Biosphere 2: One Poem by Christopher Cokinos

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White Paper : Echo & Slope

at the Landscape Evolution Observatory, Biosphere 2

We might say that articulate drainage is the key.

This requires scoria—
basaltic tephra ground, homogeneous
loamy sand.
Three black slopes.
Sunlit cables silvered foil
greens of nascent
biomes. Pugnacious bulbs,
we’ll drop you in
like flowers on Mars.
Sensors, 2873, cups
of mimic slants
cruxed beneath glass
and pyloned by degrees,
they’ll find you, parables
flexed from data.

It’s morning. Climb this ladder.
Crane your neck.

Get schooled
with the burly lysimeter’s lessons :
how water
bedraggles and where
in air and what’s lost.

A technician
or a poet whistles
tomorrow, its 3
syllables like past
like now
like tomorrow.

Because while things make do—
            there is coyote scat

by this nexus—we do
            things to make things
            right as rain.

All this time, we’ve been glubbing
            dinosaur blood,
            comet water, noctilucent clouds,
            the entire Western Interior Seaway

suggestive vapors to calibrate
            now and again, to ship from knowing
            magnificent struts, elegant pour from
            all stomata, fetched
            and fashioned inside our beauty factory.




Christopher Cokinos is the author of the lyric essay collection Bodies, of the Holocene, and a poetry chapbook Held as Earth, in addition to the research-based narrative nonfiction books Hope Is the Thing with Feathers and The Fallen Sky. With Eric Magrane, he is a co-editor of the forthcoming A Literary Field Guide to the Sonoran Desert. He directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona, where is he also a 2014-2015 Udall Center Environmental Policy Fellow. Earlier this year, he was a crew journalist at the Mars Desert Research Station. He has work recent or forthcoming in Orion, the Los Angeles Times, Extrapolation, Western Humanities Review, and december.

Read “Stone That Leaps: A Utah Sequence” and “Night at the World’s Largest Atomic Cannon” by Christopher Cokinos appearing in

Photo of the Landscape Evolution Observatory hillslope at Biosphere 2 by Christopher Cokinos. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.