“Geography of the Forehead” Ron Koertge

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What We Don’t Know About the Brain Won’t Hurt Us


On Star Trek, they used to call space the final frontier. Truth is, there are mysterious frontiers closer to home, including the real estate between our ears.

Go ahead. Ask any scientist. How much do we really know about that cauliflower in the skull? Somewhere between “not” and “much,” from what I understand.

I do know that brains are the switchboard for pain. Your body parts don’t experience pain because your brain does it for them. This is why your brain won a service award in 2019.

If you want to play mad scientist by mixing humor and science (too serious for its own good, anyway), you can let words and associations fly and have a good time of it in a poem. Picture a kid, a blank canvas, and six cans of paint. Picture “artist’s block” as a very foreign term.

All you need do? Embed real words from science with lines and stanzas! The contrast of typically formal terms with atypically informal ones will only highlight your goal: make readers laugh.

What might that look like? Ron Koertge is always a reliable go-to guy. Here he explains the brain in a way your brain has never been explained before:


Geography of the Forehead
Ron Koertge

Everyone thinks the brain is so complicated,
but let’s look at the facts. The frontal lobe,
for example, is located in the front! And
the temporal lobe is where the clock is.
What could be simpler?

The hippocampal fissure is where big, dumb
thoughts camp, while at the Fissure of Rolando
dark-skinned men with one gold earring lie
around the fire and play guitars.

The superior frontal convolution is where
a lot of really nice houses are set back off
a twisty road, while the inferior frontal
convolution is a kind of trailer park, regularly
leveled by brainstorms.

The area of Broca is pretty much off limits.
And if you know Broca, you know why.


This is truly an example of knowing just enough to be dangerous, and damn, if it doesn’t look fun.

So if you’ve been knocking yourself out and feeling pained (it’s coming from the brain, by the way) in your writing efforts of late, maybe you should treat yourself to six paint cans and have some fun—if not with the brain, with something else. The humerus in your arm, maybe.