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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

An Apple In The Eye Of The Beholder

An Apple In The Eye Of The Beholder

In 1686, Newton published his Principia,
Defined the term, “gravity,” and bound
It scientifically as the supernatural force

With three immutable laws that governs
The universe, forever removing it
From the realm of man, where it was

Previously a measure of seriousness
And eminent sway, influence, describing
The significance and consequence

Of individual men, like the leaders of
The Italian city-states or the church,
Whose political clout was demonstrated

By the number and quality of the crowd
He attracted to himself, that backed him,
Sponsored him, upheld his honor in duels,
And allowed him to rove, make the rules.

-Mark F. Herron
On gravitas and relativity, some reference to Romeo and Juliet. / Not your garden-variety apples, those, and yet…

On the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton.  Note the tercets (rules of three), and final relative quatrain (plus one's relatives in the crowd or if one has been adopted by a sponsor), and nice little end rhyme on the final couplet.  Consider all that apples have done!  ;-)  First line taken directly from the historical anecdote on today’s Writer’s Almanac.  See:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Data Wandered From The Cloud

My Data Wandered From The Cloud
By Zero Bucksworth

My data wandered from The Cloud
In weak web forms and old emails,
And all at once I saw a crowd
Of logged-in, cyber-criminals
Who checked, then stole my bank monies,
Went online shopping as if me!

Both in large and small amounts
Like water down an open drain
I watched them empty my accounts
Of all I'd earned, all I'd saved,
Plus thousands-of-dollars, then, they charged
To my one-click credit card!

My mouse beside me danced, but they,
Out-raced my cancel-clicks with glee
And email rules, they put in play
To auto-delete or send: "agree."
I gazed amazed, how, quick as thought
My wealth to them, the Internet brought.

Now oft, when asked for P.I.I.,
Which bank account to choose,
My real details, I falsify
& Only pre-paid cash-cards use
To hide myself from further fraud
And poor security in The Cloud.

-Mark F. Herron.  
A romantic-ish Information Security work...pastiche/parody...whatever...  See: 
(I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, by William Wordsworth)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lasting Myths

Lasting Myths


Those are the works of madmen. Song

And theology intertwined - symbols

Impressed upon them by priests along

With the grave narratives of great halls

And cursed houses destined to fall.

Like churches they stand, or museums

Solid-seeming and removed, marble

And glass, gold, silver, polished brass.


They tell us our fates are inescapable

As they weave into the chaos, morals

And rigid lessons presented as parable

From a pulpit beneath groined vaults

Or in arcane languages, inscrutable

And convincing as any woven spell.

We might change our ways or reflect

Were it up to our minds and intellect.


Blind beggars in the illuminated desert

We seek pavement, thrust for firmament,

We feel our ways along instead.

Our heavy staffs probe for the inert,

Next unshifting, certain place to step

And we imagine all around us trees

And shade, a pleasant place to rest;
Gardens in the darkness we have made.


I pray someday we’ll play out gentler tunes

Not of wars and vengeance, impending doom

But the simpler fare of upheld, honest stuff

As plain as the earth and waters, as rough

As only bark or stone. But the old religions

And new tribes rise and overwhelm us!

They take the stage and hold all sway

As we’re consumed again by anger, rage.


-Mark F. Herron
Doing a Yeats thing (but not removing from it - more involved with some irony in performance instead and different rhyme).  See also: 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Company I Keep

The Company I Keep

I gaze with growing envy as my days grow short
At the houses of my neighbors, busy with every sort
Of activity, from the bustle of birthdays and holidays
With children at loose ends, the comings and goings
Of schoolmates, close and distant relatives, friends,
To all the chores and tidying up of things in need
Of mend: they’re like mad houses of calamity!

Here, in my quiet house on my side of the street
Things are orderly and neat; rarely comes a visitor
Except in times of need, to ask of me my signature
On some political sheet, or to solicit then from me
Support to combat suffering, endow some charity.
They never stay to chat, but business-like, retreat
And lonely, I’m reminded, of the company I keep.

