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 09-02-2018, 03:01 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,988
Default App


I have an app on my phone and when I point
it toward the sky it recognizes planets,
or satellites, or other heavenly joints.
Last night, alone, I enjoyed Jupiter
with its circles of gases and the brighter lights
that give it such a friendly, flaming feel.
I could have easily stayed up all night.
I knew, of course, the image is a graphic.
There is no way even our newest gadget
can capture Jupiter in all its glory
while playing space music, dark and tragic.
One would need to be an awful pedant
to want more from an app than location,
to ask for more from our earthly position.

Last edited by John Riley; 09-03-2018 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Corrected "pendant" and replaced "all night" with "alone"
Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2018, 06:14 PM
Jayne Osborn's Avatar
Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Middle England
Posts: 5,680

Hey, John, I have the "Sky Map'' app on my phone too! I'm constantly amazed by the number of totally unfamiliar names I come across... never heard of that one before...or that one... but it's hardly surprising, given the size of the universe!

Regarding your poem, I have a few thoughts:
First of all, I'd be inclined to say in L1 ''my phone'' (as I did, above) rather than ''the phone''; we all have one, after all, and it's more personal to refer to what's stored on one's own gadget.

Secondly, in L12 "One would need to be an awful pedantic", should either be "One would need to be an awful pedant", or "One would need to be awfully pedantic".

Otherwise, I like where you're coming from with this. I might have more thoughts, on further reading, but those are the two things that initially jump out at me.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2018, 07:50 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,740

John, You've posted this one before, I think. I liked it then as I recall and do now, though I would love to see more of what the app shows you than just flaming Jupiter. You are, on the other hand, writing about the limitations of the app vs. it's limited ability to show you anything real. But you could imagine...
I get a tongue-in-cheek sense that you, the N, are pedantic. Is that what you want me to sense?

Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2018, 04:55 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
Posts: 4,459

No, Jayne, not all of us have one. A phone like that, I mean. So this is from the perspective of somebody who doesn't do "apps".

You are telling me - showing me - how the thing works on your phone and I am watching it over your shoulder, holding my breath and trying not to touch it in case the picture does that sideways buggering-off that always happens when someone actually hands me their device.

And you are telling me that it isn't the sky I am seeing, it's a graphic, a picture, taken from a more sophisticated device and cobbled onto a basic map. "There you are", it says, "and here this is; you can't actually see it but if you could this is what it would look like". I have a great wave of fellow-feeling and I'm grinning at the limitations of the app and the common sense of the pedant. He is a man after my own heart, if not my choice of phone.

I wonder, though, about line 4, when you say that you have enjoyed Jupiter all night and then, in line 7, that you could have easily stayed up all night. Did you? Or am I missing your meaning?

Forgive me, that's my own pedantry having its earthbound say.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2018, 09:56 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,988

Jayne, thanks for the corrections. I've applied them. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jim, this is a remnant of an old much longer non-met poem. I hope it works better as a sonnet.

Ann, yep, that's the mood of the poem. The deterioration of interest in the app. I still use the app but don't forget what I'm seeing isn't real. I have to do that for many things and wish more people would do it too.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I struggle with met poems and can always use the help.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2018, 11:28 AM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Posts: 1,488

John, I don't get much out of this one. I don't know if I read its earlier form (it feels vaguely familiar), but here it suffers from being a sonnet, in that it feels like it's going through the motions of being a sonnet. Ah yes, there's the octet where we discover the app. Oh, and there's the turn into the sestet where we find that the image is just a graphic, not the thing itself. And, yes indeed, there's the final couplet where it all sums up into a tidy moral.

I also just don't find myself too interested in what the poem has to say. The image isn't the thing, but it's something, and we shouldn't ask too much of it—ok. Let's not be pedants, I agree. But the poem doesn't do more for me than repeat this fine advice. It doesn't twist it poetically.

