Star Birthing

(Painting detail with a cosmic flair)

Star Birth of the Word ULASSA

Just now, May 23, 2013, I have in my conceit
created a brand new word, Ulassa,
at 8:05 AM: as I write,
Ulassa is an infant star that burns white hot hydrogen and
Joins—who knows—988,000 English words or more,

As a new birthed star joins our known universe of—who knows—
22 septillion other stars,
give or take a few quadrillion,

150 billion galaxies
150 billion stars
Do the math humbly,

The Oxford English Dictionary will say it means
“the short sense of escape we can experience,
when something really bad has happened”,

Like, a childsister has gone missing or
we hear we may lose a foot from frostbite,
so in those short escapes from ongoing pain,

We get will get ulassa,
From meditation or the bottom of
a rum cola—

Or the red coals
of a summer campfire,
the molecules of carbon
drinking oxygen,

Ulassa in the dictionaries,
will have no real etymology
for a while,

Having first breathed air only
on the morning of
May 23, 2013,

Ulassa will enter poems
and maybe yoga classes,
will become a cocktail and

An expensive perfume, eventually
A breed of cat, or surely the
Name of a racehorse
Even a minor crater on
The surface of the moon,

Ulassa will live for four hundred years
73 languages, give or take,
will borrow and ingest it,

Before it burns out like a star or “odd bodkin”
from Shakespeare, just remember,
It started Here, on this day

You will see.

–Frederick Shiels

Rick Shiels is a relatively new friend. After a life of extensive book learning, professoring and expertizing about the American Presidency, Japan, nuclear weapons control, the Baltic States and Latvia, he has now turned his sights on poetry making. When he sent me this poem this week I sat up in my seat. What a gamely blend of the cosmic and the comic! I had to share it here (with Rick’s permission of course.)

For more about Rick’s many interests, visit his (relatively) new blog, Progressive Future USA.

3 Comment

  1. mrobertstcnj says:

    What a wonderful poem. Its comic and enlightening surrealist juxtapositions remind me of one of my favorite poets, James Tate.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      When professors of poetry respond so warmly a certain person should pay attention and be honored (hint hint Rick!)

      Thanks so much Michael. Now that you know how to comment I hope you will again!

  2. fshiels says:

    I am indeed profoundly honored and wasn’t sure of the blog protocol for tracking comments. Mea culpa! Many thanks Michael (and Deborah) and I hope you might be willing to be in touch a bit by email! Rick

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