-Mark F. Herron
The day after the day after Christmas, and the house is quiet and empty.  :-(  But the one across the street isn't!  Maybe I'll wander over there later...  :-)  An evenly split sonnet contrasting personal vs. business, chaotic vs. orderly, richness vs riches, etc. - and about it all coming down to good company and the worthy company you keep.  The poem could also be rendered in approximately 3 beats per line, for a much longer look (but I like it packed more tightly this way) - Lots of internal rhymes and pauses (ceasurae).  Classic lonely/reflecting poetic irony...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Far Above And Far Away

Far Above And Far Away

'Twas Christmas Eve when I alone
Decided to head out,
Away from all the bells and cheer
That were ringing out.

In town, the crowds they jostled
And bought each other gifts,
"As if one could buy happiness,"
Down my nose, I sniffed:

"True happiness comes not from things
Bought with coin or gold,
But that one treasures in one's heart,
And mindful, one beholds."

So to the woods I made my way
And solitude sought then,
As if, far above and far away
I'd be happy, when

Upon a clearing bright I came
Covered all in snow,
And there beheld both stars above
And twinkling below.

Those stars they shone like prayers,
Upon us all, bequeathed,
And sparkled on the snow below
In gentle love and peace.

Before that heaven here on earth
And silence I knelt down,
And there gave thanks for everything,
And for everyone.

-Mark F. Herron
Merry Christmas Everyone!

My Love

My Love

I've shopped this earth and want for naught;
Everything, anyone can imagine, I've got:
I've gold and brass from the desert, waters
Like silver from remote mountain rivers,
Spices from the islands, meat from the plains,
Wine from the terraced hills, and grains
From the fields. I've got fruits and nuts ripe
From the trees, sweet melodies from the pipes,
And hand-cut jewels from the deepest mines,
Plus polished marbles from ancient times
When the great heroes roamed these lands
And made trophy of all in fancy and demand.
    But of all the world's treasures I've accrued,
    None brings me as much pleasure as you.

-Mark F. Herron
For Diane.  A classical love sonnet (for love poems to work, they've got to be over the top!)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Moment To Consider

A Moment To Consider

As in dark woods, alone and lost, I reeled
from trunk to trunk, seeking for a way
To pass, some open path to travel by.
Dense and tangled, sharp and close, at me
The twigs and branches tore; vines entwined
Around me, thick leaves my sight obscured.
I was unsure of what to do and where to go;
I knew not then which way to even turn!

Till on a clearing bright I came, with space
To move, room to breathe and a little view
Where I could stop to rest a while, consider
What to do. That small amount of pause,
I found, afforded me the chance to recompose
My thoughts, my wit, and escape the trance.

-Mark F. Herron
An ode to reflection (and the stanza break!) and complicated line.  Along the theme of need for perspective, context, and distant horizons.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Forgive Them As They Practice What They Know

Forgive Them As They Practice What They Know
(The Case For Charity)

Forgive them as they practice what they know,
Emerging from the heat and desert sands;
Hold no grudge and let them peaceful go.

As broken families they arrive, together hold,
Offer them your food and helping hands;
Forgive them as they practice what they know.

Be generous in greeting, patience show,
Do not make of them burdensome demands.
Hold no grudge and let them peaceful go

And do not unfounded hurt nor insult throw,
For compassionate is he who understands;
Forgive them as they practice what they know.

All seek but solace, yet may suspicious grow
Wary of enemies in strange, roving bands;
Hold no grudge and let them peaceful go.

Provide them welcome space to find new homes
As they fearful pass into our foreign lands.
Forgive them as they practice what they know;
Hold no grudge and let them peaceful go.

