Roald Hoffman is my hero. He is not only a chemist but also a writer, poet, Holocaust survivor, lecturer, and much much more. ( and he’s in the World of Chemistry videos )
Anyway, I decided to read some of his poetry. So you all can enjoy I will post my favorites here:
WHY DOES DISORDER INCREASE
IN THE SAME DIRECTION OF TIME
AS THAT IN WHICH THE UNIVERSE EXPANDS
by Roald Hoffman
It has something to do
with looking down the blouse
of the girl painting the boat, tracing
in a second the curve, wanting
to slip a hand between cotton
and her warm skin.
Or seeing a glint of sun
off the window opening across
the bay, calculating the speed
with which the reflection
skims across water.
The girl runs her hand
through her hair, the immemorial
action, this time arrested
as she spots the hummingbird
taking its hovering time
to sample each larkspur blossom.
Or the oil storage tanks
across the water, seeing
silently, the shrapnel
already on its way here.
MEN AND MOLECULES
Cantilevered methyl groups,
battered in endless anharmonic motion.
A molecule swims,
dispersing its functionality,
scattering its reactive centers.
Not every collision,
not every punctilious trajectory
by which billiard-ball complexes
arrive at their calculable meeting places
leads to reaction.
Most encounters end in
a harmless sideways swipe.
An exchange of momentum,
a mere deflection.
And so it is for us.
The hard knock must be just right.
The eyes need lock, and
glimmers of intent penetrate.
The setting counts.
A soft brush of mohair
or touch of hand.
A perfumed breeze.
Men (and women) are not
as different from molecules
as they think.
It is said in the Talmud that the child in the womb,
flexing her floating sac of the world, knows all, knows
the name of the angel who wrestled with Jacob, knows
and dreams, dreams all molecules her hands will make,
bowties of atoms centered by platinum, carboxypeptidase.
She remembers the constellations’ pause as Abraham
held the knife over Isaac, and later, Dachau trains.
Reaching, through her mother’s eyes, she blows life
into weeds and carbon chains from comets’ tails;
and marks the lust, just that, of her father in her
conception. In volutes of gene threads and shells,
what a time to know! And then . . . a time to be born.
As she is pushed into the colder world, an angel
strikes her on the head, and makes her forget all
she knew inside. The mark of the angel is on our lip.
Why does the angel do this? Today they don’t announce
themselves, these wheels of God, and, if questioned,
they say: I’m just following orders. Is he Ialdabaoth,
the workman demiurge, who without a host of technicians
and genetic engineering knew, just knew, how to mold
muscle, sheathe a nerve, the nitty-gritty, bone fitting
into bone, of creation? No one’s left to believe in him.
So Ialdabaoth, unemployed by this sexy human trick
of procreation, strikes out at children. Or maybe
it’s Yahweh, not my Hebrew one Lord, but his dark Gnostic
mask. He keeps men from unhusking the fallen sparks within,
knowing the blue sky that is also the sea of their spirit.
3 Rabbi Baruch of Mezbizh explained it thus: If
the child were not made to forget, she would brood
on her death, the count of years and seconds left
audible like a repeater of death in her mind.
Contemplating her death she would not light candles,
or build a house. So the angel makes her forget.
But I think God, who knows, doubts (which is to know)
his design works. His winged observer marks the
onset of contractions, hydraulics of the amniotic
fluid. The angel is drawn into timing, hears
breathing, hoarser, instructed. He touches, an angel’s
touch, the dilating neck of the womb. The child’s
head is pushed against her own breast, the occiput
leads, rotates into the pelvic floor until bones
won’t give, forcing the head to turn, shaping
a conformation that angles up; all this takes time
even if it is not a first birth. As the head emerges,
a thin shoulder slides into the place of resistance;
more pain, a push turning the face into the mother’s
thigh. Confronted with this congruence of form and motion,
the angel is the one struck dumb, forgets, must attend
every birth. The mother stirs, unprompted, to the after-
birth; the daughter, like a seal coming up from its deep
dive, depressurizes, gasps for this unforgettable air.
haha stretch marks