More Poetry: “Arecibo”



When this radio telescope was built at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, it was the largest and most sensitive of its kind. It still is. Operated by Cornell University, it was built to scan the heavens degree by degree for any radio signal with a pattern too deliberate to be random noise, and to transmit its own message in reply. One such pattern was thought to be prime numbers, the same in any language. Visit this public site: for more information.

(Note 12/22/10: Link may no longer be working.)

This poem is about a morning when it begins to happen.



Mankind’s ear (x10³º), cocked to the universe,

Listening, hoping, with awesome mechanical patience.

Man’s voice (x10²º): coded light shoots silent and straight

From its throbbing dynamic throat.

A conversation in silence, begun and begun again.


A 3-cornered hat for waving

At anyone who might be watching

Our parade.


Someone drops a pebble down a bottomless shaft

And strains to hear a splash, a clink,

Any sign of contact—-any at all.

He listens for a very long time.


One imagines

A great arachnoid robot spinning this strange web

For capturing an exotic meal

Of extraterrestrial fireflies.

Having spun, she waits,

One exquisitely sensitive phalange poised at the rim

Awaiting the tremor that betrays

An ensnared feast.


And one day as we nod over coffee, or dream

Of sailing on a summer morning,

The quiet revolution begins;

“1 …2…3…5…7…11…”

Faintly, insistently,

Yet boldly underlined,

Comes the autograph

Of a distant mind:



Author: b4i4get

I am a 68-yo retired Physical Therapist Asst. living in Texas. Currently I have ~5 dozen webpages, including 3 homepages, an e-novel, and 1 blog. I love cats, writing, and thinking about the big questions. I am also a singer-songwriter, though no one has heard of me--yet.

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