"Search," by Geoffrey A. Landis


Geoffrey A. Landis is a physicist and SF poet. His work started to appear in the late 70s, and he has written poetry in all three genres. The poem "Search" is a fusion of science poem and narrative SF poem.

The poem appears in his latest collection IRON ANGELS (2010).

Jeremiah sits in a room at Cornell
lit by fluorescent lights.
His ears are covered by headphones, and heʹs bopping along as he
(He doesnʹt look anything like Jodie Foster).
Heʹs not listening to the telescope ― his headphones are blasting
The telescope sends to him nothing but a string of numbers.
His fingertips are doing the search
writing a new algorithm to implement frequency‐domain filtering
sorting out a tiny signal of intelligence (hypothetical intelligence) from
the thousand thousand thousand sources of noise from the sky
Itʹs four am, his favorite time of night
no distractions.
Outside, the stars are bright
inside, the stars sing to him alone.

Nine hundred light years away
in the direction of Perseus
intelligent creatures are wondering why they hear nothing from the
They are sending out messages,
have been sending out messages for hundreds of years.
One of their number, renowned for his clear thinking
has an electromagnetic pickup on his head
(or, what would pass for a head).
He is thinking clear, simple thoughts
and the electromagnetic signals of his brain
(or, what would pass for a brain)
are being amplified and beamed into the sky
in the direction of Earth.
It is the simplest signal they know
a brain thinking
Jeremiah has been searching for years.
He has a beard like Moses
glasses like Jerry Garcia
a bald head like Jesse Ventura
patience like Job.
They are out there
if only the telescope arrays were larger...
if only they could search deeper...
If only his filtering algorithms were more incisive.

Nine hundred light years away
in the direction of Perseus
the aliens are patient.
They are sending their thoughts to the stars.
Clear, simple thoughts
We are here
We are here
We are here
Where are you?