Mer•cu•ri•al Tri•bo•lu•mi•nes•cence




Mercurial (Word of the Day, 15 July 18)


Mercury, a chemical found in crusts

of the Little Blue Dot,

a neurotoxin of the central

nervous system, kidneys, and brain,

as well as a precipitant

of birth defects; mercury, which

we encounter through

fossil fuels, fouled fish, and mining,

when despite our knowledge,

we continue pouring poison into the poor,

infertile earth, separating gold

alchemists once studied

for monatomic balance.


Mercury, messenger of gods,

one of the Dii Consentes, or archaic twelve,

dancing as he does in his goose-feathered sandals

across the encyclopedia pages, crinkled

and ink-stained from third graders

who sought his face before.


Mercury, smallest planet in our solar system,

belongs to the seven naked-eye objects in our stars

along with Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn,

so as we tilt our telescope to the heavens to seek

alien worlds with elemental stories, I dream

of the wee one’s red true and illusory blue.


Triboluminescence, mechanical lights

made from rubbing, shearing, or cleaving

crystalline structures; but what rubs me

is discovering collision isn’t required

at all; consider the glowing blue

of a life saver before its shot:



Perhaps vibrations—like a mercurial lover who

remains maniacally close, yet elusively distant,

enough to never touch—thus lifts the crystalline

lattices at play into triboluminescence, shining

lights we need, enveloping the world in preciously

bright energy without shattering its planetary shell.

To discover a new way

to power technological hell

would be the greatest story

messengers would ever tell.


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