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A Little Note on Galaxies


A Little Note about Galaxies

Just wanted to add a little note about galaxies. I am fond of them colliding, multiverses, the whole cosmic thing, However, I don't think anyone can get away with putting them in poems any more.”
--Autonomyisdestiny

Humble intro

living in a flat universe dwell the book open and fall in
photograph pages two dimensions deep
operative metaphors seem familiar
make comfortable what lenses capture
such violent expanses of spacetime
numbers safer in largesse
we are stuck here glimpsed mid-swagger glimpsing
if everything were like the sun, close and mechanized
descriptions of storm tides in swarm gales or animals
and cities of men in their movements
shouldn't worry. Enormity can work
to advantage? Stuck here staggering
most of what we are and see
acted on by forces unfamiliar unseen.
We are not in control,
so why hubble or peer through lens into this book?

Responses to the Universe

We make too much sense or not enough
So, the proper response?
Awe Terror Indifference Obsession Nervous laughter
Don't be ridiculous

The scientific approach—Let's name and catalog
curiosity and education buy a telescope do amateur stargazing
eventually build a rocket put a man on the moon explore
sweep the skies for signs of life Name a volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons
say to the universe, I am

If the heavens declare God's glory—questions arise

Maybe just don't look up
but let's try this even though it's wrong
maybe call it prologue to our Epithalamion

Speaking swallowed descriptions of Nicolas Cheetham's Universe

Living in a flat universe

sculpted by gravitational shear sweep spiral structure swept away
sparks bright rashes of stars form nudge hive dusty cloud
and gas swarm into black holes vanish

older cooler yellow stars jelly along a current bone borne
windblown unseen seamless flotsam

Moray-bit highspeed the intruder galaxy hits then runs traceless
shredded remains neighborly, now a dusty cobweb of luminous gauzy

a metropolitan flotilla massive visibly warps space
strained a curve of spacetime traveling lightbent through clusters
gravitationally lensed this
feeding flares afrenzied supermassive black holes

smallest and reddest furthest
chronicled an era when order was just beginning
look to the edge look to deepest field find the lost pearl

curveball star formation foamy raced across its disk on wavecrest glows
phospher army with ultraviolet radiation of hypergiant stars
swoop around each other two merging flocks tails and beaks
many many zeros of years before coalescing a giant elliptical

such heavy tonnage actually equates with starburst simmer crackle
Living in a flat Universe o vain o vanitas steams airless burns
Pegasus outstretched a starburst bonfire trailing wounded white wing
feathers bleeding plundered plunging encounter the errant fifth

deeper than limits of hearing darkest sings a stellar Medusa
sucked into gorgon heart ripples shoot the sworl
snakehair a gutteral swirl octaves beneath drones sterile two thirds the universe away

spiral galaxy scything if space is truly empty if ever
if ever if ever

echoes galactic collision and warp vanishingly rare
horse-drawn against carriage silhouetted distance vast
ridden shotgun leathery smells of ragtime whiskey

The dark lane a diskstipple dustied echo limbs phantom
luminous as star-laden dimple flung such a star-trailed arm distantslight but huge
lightly years across the crowded early universe cloaked and grown fat on remnants

Living in a fat universe
hungry hungry but wetless windless seeming yet full of eyes peer from the dark

wave of star formation monstrous stirred by dismemberment serene
against a more distant caritas in veritate outshone by detonation of a single white dwarf
bright knots lightstrewn, collapsar ashes, woolly and flocculent

genesis and apocalypse stimulate similar episodes of quiet

dark filaments form this reef light years deep and coral lust tides violent
lifeless but foul with color senselessly sounding an outer halo
dotted with numerous clusters globular neatly bisecting horror and meaning
and this edge-on lenticular galaxy with all its flowered horsemen soundlessly fury

black holes are the most efficient engines
such such

wasted light effluvia radiates heavy through intergalactic corridors
kelp strands bladdered float through the eight hundred light year
bloom high among plasma fountains glazy falling airy dustlit gases oh entire
suns toward the centered engine of its maw as wayward bank accounts down ratholes
a breathing fish hides gillsflap so slow strikes so fast you never saw it

