This article is over 4 years old

Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “A Love Poem to Nuclear Fusion” By Joseph Machado

The Houston poet reads a poem inspired by nuclear physics and romantic love.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>
Courtesy of the poet
Poet Joseph Machado

In this sound portrait, we meet poet Joseph Machado. He talks about the intersection of science and the arts, and how poetry can help change the world. He reads his poem whose full title is "On the Occasion of the Start-up of the Wendelstein 7X Stellerator Reactor at the Max Planck Institute (A Love Poem to Nuclear Fusion)."

Joseph Machado's work has been influenced by the Beats, the sciences, and unusual forms such as palindromes. He has a PhD in Polymer Science, has published extensively in the scientific literature, and has worked in a variety of roles and locations in the oil and gas industry for 30 years. Originally from Massachusetts, he has been a performing poet in London and Houston. He is also on the Board of Horse Head Theatre Company, has a life-long interest in fitness, was recently married, and has three grown children. He serves on the organizing committee of Houston Poetry Fest and leads the Houston chapter of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.


On the Occasion of the Start-up of the Wendelstein 7X Stellerator Reactor at the Max Planck Institute (A Love Poem to Nuclear Fusion)

A potato peel of starry stuff

As hard to hold as love's embrace

When gravity is not enough

Can magnets hold our hearts in place?


When gases noble as fair Helios

Quicken their dance from slow to fast

And gyrations grow so wild and furious

That their gaunt electric veil is lost


Ten million Kelvins will never do

To describe the rage that is unleashed

And a billion Teslas still too few

Whose frozen coils contain the beast


And along its track electrons race

Careening down their Mobius strip

That seething ember protons trace

And join together for the trip


Beside their bond all else seems weak

The love that stirs each cosmic flame

If we could but do it on the cheap

Our world would never be the same.


This poem is reprinted with permission by the author.

Music used: Piano Sonata No. 1 (excerpt) and Expansions (excerpt) by Kris Becker from Kris Becker: Expansions; Like Still Water (excerpt) by Thomas Osborne from Aperio: Across Oceans; Celestial Sphere (excerpt) by David Crowell from Ian David Rosenbaum: Memory Palace.

To learn more about this series, go here.


Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

More Information