Category Archives: Sonnets

Sonnet XXXIII


Illustration of the frame-dragging effect in which space and time are dragged around a massive body

Sonnet XXXIII

Newton thought space and time were absolute
then Einstein discussed relativity.
It was easy to prove an attribute
of an attractive force: captivity
of bodies, was not new. Now imagine
a planet immersed in honey: as it
rotates, it swirls and pulls with an action
much like spinning space time. In an orbit
around the earth, four precise gyroscopes
measure this effect. Quantized current flows
until it detects magnetic stream slopes
differential. A spin-axis opposes
new directions. The strength of gravity
can’t match the speed of light’s velocity.

************************

This sonnet is about gravity Probe B (GP-B), a mission sponsored by NASA aimed to prove the effects of Albert Einstein’s 1916 general theory of relativity.

Rather than quoting them verbatim, you can read more about this project on:

http://einstein.stanford.edu/MISSION/mission1.html

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/gpb/gpb_results.html?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4dc2487ce8ed9dc6,0

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Open Link Night, Week 27

Sonnet XXXII


The Space Station's Massive Solar Arrays

Sonnet XXXII

The Space Station’s golden solar arrays
squeeze out the last morsel of energy
from each orbit. An instrument surveys
all dosages of power at every
diurnal spin as they revolve around
the planet. Large measures of power will
be sucked into the batteries. Compound
silicon solar cells dominate. Still,
it is the rotary joint that lets
the panels track the sun and seize
the rays. ISS spins until it sets
into shadow. It performs this with ease
just like a geometry, zipping all through
limited plasma fields of cobalt blue.

************************

This comes from @Astro_Ron ‘s (Ron Garan)  http://twitpic.com/4s3pix

This was a difficult sonnet to write in that it contained many engineering concepts. In general, it’s easier to incorporate science into poetry than it is to incorporate engineering.

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Open Link Night, Week 26

Sonnet XXXI


Oddly Off-Kilter NGC 2442

Sonnet XXXI

Even a galaxy may be off kilter ―
not shaped like a pristine bilateral
spiral. Light streaks outward through a filter,
it seems, when snatched by a collateral
body. Free-floating hydrogen was drawn
into tangible streamer vanes of gas;
dust yanked like taffy, with endless brawn,
from the main arm. Clusters of stars surpass
a single bright light in beauty, but can’t
match up to a more exquisite rival,
like Andromeda or Whirlpool; the scant
are ripped by those larger and more frightful.
Cosmic layouts shaped like feathers and tails:
mind-numbing forces, energies and scales.

************************

This comes from “The delicate aftermath of cosmic violence” , on @badastronomer’s Discover Magazine blog.

Posted on  Poetry Picnic Week 12: Feathers, Fidelity, Figment, and Fables

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Open Link Night, Week 25

Sonnet XXX


Sonnet XXX

Galactic Collision

Galactic collision occurred in space
at the rim of the universal plane.
The spiral arms, distorted from the base
of the center, were flung out with much strain.
A supermassive black hole gobbled up
matter that was obviously not dust.
The singularity appeared to sup
on its immense neighbor. In the robust
bright point resource, blasting out X-ray beams,
a plethora of objects that looked blue,
populated Gemini. Dust, it seems
hid energy. Gravity will ensue ―
the smaller body will finally lose;
as ripped, torn gases snap off and diffuse.

************************

This comes from

This comes from @badastronomer’s Discover Magazine blog .

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Open Link Night, Week 24

Sonnet XXV


Julie Carter's Painted Wall by Jessica Witting

Sonnet XXV

All Painters Agitate Reality

All painters agitate reality.
They impose particular significance,
causing essential virtuality
to be depicted with magnificence.
Using old technique, but new conventions,
an abstraction deviates from the norm.
A dabbling flirt with the three dimensions
can fashion the way the painters perform.
Their sensations become speculations ―
creating contours with fine brush strokes, a
profound intellectualization,
and extravagant chromatic soufflé.
Revealing sacred contours of their soul
would not have been the painters’ firsthand goal.

*********************

@jflamingo2 is a twitter friend of mine. One morning, she asked me to write her a painting poem.

I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I read some of her blogs and saw that she painted sets in her hometown theater. I assumed this was arduous work and she required some motivation.

I originally wrote a villanelle. I set out by doing some cursory research on painters and painting. I needed some ideas, so I just read quotes by a few abstract painters, for example, Picasso.

When I was finished, I sent it to her, and then set off to use the research to write a sonnet. This is the result.

I was quite flattered to have someone “commission” a poem from me. So flattered, that Julie ended up with two poems. When I started this blog, I asked  her for a picture. She gave me some samples, but noted that there were a few on her facebook page. I chose this picture. I hope Julie does not mind, but, for more about Julie, see her facebook page.

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Open Link Night ~ Week 23

Sonnet XXIV


Rare Green Flash From the Moon

Sonnet XXIV

Light from the moon hits Earth’s dense atmosphere
in the low opaque areas that are wet.
Then the apparent lunar photosphere
emits green light as Luna starts to set.
The grey moon seems orange in the dark sky,
then a rare flash appears out of nowhere,
as a giant prism paints verdant die
and a blazing mirage seems to hang there.
Lunar soil releases ionic
streams as it is hit by the solar winds.
Then it wears a crown that seems demonic
’til the moon in the sky sets and rescinds.
The air helps bend light into frequencies
like weaving bright threads of embroideries.

