other reasons


If none of (a) to (f) apply, please explain your reasons in writing in the space labelled “Other.” Inmates are not permitted additional pages. 

[A selection of “Other” responses follows. Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity. Comments scratched into the wall and/or with rows of indecipherable symbols were excluded.]

“Anonímia de Tal”

I measured my expectancies—
mantras, books, and pills in quantized repetition,
overtime and undertime spent flickering from pillow to post,
leaping with the pendulous clock,
though in a temporary lapse,
I once considered skin mites, so fearsome microscopically,
and the sparrows pecking hair lying fallen at my feet.

If their nests were wide enough, I might recline in one,
although they’ve shown no gratitude for my attention.

“Barra Mundi”

Once a fisher of the real, casting nets in corridors,
seeking manufactured secrets, symmetry in revelation.
But now my remnant clothing’s dry-clean only,
the facts I used to wear have frayed and tattered in the wash
and I cannot bend my thinking to my own,
it’s flown to the inflamed horizon.

First a step and then another, through the gallery of organic mirrors.
In a fatuous moment, I’ll reflect a stranger’s shadow,
but I won’t speak of cyanoacrylate adhesive:
the insufficient bonding of my mind.

“Cifra Circadiana”

If I could skip through time long past,
a pebble poorly aimed at childhood swans,
I’d wind the dial backwards to when the world was still entire,
not left without a mystic skerrick by the pixel pixies,
to when foretellings skimmed the combinatrix of infinity,
and I would revel in the beauty of the mythical tomato.

The moon’s prismatic glow would yield Fraunhofer’s secrets,
and I’d imbibe each sunshot dawn with reverential visions:
glorious adornments of the wondrous fruit.

I’d shoot the breeze with stalwart market vendors,
pass comment on the epicyclic motions of the planets,
but without the merest mention of the sun’s obsequious orbit
around galactic central: the sombre well of gravity
whence only Hawking’s luminous vibrations might escape.

Such futuristic truths are best left in abeyance,
or else a holier-than-thou inquisitorial vacation
might be in the offing.


  • According to Vegetable Facts, in Italy, tomatoes were used solely for decorative purposes until the 18th Century.
  • prisms and Fraunhofer lines
  • A galactic year is 225 million earth years or so, but no need to wait for the end-of-year celebrations. One centi-arcsecond of rotation is called a Galactic Tick, a GT happens every 633.7 days, and the next GT Day is March 21, 2020. I’ll be lighting candles on a cake. Hope the Milky Way makes a wish.
  • the galactic center and Hawking radiation emitted by black holes

cloud control (part above), from VEE, the visual evolution engine, with EMMA, an entropy min-max add-on.

31 thoughts on “other reasons

    • Thank you for finding the time to have a read, Frank. Believe me, I know how tough it is.

      A lot of physics somehow found its way into this piece. I’m not, let’s say, as mindful of readers with different backgrounds to me as perhaps I should be. Anyway, it comes from whatever I have for a heart. and I haven’t written too many equations yet. Mmm … 🤖

    • Thank you, Sobhana. Now that you say it, and I read it again, I think you’re right: mixed emotions. I tell myself that it is better to have ups and downs than to be a zombie.

      I was also very obscure even by my standards, and I’ve corrected that at least to some extent by adding a clarification at the start. I like the idea of different voices, more freedom of expression.

  1. I’d choose C. Was going for F but it wasn’t available. The swans in C beckoned me with their dancing—moonlight made it look more beautiful. Surreal imagery, as always, Steve.

    • Thank you, Annie, Good choice, I like your Swan Lake. When I re-read the piece, I realized that I’d gone beyond the bounds even of my complete lack of clarity, so I added a little more explanation at the top.

    • You’re welcome, Steve, and thanks for getting us thinking. All we had to do was use a little imagination, which I’m sure was one of your objectives when writing this piece. 🙂

    • I’m afraid I’m stuck on skin mites and tomatoes. Lol.
      I’m not sure if I need coffee or wine, but my tired mind is constantly amazed by your creativity.

    • Thank you, Vanessa. Both skin mites and tomatoes have fascinated me since childhood. Tomatoes because of my Simple Experiments in Biology book (I left them in the sun to grow mould), and microscopic creatures because of playing around with my microscope. I know I have said it before, but for me it doesn’t feel like creativity, just my life.

    • Wow. I have no idea what happened there…I have been having all kinds of strange problems with my phone and now it decided to put my comment randomly here. I am sorry about that. LOL.

    • I have strange problems with everything. My WordPress theme doesn’t display comments properly on phones. Changing it is on my to-do list just after mowing the lawn, i.e. a long way down.

  2. I understand very little of this, but it doesn’t detract from my appreciation. The art work is beautiful, its explanation too complicated for my miniscule brain! Keep going Steve you are a rare and mysterious artist, throughout history artists have been complex.

    • Glad you enjoyed, Margaret, and liked the artwork.

      It doesn’t have to do with you: it’s partly my own life experiences, various fields I’ve worked in for many years. I am possibly rare in some way, and I know I am not as clear as I should be, but with this piece, on reading again, I realized it was well beyond the bounds of sanity, even by my standards, so I added a clarification at the top.

  3. I can only see A to C… where are D to F? I must be missing something.
    Nobody could convince me to look at skin mites under a microscope. What’s seen cannot be unseen!
    The notion of organic mirrors sounds like the stuff of horror movies.
    I wonder if tomatoes were thrown at actors in Italy; that would qualify as a decorative purpose, wouldn’t it? 😉

    • You didn’t miss anything, Magarisa: you would need to read my mind, and trust me, you don’t want to do that. Prompted by your comment (thank you) I reread, thought the piece was too obscure even for me, and added a clarification at the top.

      The organic mirrors — that one is going to stay in the mystery department. 🙂 With throwing tomatoes, I’m not sure. I would say it’s decorative, but I expect they weren’t cheap back then. It kind of fascinates me, I might try setting up a pile of mixed small tomato varieties and take a few pictures.

  4. First a step and then another, through the gallery of organic mirrors.
    In a fatuous moment, I’ll reflect a stranger’s shadow,
    but I won’t speak of cyanoacrylate adhesive:
    the insufficient bonding of my mind.

    This is sticking with me… I think I might see me there somewhere… I am good at reflecting stranger’s shadows. Maybe someone will send me a cake with a file. this is wonderful Steve, as always.

  5. Especially love this: If I could skip through time long past, a pebble poorly aimed at childhood swans, I’d wind the dial backwards to when the world was still entire… If only we knew back then, but if we knew, that would spoil it all, wouldn’t it. We can only appreciate the innocence “the entirety” in hindsight. Lovely.

    • I think so, BG. I can look back at my innocence, lack of understanding of anything and anyone, especially myself, tragicomedy, the unexpected, all the mistakes that somehow turned out not to be – can’t change it, wouldn’t change it. Thank you.

  6. Wish I’d read this before writing my last poem. I admit, I’m a physics imposter although love all things physics-y! Wonderful words and image as always, Steve!

    • Physics is the one and only area where I am not an imposter, although that has its positives and negatives. Needing everything in equations is probably not a good feature. 🤓 You have the physics you need for your wonderful works.

      I came to the topic because I wondered what those early idealogues would have thought if they knew that, not only does the earth circle the sun, but the sun circles a supermassive black hole. Thank you, Clarissa.

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