Many of the poems in The Butterfly Girl deal with the creation of myth, updated to reflect the view of the world presented by modern science.
In the fall of 2000, I taught an Introductory Astronomy course, Physics 176, at the College of William and Mary, a self-styled "user's guide to the universe". I used a multimedia approach and collected numerous images from various web sources, many of course coming from NASA pictures taken from space. To help introduce new topics, I decided to make up splash screens to encourage students to think of astronomy in its larger social and metaphysical contexts. Some were based on poems that I had written for other purposes, but I thought might be of interest in introducing such concepts as motion, action-reaction, the role of the scientist, the importance of critical observation, and the possible future destiny of mankind.
Here is a sampler of the best of these.
Center of Balance
Center of balance \is extracted from a longer introspective fragment in Flashback called My Mother Named Me John. I used this image to introduce a section on Newton's Laws of Motion. These laws assert that force arise out of the mutual interaction of physical objects, and indirectly imply that all motion is relative. The Whirlpool galaxy is shown in the background, one of many Hubble Space Telescope images I downloaded from the NASA site and used in my lectures.
The Dragon is the second poem I ever wrote (other than high school assignments), when I began writing poetry in the summer of 1998. I had my children in mind as I wrote it, but latter merged it with this Hubble shot of the Horsehead Nebula. To me, it looks more like a dragon than a horse head, but what do I know. I use this image in my first astronomy lecture to motivate a sense of awe at the cosmos.
Galileo, Galilei is a word portrait of the great scientist late in life. Here, I have mirrored a web image that I downloaded, to indicate his divided state mind as he faces the inquisition.
Just ten thousand miles away
In Just ten thousand miles away, Ovie and I hear of man's first landing on the moon, while sitting on a tank at the jungle's edge. The dichotomy* of the two great endeavors of science, war and human progress, could not be more clearly framed. This NASA photo of the earth-moon system was taken by astronauts.
*1) a separation into two divisions that differ widely from, or contradict each other. 2) the phase of the Moon or a planet when half of its surface appears illuminated by the Sun, (from the Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)
On watch, I got to see a lot of the tropical sun and its effect on the sky. I make use of that in the following collage, which shows two views of the sky, one from earth, the other from orbit.