Fungal Architecture

This poem was written for the Hot Poets participation project, linking poets & scientists together to imagine a better possible future. During a six-week programme a group of poets were tasked to research the spark of an idea with a positive environmental impact, then connect with a scientist working in that area to find out more. While researching mycelium and mycorrhizal fungi I came across Andy Adamatzky, Professor of Unconventional Computing at UWE, in my hometown of Bristol. I knew my poem had to be about his fascinating and mind-blowing work with fungal computers and the Fungal Architectures research project.

Fungal Architecture

I’m dreaming of sipping tea
in 2053
dirt under my fingernails
from digging in the musty shroomy earth
nutritious leafy loam.

Rain pitters on the window
and my sensory home knows
warms up just a little
dims the light down as I doze.

This building has mycelium ceilings –
tiny interwoven filaments
fungal threads that twine in tree roots
and through my mushroom walls.

Mycelium is free and shoots up fast
this house was bloomed in just two weeks
grown in a single monolithic piece
from fungi bound on frames of wasted cellulose –
discarded food, biomass
banana skins, coffee grounds, orange peel
and other stuff too tough to eat.

My clean home breathes, body warm
and nestles in within the trees –
smells of creamy stroganoff
I breathe it in deliciously.
Nearly sentient, this wall can feel my touch
when I lean my palm upon its velvet skin.
On the edge of thinking
my unconventional shroom computer
not quite conscious, makes smart decisions
senses when my hormones are out of whack or I am full of stress
filters air, nourishes, adjusts my meds.

We can quickly grow more homes
sustainable, living suedey rooms that gently biodegrade –
no chems, no trails – just slip away
decompose beneath our feet
when the need has gone.

Outside, wild boars forage at the tree roots
for truffles which are
talking to their mycorrhizal cousins.
My home is grown on mounds of
yesterday’s land, filling our futures
with soft-edged places
symbiotic relationships
within these mycelium walls.

Poem for Jen Bell

In one of our regular FB Assembly morning gatherings  – a wish swap hosted by my friend Jen Bell – her wish was for someone to write her a poem. I asked if it should have a particular theme and she said:

“Can it be somehow about the importance of caring about yourself, even when it’s hard, or you don’t feel you know how? Or even if it has to be a kind of secret?”

With massive thanks to Holly Stoppit for teaching me the hand-on-heart technique and showing me where my vulnerability lives.

Poem for Jen Bell

The kitten of self care
is all black fluff
and light as a feather
it can sit in the palm of your hand

you can schmuzzle your face
and breathe it in
sea side and citrus
cut grass and raspberries

it hides in shadows
and when it feels the need
it will hunkerdown
wiggle its back end
and surprise you with a pounce
of soothing songs
pink pad massages
whisker tickles for butterfly kisses

when you are resting
it will curl into your collarbone
and purr with your breathing
breathe into you comfort
til you feel its tiny heart slowing
secret existence
special only for you

sometimes like magic
you will ride on its back
you tiny, it giant
galloping to vistas and forests
volcanoes and caves
and shimmering soft beaches

self care is not just roses and wooing
begging forgiveness for years of neglect
Grand Canyon-sized romance
Here is a secret – with thanks to the wise fool who told me

this kitten of black fluff
lives in a nest
of feathers and dewdrops
safe in your chest

lay your hand on your heart
– lets do it now –
rest it there lightly
close your eyes for a moment
pause there with stillness

think kindly of this silly wee cat
as it wobbles about
wide eyed at the world
yet curled up in a ball
in a nest of your ribs
doing it’s best but a little confused

this is Schrödinger’s kitten
both inside your heart
and here in your hand

say in your mind, if you like
hello kitten
send it an awww
love it for it’s foolishness
doing what it can
in an incomprehensible world

and then if you’re brave
make a tiny shy stroke
with the velvet paw of your thumb

tilt your head to one side
soft focus your eyes
maybe you’ll chuckle, maybe you’ll cry
maybe after a while
you’ll use your whole hand
to stroke your tender fragile feline heart

you can take this action while resting
and in public places
only the others
with heart shaped kittens will notice
your actions and nod in recognition
and if you have a sudden jolt of tension
of fear or of grief
it’s OK kitten
I am here, we are here
together, inside and out

the rain may racket on the window
thunder may rumble
but we are safe for now

And when you drop your hand
that touch lingers on
paw print imprint
pouncing gently when you need it
light as a feather

black fluff kitten
surreptitious thumb stroke
self gift of radical cat care