The well of fire

I am frozen at the event horizon and the crush has begun:
heart and mystery stretched between two infinities,
brazen hope to broken will.

But all is not lost. There is a mercy for the fallen
who are pulled in, weeping with the wonder of it,
landing (if you can call it that) with an implosion
more felt than loud, but joyous all the same.

It’s an eternity, that stop—there on the edge—
the frontal wave of a heartbeat
that never echoes again.
But that is, in truth, the event itself.
Wait for it.


Black holes are singularly (pun intended) interesting things. In a black hole, the event horizon is the point at which the gravity becomes so intense escape is impossible, even for light, hence the name. Moreover, time gets wonky around black holes. If you were to cross the event horizon of a black hole feet first, to an outsider you’d appear to hover on that edge forever, while to yourself you’d appear to become like a piece of spaghetti, as the gravity, being more intense at your feet than your head, stretched you out. And yet—and this is what made Stephen Hawking so darn famous in the first place—black holes leak energy. In fact even tiny amounts of matter falling to the core release horrific amounts of energy and black holes can have laser-like beams of energy and matter shooting out of them for thousands of light years.

It’s a hell of an analogy to work with!

Thank you for reading The well of fire. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled Explosion and was taken in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

11 responses to “The well of fire

  1. Lovely poem, John, and I also really enjoyed your piece on black holes. I am fascinated by outer space (and inner space too).

    • Thank you Denise, I knew that you would resonate to the idea of this poem. I am glad that you liked it. I just read your poem Last Song of Summer, and it is something I never consider…that as we slip into one season, you on the other side of the planet slip into the opposite season. I must say, thast as much as I try to enjoy winter…I am REALLY looking forward to spring. Now if only it would truly arrive…

  2. From brazen hopes to broken dreams… Event horizons are fascinating! I was writing a story on a similar theme and this may just force me to go back to it 🙂


    • Eizabeth, I look forward to your story! My favorite take on black holes in science fiction has to be the novel Gateway by Frederik Pohl, only one of several books in the Heechee saga. (I’ve read one or two but not the whole series…although Pohl is an excellent writer and I highly recommend him.)

      It’s the time dilation thing that blows my mind. For example, I just read that owing to their distance from the gravity well of earth, the clocks in the GPS satellites have to run a tad sower than clocks on earth…otherwise their navigation signals would be wrong. That for someone to figure this out is so cool…

      • It was turning into a bit of a novel, but it got off track! I’d like to read Pohl though, its been a while since I’ve had some good sci-fi 🙂

        I didn’t know that gravity affects time like that! That’s amazing! I wonder if they found out by trial and error or whether someone had figured it out in advance

      • Actually, figuring that out was Einstein’s third or fourth great claim to fame. His Special Theory of Relativity explained how time rates change based on the relative speed of the observer. But his General Theory then tied time into gravity and space and created what he described as the space-time continuum. Newspapers at the time bragged that the idea was so complex there were only “two or three people on the planet” who understood it. Personally, I think they were inflating that number. It took 50 years before instruments were accurate enough to prove the theory, but ever test of it thus far has proven it to be dead on. Except, of course, as one approaches the singularity of a black hole. Then all theories (including quantum mechanics) break down and reality gets turned on its head, pulled inside out out and stretched to the breaking point. The current theory is that our Universe is only one of an infinite number of universes (the multi-verse) and that the singularity of a black hole in our universe may mean the creation of an entire other universe, elseplace. Weird, huh?

      • Wah, Einstein still! I can’t imagine how he could be overshadowed. I have heard of the multi-verse before but I didn’t realize it tied in with black holes. Weird indeed!

  3. Lyn Tolar

    Nice poem!

  4. John-Man … This is dazzling … and my mind cannot turn off. ” … from brazen hopes to broken dreams … But even here all is not lost; there is mercy for the fallen who are drawn in joyfully …” The event horizon connects with the black hole, which connects (paradoxically? or no?) with being drawn in joyfully … Thanks for this post. T

    • T, to me the singularity (and oddness) of a physical black hole is like the singularity (and oddness) of total love and surrender, and the yielding of one’s will to that of God. It may be painful and surely means the destruction of your ego, but no matter your life and the mistakes you may have made, if you do this joyfully (as opposed to fearfully or for the promise of reward) it is done with pure intent and is acceptable. I know…it’s all sort of odd and weird, but that’s me, and that’s the oddness of a black hole. Obviously black holes and me “were made for each other.” 🙂