TV1: Nova, Arctic Dinosaurs, WHYY 12
December 26, 2010

as Robert Liscomb back in
1961 with Shell, working the north slope,
picked up an 8 inch
tooth from a geo-survey
for petroleum deposits my wife’s
childhood geography book from 1963 said
the US had a surplus of &
brought it back to his office somewhere, like Texas maybe, or Oklahoma,
& he died the next year in a mud slide, & the tooth
went down into company storage till
I believe it was 1985,
when paleontologists took a risk that maybe if then dinosaurs were
not so cold-blooded & traced it back where
since the Cretaceous there were say 15,
who are bundles, or rather
heaps of jaws & teeth, of ball & socket hips
joints & bonnets, cranial plates
& femurs who were a band, the same species—pachycephalosaurus maybe much as any
tribal gathering, maybe extended family of those
moving for whatever
exploitation or
escape & sudden flood, today, the day just after
Washington down to Trenton,
—a cold coming we had of it—
234 years now, crossed & hung
high in Alaskan mud up elbowed bend now cliff the
Colville River swings beneath, a scouring
track of itself
left acute at channel’s bend or forward thrust 200
feet above where once
flash flood —& the land
is a wrinkled plateau, clouds
pass over deposits
of oil & migrating caribou, bones
of dinosaurs & geologists, swept cornices
of snow in ferric sand & vista’d grass, as a swirl, as a marbling
in lifted aerial shot above
where Conoco & Shell
—what mad pursuit—
east of Barrow,
& ptarmigan white outside now the snow
is falling & gently falling…
& what have we learned

—Bill Piper, Pennington, NJ