My Supernova Love

In the cold control room, blackout blinds are down.

Starting the observation, checking co-ordinates now.

Our first light curve, from the NT Telescope loads.

Screen showing Type 1a, a white dwarf’s dying throws.

My very first Supernova, light captured, successfully shown.

I am here to help, to research.

But also, to run away…

far from; the memories

of us together, him and me.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Last Christmas he left, walked out, cheated.

So here I am this Christmas, can’t allow the cold.

How to get past the rejection; left me, for her.

Far away South America, I escape to find the warm.

Sunny days, nights observing Supernova, stars that can’t go on.

Stars from which, everything is born.

Everywhere, you are, this mountain,

here in Chile; new love.

Still, my heart mourns.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

My Supernova who are you, new life from just a star?

Zooming in a whole Universe, millions billions to see.

Unlocking the meaning of each emission, what can it be?

Trying to work out which source is yours, first we can’t be sure.

Run the code, check mass limit, observing your ionising core.

Neutrinos settling, mass condensing.

Every single being, born in you,

every atom; in my blood.

You are already, in my bones.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Cold and grey England, empty house awaits me there.

On screen we’ve found you, a star once glowing bright.

Your curve is turning downwards, more throughout the night.

Sat here searching waiting, measuring spectra faded light.

Lines converging, super heating core, but why am I so cold?

Life emerging, Supernova you made it all.

Elements, you created, oxygen carbon gold,

you are; in everything.

Still, you are not home.  

He left, yet still it’s him. He is

my Supernova Love.

You were supposed to #followme – my supernova love

This is the final poem I wrote for the poetic science event. This poem was in response to the concept of using the language of my science to write a love poem. I went kinda deep into my heart for this one, and to be honest reading it back makes me quite sad, especially since this is about a relationship which ended four years ago.

I guess it just takes as long as it takes.

We need help

We have thousands of hours of aurorae video,

most of which has never been looked at.

We need help from Citizen Scientists. 

         Dazzling, coloured light

aligned with the magnetic zenith.

          Roman goddess of the dawn.

                      Shapes and forms,

                           with arcs and rays.

                          Shimmering curtains, bands, waves.

                   Changing shape.

               Light moves across the sky,

brighten and fade.

             Charged particles in the solar wind,

toward north and south,

                           polar regions.

                                              Crash.

Gases in the atmosphere,

            oxygen and nitrogen.

Collisions give off light.

We have thousands of hours of aurorae video,

most of which has never been looked at.

We need help from Citizen Scientists. 

Me observing the Aurora in real life in Svalbard, Norway

This is another poem I wrote for the ‘Poetic Science’ event. This is an example of a found poem. The majority of text used here was from a website designed to explain the aurora to young children (see here) and the other text was found in the IMPACT case study document which I helped to write describing the impact of our Aurora Zoo citizen science platform. I also tried to make the shape of the words on the page reflect the dancing, waveforms of the aurora and how it looks overhead when you observe it 🙂

The Journey

This is the first of three poems that I wrote and performed at the ‘Poetic Science’ event which was part of the Southampton Science and Engineering Festival Goes Digital in March 2021. The idea of the event was that a group of academics would write poetry about their research, I was one of the academics. Our first task from Dr Helen Eastman, who ran the workshops, was to write a poem about how we ended up doing our research, an origin poem, so this is mine, and it’s called ‘The Journey’.

So,

super

massive

black

holes

exist.

An actual thing,

at the very centre,

of every galaxy:

remarkable, colossal.

One hundred million suns,

squashed beyond physics.

Wheeled into the classroom, the large TV, the creaky wheels, our teacher, she pushes it and smiles.

I’m sat up front, first wooden bench, high on rickety wooden stool. Everyone is fixated in wonder.

The pure excitement of watching television in a science class. This is today’s lesson, watching TV.

Energy grows in all of us, the expectation, the theatre of it. Trolley wheels stop creaking, centre stage.

The show, Horizon, recorded by the teacher last night, she just had to show it to us all. Today.

The room is silent, brown wooden and cold – outside grey. Here we learn about Biology, normally, nature

but these blackholes on the screen, so big. They are nature too. Apparently,

so the screen says. How can they be? Our very own galaxy,

all the 100 billion galaxies, they all have one. A super massive black hole.

Sarah shouts ‘Is this right Miss? Is this really science?’ Miss responds ‘Yes’.

I’m totally transfixed. Behind me Kelly and Alex are giggling, some gossip,

but I don’t care. This new information, immense. My mind sparked. I didn’t know!

Could our Milky Way galaxy really be the host of something so enormous?

The scale and mass of it. It’s all so vast. Yet, it is… real.

The centre of everything.

You can do it. You. Make maps of active galactic nuclei A.K.A supermassive black holes.

See, examine. Be the first. You know, some have jets that extend for hundreds of light years.

Some don’t. It’s a mystery. You’ll get paid – to look at space, explore, travel to big telescopes.

Be the first to unravel it all, analyse data – this puzzling light.

You will be the centre. No-one else. No-one before you,

not this galaxy anyway, not in this way. It’s an enigma,

this science,

a dark art.

Radio waves

extending,

tracing jets.

X-rays too,

mapping

the swirl.