an unusually brilliant bulbous core boils wind
gas lanes seen edge-on this galactic cannibal starving out here
hit hit

surround hot blue stars kindle awash in glowering red clouds of hydrogen sic

a conflagration fueled so massive the lifetime is measurable
blooming so briefly to ejaculate something abstract
material like stars propagate the shockwaves beaching light blaze

magenta streamers flutter light years above the galactic core
elaborate anatomy to an ephemera wracked
density waves churn debriswrecked scooped

an otherwise quiescent spiral galaxy breaches
maelstrom of behemoth white whales and darken dwarves dance
Ahab wriggles and jiggles
tickles inside like Jonah then
in the largest discrete cauldron stirred
and falling

rains back down the fat flat universe

or the progeny of a wave spurred by a larger unknown
the other titan of the Local Group seen smeared as red dashes
old so old surrounded by a swarm of satellite galaxies
flourescing gas the final flowering of a Sun-like star


But (the myth of absence)

are we not wonderful—as wonderful in our way
to each individual violent splendors flux
what is life
even mundane movement toward
decay and order wreaks wonder leaks more wonder

makers making
wrought a splinter

instruments devised peer into matters historical and central importance
brings back hunger such a distance
eating absences only impossible dead ancient light has glown traversed

How is dust lawful, willful, wise like light and gas like life like spirit?
Dec/20/2009, 7:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: A Little Note on Galaxies


This poem so works for me. What with how it makes sensual what is cosmic, damn near ungraspable. How the hell did you manage this, Dave? I notice how the poem begins with a dare and ends with a Biblical sort of wisdom. Mostly I notice how the poem's body looks to flesh out, make bodied, the firmament of things in which we small type sentient animals are involved. And I notice something else too, Dave; something I've noticed in your poetry time and time again. It is your penchant, something that strikes me in the gut, for Old English verb-noun (active) clauses.

Tere
Dec/21/2009, 12:49 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Re: A Little Note on Galaxies


Tere--that's all I needed to hear. you don't know what it means to me.

How did I come to write this piece? I feel like the magician asked to reveal his trick...let's just say I've been working on this for months to the point of obsession and blindness having no idea if it was beginning to work or sucked real real bad.

I think I could keep reworking it to the end of my life if I wanted.
Dec/21/2009, 11:27 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Rework it? Okay. But do please use a light touch and keep in mind that poetry's tension, what this certainly possesses, is its kinetic energy, what Hopkins might have called instress.

Tere
Dec/21/2009, 7:45 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
ChrisD1 Profile
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Dave,

I agree with Tere that this has kinetic energy. The midsection seeming to describe and embody the subject, "Speaking swallowed descriptions..."

Not sure how I feel about the intro: "but let's try this even though it's wrong," sounds like the narrator/writer is attempting to innoculate himself from the inevitable criticism...why not just go for it?

Was struck by how this captures the eerieness
of the subject: "hungry hungry but weightless seeming yet full of eyes peer from the dark" The struggle to conceive of something so powerful and alien as the universe we inhabit. And finally, "are we not wonderful--as wonderful in our way..."
and this, "How is dust lawful, willful, wise like light and gas like life like spirit."

Too many fine lines to mention each one.

Thanks for posting.

Chris
Dec/24/2009, 9:13 am Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Thanks Chris! so glad you read it.

I know there are some great poems, and the fact that they're there is one thing that keeps us writing, right? But most, if not all of mine seem like tried and failed attempts at poems or the poems I meant.

Merry Christmas

 
Dec/25/2009, 5:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
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Dave, I had a dream back in the eighties that produced a prose poem. It was about a horse running a race on the track's outside, which, as you know, is much the greater length than is the course's inside track. That horse ran easy, he had an easy stride keeping up with the others. Then the run itself took over him, the beauty of running, and he began to edge out. The other horses who had decided to keep together companiably looked at him in pain and confusion. They could not understand his behavior. At first he fell back, feeling guilty, not wanting to cause pain and confusion. Then he couldn't help himself. Again he gave himself over to the sheer pleasure of running. He edged out again. And he ran and he ran and he ran. He found himself finally having to work hard. He was digging his hooves into the ground and sweating and hurting in his lungs. When he crossed the finish line, crossing it first, he found himself bathing in a cool stream under a perfectly cobalt blue sky. I remember this dream like it was last night.

