2021 Poetry Contest


Location: UCLA Meteorite Gallery
Time: 12AM

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 UCLA Meteorite Gallery Poetry Contest! We thank you for your participation and patience as we poured over the wonderful entries.

These are truly great pairings of STEM and art.

Winner: ”Return to Sender”

Steve Desch

We tend to say Earth’s building blocks
were plain chondritic asteroid rocks
and tell a story nice and neat:
accretion was a one-way street.
But might collisions also place
some Earthy rocks back into space?

Asteroid impacts lack finesse.
Colliding bodies make a mess.
How many garnets, jades and granites
once were blasted off of planets?
Could it be the Belt was pelted
with some rocks that once were melted?

The “A” type asteroids we have seen
are mostly made of olivine,
forged within the depths of Mars,
but then ejected to the stars
when a rock-Mars confrontation
formed the Borealis Basin.

Though it might seem somewhat strange,
the Belt and planets did exchange
more than a planetesimal's worth
of rocks formed at the very birth
of bodies just like Mars and Earth...
If proto-Earth's crust was destroyed,
why not terrestrial asteroids?!

Second Place: A Man Waits for a Meteorite

Kyle Webster

On an island in an uncharted sea
the grainy shores are slowly washed away
by waves of a forgotten world
which bring messages of ill-tiding.

There is no way to reach this land
except for falling from the heavens
no boat nor horse nor caravan
could journey to the sandy beaches.

Yet on this island there is a statue
of a long forgotten man
whose name escapes the grasps of time
like the fleeting whisper of the wind.

The marble base is sturdy and strong
his chiseled body stands in the breeze
there are no visitors he must endure
yet no movements he can make.

He does not fear the heat of fire
nor the swallowing call of the sea
he fears what comes from above
the crushing blow of rock on rock.

No one will hear from his mouth
the cry across the endless horizon.
Does he wait for another day?
Or for a death by a million meteorites?


Ralph Harvey

Way way far south where sheets of ice shrink mountains into molehills,
where the toughest folk that ever were will tremble at the windchills,
where sunshine never seems to warm 'cause Summer's just bright Winter,
where showing off your face is dumb 'cause then your nose will splinter,
where you and I, we normal folk, if housed in yellow teepees,
would hold it in so very long we'd prob'ly burst our peepees,
there was a man, a quiet man, by the name of Meteorite John,
who searched that ice for bits of sky that fell down there upon.
Two score and more the years went by, and as those decades finished,
the joys of smaller meteorites had started to diminish.
"They're too damned small" he said with angst, "to be of any use!
I'm tired of them things so small there's nothing there to lose!"
And soon the needs of scientists in John's mind paled and faded;
his outlook towards the specimens became completely jaded.
He motioned toward a chondrite, basket-sized and partly weathered ,
and said "this one will grace my home, and keep my dear dog tethered."
"And that one over there," he cried." is just the perfect size,
to hold down all my papers, as you probably surmised,"
"And this small one, fully rounded, will look dandy on my hat,
and that shiny carbonaceous is a nice toy for my cat,"
"That one down there beside the flag would make a dandy tie-pin,"
"and that howardite will be a plate where my bananas ripen,"
"And cufflinks, I need cufflinks!" he said holding up a pair,
"They are a little heavy but they add a certain flair,
And this one here, with lonsdaleite, I'll have set in my tooth,"
"And this larger one I'll send away to please my sister Ruth"
"And this tiny one, a little gem will dangle from my ear,"
"While this shiny one a ring will make to flash when nerds come near,"
"but what I need, I truly need," he said with arms spread wide,
"is one this size to lure myself a really willing bride!"
And so he set out searching, and although it seemed too heavy,
he found himself an iron bigger than the biggest Chevy,
He chipped away beneath it to make room for a fuel sledge,
and as that giant weight began to teeter on the edge,
his patience finally ended and he gave a little shove,
and down it came and buried John 'neath Heaven from above.

And the moral of the story for you, listener, so patient,
is to recognize the value of these rocks that are so ancient.
For many of the smallest are among the most profound,
and it's better to collect those than be crushed into the ground.