Become

an artist,

a witch.

Interpret

EM light.

The secrets.

The event

horizon.

Singularity.

It will be you.

You, the centre.

Image credit: here

This poem is also a ‘concrete poem’ in that I have tried to reflect the shape of the region around a supermassive blackhole in the shape of the words on the page so the middle section, the block of text represents the accretion disc around the black hole and then the longer stanzas either side represent the jets that are launched from near the edge of the blackhole and are linked to strong magnetic fields. You could also think of the final stanza’s shape as the path of material inside the blackhole to the singularity – which links well with me being at the centre of the research at the end of my PhD journey.

Found Poems

Next month I am taking part in an online live event for Science Week, where academics write and perform poetry linked to their research.

I’ve currently in the process of writing 3 poems ; about Supernova, Black Holes and Aurora. I hope to perform all of these at the event on Thur 11th March at 6pm. Link here to register for your free tickets.

Anyway, as part of this ‘Poetic Science’ event I am taking part in 3 online workshops run by the wonderful Helen Eastman. And in the 2nd workshop we had to make found poems by cutting up text and rearranging it.

My 3 found poems are shown below:

See me

I don’t feel seen 

I feel like no one knows me,

not really.

He didn’t want to know me. 

Not really.

What was in my soul, he never asked…

So I didn’t want him

And I was; I am enough. 

For myself, till this all happened 

Follow your heart they say

But my heart is confused 

I want her to know me 

But I can’t handle it 

I’ve been here before

What if she rejects me too? 

How do I Love ?

I was debating whether to post this ‘poem’? But it might help someone, and I did say I would do a daily post so here goes.

When my brain is full, usually when I am in bed at night, before sleeping… I really want to go to sleep of course, but I can’t, because my thoughts are moving so fast and they fly off in tangents and it all gets a bit much and it usually makes me feel a bit panicked. Call it anxiety, call it anything you like but I have absolutely no hope of falling asleep.

So I have found that a good thing for me to do is just ‘brain dump’ these thoughts either into the Notes app on my phone or write them in the notebook. I don’t really think what I am writing too much; I just get them out onto the page.

So yes, this post is basically just one of the Notes from my phone which I wrote about Love; when my brain was panicking about moving on. I am sure other people must experience this fear that they may never find love again…?

I feel some comfort in that I have experienced Love in my life. That mad, intense, aching love. So maybe I should be happy with this, and I think this ‘poem’ is me trying to make peace with that.

If you find the pain in this post disturbing I’m sorry, but hopefully it will ring true for someone and let them feel less alone in their fearful thoughts.

Please don’t worry about my mental state too after you read this, it is quite raw I know. But weirdly when I do these ‘brain dumps’ as I call them, and even when I read them back and I’m like ‘bloody hell, that’s some dark sh**, I sound like I am on the edge of a breakdown’…but often, I am not, I don’t feel as dramatic and hopeless and the post actually sounds. jJust the act of writing it all down, and not thinking about how depressing it sounds. The ‘getting it out’. I instantly feel better, and those thoughts don’t trouble me anymore.

And then I can sleep.

How do I love?

How will I ever know someone like I thought I knew you?

I just can’t be bothered to try. 

I have hope it might happen again, I have to, but at the same time I’m so close to giving up. I’m ok with accepting I have been in love and been loved. I experienced it. It’s more than a lot of people get in a lifetime. 

This is just that parallel Universe where I’m alone. 

Maybe in the other one I’ve actually been sectioned because of being with you did that. You would have made me more crazy than I am now… This is the better outcome. It has to be. 

How do I be? How do I love? Again.

Being, is just so tiring. What’s the point? 

Well at least I felt something, I really did feel it and now maybe, it’s like I’ve had my time, so I just have to find a way to exist. But how? 

How do I stay hopeful that I will feel that love again? And to be honest do I really want to. That sh** really hurt.

But if I never feel it again, then really…what is the point? 

I’m really worried it wasn’t real for you and you are just a crazy who manipulated me and said whatever you needed to say to make me love you? Your actions never really were the evidence, it was always your words I relied on. You told me you loved me multiple times each day. But did you? 

They are just words. 

If that wasn’t real then what is? 

You’ve been with her longer than you was with me now, anyway. So I really should be over it. Really.

Why am I still so sad? 

Mainly I just feel numb. Tired.

Isn’t time supposed to heal this? 

Hurry up and heal. 

Why does healing the damage take more time than the damage took to do? 

I don’t know what I want. 

I need someone to tell me what to do. 

I just know what I don’t want. 

I don’t want you. 

I don’t want him either. 

I don’t want to go through that ache again.   

But where does this all leave me? Now I’m just writing into my notes on my phone so I don’t write to you. Cos you are with her. You moved on.

I can’t seem too.

This grief. 

This pain for all the love I had for you that now has nowhere to go. 

You still exist. You are still alive and it’s so weird I don’t know who you are now. Are you the same, or totally different? What makes your soul alive now? Do you love her?

How do you experience love without the pain.

And if you don’t feel pain when it’s over does that mean it wasn’t actually love? 

I seriously don’t think I could take that pain again. 

Maybe that’s why I’m here, on my own.

I don’t actually want to love again.