Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

jrlewis's blog

jrlewis's picture

My Mother...

My mother was an island.  She would try to shield me from the worst of her depressions by wrapping me in a thick gray blanket.  We needed a doorbell as loud as a foghorn for me to hear mailman ringing. 

It was a sandy beginning to be sure.  But the trellis made up for it with regular supports and places to play.  There were windows within reach; there was space between the blinds to peak inside. 

I’m a thorny person.  My mother was never angry if I hurt her; she felt that our exchange was source of essential nutrients.  She fed me chocolate ice cream that was dirt dark and gritty. 

She woke me with warmth.  My mother’s salty breath was stronger than a cup of Starbucks coffee.  After a long morning of working, I could nestle into her softness for my late afternoon nap.

jrlewis's picture

Lighthouses and Laboratories


She ventures out

To Brant Point Lighthouse,

Dr. Grobstein brought her up to lighthouse keeping.

Here the storyteller’s problem is the sound;

There the sailor’s problem is the sea.

To see her, an officer ducks

Out on the deck.


Their alchemy

Is tertia non datur.

The third is not given for

Turning base metal into gold.

Her skin tans golden while waiting for him.

She is true, and he only likes true stories.

He learns that Wellington’s are good

For climbing rain slicked boulders,

Other details and facts. 


Every night

He litters his room’s

Floor with facts about her.

The facts are chirping like crickets,

He has an infestation keeping him awake.

Heading to the toilet, he stubs his toe on a fact

He needs a toad.  An anurian she would say,

A story to swallow legs and eyes

And all.

jrlewis's picture

Tell Me a Story...



Monday, I texted him, “tell me story…”

Thursday, my mate sat across from me starting with,

“I was walking to work when I was almost run over;

It was a man on a unicycle racing to make the ferry

I being crew, he inquired, ‘if his unicycle could

Be checked with the bicycles.’ ‘That’s correct,’

I told him. ‘But, could I ride his unicycle? I

Had ridden in my youth, and a pony too.’

He assented yet insisted on support,

Which was right because I failed

Only to look down and see

His hands holding me

Not the seat,”

He said.

jrlewis's picture

Ode to Driving North

My eyes read

Highway creed

I haven’t peed


From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

South and East Orange, New Jersey

   -The north and west sections were already consumed

Exit 155P, New Jersey

   -P is for pole?

The Pelhams, New York

   -No traffic curbing my speed at this hour: 2 am

The George Washington Bridge is a stilted pleasure compared to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

   -TPZ is traveling the length of an alligator from tail to teeth

   -Signage out of the swamp is treacherous

   -I don’t want to go to Albany!  That is the right route.

No Nyack, Nyack, So Nyack

   -Oh my god, that is SO Nyack!

   -What about We Nyack?

Sherwood is Connector, Connecticut

   -Sherwood forest connects to Nottingham

Honey Spot Motor Lodge, Connecticut

   -Who would ever stop there alone?

Housatonic River, Connecticut

   -Who’s satanic? Whose tonic?

Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers: Correctional Facility Area, Connecticut

   -Then why was there a service plaza ten miles back!

Waterford, Connecticut

   -Keeps my foot from bearing down on the accelerator, a harsh bit

   -A bit harsh

Rest Area, Rhode Island

   -Rhode Island is a rest area for my eyes, never an interesting read,

   -Always a nap

jrlewis's picture

Dream Boat: Nantucket

Second officer

And I share fresh strawberries

On the last ferry

jrlewis's picture

Marriage Is...

Marriage is fighting

About who murdered our old

Dryer in the rain

jrlewis's picture

Tell Me a Story...

Stories of evolution-

I confused the biological term chiasma,

Feminine noun in life science, for

The literary term chiasmus.

Masculine according to Latin grammar,

Crossing over to

Evolution of stories.

jrlewis's picture

Seeing a Man about a Horse

I love riding, tending, and talking to tiger lily

She is a tender lily and a tiger tender

I am riding and tending and being ridden I

I ride Lily and I tend to love Lily

My lily loves me and lily loves the tiger

My tending to the tiger is riding the tiger

She talks to Lily, the tiger talks and I

I love tending to Lily, to love the tiger

Loving my Lily, Tiger Lily, the Tiger loves me?

jrlewis's picture

April Fools

“We’re pleased to tell you that you have been accepted for coursework in Poetry,”


Wrote the fates. 

This is my thread to worship, workshop, and workship

Because writers are sailors too. 

Words are a way




A suffocating chick,

Weighing sixty cents in nickels,

Breaks shell into the yellow sea, Iowa

City is an island, grounding for the tree

Supporting the nest

Supporting me. 


And you professor,

Are you parent or predator?


Its stories all the way down. 

jrlewis's picture

I Love the Material Nature of Books

I love the material nature of books.

Books will make you stronger, if you let them, in brain and body.  Anyone who has walked four miles with the Norton Anthology of Poetry, a paperback novel, and a macbook in their bag can attest to this truth.

I have a history of violence with books, the first casualty was my high school guidance counselor who made the mistake of questioning my sexual orientation.  Instead of answering, I threw my chemistry textbook at her head.  I will also throw books at people bent on preventing me from reading.  It takes less time to cross a room and retrieve a book than it does to explain to a man, my preference for words over his package.  A woman with a book is not waiting for a man to rescue her from loneliness.  In my experience, a book is a better companion than most men.  Or women for that matter. 

I say books, not novels or poetry, because fiction or science it is always a story.  Bring me your organic textbook and I will read you a brilliant collection of short stories.  Every chemical reaction is a drama.  The reagents are characters and the products are their descendents.  Every scientist is telling their own story, whether or not they have the insight to admit it. 

Syndicate content