**********************

I just found out about this phenomenon today on the New Scientist page . Then I wrote this sonnet.

Digg Newsrooms also has some interesting comments.

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The Poetry Pantry Is Now Open! – #85

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Prompt 217: Verdant

Sonnet XXVIII


North of the Himalayas Taken April 21 2011 from ISS

Sonnet XXVIII

A giant wedge, forced up on a summit.
The melted rock on crumbled mountain tops.
The nuggets of silvery snow sunlit
on the landscape. The inverted planet drops
off in a land of ribcage hill torrents.
Expiring geophysical breaths
dissipate in thin air. An act warrants
a vaporized battle to ensue. Deaths
of sediments squeeze onto plates. Trivia
tells that magnetic deposits today,
are charged by Earth’s fields. Here, where India
and Asia crashed, crust was carried away.
Since much is veiled, this view only reports
mountains with crowns of luminescent quartz.

*******************

This shot was posted by @Astro_Ron on Earthday of 2011.  Ron Garan is a New Yorker, like me. He flew F-16’s as a test pilot, in USAF, around the time I was a test engineer for at the 416th at Edwards, yet I never met him. : (

You can read more about him http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/garan-rj.html

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The Poetry Pantry Is Now Open! – #79

His organization is Fragile Oasis  and he’s also on facebook.

The Earth


Earth As Taken by Apollo 17

The Earth As Seen From Apollo 17

Clouds weave quick patterns like silken white lace;
No borders are drawn on lands seen from space.
Such beautiful seas, and bounteous lands;
The oceans, the rivers, the snows and sands;
I have searched the universe high and low
Yet cannot detect such a well made show.
It’s hard to define Earth’s magnificent life:
The glory, happiness, sorrow and strife.
It’s pitify man does not fully know
The glory of life: to produce and grow.
Earth’s life’s a marvel, I clearly can see.
I daren’t imagine how no life would be.
Out in the heavens I see my Earth fly
Like a blue-snowy crystal, on black-velvet sky.

********************************

This is the first Sonnet I ever wrote, back in 1972. It is not even a Shakespearean Sonnet. I wrote it while Apollo 17 was returning from the moon to Earth. Jack Schmidt said that he had wished he were a poet so he could write about how beautiful the Earth is. I wrote this sonnet and sent it to him. He must have really liked it because he sent me back a letter thanking me for the poem. Also, 20 years later, I wrote to him again and reminded him that I was the one who sent that poem, and he seemed to remember the poem.

Most of you know the picture above. But some probably don’t know that this is the first full picture of the Earth taken by man. I was lucky enough to meet Gene Cernan in Seattle, back in 2000. I asked him who took the picture, and he said he didn’t know. He said they had one camera, and they all took pictures whenever they saw fit. No one knows exactly who snapped that picture. That’s why, whenever you see the picture, it is credited to the entire crew of Apollo 17.

Here’s a great picture of the crew . The magnificent Saturn V rocket is in the background, and the Lunar Rover is in the foreground. Amazing engineering for the sixties. It’s the technology that got us where we are today.

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Gooseberry Garden

Poetry Picnic Week 14: What I’m Thankful for in My Life

Also published for:

 

poets-rally-week-60

Sonnet XXVII


Baby Stars Blasting Out Jets of Matter

Sonnet XXVII

In the minute birthplace of many stars,
A dazzlingly glowing blob of gas
Expels gusts of matter, blasts out scars
And hides luminaries in the dense mass.
Arc-shaped features are found within this scene;
bow-shocks rejuvenate faster than sound
as bursts of short vertical arcs careen
turbulently. Blue and red flares rebound
into violent filaments of pink.
Comma shaped jets curve into long streamers,
swimming in a mist of hydrogen ink.
Only the astronomers and dreamers
see the havoc caused on this exalted scale
where stars are born behind a gauze-like veil.

**********************

I saw this picture in the blog of @badastronomer , AKA Phil Plait, who writes for Discover Magazine. I knew I had to write a poem about this. This was written in 2011. It’s amazing that we can see stars being born, and understand that this is what we are seeing.
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The Poetry Pantry Is Now Open! – #75

Thursday Poets Rally Week 57 (December 1-7, 2011)

Sonnet VII


The Black Eye galaxy is seen in this Hubble Space Telescope image released in 2004.

Sonnet VII

“The Dark Mass Theory”

Pluralities of worlds occasionally
Fly steadily through narrow slits of gas.
We scan endless skies periodically,
Yet still we can’t explain how missing mass
Is found. Deterministic randomness
Pervades the structure of the universe;
A slice of space is deem’d homogenous
In density; such logic is perverse.
Flung envelopes of stars become surreal
Compared to the time dilation of the Earth;
Galactic flight around a dark pinwheel
Is slowed by something pulling on its girth.
Though theories seem to change and oscillate,
Reality will always subjugate.

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I wrote this in 1993. I found the concept of Dark Matter fascinating.

 National Geographic  can inform you further.

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Thursday Poets’ Rally  (November 3-November 9, 2011) Week 55