[i]”…but man he made to serve him, wittily, in the tangle of His mind.”

Robert Bolt, A Man for all Seasons [/i]

There is scientific evidence that objects on the mesoscopic scale (meaning sizes ranging from a few nanometers to a tenth of a micron) tend to be self-organizing when arranged in groups of two to three orders of magnitude. Inanimate particles begin to organize themselves into patterns that seem to respond to their surroundings in ways similar to life forms.

The driving force behind this tendency toward self-organization appears to be a combination of phenomena that scientists term “frustration” and “funneling.”

Frustration arises when systems contain components that compete against each other in two or more different ways, often with simultaneous attraction and repulsion. Such competition can force aggregates of matter into patterns that develop in unstable ways, and which, under the right conditions, suddenly materialize into a stable, low-energy state with new properties. The random competing processes of the frustration principle forces the system into the lowest energy state, much like a funnel directs water downward through its spout, which accounts for the term “funneling.”

An example of self-organizing, multiple-competing systems is a phospholipid cluster, which, in water solution, arranges itself into two layers, with the water soluble tails directed outward and the fat soluble heads directed inward. We call these clusters detergents.

Another example is an experiment for the reader to try. Dump a bunch of #7-1/2 or #8 steel bird shot in a single layer in a petri dish and place the dish on a rotating magnetic stirrer. Record what happens, then report the results on this forum.

You may be asking yourself what in the world does all this have to do with a literary web site.

It turns out that it may be possible to design an entirely artificial system that exhibits the adaptive behavior of living things. In fact, we may have already done so! The organizing principles that give matter emergent properties may not be limited to physical matter. They may apply to any complex and random system that emulates the mesoscopic environment.

The most enormously complex, most random, richest – and fastest growing – environment ever devised by man is right in front of us – the Web.

We can only conclude what we already know: Burning Word is coming alive!

Carol Desjarlais

[b]A Soft Whisper[/b]

Leaves listless in the grayed snow

Gravel peeking from snow clouds

Brown brittle stalks steel themselves

against the October onslaught.

Something green and growing

Huddles beneath the shifting snow

Curling into itself braced

Bent and bowed but resilient.

Cold winds worry the withered ones

Who fold fallen to shelter the unseen green

Curve in against it

Like a mother protecting a child.

Layer upon layer it lusts

For fine and fragile things

Tucked against the terror

The trauma and the tremble.

Winter winnows out

The weak and wraithlike

Misses the potent possibilities

Of rage balled like a fist.

It survives the shattering

In spite of the night

That caves in on the white

Thinking it has won.

On a still and silent night

A soft whisper can be heard,

“I shall rise and roust

come Spring and soft sun.

“I shall unfurl,

new and necessary

green and growing

no matter the season’s sins.”

[b]Towers have a history[/b]

Towers have a history

Of falling down

Their ragged rumble

Epitomizes my vulnerability.

Slumped and draped

Spiked into a macabre pose

Lines across the moonlit night

Dog’s feed upon the bare bones

Of our peaceful fantasy.

The steely breath

Breathed through the streets

found it’s way here

smothered my calm interlude

froze me to the bones.

The big lie exploded

Shattered limbs and values

A twin set of carcasses

Gave truth to my mother’s fears.

A notion in a moment

That we are nothing

But shifting sands of history

No monuments can replace.

Towers have a history

Of falling down

Their ragged rumble

Epitomizes my vulnerability.

[b]The Teacher[/b]

“My girl,” she rumbled

Pushed the hide scraper

Against the meat,

Cut me to the bone.

“Get rid of extra stuff,”

she flicked at sand flies

pelting like moths to a flame.

“Holah, the army gathers,”

like men at the bar

after last call and you

send off your scent.”

“My girl,” she said, sideways,

set aside her filleting knife

after carving out the choice pieces.

“These you keep,” she smiled

patted the thin pink meat.


the guts and gore away.”

The bucket slapped

When receiving the bounty.

“My girl,” she said, huffing,

“At the top of this hill

berries bunch in clusters,

hidden from the hunt

and hunters.” I stalked

her shadow as we climbed.

“Aiyee,” she exclaimed,

eying the bannock on the griddle.

“This is women’s work,

worrying this place for stuff.”

“They hang together, them.

No need for hanging there

Alone and aggrieved.

Go find someone to teach.”

by Carol Desjarlais
([email]ibntv [at] telusplanet [dot] ca[/email])

Kelley White (1)


I am pleased to have Arthur sit

on my lawn for the Old Home Day parade.

He and Millie were good friends to my parents.

I know he and Peter feel quite alone

now that she is gone.

I know it has been a difficult year for Peter,

what with the surgery on his hips and the brief

failed marriage, but they have the church people

to help and they know everyone.

Arthur is one of the last people to have cows in town.

I love to see the tin roof on his barn reflect

the sunset off the mountain.

Jenny did a good job too.

She got two pictures of Peter driving the tractor.

One close up where he looks strong and wiry,

not at all sickly or limited, and one where

he waves, and his hand is the hand of a leader,

announcing the ripe corn and haystacks

on the flatbed truck float.

The tractor itself looks magnificent. Funny

I didn’t notice it in the parade. The flag waving

in front of the high grill, the majestic wheels.

It’s been months now since August.

I could just mail the pictures up,

but I think I’ll wait and take them by at Christmas,

bring my mother and the children.

It’s right on the way to the good Christmas tree fields.

I’d be nice to see the animals in the snow.

[b]Fish Perfume[/b]

trout new out of the water smell

power and cold and heavy moss dark

I have put two drops from the bottle

behind my ears, white shoulders, quiet

true my hands trailing the nets gravid

with dying and dulling eye stare

I want this boy to remember me in

dusklight when we row our fathers’

boat home pale before the rising moon

[b]The Sweetest Water in the World[/b]

came from a pump to a wooden trough

and a simple dipper just below the fire

tower on Belknap Mountain. It was a hike

the kids could make with dads after dinner

on a summer’s evening, a rush up the red

trail and those who needed, or cared, to go

slow could take the kinder gentler meandering

green. Everyone ran down the red. By spring

it was a rock river fed by that same sweet

well, that same snow deep locked in rock

and root and thick rich moss kept safe to cool

our child hot necks and cheeks before

the last climb, the knock on the floor

of the watcher’s keep–glass lifted still higher

than the mountain rock’s wind cleared view.

by Kelley White
([email]kelleywhitemd [at] yahoo [dot] com[/email])

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