-Mark F. Herron
A villanelle in holiday spirit (though such charity can also be taken advantage of - this seeks to examine the 99% acting in good faith and unfortunate circumstance).  It also manages to carry the idea that refugee status could befall anyone. Lots of biblical overtones.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Cusp Of Heaven

The Cusp Of Heaven

As He the cloth of heaven wrought
With gold and silver stars,
He wove in time and space our place
Of planets and pulsars:

He scattered galaxies like foam
On waves of gravity,
And set before us infinite space
To sail as open seas:

"Go forth and multiply," He cried,
"Find universal peace!
Release your past for great unknowns,
Future discoveries."

Across that fabric we someday
Might traverse and trek,
Should we, like sailors, venture forth
From this tiny speck.

-Mark F. Herron
For Miles. A stepping stone to Mars, straddling past and future (on the cusp of heaven).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Commercial For Levity

A Commercial For Levity*

Tired of gravity getting you down,
That inevitable narrative
Of the decline and fall;
Not what goes up, but after?
Try a little levity.
That’s right, levity!
Raise your eyebrows and smile!
Laugh a little, a lot, out loud!
Grow young again.
Look up,
Look around - at all around -
And break into spontaneous song!
Celebrate the world around you;
Run, dance, jump for joy.
Don’t be a naysayer, be a yaysayer:
Put some wind under your wings and fly!

* Saying yay leads to frequent agreement. While associated with gravity, levity is an opposite force responsible for buoyancy and delight. Anyone can do this; you should try it yourself and everywhere and at home: not restricted to professionals nor exercise on a closed track. Levity is open-ended and frequently found outdoors. 

-Mark F. Herron
A fun idea from a PBS radio interview I heard about them running 120-word commercials for ideas and things, not products, back in the 1970s.  So, I thought I'd try writing one of about that length.  I decided it should have a little satyrical post-script or disclaimer like drug ads do these days too.

I was also thinking this would be an interesting marketing theme for Levis.  Imagine the foregrounded word Levity followed by either a definition or some statements about it (as above) while in the background and maybe slightly out of focus behind the words and definitions, people are enjoying themselves dressed in Levis clothes.  A number of scenes could play out as the definitions refresh, and then the word itself transitions from Levity to Levis.  (And there's a nice unspoken aspect of Blue Jeans being a cure for blue genes...)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

On Coldwater Lake

On Coldwater Lake
(December 18, 2016)

Today, the lake
Froze over
And all the squabbling
Geese flew off,
A few ducks madly
Flapping in tow.

-Mark F. Herron 
A study in suggestion, contrast, unity; motion and sound.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

From The Sky To The Center

From The Sky To The Center
(We Are As Wind)

Standing on this soil I see
The sun, clouds, an airplane
Fly over me. I feel the rain
Then hear it wash away
Or soak into the ground.
From under me the waters
Run, the oil is drawn, the
Minerals gone, and gases
Piped to miles away. Where
Before were also birds
And trees, the cattle herds
Low and mow the grasses
Or the tractors plow,
And the winds rise, blow.

-Mark F. Herron
A sonnet-length, native study of center, property, resources, use, and the projection and consequence of passing, ownership (we are as wind).  “From the sky to the center” (a caelo usque ad centrum, or even: cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos) is a latin term relating to the legal principle of ownership.
  See also Wikipedia's list of latin phrases, or:,_eius_est_usque_ad_coelum_et_ad_inferos

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Lasting Fields

The Lasting Fields

Having used them extensively,
I might simply say that deictics
In lyric poetry and other writings
Substitute for characters and scene,
Create that three-way relationship
We find in dialogue. Only we're
Longer involved as readers than
Audience members attending
A theater production, because
We don't encounter the language
As speech between two others
Up on that stage, there and then.
We populate the scene ourselves.
Scholars accomplish this same trick
But with the resolute certainty of
My conclusive opinion, by quoting
Extensive references to build an
Elder panel or chorus of convincing
Experts from an arcane market-
Place or crowded agora, surrounded
By the lasting fields and fertile rows
Of our sown, implanted minds.