Don't cut yourself short, bucko, or I just might have to find your truck driving ass on some interstate between Atlanta and Portland and kick it. You are one of the more daring poets I've read on line over the last ten years. You take chances, you dig, you stretch, you pull on meaning, syntax and line rhythm. If anything, maybe, your conceptions and ideas are larger than the means yet are. But consider the opposite, which, to me, would be a consignment to hell: to have the facility and nothing to say.

I am betting on you, man.

Tere
Dec/26/2009, 12:17 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Wow, Tere--that's some serious encouragement. Thanks man for such a vote of confidence, and for relating the dream--I'd say that dream is for you, but I'll take it. emoticon

I don't know if Steve mentioned it to you, but Auto is hosting/editing a project we are both involved with that will probably be going to print in a month or two and I plan on mailing you a copy--maybe you could pm me your address, eh friend? You will get 7 books for the price of one. Thank you--seriously.
Dec/26/2009, 12:51 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Well, I hate to be the voice of dissent, and I have to say, a valiant attempt. And it doesn't move me very much. It stays mostly in the head. (Have you read Loren Eiseley's books of poems? They are a model for how to unite the head and heart in a natural-history poem.) Maybe my perspective on this poem is going to be atypical, since I've studied astronomy as an amateur, and almost as a professional, for 40 years; I've even been involved in a "physics for poets" kind of curriculum; so the informational content of this poem contained very little new for me. I focused on the writing, and the writing style.

And this poem just isn't working for me. It is very fine in its details, very good single lines and phrases. And it doesn't hold together for me, as an overall structure.

It's hard not to make grand sweeping statements, almost philosophical statements, in a poem on this topic, about this scale. I do not say it's impossible, just that's it hard to pull off without sounding either distant or preachy. There are a lot of good individual lines and phrases in here—but also a lot of conceptual repetitions.

The grand philosophical and factual statements prevent this poem from being personal. (Again, I mention Loren Eiseley, because he was able to make paleontology VERY personal.) I feel removed from the speaker in the poem, because I'm being told a lot of Grand Truths, none of which am I made to feel personally in my bones. Where is the boy looking through the telescope, who becomes the astronaut? Where is the woman whose realizes the universe in her own womb? The personal and the universal are not well-attached, or united, for me as a reader here.

The long central section seems to me to be overwritten, and very repetitive. It could be severely compressed without losing either data or interpretation. Paradoxically, my sense of it being overwritten is because the language is so post-science-textbook in style. There are a lot of phrases that grammatical prose statements, that pull the energy down from the more compressed and virtuosic sections.

I contrast this with your long series of Dollar Tree driving poems, in which your writing style was always fresh, exciting, experimental, even stream-of-consciousness. In that series you showed us what it felt like, moment to moment, to be doing something as simple as pumping gas while in an exalted state; the language reflected that. This poem here isn't up to your own best level of writing—or at least that's my opinion. The language seems flat, even prosaic, for too much of the poem. It's very tell, rather than show. I feel like I'm being told something I already knew, most of the time; or that I'm in a science lecture.

My recommendation is to leave much more of the exposition out. Leave out the statements of fact, many of which are flat and unadorned—it exchanges metaphor and imagery for technical terminology. Compress the language, at least, and take its energy up a notch.

I like see to see your writing take chances. I encourage you to take even more risks with this poem.

