Welcome to GeoVerse!

This is a collection of original poems which began with some about geology, which is why it’s called Geoverse; but there are now poems on all sorts of things – life, the universe, and (almost) everything. Click ‘About the author’ (above) to find out who wrote them . . .
To meet all the poems, most recent first, scroll down this page. When you reach the bottom, just click the ‘Older posts’ arrow to see more, and so on.
To find a list of poems on a particular subject, use the Index tab (above), or enter a term in the Search box (below right) , or click a Topic (on the right).
I  hope you find something you like! Gordon Judge

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Self-basting

Some turkeys are labelled ‘self-basting’. I wondered how a turkey, in a hot oven, could baste itself. So I asked an expert:

I’m a turkey that’s self-basting.
Do you wonder how I do it?
I really shouldn’t tell you this –
But there’s really nothing to it.
The trick is in the training:
You lay upon your back,
And flap your wings about like mad!
Well, I soon learned the knack.

The farmer never told me
Why I should be so skilled.
“Don’t do it,” croaked my turkey mates,
“He’ll only have you killed,
Then sell you for a premium:
‘Self-basting,’ he will claim.”
I just ignored them, turned away
And practised just the same.

But now, it’s nearly Christmas
And my mates have disappeared.
Here comes the farmer – oh, dear me,
Will it be just as they feared?
Look – he’s got a label:
“Self-basting, easy-roast”!
And there’s a look upon his face
That seems to say “You’re toast!”

So, when you buy your turkey
I hope you’ll buy ‘self-basting’.
That way, my practice was worthwhile –
It makes me better-tasting.

[Image: momsbudget.com]
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When QUANTUM comes to call

Books that try to explain quantum mechanics seem to end up saying “you can’t expect to understand it”. I fell at the first hurdle, when I tried to find a definition of ‘particle’ that I could picture in my head. One said “Particles are purely mathematical objects”, which didn’t help much, because I couldn’t picture something that was “purely mathematical” as an “object”.

A particle’s a lump of stuff and looks just like a ball
I thought. But now they say that’s not enough when things get really small.
If you keep cutting stuff in two, there comes a time, my friend,
Beyond which ‘particle’ won’t do, where imagery must end.

‘Cathode rays’ were particles, not ‘rays’ as they first thought;
But fired through slits, those articles did not do what they ought!
Such things should, when they hit a screen, have formed two bands of light.
Instead, what patterning was seen? Alternate dark and bright!

And light, they knew, would do the same (it’s how a wave behaves).
Then into the fray de Broglie1 came: “Think particles and waves”.
Said Schrödinger2: “A good idea, but a wavefunction’s superior,
Though it needs some fancy maths, I fear, and some folk think it’s eerier3.

“It’s mathematical, you see: how probable, through space,
That ‘particle’ or wave might be to exist at any place.
What’s more, until you take a look, it might be anywhere4!
It’s in the maths – just read my book5 – but you should not despair:

“Your brain has learned to process things to keep you out of danger
By picture-based imaginings. But QUANTUM things are stranger . . .
Reality’s not what your brain is telling you. Instead
It’s spooky, weird: you’ll try in vain to ‘see’ it in your head.”

Well, that’s what physicists declare. Religions do the same:
They say there is a ‘god’ out there who’s in control, they claim.
And then they leave your poor old brain to picture in your head
This entity which, they explain, you’ll ‘see’ when you are dead . . .

I like my brain. I couldn’t live without it. With each breath
It paints me ‘pictures’ that contrive to help avoid my death.
But now I’m stuck. As you’ll have guessed, when QUANTUM comes to call,
Although my poor brain does its best, it’s really much too small.

1.    The French physicist, Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, 7th Duke of Broglie (1892–1987). Broglie is in Normandy, 60 km south-west of Rouen.
2.    Not in exactly these words, though . . .
3.    Or, as Einstein described an aspect of quantum theory, “spooky”.
4.    According to some interpretations, that is.
5.    Actually, a paper in a physics journal: Schrödinger, E. “An Undulatory Theory of the Mechanics of Atoms and Molecules”, Physical Review, Vol. 8 No. 6, 1049–1070.

See also: Science and religion, Definitions, Causes, Noddle models, Model makers and Assertions

Images: wikimedia commons (sphere); lightandmatter.com (wavefunction); Boston University (head); Dvaorak.org (tiny brain)
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In the brickpits of Sussex and Surrey

Amateur geologists have found a remarkable array of fossils from quarries used to extract the Weald Clay for brickmaking.

