University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Patricia Corcoran


patricia corcoran readingAddress to a Strawberry in the Genetics Lab

Your sweet smell welcomes the students as they enter the room.

“Who smells so good?”

You will not
be munched on.

You will not
take a ride down the digestive track.


We are going to relieve you of your DNA.

First we will
crush your cell walls.

Then we will
dissolve your cell membranes.

Finally, we will
spool your slimy transparent threads.

Your chromosomes,
Your history,
Our history,

You will be stripped of your instructions!


Music of the North Country

The Loon
A seasonal visitor
Pierces the silence of the lake with his tremolo and wolf-like howl
His song the signature of the North Country.

The Barred Owl
Leaves behind pellets of puke and skeletons of prey
And sings out
“Who cooks, who cooks, who cooks for you?”

The White Throat
“Old Peabody, Peabody, Peabody”
Or if you call the Maple leaf your flag
“My sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”

Aliens Arise From Earthly Lab?

Will we
Construct life from a thimbleful of liquid?

Will we find it on the red sand dunes of Mars?

Will we find it with a radio signal from an obscure star?

Modern genetics create the animate from the inanimate?

It evolve?

It adapt?

Is our definition of life?

Can we
Construct an immortal molecule
That can copy itself with a four-letter code?

Will we step outside the carbon box?

This is a found poem based on an article “Will aliens rise from Earthly Labs?”
StarTribune July 28, 2011:

Whispering Into the Air

Walking along the rocky shoreline of the Olympic Peninsula,
Found a rock,
With a
“Do not forget ribbon”
Streaked in the center by natural forces.

You wear one on your jacket to remember Bill.
Pick it up and fly it home to Minnesota
Mean to give it to you at the geology meetings

Months go by and I forget.
This morning we walk,
I remember the “Do not forget ribbon” rock.