Stories and Poems by RHD


Stories and Poems by Richard H. Durisen


One of my earliest memories is being shown images in old astronomy books. What my father and sister told me about them exploded my universe into a place so much larger than the one in which I lived my daily life. I swore to myself that, when I learned to read well enough, I would read those books. And I did. At that point, I was hooked and knew I wanted to become an astronomer. 

So the impetus to science for me was inextricably connected to the grandeur that astronomy stimulated in my imagination. I started to think of the stars as my “friends” and found them to be generally more constant and reliable than my human ones, especially in Grammar School (St. Stanislaus School in Maspeth, Queens, NYC). Somewhere along the line, I don’t remember how, I realized that a Ph.D. was necessary for an astronomer and that my parents were too poor to send me through all that schooling. I resolved to do extremely well academically in order to earn scholarships all the way. And I did. 

While in High School (Regis H.S. in Manhattan, a Jesuit scholarship school), I was directed into the Advanced English track, possibly the best thing that could have happened to me, although I resisted it at the time. I kept studying science on my own, but Advanced English further stimulated my imagination and nurtured a desire to write, especially poetry. I carried this through my College years (Fordham College in the Bronx, also Jesuit), even while majoring in physics. In Graduate School (Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University), I became distracted by the social and political turmoil of the Vietnam War era. I did earn my degree but have always felt I missed an opportunity to become a better astrophysicist. Thereafter, my creative writing fell away as I submerged into the intense demands of a scientific career and then family. During most of this time, Indiana University’s Department of Astronomy provided a comfortable academic home. I flourished, but, toward the end, part of me was crying out to be released.

So, one reason I retired in 2010, after 38 years of professional life as a scientist, was to return to creative writing and set my imagination free again. Sure, science involves creative imagination, but within the necessary constraints required to reveal reliable objective knowledge. I wanted to explore my sense of personal wonder well beyond what is merely real. When I invoked the muse, poetry came back first, in a tidal wave. I also started a novel, but quickly realized I did not yet know enough about telling a story. So I took writing classes, joined a writing group, and have been writing poems and stories of various length ever since. The novel lies fallow, but the soil in which it may eventually grow has grown richer.

On this website are poems, flash pieces, and longer stories that have been published in some fashion, plus a few I have despaired of ever getting published. I plan to add more as my writing resume grows. The fiction falls in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror. The poems are much more diverse. 

I hope they feed your own imagination. If so, I have succeeded.