In the brickpits of Sussex and Surrey
Are fossils of life that’s long dead:
There’s an arthropod trackway, teleost1 fish,
Amber, and a Plant Debris Bed;

There are earwigs, weevils and beetles,
Crickets and old termite poo,
Snakeflies and lacewings, clam shrimps and wasps,
Crocodile teeth, and frogs, too!
Egg cases of sharks, a small fish jaw,
Fishy otoliths2, palates and more,
What was almost the world’s first flowering plant3,
Cycads, and molluscs galore.
On this land, in the Lower Cretaceous,
Dinosaurs roamed far and near:
Baryonyx, Iguanodon, Horshamosaurus,
All died and were fossilised here.

From the Weald Clay of Sussex and Surrey
These fossils of life that’s long dead
Have been saved from the heat of the brickmakers’ ovens
And preserved in collections, instead.

1. Ray-finned
2. Ear-stones, which helped the fish to orientate and balance
3. Called
Bevhalstia, but new finds from China might prove to be earlier

Image of Smokejacks quarry: Peter Austen (with permission)
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Gone missing

I bet this has happened to most blokes.

A sock of mine’s gone missing. Where can the rascal be?
If you are out there, somewhere, please come back home to me.
I won’t be cross, I promise; I understand your plight:
You’re trodden underfoot all day, abandoned every night.

Your other half is lonely without you. She’s bereft:
She hasn’t left the wardrobe since the moment that you left.
I’ve emptied drawers and cupboards, I’ve probed the washing machine,
I’ve searched in every single nook and the crannies in between.

Perhaps my sock has passed away and gone to socky heaven;
Or maybe it has hitched a lift to John o’ Groats or Devon.
Perhaps there’s a Society of which my sock’s a member;
Or maybe socks have Socky Games, and my sock’s a contender;

Or else he’s done a runner with a lady sock. If so,
He is a silly sock; but then socks will be socks, you know . . .
Well, I’ve got other things to do and, looking at the clock,
There’s really nothing else to say but “fare thee well, old sock”.

[Image: .sock101.com]
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Look up!

Technology often seems to take over: you often see people in the street, head-down, intent on interacting with a glowing screen, oblivious of life around them.

What is this life if, full of care,
You walk with bowed-down heads and stare
At smartphone screens, all unaware
Of who you’re passing in the street?

You check your emails, Facebook, Twitter,
Fed by a 4G transmitter,
Unaware you nearly hit a
Lamppost as you made that tweet.

Look up, look up! There’s lots to see:
The chap in front of you (it’s me),
The path ahead (just mind that tree . . .),
And all the people you could greet,

The sky, the clouds, the birds and bees,
The buildings, plants – it’s things like these
That make life good and fun. So please
Give yourself a phone-free treat.

You don’t agree. Oh, I can tell –
Life without a phone is hell,”
You think. I’ve done my best; oh well,
Hash-tag “I admit defeat”.

[Image: 2.bp.blogspot.com]
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Assertions

Assertions are “confident and forceful statements of fact or belief”, says the dictionary. But how can you tell if the confidence is justified? The answer defines a key difference between religion and science (see also ‘Science and religion’).

“Assertions aren’t for testing,”
Religious folk declare.
“Oh yes, they are,” says science, that’s
Precisely why they’re there!”

“Words written long ago,” religious folk protest,
“Came from prophets, and allow no questioning or test.
They say an entity called ‘God’ exists in mystic form,
Which made and rules the universe, and we must all conform.”

“What use are such assertions,” the science people shout,
“You cannot claim that they are right unless you’ve checked them out!
Science’s assertions aren’t meant to be dogmatic:
They’re ‘right’ until they’re proven wrong – you could say they’re pragmatic . . .”

There’s one assertion that is true,
And has been throughout history:
It’s that our brains are not equipped
For understanding mystery.

[Image: myocn.net]
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On Swanage Pier

The sign at the entrance to the Grade II Listed Swanage Pier demanded payment for a particular gait.

“Strolling – 90p” declared the sign on Swanage Pier.
A price I didn’t want to pay, so I stepped up a gear:
I briskly walked straight past the sign. “Oi, can’t you read? It’s clear
Enough,” the pay-booth boomed, “This is a strolling Pier.

“Just look at all those other folk: they’re strolling. Why can’t you?
If you don’t want to stroll, that’s fine, but I won’t let you through.”
I speeded up, ignoring him, and broke into a run.
I reached the pierhead, then turned round and saw he had a gun . . .

Then I woke up. And I resolved that I would, on the whole, in
Swanage do as others do when on the Pier: go strollin’.
(That 90p’s a millionth of what the Pier must raise*
To make the structure strong again, as in its glory days.)

*Over £1m has already been raised but, according to the town’s Daily Echo in June 2016, a further £900,000 is needed to renovate the structure. See the Swanage Pier Trust website.

[Image: Daily Echo]
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