Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-12-2018, 12:13 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,174
Default A new hypothesis

Black Holes Have Hair

Black holes may sport a luxurious head of "hair" made up of ghostly, zero-energy particles, says a new hypothesis proposed by Stephen Hawking and other physicists. óLive Science, January 14, 2016

Black holes have hair. So what has that to do
with anything that we experience?
Do they like apple, mint, exotic scents
or universal fragrance-free shampoo?
Do they sport crew cuts, hime cuts, something new?
Garner honeyed words and compliments
from lady asteroids and stellar gents?
Stroll smugly down Galactic Avenue?

Scientists once considered black holes bald,
quite indistinguishable from each other,
but now believe they have a hairy halo
of phantom photons gracing heads as hollow
as speculation, and will fade and wither,
trumping the nothing that we first beheld.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 08:32 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,144


I really like the conceit of this, but I don't think the piece comes together as it might. I don't think the octave and the sestet are different enough (the first three lines of the sestet, for instance, add very little new). I enjoy the off-rhymes in the sestet, but the two stanzas almost feel like two different poems juxtaposed, but treading too-similar ground.

I could see a sonnet of the sort working really well on this conceit:

[Do they] Garner honeyed words and compliments
from lady asteroids and stellar gents?

Or, taking lopping off the octave entirely, making it something quite different, and then using that new juxtaposition to create meaning.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 08:54 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,309

I like the light-hearted personification.

Although the epigraph (which may not be the only place these particles are compared to hair) puts the hair on a head, the line "Black holes have hair" doesn't suggest the same thing. The idea of hairy black holes resonates with the (male) literary tradition of equating female genitalia/sexuality with nothingness and, at the same time, a scary power that can't be understood. The poem might fruitfully explore this.

(In fact, if you're not interesting in pursuing that, I might.)
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 09:33 AM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is online now
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 7,607

Hi Martin,

I think your approach is too straightforward and too quick to go to the lite. The humor is predictable.

I am struck at first by the flat explication/setup set to iambic pentameter promising something bleak that is promptly delivered. The opening lines of the sestet have a similar flatness as it changes tone and takes a different cut at the subject--not quite a volta, more like a start over feeling.

I think the sonnet form could be put to better use on whatever rises from the idea of scientists identifying black hole hairs suggesting a poem.

I hesitated in commenting--we are familiar with each others' opposing approach to science in poetry ~,:^) I hope this was useful.


Last edited by Rick Mullin; 07-13-2018 at 09:35 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 11:05 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 5,356

I don't think this is a sonnet-shaped idea, Martin. It would be better as a vehicle for fluff and hair puns, instead of reaching for Significance.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 07-13-2018 at 11:07 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 12:15 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,174

Hi Julie, Rick, Max, and Andrew,

Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your feedback very much, as well as the suggestions. Your reaction to the poem is pretty much what I suspected would be the case.

I suppose I did make a sketchy attempt in the sestet of “reaching for significance.” But it didn’t work. I knew it didn’t work. Especially since the octave has numerous hair puns.

I found out about a poet (Kate Sontag), who is trying to put together an anthology of hair poems.

So I sent her some, and she especially liked the “serious one” among them. The others were all more or less light verse. When I read some science articles about black holes having hair, it occurred to me that maybe I could make a poem out of the theme. But I got carried away with corny humor instead of trying for something more earnest. I realized, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to do something truly in depth with this topic, since even the most brilliant physicists don’t fully understand black holes, among the most enigmatic things in nature. I surely don’t want to write a science essay in the guise of a poem! It wouldn’t be a poem.

Rick - I sort of know how you feel about science and poetry. And I agree that my approach to this was too straight forward.

Max - Thanks for saying you like the “light-hearted personification.” I hadn’t at all thought of the phrase “black holes have hair” as having sexual connotations. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I can see how that could be the case. Nevertheless, here are a couple of links with that phrase. 1

Andrew - I’m glad you like the conceit. I agree that the octave and sestet are not distinct enough from each other. If I work on this poem more, I’ll see if I can do something shorter than a sonnet. I like your suggestion for doing something with the two lines that begin: “garner honeyed words ...” Also, as you said, I could cut the octave and start the poem with the sestet and see where it goes.

Julie - I totally agree. I could either go for droll or whimsical or, alternatively, try for something more interesting (which is far harder, on a very hard subject). Which tells me that maybe I should put this one on ice until I get some better ideas, which could very well be years!

Last edited by Martin Elster; 07-13-2018 at 12:59 PM.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,895
Total Threads: 19,066
Total Posts: 245,353
There are 86 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online