---
www.arthurdurkee.net
lcgallery.tv
artdurkee.blogspot.com
ruralplainsgay.blogspot.com
Dec/26/2009, 1:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Katlin Profile
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Hi Dave,

I had difficulty reading this poem. My sense was that in some places there are too many words for not enough payoff. I appreciate that you've taken on an expansive, challenging topic, and I'm mindful of Campbell saying the new myths will come from outer space, from relating us, here, with what's "out there," so I applaud your grappling with this and don't think you should abandon it. There are lines throughout I like. For example:

"strained a curve of spacetime traveling lightbent through clusters"

"deeper than limits of hearing darkest sings a stellar Medusa
sucked into gorgon heart ripples shoot the sworl
snakehair a gutteral swirl octaves beneath drones sterile two thirds the universe away"

"spiral galaxy scything if space is truly empty if ever
if ever if ever"

Overall, I feel the poem needs more spark, more punch, needs the shock and awe of these mysteries conveyed in more startling and immediate ways, as you have done in the lines above, I think. HTH.

Last edited by Katlin, Dec/26/2009, 4:33 pm
Dec/26/2009, 4:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
dmehl808 Profile
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Re: A Little Note on Galaxies


Thanks Art, it's so good to hear from you after such a long time. I tend to agree with you about most of what you say. Astronomy is not something I've studied, and looking at the hubble photos was a new and recent experience for me. I just wasn't sure how cut back on the text and still convey the expanse and violence of the universe. If I knew more this would be less of a problem. The tension I was trying to capture was between life and consciousness so close and 'ordinary' versus the austerity and beauty of forces that are unimaginably vast but only mechanized/physical--it's too kinds of wonder really. I felt it was important to separate the two at first, but then I revised toward integration through languageplay. I think you've offered plenty of commentary to help me improve and condense this piece, but if the mood strikes and you wish to or find the time to point out what you found particularly unnecessary and repetitive, I would be grateful. I haven't read Loren Eisely yet though I remember you recommending him before. I'll make a point of seeking his work out.

Kat--thanks for taking the time to read and adding your comments. Nice to see what you thought particularly worked. I've still got work to do on this. I really appreciate the honesty of your response.

 
Dec/28/2009, 8:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Dragon59 Profile
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The tension I was trying to capture was between life and consciousness so close and 'ordinary' versus the austerity and beauty of forces that are unimaginably vast but only mechanized/physical--it's too kinds of wonder really. I felt it was important to separate the two at first, but then I revised toward integration through languageplay.

To me, this integration, rather than separation, is exactly what I think would work for this piece. I think it would guide you towards the revisions you want to make, if you take that insight and go further with it in this poem. If I have time, later, I'll make some more specific suggestions.

The main thing I would say, by way of inspiration, is:

The physical world, as unimaginably vast as it is, is not mechanized, it's organic, it's alive, it's filled in every atom with light and life and love. The universe is the opposite of "dead matter." When I look at the Hubble images, I find them to be among the most beautiful and spiritual things I've ever seen.

Look up the word "panentheism." You'll find some guidance there, too. (Note: it's not the same thing as "pantheism.")

---
www.arthurdurkee.net
lcgallery.tv
artdurkee.blogspot.com
ruralplainsgay.blogspot.com
Dec/28/2009, 10:31 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Dave,

I commented on this once before when it was much longer. I can see that you've tightened it. I can see that you are wrestling with those great forces out there, and that your language is vital and appropriate. However, my comment then was that your words "are not as heavily laden with vital, emergent, root-growing life, grittiness, recognizable human conditions, that we normally find in your more frequently published work." Basically, I guess I was saying the same thing Dragon is saying in reference to your on-the-road trucking series. Maybe you've spoiled us that way, and we are become set in our ways, concrete brains who want you to continue to produce the same rock'n'roll songs you've always produced for us. You know how the crowd didn't like it when Bob Dylan went from string guitar to electronic guitar; people howled. Who knows? The human involvement. I'm not familiar with the writers Dragon references, but I also missed the human angle, as I quoted above. Zak
Dec/29/2009, 7:08 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: A Little Note on Galaxies


I've posted a few Loren Eiseley poems on the forum where we post poems to look at by other poets, Right Words & Library.

---
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lcgallery.tv
artdurkee.blogspot.com
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