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.

Continue reading “Studies in Aluminum IV”

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.

Continue reading “Studies in Aluminum III”

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.

 

Tonight he calls upon an old friend from Bristol,

Humphry Davy, now a Fellow of the Royal Society

and regular celebrity of Albemarle Street,

yet he still resembles that rose-cheeked, dark-eyed youth

 

who used to pass the green bag of nitrous oxide

to Coleridge, pinching the mouth of the bag

between his fingers and trying not to laugh

at something that was funny only to himself.

Continue reading “Studies in Aluminum II”

The Bauxite Miner of Boké

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?

Not only the toil of our bodies,

but the fever of hopeless toil;

not only this land of ours,

made red as freshly raw blisters,

but the fire ants and smoke of burning tires.

You must take the wound and its festering,

Continue reading “The Bauxite Miner of Boké”