hand
For what mere boy can try to understand
What all this wonder means ?
Ricochet rapture, all things quickly, nothing mildly,
Empty-cored and barely out my teens –
It isn’t fair that you compare me
To a firefly flitting wildly
Through the endless lures in which I’m swirled –
I’ve never known such gems for all the world.

The Sky’s the Limit

Photo by Pedro Figueras on

The Sky’s the Limit

I hear they’ve found another Super-Earth
Around another star –
A bit bigger round the waist,
But still as rocky as we are.
The gravity is stronger,
So the mountains are all lower,
But there’s no reason at all
That some life is not a goer.
Maybe life much smarter
Than the likes us down here,
But life that never gets to cross
The endless void, I fear.
They, like us, can only run so fast,
Can only reach so high,
But they must drag a greater ball-and-chain
Before they fly.

You see, that could have been us,
Had the Earth and Mars collided
In the days before the days
Before the proto-cells divided.
Life could still arise
From the planetary ash,
But could never hope to reach the Moon
(If the Moon survived the crash).
Rockets can only burn so bright,
But the g-force rises, ev’ry thrust –
When you have to ride a nuke to fly,
You’ll orbit as a smear of dust.
That’s the price of gravity’s embrace –
We’re hers for keeping –
And she’s a hard mistress, gravity,
Possessive and unsleeping.

Except, of course, our planet is
Just small enough to jump and fly,
(Not that we have, we grounded individuals
Trapped beneath the sky).
But others of our species have,
And probes have sent our eyes to dance
With Jupiter and Mercury –
And all because we had the chance.
And when the Sun is old and red,
Then we’ll be gone to boldly go –
Yet till that day, we only get to dream
Of all we’ll never know.
We may be stranded in the well,
But we are safe and warm, all told –
I hear it’s very beautiful up there,
But oh, so cold…

Suburban Antares

opposite of mars
Image crested in Stellarium

Suburban Antares

Right at the bottom of the Zodiac, he lies –
At the bottom of the garden, at the bottom of the sky –
Barely rising high enough above the privet hedges,
As he’s hugging the horizon – just a hello and goodbye.
Battling through the light-infested night (plus those long evenings),
Peeking out from skies that are perpetually grey –
From the top floor of a tower block, I bet he looks a treat,
But for us, he’s always hidden by the roofs across the way.

One Billion Bullets

aerial view clouds nasa satellite
Photo by SpaceX on


One Billion Bullets

Strange to think, how satellites would watch us from above,
Back when they flew –
Sometimes sinister, I guess, but mostly were benign enough –
And what a view !
They photographed our towns, and all the towns across the Earth
We’d never see –
They let us zoom in anywhere, from Minsk to Bogota to Perth
And all for free !
They beamed our television down, they watched the clouds and rain,
They showed us Mars –
They navigated us around, then brought us safely home again,
And shone like stars –
Before their orbitals were filled with shrapnel, deadly fast,
That took them out –
The age of satellites became the age when flying junk amassed –
It’s all about !
So now, of course, we’re trapped upon the Earth, trapped in the past
Without those eyes,
For years – until the tug of friction rains them down at last,
And clears the skies.






Ptolemy, he knew the skies –
At least, that much he saw of them
Of course, he only had his eyes,
And only words for drawing them.

He plotted out the vibrant stars
Upon each underlying figure,
But where ran the linking-bars
Were sketched with far less rigour.

And then there were the hinterlands,
The unincorporated flames
Between the cities – roguish bands
Too faint to ever warrant names.

He never saw the very South,
The depths beneath the Argo’s keel,
The Eridanus to its mouth,
The wings and scales which pole-wards wheel.

So later gazers filled the gaps
With modern and precision tools –
They’re lacking in some myths, perhaps,
A free-for-all where logic rules.

But Ptolemy has the last laugh,
Those empty spaces serve their turn –
For ev’ry dim and dull giraffe,
Shall help his bears to brightly burn,

And sailors through the years are wise,
From triremes to ships-of-the-line,
To just ignore the cluttered skies
And let Polaris shine.

Infact, Ptolomy names hardly any off the stars in his Almagest, with only the following:

Bootes: Arktouros (Arcturus)
Lyra: Lyra (now called Vega)
Heniochos (Auriga): Aix (now Capella) & Haedi (now called Haedus I & II, except Haedus I is now called Sadatoni). Also of note is a passing reference to some stars being known as ‘Antonous’, a sort of mini constellette.
Aetos (Aquila): Aetos (now called Altair, which like Vega is a later Arabic name)
Tauros (Taurus): The Hyades & The Pleiades
(Cancer): Onoi (Aselii, now Aselius Borealis & Australis).
Leon (Leo): Basiliskos
(Regulus), and also mentions an asterism called Plokamos (Coma Berenices) but doesn’t consider it a separate constellation (unlike today). So should I have named this poem Fifty ?
(Virgo): Protrygeter (now Vindemiatrix) & Stachys (Spica)
Skorpios (Scorpius): Antares – the anti-Ares, or rival of Mars.
Kyon (Canis Major): Kyon (Sirius) – Ptolemy names both the constellation and its brightest star ‘The Dog’, even though the name Sirius (or rather, Seirios
) is both Greek and older. He also thought it looked reddish, which makes no sense (and it couldn’t be the final red giant phase of Sirius B, as there would still be evidence of nubulosity).
Prokyon (Canis Minor): Prokyon (Procyon, as in pre-Kyon) which name he also gives the constellationas a whole – all two stars of it – I’ve always thought it looks more like Canis Major’s bone).
Argo: Kanobos

Interesting that all bar two are still non-Arabic, though only Antares survives unscathed, with a few others receiving only a light Latin makeover. Surprisingly, no mention is made of the two brightest stars in Gemini being named as Castor & Pollux. These are also the names of the Twins themselves, so presumably their transfer onto the stars is later. But even more surprising is that the Greeks aparently didn’t think it worth naming Betelgeuse, Rigel or Alpha Centauri.