I admire a lot of your poems, but this one lacks the depth of thought and feeling that I usually find there.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2018, 11:54 AM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 4,130

John, I don't want to detract even one bit from your poem, but you wannan easy real kick? Buy or borrow a current issue of Astronomy magazine, or get confusing info online, borrow a tripod and a pair of 8x binoculars, get outside on a clear night almost anywhere at the right season (check the Magazine) -- best outside a city -- in North Carolina that shouldn't be hard at all -- aim the optics at the bright point in the sky that isn't Venus or Mars, and there's Jupiter. With very, very, likely at least two of four of its readily visible moons. Make a tiny sketch. Do it again the next night. The moons have changed position and probably number. You are suddenly five hundred years old with a beard and squashed cap and are named Galileo. And thinking about how to explain this to passing shepherds that watch by night on a flat earth before the cock crows. It's really worth that small effort: magazine, tripod, binox. On one such night, take an aged relative along who's a Biblical literalist; ask her to look and just relax. Nothing is wrong.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2018, 06:19 AM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,764


For a poem about the heavens up high, this is down-to-earth; I mean that in a good way, as in that is part of what avails it I reckon (but then 'one' seems a different register, so why not you?). I find you showing me about this app nothing if not readily accessible and diverting. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that this piece could say what it does in fewer lines than fourteen, and I fear that it has been stretched out to fit the sonnet form.

The first seven words of the first line sound to me like they use more words than necessary, sound like a way of putting it that is not so concise. I think it would sound less that way without all monosyllables; since a succession of them, especially in an explicit passage, can sound a bit plodding and staccato (emphasizing a lot of connective-tissue words.) Not that you would do this per se but to test the prospect of condensing generally at least:
My cell phone with the app will recognize
and name celestial bodies in the skies:
First, Saturn hooked me with its rings last night
then Jupiter with its refulgent light
which gives it such a friendly, flamming feel—
a lofty world! with not a pixel real.
I would even prefer My cellphone has the app and when I point or The app works on my phone and when I point to
I have the app on my phone and when I point. More comments when I get a chance later.


Last edited by Erik Olson; 09-06-2018 at 01:57 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2018, 11:33 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,988

Thanks to all. I agree that it lacks that sonnet impact one gets from well-done sonnets. This could easily be non-met. I'm trying to write a good sonnet because I like them so. This one may not be it but anyone had specific suggestions on how to do it better I will be thankful.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2018, 02:39 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,651

Hi John,

“One must need to be an awful pedant”

reminds me of Wallace Stevens’s first line in “The Snowman”:

“One must have a mind of winter.”

I don’t have a cellphone actually, though I do have a computer. And I often look at pictures of celestial objects and articles about space and other scientific topics. I recently moved to a light-polluted city, so I can only see the Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, and the very brightest stars. No Milky Way or anything subtle. But I have learned the names and locations of most of the brightest stars, and on clear nights away from the city lights, I can identify them.

I find it amazing that almost everything around us now is a result of science: cellphones, computers, cars, lights and all other electrical devices like the fridge, the fan, the AC, the electric stove, and countless other things.

Satellites in space are of course what give your cellphone the ability to know where the planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and other space objects are located. That is also a remarkable scientific achievement.

Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity are what enable the GPS system to work right, because clocks slow down or speed up depending on gravity or speed.

Since you asked if anyone has specific suggestions, I have taken the liberty (hope you don’t mind) to fiddle with your poem.


My cellphone has an app, and when I aim
it toward the sky, it picks out planets, moons
or galaxies. It tells me each one’s name
while playing dark and tragic cosmic tunes.
It shows me Jupiter’s storms, the satellites
and rings of Saturn, the pillars in Orion,
where huge young stars are being born. On nights
murky as mud, the moon’s a dandelion,
for the images are graphic. What’s the point
of watching illustrations of the sky?
A pedant could gaze all night at each fake joint
of outer space. Not me! I’d rather buy
binoculars and stand in some dark field
to glimpse the real magic the heavens yield.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 09-05-2018 at 02:59 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: 7,942
Total Threads: 19,700
Total Posts: 254,593
There are 113 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