-Mark F. Herron
This (from Jacket2) is pretty interesting (good stuff!), if a bit dizzying:

I'd noticed it too in Frost (his flat-out use of dialogue in some, but then that undefined other in others, or a real mix of them (like in Mending Wall)), but I didn't know it/they had a name: deictics.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Like Venus, Earth Hangs In The Sky

Like Venus, Earth Hangs In The Sky

After Mars was settled and Earth,
The home planet, exhausted and
Consumed by wars and rage,
And the planet was terraformed
And an atmosphere and oceans
Were sustainably engineered,
Those inhabitants long forgot
Where they came from. Then based
Upon their absence of fossils
And lack of any other way to explain
How life seemed to have recently
Sprung into existence (geologically
Speaking), they created “Makers”
And a theory of intelligent design.

-Mark F. Herron
A Stepping Stone To Mars sonnet with cold-war theme (on the anniversary of the final moonwalk of the final Apollo mission (December 14, 1972). The "Blue Marble" picture was taken on December 7, 1972). 

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available — once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes plain — a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”  Fred Hoyle, 1948.

When They Landed On The Moon

When They Landed On The Moon

Beside this fiery planet, they found
Evidence of Man. The Apollo
Missions, though few, left enough
Material behind that the aliens
Detected it and landed nearby
To investigate those signs of life
And intelligence on the long cold,
Dead satellite. At first baffled,
They had to conclude that Man
Had come instead from the nearby
Lifeless globe, that wracked earth
Still consumed by nuclear fires,
And those upheavals there were
Not the natural state of things.

-Mark F. Herron
A Stepping Stone To Mars sonnet with cold-war theme (on the anniversary of the final moonwalk of the final Apollo mission (December 14, 1972). The "Blue Marble" picture was taken on December 7, 1972).  

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available — once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes plain — a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”  Fred Hoyle, 1948.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

Our behaviors aren’t the problem,
Only the driving part’s new;
We seem to be driving distracted:
It is known that driving is dangerous.
We ticket & arrest drivers pre-crash
For swerving, weaving, being angry
At the wheel, texting, phone-calling,
Putting on make-up, and reading,
Even when that “driver” is carefully
Sleeping it off across their back seat
And the car itself isn’t moving
(Arrested for a-resting arrested).
And yet I haven’t seen sin taxes
From drinking, smoking, fast food
Take-out, and those fines used
To fund public transport as good.
    Our behaviors aren’t the problem,
    Only the driving part’s new;
    We seem to be driving distracted.

-Mark F. Herron

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cut Your Vines

Cut Your Vines

With advice about time, cut your vines,
We explore the notion of time like a vine
Of cutting grown, not seed, a grape vine

Producing eventually, naturally, a wine,
Or a juice, preserve, or translucent jelly:
That for which by us it was cultivated.

Cut and tied to a post, strung like wire
Along a roadway, extending back toward
A hill and over: row upon row of vines.

Turning the corner, driving by, extending
Back toward the horizon like narrow roads
Between telephone poles, telegraph lines.

Vines with nodules (those must be grapes)
Clustered, like events along a timeline
With flat green leaves flapping, keeping time

Or cupping the vine, a hand cupping wine,
Swirling it and savoring its 'aged aroma':
How like damp earth it smelled on the vine,

Of cutting grown, not seed, a grape vine.
We explored the notion of time like a vine
With advice about time, cut your vines.

-Mark F. Herron
A poem recognizing time.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Have We Run Out Of Positions Yet?

Have We Run Out Of Positions Yet?

