Friday, June 6, 2014


My youngest brother, Ben, gave me the word "stereoisomers" to write about while he was studying for a chemistry exam.  At first I thought this would be easy.  Chemistry IS poetry, right?  It involves speaking about things you can't see with the naked eye, and there are a lot of weird names to marvel over.  Unfortunately, I didn't know what stereoisomers were. 

I ended up reading about them for a long time, trying to understand them.  The basic idea is that they are two sets of the same atoms in the same order with the same sets of bonded atoms, but arranged differently in space.  One type of stereoisomer is a diasteroisomer, which I misread as "disasteroisomer"...and if I could have written about this, the poem would have just written itself.

At any rate, here's what I came up with.  Ben's review is to follow, and it's ambivalent at best.


If your eyeballs were placed vertically,
I'd tilt my head.
Like molecules, we're made
from distinct parts, oh let me teach you
this word:


Stereoisomers are arrangements
of the same atoms in different places.
They're different bodies
with similar traits.

The carriage to the ball
is not the pumpkin rearranged.
The dentist's mold made of your teeth
can't chew your meat.
These relationships
aren't like us.
You and I, love, are
I'm the slightly altered heart unseen
in the tarnished mirror,
the secret body hidden
on the other side of the tree,
the sadder smile
on the second carved pumpkin.

What we share is stronger
than what separates.

Ben's review:
"This poem is a fine piece of modern expression. While the writer evidently lacks proficiency in the particulars of organic chemistry, the poem conveys the molecular nuances that are present in stereoisomers. While a few phrases lack conviction, this poem is refreshing."

He's right...I often lack conviction, and I also find that to be a refreshing quality.

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