Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 19, No. 2, 2020
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Robert J. Lewis
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there and here



R.J.Andres, Ph.D, is a retired Long Island, New York, mathematics and English teacher and author of numerous math textbooks


Through cosmic surveillance by the Hubble telescope and other joint visionary projects, we have discovered one of the most substantive celestial puzzles: those spatial behemoths called black holes.

By definition, a black hole (also known as a singularity) is formed by imploding stars that have burned-up their fuel and collapsed into an infinitely dense core. One of the biggest black holes is more than 300 light-years away and weighs more than 21 billion stars.

Relentlessly stalking the galaxies for matter and energy, (with some of them millions of times more massive than our sun), these black holes can be ‘seen’ as exotic gravitational tombstones marking the demise of planets and stars. At the center of our barred spiral galaxy called The Milky Way -- measuring 100,000 light-years across -- we have our own impressive black hole.

However, regardless of the name, black holes really aren’t all that black. Surprisingly, despite the presence of gravity making even escaping light all but impossible, there is a bright accretion disk (like the rings of Saturn) surrounding those black holes.

Furthermore, the very boundary between this accretion disk and the black hole marks what is called the ‘event horizon,’ or the rather sinister point of no escape.

Despite the death throes of stars, planets, and gasses sucked into the black hole, somehow molecules of white-orange light from high-energy radiations are squeezed out of the sides like jelly from a donut to form that bright accretion disk. As a result, no one can miss the black hole?

Thus, while furiously consuming everything around them, each stellar-mass black hole
with this circular jelly is essentially a galactic narcissist screaming “notice me, notice me, notice me!” Or, to put it in social media terms, it’s all a cosmic Snapchat selfie with an ephemeral following of a billion disappearing stars.

As for our own exotic one-of-a-kind selves surfing daily in uncertainty, each of us is coping with our own continuous ‘event horizons,’ probing that quotidian puzzle called ‘now’ and thinking about whatever is next, each of us surviving what is now and expecting to do the same for what is next.

As for living through the now and next, poetry functions as our own accretion disk. And, to that end, listening for the light in the dark, each of the following poems suggests exposing our own singular ‘event horizons.’



Relatively speaking,
Einstein was seduced in time
by the cosmic tango of matter and energy,
that savage and intimate choreography
where matter teaches light and space
how to curve,
while matter itself, in the saddle of space,
is shown how to dance.
As for me,
with my arm hanging off the side of a drifting canoe,
I’m just another mindful captive
in the very same earth-curving cradle
of matter and energy,
my fingers skimming the lake water,
and my eyes busy chasing concentric ripples,
or spying by the shoreline
those dragonflies laddering over water-lilies,
or following the twisted charcoal thread
of some smoldering campfire’s smoke
drifting upward through the trees,
or in the quiet teasing figure-eights of fireflies.


If you think about it,
beside the awed feeling of being caught up in a net of stars
and overwhelmed by the Hubble’s
scoping out all that intergalactic darkness,
we should be speechless
knowing that there is anything here
rather than nothing.
But we are not,
and, instead,
we continue fingering life’s granular moments,
marking the rhythm of winter’s long sleep
and spring’s perennial lusts,
hallowing the warm rebirth of buried seeds
storming the muddy dark,
striving to be green again,
daring to thrust colors to the sky
and complete those winter dreams
of insurrection.

While earth is compelled to march in that elliptical parade
of sibling planets
perched on the arm of Orion in the Milky Way,
we can only wonder and chafe at Stephen Hawking’s
cerebral tissue of cosmic understanding,
as tangible as smoke,
asserting we have come from a place we can never know
and are being drawn to a place we can hardly imagine.

Be that as it may,
despite the cold indifference of dark matter
and the threatening gravitational waves of our own black hole,
there is no doubt
Gaia’s carnal embrace of the sun
is always
for the joy of all of us rooted here,
for that fish-hawk soaring on thermals off Cape Cod,
the black-oiled cormorant diving and disappearing in Boothbay,
the daring water-spiders skating impossibly across Jordan Pond,
and the lush scent of ploughed earth carried on the wind.

also by R.J. Andres
Two Poems



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Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
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