Chance Process and Falling Angel, Rising Ape

Elizabeth Barrette



Chance Process


A sample of 1

Is not sufficient

To extrapolate



We say that “water is life”

But it could as easily be ammonia.


We breathe oxygen,

But to the anaerobic bacteria – relics

Of an ancient Earth – it is poison.


Our bodies are based on carbon,

But silicon could serve

The same purpose, even to

Computing consciousness.


The universe would have to work hard

To make something stranger than

A duck-billed platypus,

That egg-laying mammal;

A tube-worm beside a black smoker,

Growing with neither mouth nor anus;

A Venus’ flytrap, the most famous

Ant-eating plant on Earth

But there are stars beyond counting

And in an infinite set, even the unlikely

Becomes inevitable.


How strange could life get while

Still remaining life?  We can guess

But we won’t really know

Until we go see for ourselves,

Until we dare to

Talk to strangers.



Falling Angel, Rising Ape


Time unravels, as if from a spool of tape,

Teasing humanity with its potent prize

Where the falling angel meets the rising ape.


Silver stars button down; deep space furls its cape.

Engines shake the clouds with their cherubic cries.

Time unravels.  As if from a spool of tape,


Images spill into an unstable shape.

Weeping in awe and fear, we cover our eyes

Where the falling angel meets the rising ape.


The rocket surges upward, seeking escape

Velocity.  Can sheerest triumph capsize

Time?  Unraveling, as if from spools of tape,


They open, mighty pinions of steel and crepe.

The ship ascends – seraph in machined disguise –

Where the falling angel meets the rising ape.


Once, even the scientists would laugh and jape

At dreams of reaching C, but today, surprise!

Time unravels, as if from a spool of tape,

Where the falling angel meets the rising ape.


Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality.  Recent poetry publications include "A Chrome Attic" in Not One of Us, "Pearls Before Swine" in Star*Line, and "Noplace Like Home" in Strange Horizons. Her poem "Beach Climbing" was nominated for the Rhysling Award in 2007.  She serves as Managing Editor of PanGaia  magazine (; and as Dean of Studies for the Grey School of Wizardry (, where she teaches a four-part course in poetry.  Her book _Composing Magic_ is due out in July.  She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee- jumping and spelunking in other people’s reality tunnels. Visit her blog at:


Photo "Feed Us" by Bella Dante.



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Poems Copyright © 2007 Elizabeth Barrette. All rights reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2007 Bella Dante. All rights reserved.