Poems by Lisa Rosenberg and Mini-Review of
 A Different Physics


This day. This hour.
Feast of paradox,

of plentitude
in the face of how
we are taught.

Scarcity, its army
of thoughts

feeding at the seed ball
now and off again

like the junco
or the house finch
red crest and all.


First appeared in Revolutionary Wellness Magazine, Winter 2016/17.




Perfect as Nike.

Head bent, feathers

The imprint
of upturned wings
a likeness

to wonder at–––
your last

flight, dear prototype.


First appeared in Poetry, May 1998.




I am looking for a word, and there she is
in her capped sleeves and ribbon choker,
hair back in a bun. She holds a wrapped sprig
of something bright, all in the sharp oval
on the margin of a page: her surname fixed
in the span from dichotomy to didn’t,
four entries past a novelist whose works
were not tied in bundles in the family home,
but set to print within his lifetime—and hers.
Maker of gardens, music, bread, and poems;
witness to sorrows in a phrase of light
we can listen for again. And I almost
didn’t. I heard the failings of her time
from inside the dichotomies of mine.



Space 2

There is nowhere to go because we are
already here, our sphere among others,
our egg-shaped path around the sun, in space
we name the sky. It’s all sky above our feet,
between us; carrying the weight of myth
and breath, the towhee’s metal call at dawn,
my child’s call through the fragile din that is
the world knowing itself, and not knowing.

The moon lived as a flat, if lovely, disk,
until the afternoon that I watched pass
across the sun a black yolk. A body.
Then, all the sky bodies I could not see
changed at once, together, freed of my mind’s eye,
into the shapes that they had always known.


All poems are from A Different Physics (Red Mountain Press 2018) by Lisa Rosenberg and reprinted here with permission of the author. A Different Physics is available for order here.

Listen to the author reading her poems here.

You will find articles about and reviews of Rosenberg’s work here, here, and here.

Other examples of Rosenberg’s work appear here (“Left Coast Triptych” in The American Journal of Poetry), here(excerpts of “from Flight” in Witness), and here (“Introduction to Methods of Mathematical Physics” in Poetry).


Poet, consultant, and recovering engineer Lisa Rosenberg holds degrees in physics and creative writing and served as the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California. Her debut collection, A Different Physics, was selected by Irena Praitis for the 2017 Red Mountain Poetry Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Rosenberg has worked as a research engineer in the space program, founded a marketing consulting practice, and flown as a private pilot. She speaks, consults, and instructs, bringing polymathic tools and perspectives to endeavors in industry, arts, community work, and education, and was recently selected for the 2020 Djerassi Resident Artists Program for scientist-artists. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Poetry, Witness, Ruminate, Southwest Review, The Poetry Anthology: 1912-2002, and elsewhere. A craft essay about the unfolding of her writing within the literal and figurative confines of the military-industrial complex is forthcoming in an anthology, Waves: A Confluence of Women’s Voices, featuring Maxine Hong Kingston and others, described here. Rosenberg’s poems explore natural and cultural landscapes, the art of making, and the interwoven terrain of the human and the technological. She has a keen interest in commonality between arts and sciences and in accessibly framing this territory for public talks and readings in nontraditional venues, most recently planetariums and science centers.  For more information, visit Rosenberg’s website here.




Poet’s Note

These four poems share very similar paths of creation. An unexpected sighting—backyard bird, beloved fossil, lost poet, solar eclipse—set in motion a questioning of inherited models: cultural, cognitive, and physical. By working in a mode of exploration through musical language, each poem came to its small piece of discovery—some quickly, others over months or years—and I found something more intriguing, upsetting, or nuanced than I had expected when starting out.

Here’s an account of one of them. In “Space 2,” a visceral transformation redirected the course, tone, and possibilities of a poem that had become explication. It had gone through many, many drafts, was set aside once again, and awaited insight and rhythmic shift. Then came the annular eclipse of 2012, the first time I would witness a solar event with actual viewing glasses and from a rooftop perch, both gifts from a neighbor. When the circle of moon abruptly popped into a sphere, it brought me, a small human, into a three-dimensional experience of the moon, the earth, and myself standing on a round ball of a planet, protruding into the sky. (For those old enough to remember, it was like being inside a GAF View-Master scene.) I came back to the poem. It changed shape and direction. As I followed sensory images and musical language, it accommodated curiosity about abstractions. It also navigated a jump, and perhaps for the first time, I let it do so without narration.

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