Beyond Scientism

Old wives’ tales, humble kin of ancient lore,
Like road signs carved in stone are durable.
Traditionists are deemed incurable
By bright authorities who can’t ignore

A single variance with “fact,” yet Science
Is but a construct based upon the shared
Beliefs of narrow thinkers unprepared
To entertain a whisper of defiance

Toward what is now their lawful paradigm.
The world runs deeper than its strict description
And frequently defies complete decryption
In terms of numbers, matter, space or time.

Ideas seem to fall out of the blue,
And everything beneath the sun is new.

First published in Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, reprinted in Anima


The Search for Higher Intelligence

From mouths of babes, regurgitated milk
And little else. Impoverished tonsured monks
With honeyed tonsils utter prayers to bilk
The tithing fold. A scientist debunks
Old myths, yet offers nothing to replace
Them with but mechanistic tales first told
By Isaac Newton. Bent on keeping pace,
Our public servants gild the bull they’ve sold.

Deprived of wisdom, people often settle
For stony intellect or mordant wit,
But when the tea-leaves meet the boiling kettle,
These lesser assets assay counterfeit.

The major lesson narrow thinkers teach
Is how much thought evades their ingrown reach.

First published in Sonneto Poesia

Ye of Complicated Faith

Do not begrudge an ass his quaint belief
Or scorn the glass that darkly clouds his eyes,
Lest you yourself seem like a petty thief
Of scrapings from the thumbnails of the wise.

Give way to every pilgrim—be the last.
Look down while all the others fix their gaze
Upon a brimming wilderness so vast
They cannot see the distance for the haze.

The Holy Writ, no simple monolith,
Is part True Word and part apocrypha;
And pray two grains of salt be taken with
It—one from Asia, one from Africa.

Your business is God—mind your own. Shut up
And wait until you thirst, then fill your cup.

First published in The Eclectic Muse.


C. B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.

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13 Responses

    • C.B. Anderson

      Steve, well, yes. Scientism, you see, is a religion to which atheists adhere — it’s all they’ve got.

  1. Denise Sobilo


    You remarked in your comment to me that “you have given me cause to try harder when it comes to my own inadequate verses.” Being new to this site and therefore unfamiliar with its poets, I quite naturally looked up some of your work. Far from inadequate, I should say.

    A natural progression in these three poems: the recognition of the limitations of science; the search for a higher intelligence; and the finding of it in man’s humility before God.

    • C.B. Anderson


      I thank you for your interest in my work. What I did not quite manage to say in my comment on your poems is that I find my own narratives too straightforward. Yours are just as lucid, and they are syntonic with the highest ideals of logophilia, but they are oblique. This is something I don’t yet know how to do, which is why your poems impressed me so much. I know I’ve written a few good poems, because readers and editors tell me so, but I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that even approaches your uncanny style. The “natural progression” you mention is due to Evan Mantyk’s arrangement of them on the page. These poems were selected by Evan from my two published books, and beyond having written them I take no responsibility or credit for how they appear here.

      • Denise Sobilo

        But also perhaps a natural progression in the thoughts/philosophy of the poet which underlie his creative process.

        Maybe what you are sensing in my poetry is my attempt to find or construct a metaphysical conceit, some relationship that is not readily apparent between the subject of the poem and its imaginative, symbolic expression. If so, then I will take it that I have been successful in my efforts. I do also believe that poetry should be logical and lucid and not obscure and irrational, so you have picked up on that as well. Plus the fact that the reader should be imaginatively engaged in order to decipher what I am saying and not be given the power-points, outline and final exam questions for the course.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Oddly enough, Denise, I am here responding to your response to my response to your initial response. I think you have it just right. The “metaphysical conceit” of which you write is spot on. Dylan Thomas did this sometimes (see his “A refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London”) And of course, nobody should get all the answers to the test ahead of time. Like almost everything else, poetry is work on both the giving and the receiving end.

  2. David Watt


    Apposite lines such as ‘Lest you yourself seem like a petty thief
    Of scrapings from the thumbnails of the wise’ make your poems distinctive and entertaining.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Thanks, David. Sometimes I just can’t seem to help myself. I often bend and stretch to find solutions to the metrical and rhyme scheme to which I’ve committed myself. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

  3. Paul

    Very interesting and well-crafted work. Takes me a bit of time to fully digest them and get the full feel and brunt of your sharp wit. “Our public servants gild the bull they’ve sold” – and “They cannot see the distance for the haze” – are well-conceived and poignant. Great work for a model of how to do it. Thanks for these, and for your comments in general (and in specific.)


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