Having studied rather a lot of chemistry back in the day, the chemical elements have always fascinated me, to the extent that I’ve written poems about some of them. Not, you understand, in a systematic way, but just as the whim has taken me. 

At one time (I don’t know if still exists) there was a web site called The Periodic Table of Poetry, and the first poem here, Strontium, was first published there, and later in my 4th collection, Sushi & Chips (2006). The other two, on neon and uranium, were written for a privately circulated pamphlet developed by members of Dunbar Writers, and collected in my 5th collection, The propriety of weeding.


On the seaboard of Argyll,
at the head of Loch Sunart’s long tongue
sits Strontian.

The roads diverge here, or there, quite close.
West and west is Ardnamurchan – the sands of Sanna,
and the welcome of Kilchoan, where only aircraft see
the ringed remnants of the old volcano.

South, through Morvern’s single switchback road,
is Lochaline, and the purest, whitest, silica sand,
making glasses to spy on Mull over the waves.

West and north joins a green road
by Arisaig’s young sea eagles,
to Morar – Scotland’s shortest river –
where the seatrout leap
from salt to fresh
to cleanse their skins.

At the junction, then,
of A’s, B’s, and unclassified’s,
sits Strontian,
where a mineral was sourced
to give a red glow in flames,
and an isotopic name
to heighten fallout fear
in the coldest of wars.

Strange, this baleful name;
an alkaline earth mined in a nexus of beauty.

Copyright © Colin Will
From Sushi & Chips, Diehard, 2006


The new one (Ne)

From chilled liquid air
three gases boiled off –
the strange one, the hidden one,
and the new one.

Injected into pumped-out glass tubes
it glows orange-red, and very brightly,
when a current’s passed. Did anyone count
the numbers of new cars sold
thanks to words made of light?

If nobility comes from disdaining attachments,
then call it noble, but it’s a sterile aristocracy
with no family, no descendants,
all shells filled, and no spare hands
to hold.

Copyright © Colin Will

Father of Sky

Son-husband of Gaia,
father of the Titans,
this mythic metal
flaunts his instability
with a half-life as long
as the age of the Sun.

Seven kilos to destroy a city,
shaped charges at the heart
of Little Boy blew the blocks together,
ignited the fireball that melted
the people of Hiroshima –
some Sky; some Father.

Forty years later we sat
in our Comrie caravan
watching Band Aid
under the heavy rain
we didn’t know was dripping debris
from Chernobyl, poisoning
the lichens with strontium 90.

What was left – melted core –
still slowly creeps down through the crust
under its leaky sarcophagus,
a lithospheric time-bomb.

How beautiful, the colours
of uranium glass, ceramic glazes,
but no-one drinks now
from these ticking chalices.
Atomic clocks fission time
into heartbeats of slow neutrons.

Copyright © Colin Will
From The propriety of weeding, Red Squirrel Press, 2012







About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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