Poems of the Week


by Simon MacCulloch

“Let’s stop talking about ‘great’ Britain—and rebrand ourselves as a different sort of country.”
The Guardian

The problem with being ‘Great’ Britain:
We struggle to chew what we’ve bitten—
A grand leading role
From equator to pole,
A lion’s share claimed by a kitten.

Mephistophelian Countenance *

by Marshall Begel

“‘It’s like staring at demons,’ [says man with] a rare condition called prosopometamorphopsia…
in which parts of the faces
of other people appear distorted…”

Typical Tennessee resident
Stricken with psychopathology
Sees every face as bizarre.

Burdened with agoraphobia,
He sought assistance from experts, but
Neuroanatomy specialists
Haven’t made progress, so far.

Could it be, in a world spellbound by
Megalomaniacs, those who have
Recognize things as they are?

* Editors’ note: As far as we know, “Mephistophelian Countenance” is the first triple dactyl ever published in Light (or anywhere)!

I Know What You Meme

by Steven Kent

“Bad omens and deep state lunacy: solar eclipse brings wave of memes”
The Guardian

The rapture’s nigh! Beware, the Deep State acts!
These planetary signs mean earth’s destruction!
Conspiracies and fables, absent facts,
Resist all Occam’s Razor-ish reduction.
False prophets on the Net predict our doom
While hucksters reap true profits, easy money,
From those who aren’t the smartest in the room—
Apocalypse aside, it’s weirdly funny.

White Bird of Happiness

by Julia Griffin

For Mary

“A Stork, a Fisherman and Their Unlikely Bond Enchant Turkey
Thirteen years ago, a stork landed on a fisherman’s boat looking for food. He has come back
every year since, drawing national attention. … “Nature doesn’t have much space for emotions,”
[a Turkish ornithologist] said. “For the stork, it is a matter of easy food. …”

“It is just to love an animal,” said [the fisherman]. “They are God’s creatures.”
The New York Times

Their bond, originally fish,
Has changed and deepened, some believe,
Though experts scoff that this is wish-
Ful thinking. Do we self-deceive

In thinking that a man and stork,
Although so different in physique,
Might share a link immune to fork,
And insusceptible to beak?

For thirteen years, much written of,
These two have trysted. Something grows
Between them, which the man calls “love.”
The stork says nothing. But he knows.


by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

“Amol Rajan pledges to drop his ‘haitches’ in favour of ‘aitch’ in pronunciation [kerfuffle]”
The Independent

A quizmaster’s aitch variation
Irked viewers. He promised cessation.
That haitch on TV
Caused this paradox: He
Has aspired to have no aspiration!

A Reckoning

by Stephen Gold

“Dutch division of [accounting firm] KPMG fined $25m for cheating in exams.”
The Times

When examinations tax,
Don’t you worry, just relax,
We are always at your side to lend support.
Why leave anything to chance?
Get the answers in advance!
Playing fair should be the very last resort.

If you think this is a sin,
What’s the world you’re living in?
All that matters is to get that vital pass.
To be ethical is fine,
But for us, the bottom line
Is to never be the bottom of the class.

Giving credit where it’s due
Is commendable, that’s true.
But a more important lesson to be taught,
Is that in the modern day,
There’s an even better way,
Namely, taking all the credit where it’s not!

Composting Our Kinfolk

by Marshall Begel

“Gov. Hobbs signs ‘Grandpa in the Garden’ bill, paving way for human composting in Arizona”
Arizona’s Family

Put Grandpa in the garden,
When he is cold and still.
But if the ground should harden,
We’ll have to rototill.

We’re composting our kinfolk,
No caskets to be seen.
It’s not some household in-joke—
We’re going, going green!

In Grandma’s final hours,
She told us “No cremation!”
So, now among the flowers,
She’ll practice re-carnation.


So if you’re sick and, knowing
You’ll soon be dead and gone,
You want to help things growing,
Come spread out on our lawn.


Gulpy, Rippy, Grindy, Shreddy, Likely, Ultimately, and Gravity

by Iris Herriot

(After Larry Morey)

“Study sheds light on the white dwarf star, likely destroyer of our solar system …
When asteroids, moons and planets get close to white dwarfs, the latter’s huge gravity rips them into smaller
and smaller pieces, which continue to collide, eventually being ground into dust. While the researchers said Earth
would probably be swallowed by our host star, the sun, before it becomes a white dwarf, the
rest of our solar system… ultimately may be shredded by the sun in a white star form.”
The Guardian

Just whistle while you shred:
(Earn your dwarfish cred!)
Turn asteroids to dusty voids
And live things into dead;
So warble as you chew:
(Mash planets into goo!)
The Earth’s a guest now grown a pest—
That goes for Venus too.

And as you brightly croon,
Pretend you’re a cartoon
(The antiquated kind):
You’ll find
You’re crunching up the moon!

Dig wormholes, worms! In cosmic terms
It’s coming very soon.

The Higgs Effect

by Dan Campion

“Peter Higgs, Nobelist Who Predicted the ‘God Particle,’ Dies at 94”
The New York Times

Higgs had an insight, and it stuck;
Some Nobelists have all the luck!
To add to his enduring fame,
The field that gives mass bears his name.
Too modest (but such faults endear),
He’d skip champagne and quaff a beer—
Not soak up accolades all night—
Relaxing on a homebound flight:
The sort of gentlemanly quark
Who’s here and gone but leaves his mark.

Total Eclipse

by Alex Steelsmith

“Eclipse chasers, or umbraphiles… will do almost anything, and travel almost anywhere, to see totality…”
ABC News

“Why NASA says the total solar eclipse [today] will be way cooler than any before it.”
Business Insider

serious umbraphiles
monitor many a
lunar ellipse,

plotting their optimal
doggedly planning their
faraway trips.

Always intrepid, they
goggle from mountaintops,
deserts, and ships;

every eclipse, being
seems to eclipse every
other eclipse.

Nothing But Net: A Caitlin Clark Haiku

by Paul Lander

Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.

Saturation, Satisfaction

by Julia Griffin

For Mary

“Everyone in Japan will be called Sato by 2531 unless marriage law changed, says professor”
The Guardian

Japan in the year 2531:
We’d require a squadron of seers
To fill us in on what will have been done
In five hundred and seven-odd years;

Hokkaido’s snows may have long since fried,
What with whole new kinds of polluter,
And all the rich may be living inside
An animate supercomputer;

And the only faith may be servitude,
And the sky may be hued like a peony,
And all may die that need air and food,
Since it’s likely there will not be any …

Or maybe, instead, we’ll have managed to solve
The problems that now so bemire us,
And we’ll find the perfect way to evolve,
Which won’t be found by a virus,

And the world (including Japan) won’t be
So heated and angry and trashy,
Even if this does cost, as a fee,
Every Ito and every Hayashi,

And our successors, grown kind and wise,
Will simply say Arigato!
For that brave new world, where nobody dies,
And everyone’s name is Sato.


by Simon MacCulloch

“Babies recognise spoken nursery rhymes they heard in the uterus”

The murmuration that you hear
Is nothing that you need to fear,
Just millions of prospective mummies
Reciting Shakespeare to their tummies.

The Optative Span

by Dan Campion

“Major US bridges could be vulnerable to ship collisions, including one just downstream from Key Bridge”

What bridge is ever safe from harm?
The stout pons asinorum,
Which stalwart stands as sovereign charm
Lest dunces throng the forum.