λ = c/v

λ = c/v


(ν = 428 THz) ~ Hadal Vermillion

I covet the beings
in the midnight zone that get
to be their proud 700-635 nm selves –
Deep where hot lights
get devoured by salt and darkness
their skins are lava bright
Martian life-forms with secrets alien
to any possible rays
that may try to uncover their
positions or what’s in their bellies,
gut feelings and truths isolated
in the abyss both vulnerable and
Bold bloody bodies through boundless
ocean pressure
making something more precious
than diamonds, ruby-red disguises
an animality fiercer than
fire, quieter
than a rose bloomed in dark room
no need to distrust
the atmosphere that promises
to not tell anyone
of the passion freely worn
on boneless sleeves
What a life to be
independent without being
to be hidden in crimson without
disappearing completely


(ν = 566 THz) ~ Chlorophyll Peace of Mind

Plants absorb all light except
for 560-520 nm –
the green range
of all the visible
world, median frequencies
that our eyes dance with, not a
waltz or a bachata
but a swing
step one that glides like wind
in grass but also has the rhythm
of rustling
leaves staccato yet longing
for when forests were without
predators and growth was
the song they sang despite us
silencing Them with machines
and fire They still shine
They take in the blue
pain and red
greed and turn it into life I aspire
to one day accept
the speeds of woe
and anger and only show
My wavelengths of viridian
innocence and peridot optimism


(ν = 638 THz) ~ The Architecture of Rhapsody

Jays and Morpho Butterflies wave
in 492-455 nm
an existence of evasion –
feathers and scales make vaults and spires
of their bodies in order to capture the blue
light like a prayer
hopes of beauty and meaning
a new tone of communication
engineered onto their beings
painted across their evolution
in phase with their out-of-phase
hue viewed in a dazzle of cyan
A trick of high-frequency, colorless
No wonder we cannot decide if it means
sadness or surprise or empathy or ambivalence
No wonder the ceruleans that give
me so much joy tantalize
and terrorize my flesh in the open air
No wonder blue eyes
are heartbreakers for they tell
lies from the day they are born


Artist Statement

One of my goals in turning science into poetry was simply to showcase how beautiful these theories that explain our universe are in of themselves. Though some might view science as a dry, abstruse catalog of facts and figures, the ever-growing body of knowledge of the order and chaos that underlines every aspect of our lives is endlessly fascinating. The triad in “λ = c/ν” is an example of this. The electromagnetic spectrum might be my favorite realm of physics. First of all, it shows how everything I’ve ever seen in my life is only a fraction of everything that exists in the universe. Furthermore, it fascinates me how something as seemingly organic as the colors that make up the blue-greens of the sea, or the orange-yellows of fire, can be quantified in numerical units such as designated wavelengths and frequencies.

Moreover, the poems in “λ = c/ν” serve as odes to the trickiness of color. As visual creatures, I think we view the color of something as essential to identifying the thing itself. At the optic level, however, this qualitative recognition may not actually be as it appears. It has always baffled me that plants, which almost seem synonymous with green, are only green because they do not absorb the green range of the wavelength, but merely reflect it. On a more metaphysical level, it leads me to debate how something so intuitively green is not innately green in an optical sense. It rejects green, but in doing so becomes green. I wrote “(ν = 566 THz) ~ Chlorophyll Peace of Mind” out of a wish to be more moderate and temperate. On a microscopic level, green lies in the middle of the visible spectrum. Macroscopically, the color green is emblematic of peace, as the greenness around the world (be it forests, kelp, or even phytoplankton) sustains all the activities in the lives of others. Even as highly dramatic events occur in nature, from natural occurrences of sex and death to man-made violence such as pollution and habitat destruction, the green worlds, in silence, persist in not only surviving but also harboring life. It is so easy to feel excitement, bitterness, and rage that there is something I find enlightening about plants’ quiet fight. Though I feel bereft and infuriated at the wars humanity wages against nature, and through moments of heartbreak and distress in my personal life, I continue to be inspired by the endurance of plant life.

This metaphysical quandary is only exaggerated in the following poem about the color blue in nature. Blue animals, though few and far between, are not pigmented blue, like other colored animals. Instead, the materials that make up their scales, feathers, etc., are structured in such a way that the long wavelengths of light cancel out, which leaves only the short blue range to reflect off the animals’ bodies. “(ν = 638 THz) ~ The Architecture of Rhapsody” again begs the philosophical question of how something as instinctively blue as, say, bluejay is not blue in actuality. However, this poem also builds on that idea by contemplating the capacity of building one’s nature to represent something that it is not. Animal tissue cannot create blue naturally, so it shapes itself to become blue. Why? It has been hypothesized to be a new kind of communication that evolved, but communication of what exactly? Even in human culture, blue is itself an ambivalent color. This notion came to me when I was watching, of all things, a bit from Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special Nanette:

[Blue] really is full of contradictions.  Blue is a cold colour. It’s on the cold end of the spectrum. But the hottest part of the flame? Blue. If you’re feeling blue, you’re sad. But optimism? Blue skies ahead. Make up your mind. A blueprint is a plan but if something happens that’s not on the plan, where does that come from? Out of the blue! Blue’s a wonderful color . . . There’s room for every kind of human in blue.1

Though this may read simply as comedic word play, it does beg questions around English idioms involving blue. If blue fulfills multiple roles in human communication so dynamically, it leads me to further wonder what kinds of communication animal blueness were selected for throughout natural history. We may never quite know for certain, adding levels of mystique to the evolution of color in nature.

This theme subsequently led to the ideas that constructed the first third of the poem  “(ν = 428 THz) ~ Hadal Vermillion.” Explore the deep sea and often there will be two different types of animals: those that are transparent and those that are red. Why would bright red animals be in the bathypelagic zone, one thousand meters below the surface? As depth increases in the ocean, the longer wavelengths of light are cancelled out, meaning that redder light does not penetrate the water while bluer (i.e. shorter) wavelengths can still pass into the dark. A blue animal could possibly still be seen in these deep waters, hence having no camouflage from either prey or predators and not surviving. A red animal, however, would be practically invisible because there is no red wavelengths at this depth to reflect off its body. This irony fascinates me, for some of these animals are the color of candy apples and yet can navigate the midnight zone with such flamboyant practicality. In my writing, I related this idea to an emotional reverence. People might be afraid to be themselves in life out of fear, whether it be a fear of social isolation or, to the extreme, the fear of be persecuted by a society that is intolerant of your identity. This anxiety can lead people to hide who they really are. There is something I find a little sad yet also profoundly beautiful that these deep sea creatures can let their colors shine brightly, and how this is not a weakness but a strength.

Thus, “λ = c/ν” is both about what is seen and what cannot be seen. It highlights how, through the precision of the electromagnetic spectrum, an entity can coexist with both its own invisibility and its revelation. There is power and tact in both, as well as a menagerie of emotion attached to each, including but not limited to frustration, confidence, confusion, clarity, dominance, and submission.

  1. Hannah Gadsby, Nanette (Netflix, 2018).
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