Studies in Aluminum V

Happy New Year’s Eve!

This is part of a series I’m working on that looks at the history of aluminum, from its discovery as a metal to its mass production. The poems are connected loosely by their shared themes, but don’t have to be read in any order.

The “You” in this poem is Napoleon III (1808-73), a very interesting, tragic figure in history, who gave Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville unlimited resources to experiment with aluminum manufacturing. Napoleon was hoping to get aluminum armor for his military, but it was not meant to be.

 

THE PRICE OF ALUMINUM

Silver from Clay

 

In 1855 a kilogram cost two thousand francs,

or the average household salary for that year,

or roughly twelve ingots arranged pyramidal

and garnering rude skepticism from social elites

in the cast iron nave of a Gothic whale’s gut.

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Studies in Aluminum IV

This is part of a series I’m working on that looks at the history of aluminum, from its discovery as a metal to its mass production. The poems are connected loosely by their shared themes, but don’t have to be read in any order.

This poem is in imitation of the Shijing, or Classics of Poetry, a collection of Chinese poetry from the 11th to the 7th centuries BC. It’s divided up into sections based on elements of Confucianism. It’s subject is a large aluminum company in China, Shandong Weiqiao Aluminum & Power.

 

Aluminum and Power

 

(Tiān)

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

holds up the heavens with columns of concrete.

White clouds unspool from its slender chimneys

like silk upon the spinning wheel of Earth.

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

holds up the heavens with columns of concrete.

There are no frogs to be found hopping

in the muddy lake of red tailing.

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

is south of Huang He. From the yellow earth

springs green wheat and maize, blue sorghum

and pearl millet, and gray aluminum.

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Studies in Aluminum III

This is part of a series I’m working on that looks at the history of aluminum, from its discovery as a metal to its mass production. The poems are connected loosely by their shared themes, but they don’t have to be read in any order.

This poem deals with Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914), the inventor of the Hall–Héroult Process, which was the first commercially viable process of getting pure aluminum. Hall used electrolysis to reduce alumina salts into aluminum. The process is still used today for mass production of aluminum. I use the –ium spelling in the poem, as that’s how it appears in Hall’s patents. As always, thanks for reading!

 

U.S. patent #400,664

 

Father used to accompany Mother

after choir practice as she returned

to Ladies’ Hall most afternoons

and they walked slower than grass grows

because he couldn’t come in with her

They called it the “Oberlin Step”

all the couples did it when

the campus became coed

Mother said their time in Jamaica

during Father’s Mission

he would bring her fresh fruit

every morning before she woke

for ten years, he would walk

to the nearest vendor, even climb

the tamarind trees himself, or bring

a half dozen june plums

in the hammock of his shirt tails

Perhaps Josephine and I

we could be in love like them

and live in a red-brick house

with a nice Italian porch

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Studies in Aluminum II

This is the second poem in a series I’m working on. You can read the first one here. This one is about the relationship of Humphry Davy and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The title is taken from one of Davy’s Bakerian Lectures. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment.

 

On Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge is come to London

to give some lectures on Shakespeare, of which one

concerning Hamlet, in two years’ time, will save the play

from the likes of Dr. Johnson and August Schlegel.

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Studies in Aluminum

This poem is part of a series that I’m working on right now, tentatively called The Price of Aluminum. It’s based on some recent events that you can read about here, if you’re interested. Thanks for reading!

 

The Bauxite Miner of Boké

 

If we are to be made to pay with our lives

shall we not give you all of that?

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