Have we run out of positions yet?
Have we every argument met?
Long ago, before language, then news
Nobody had any views
But those found in natural scenes
Not hashtags and Internet memes.
How I miss those days! For example,
I once held in my hand a plain apple;
It didn’t make calls nor record the falls
Of people in gardens or malls.
But it did have a sweet, juicy bite
Like Smith’s sassy grandmother might
On finding him gone, off to Washington
To fight against all that corruption.
“You go son!” She’d undoubtedly cry
Knowing still he’d face slander and lies
As he stood up to plead: “be honest or sweet,”
They’d send out such faux-outraged tweets.

Though we claim a high righteousness,
We then spew vitriolic ‘largess’
From positions promoting that mess
Of ‘victim-hood for self-success.’  
Sometimes I do miss, I confess,
Being unplugged, not filled with duress
Over race or age, over girls or boys,
And how no one these days may enjoy
Just being themselves, and well-met.
Have we run out of positions yet?

-Mark F. Herron
A ironic (and uneasy, complicated, critical) spin on a different poem causing such outrage and distress ("Have They Run Out Of Provinces Yet?" See:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shelter In Place

Shelter In Place

Perhaps when the moon comes up,
Or on a dark and cloudless night
When all the stars are visible
From this flat plain, we'll gain
That sense of perspective on how
Small we are, with our worries
And our concerns, and the great
Distance everything real is away.

But this situation has no boundary,
Like being underwater or trapped
Inside where we can hear others,
And everyone is trying to get out:
Without space, that distant horizon
Where the world opens up into view,
We remain lost, as rats in our maze
Of short turns knowing not what to do.

-Mark F. Herron
A work about our senses of desperation. It applies to many situations (including over-Internet use and how the virtual world can consume and come to seem more real or important than the real one).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Collecting Apples

Collecting Apples

It's apple season again and my neighbor’s
Lie fallen on the ground. “If they were grapes,”
My wife says, “they’d be withered on the vine.”
He lives two miles away but on clear days
I’m sure he can see our house too. Sometimes
I see his windows move, open, then shut.
They reflect the light in their swinging.

She sends the children out to gather some.
The apples, I mean, fallen on his ground.
They duck beneath the split rail fence, bags
In hand, run for some that fell this morning.
It’s obvious which are new, and as she’s been
Sending them around, it’s obvious too,
Not all his fallen apples reached that ground.
“He’ll notice this,” I tell her. “There aren’t
Enough apples on his ground, and the ground
Beneath our apple trees is bare - we’re
The only collectors of apples around here.”
“Nonsense,” she says. “He doesn’t want them.
Or why would he leave them lie, by and by?
It isn't proper there that they should lie."

“I think his wife and children planted those
Before they died," I say. "They were his pride
But he lost them; now no one's by his side.”
"But we are!" She so brightly replies.
"As we're the closest by, with his apples
We'll make him fresh pies! You, my love,
May deliver them to his door, a good neighbor."
And she insists, but I worry for our children,
As I'm not sure he's feeling so obliged.
I’ve seen him hunt along his property,
And peer or sight to shoot the deer before
They cross back into woods, over his line.
Sometimes the apples draw them, sometimes
The garden crops he grows near his home.
I think he waits till we're alone for
My wife's not been at home when he shot one,
As they turned and in their running fell,
Or tripped before the fence and tumbled down.

But in the afternoon she sends me. I dress
Brightly and walk along his fence the long
Two miles. He greets me at the gate without
A smile. "Good neighbor," I say, "my wife
Sends these in gratitude. Our children love
The apples as we hope you'll do, and she says:
It's in the shelter of others people live."
"But an old ox needs no shelter," he replies,
"And I have good fences to mark my property,"
As he points to them, then to my eyes.

-Mark F. Herron
Channeling Frost - Mending Wall, but more too.  Was thinking about proverbs about shelter.  Thought I'd see if I could likewise, construct a folksy yet (un)easy scene.  I think the dialogue is key (this one had a few more characters though - also not sure about the verb tense.  I think I got the punctuation right, and decided to add a few stanza breaks too).  Pentameter(ish).  Is a follow-up to another one about apples, and trespass small being neighborly.