Honorable Mention: 'She checked that the CCAM line was not the TFL'

James Salmon

She was a meteoriticist; and that is more than any physicist.
Her work was never ever done; what was that inside 84001?
She knew that Widmanstätten is not just a nice pattern,
and tales of a fall were invariably tall.
Angular clasts were signs of a blast,
and shock stages were seen at all ages
But stones that are brecciated; they might not be related.
In the lab her skills analytic revealed textures poikilitic.
Finding the mesostasis was always the basis
and given a while, she found any volatile
Her hands never had a jitter, even cleaving Almahatta Sitta,
and that red dusting? Surely limonitic rusting
But a polymict lunar; was it a pesky Ivuna?
And that shiny Gibeon? Perhaps simply a wrong'un!
She knew that CAIs would never tell lies
and the SNCs were her ABCs
She could tell a tektite was not a eucrite
and chondrules in naklites
never do belong.

Her name should be in lights!
And give that girl a gong!
For she knew the meteorites
from all the meteorwrongs

Other Contributions

Jupiter’s Slave

Eva Palmeri

I am Jupiter’s slave
His gravity controls me
If I escape, I die
Or float away
I can be large or small
I can be a c, s, or m
I live between Jupiter and Mars
I am an asteroid

The Particularity of My Cosmic Life


Crickets and coyotes are the sounds of the cosmos in my life,
And every star ringing in my eye like a crystal bell
Snaps me to the galactic frame of reference
Though my grateful feet cling
To the comforting surface of the desert night.

And a burning meteor putting a welder's hole in the black velvet night
Melds my longing for the great voyages
To the sweet, sad flavor of my long ago
When the galaxy was open wide
And my rocketship was just over the next hill.


Dean Naston

The roar of the double-tailed dragon is heard
Above the cold, indifferent land
Changeling of the sky, the night
Disrupting star-crossed plans
Until a dawn that would be the last -
Two worlds, one path.


JL Silverman

I wasn’t born magnetic, but by the time I became a chip off the old, really, really old block of my parent’s stony iron, something changed. And I felt my magnetism as I soared unfettered, unimpeded. Who could stop me? Who’d dare cross my iron will, even if exhilarated by my unequivocal attraction?

Yet as I pull close to the blue orb before me, I’m ready to cause a sensation. Drifting for so long I no longer remember the place of my birth I draw towards that which is bigger than me. Towards that which grips my curiosity and draws me forward. Warm now and then too warm, I blaze. Stream fiery tails. Desire of hands outstretched in the direction of my glowing glory inspires me and I put on a show.

Ah, my light so bright and so brief for all the time I spent quietly in the dark.

Rip roar from the past to my time now under glass.

Named for mountains which cradled my landing.

Old Woman craggy though I may be, my appeal, my mystery, my riddles to solve,

I coyly smile that you reach for me still.

“Late Bloomer”

Steve Desch

Shuffling shyly along the perimeter,
slyly eyeing the dancers’ graceful turns,
but never venturing very close
to the cliques and couples in the central circle,
who paired up long ago...
until a gentle nudge from a jovial chaperone
sets her in motion,
and she spins onto the dance floor and,
as if by accident,
collides with her destiny;
and in that embrace,
at last,



“Getting a HED; or two; or three ”

Peter Utas

Getting ahead
A headache ahead I foresee;
a meteor’s heading for me.
My head I can duck,
head off the bad luck,
and hope for a large HED.

Two heads are better than one
Of Howardites I have just one
Of Eucritic stones, alas, none
I’m hoping to buy
A Diogenite -- why?
Well, two HEDs are better than one.

Cerberus headlines
When taking them out to a show --
achondrites I set in a row;
the eucrites between
the others…..I mean
to make HED-lines, wherever I go.




Samuel Courville; School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University

Of Magnets and Meteorites: What Magnetized Meteorites Tell Us About the Formation of Asteroids and the Solar System

Time: 2:30PM

Like the magnets on your refrigerator, some meteorites are magnetic. These meteorites are known to have been magnetized in strong magnetic fields before they crashed down onto Earth’s surface. It is important to understand how meteorites become magnetized and what magnetized meteorites tell us about the history of the solar system. Iron meteorites and chondrites that have been magnetized likely acquired their magnetization on their parent asteroids. There are at least three ways that an asteroid could acquire magnetization, and each implies a different formation history for the asteroid: (1) An asteroid could generate its own internal magnetic field and magnetize itself. (2) An external magnetic field could magnetize an asteroid. (3) An asteroid could become magnetized by the accretion of previously magnetized grains. Each mechanism requires different asteroid formation times and different degrees of thermal evolution. Despite the presence of magnetic meteorites, no asteroids have been robustly confirmed to be magnetic.