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David W. Parsley

Clips of the Horizon

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David W. Parsley

Clips of the Horizon

On January 1, 2019 the New Horizons spacecraft executed a flyby of Kuiper Belt object (KBO), 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule).

 

1.

Ultima Thule: it’s a rock.

No good for skipping.

Not a Sagan cross

 

placed to get us supposing

perhaps Divinity

willed the blink of arriving.

 

No, just an oblong ruddy

guitar case with swells

wobbling its uneventful way

 

down the Kuiper Belt.

It’s hidden strings had no

chance to strum or melt

 

out notes resonant to

the music of those spheres

formed in Sol’s accreted halo.

 

It’s only a spectator,

contact-binary Eremite

too cold to change one crater

 

or pebble of its 20-mile

extent since early exile

from Let’s Make the Worlds.

Just what the scientists ordered.

 

2.

Thule: long held

the place most remote

as antiquities tell

 

it.  Further, even those

adrenaline junkies

could not think to go.

 

Geographers now believe

they didn't all

manage to achieve

 

a common shore or people

describing blue skinned Picts

then wolf or seal

 

hooded Inuits

dwelling half submerged

in ice smoothed meter-thick

 

over whale bone.  Urged

there by who knows what

well-intentioned splurge

 

of zeal or eye for profit,

those first ones from Pytheas

to Saint Brendan brought

 

back tales of perpetual ice,

diminished sun spans, and

a certainty that there is

 

more beyond those lands,

a Georgic Ultima north

of any Thule then extant.

 

The name became a by-word

meaning “unattainable,”

till recently conferred

 

upon an improbable

KBO a billion

miles beyond the pole

 

of Pluto, New Horizons’

last place visited.

Attainment was harder than

 

even Virgil could

imagine: bridging distance,

cold, and airless void

 

like an archangel errant

of any motive other than

a glimpse of Sol’s defunct

 

planet-making brick-kiln.

The accretion models seem pleased

with the binary body found

 

glued together like my first grade

papier machete sculpture.

With just more questions raised,

it’s good for now to have made it here.

 

© 2019 David W. Parsley

Parsley Poetry Collection

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tonyv

Dave, as your other works have masterfully done, "Clips of the Horizon" presents as an amalgamation. The mysteries of mankind's place in this universe, his notion that "we're all in this together," as the level of collaboration the space missions so often the subject for your works implies is offset by his extreme and ultimate loneness, as inferred from Frost's "Desert Places" and now here from your very own portrayal of New Horizon's (mankind's, to wit) encounter with 2014 MU69 -- this nothing "oblong ruddy guitar case" that is "too cold to change one crater / or pebble of its 20-mile / extent."

Somehow, vast distance has great personal meaning to me. It serves as my muse. Sometimes when my poems take me to the ends of the earth, to where today conventional travel is possible even routine, I console myself by telling myself that still there are places in my imagination that tourists can't ever reach. When I read "Clips of the Horizon" I am hopeful that there will always be another Ultima Thule. Thank you for this.

Tony

 


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Tinker

Hi David,  Totally unknown territory. I am embarssingly ignorant in the space continuum.  I don’t even know if I said that right.  And yet reading your poem hurled me where I never thought to go.  I loved the sounds of your words and the images you conjured and now I’m going to google Kulper Belt.and Thule.and a few other names you used.  

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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David W. Parsley

Hi Tony, apologies for being slow to respond, I just wanted to do it right.  You and I both totally geek out and get high on vast expanses, experiencing new landscapes, the prospect of remote stars and mysteries beyond our current reach but beckoning to our expanding grasp.  I appreciate the shared resonance!  

On ‎1‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 5:08 PM, tonyv said:

Somehow, vast distance has great personal meaning to me. It serves as my muse. Sometimes when my poems take me to the ends of the earth, to where today conventional travel is possible even routine, I console myself by telling myself that still there are places in my imagination that tourists can't ever reach. When I read "Clips of the Horizon" I am hopeful that there will always be another Ultima Thule. Thank you for this.

Tony

 

It is ironic that the term Ultima Thule refers to the opening invocation section of Virgil's Georgics, where he includes Caesar in his catalogue of deities, asserting that influence as extended to the most remote (ultima) Thule and sufficient to consider inclusion as a new star in that divine firmament.

Georgics Book 1

As certainly as we have attained this "nothing" celestial object, we may perhaps add it to the dominion of human reach and knowledge, but also acknowledge that having "made it here" we simply push a little further out our next ultima, that to which we aspire but can claim only a hypothetical threshold of knowing.  Perhaps a measure of humility is in order as expressed by Edgar Allan Poe in his own reckoning of the ultimate.  The tenuous message sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft could have been lifted straight out of Poe's ominously atmospheric Dream-Land:

I have reached these lands but newly

From an ultimate dim Thule—

From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,

Out of SPACE— out of TIME.

Cheers,

 - Dave

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David W. Parsley

Hi Tink, I appreciate your willingness to read on in the face of a topic not in your usual sphere of consideration.  Achieving this almost unimaginably remote world renders a sensation to me similar to passages from the Book of Revelations or Paradise Lost (think of Lucifer assaying the perils of Chaos to achieve the newly formed Earth, setting down to consider the expanse of Eden from the summit of Nephates), or a musical piece like Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughn Williams.

Paradise_Lost_12.jpg

Paradise_Lost_14.jpg

I do not pretend that I have produced anything remotely like the nonplus of these works of literary and musical tour de force, but that is what space exploration is like for me.  Nor can I pretend that this modest celestial body in the far-off Kuiper Belt is anything like Eden, but the scientific revelation it presents is almost as profound.  Here is a relic of the solar system's planet formation action, a piece that was kicked by the wildly flailing gravity fields to its current frozen hermitage, an eremite in the best tradition of Keats:

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,

And watching, with eternal lids apart,    

Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task    

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask    

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

Cheers,

 - Dave

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tonyv

Dave,

I'm excited by the Poe reference you've shared. I haven't read a lot of Poe, so I'm looking forward to reading and enjoying "Dream-Land."

Of course, Keats' beloved "Bright Star" is a personal favorite of mine. And there's another one I think you might appreciate, too: Edgar Bowers' "The Astronomers of Mont Blanc."

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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dcmarti1

Loved this:

glued together like my first grade

papier machete sculpture.

Those pics are Gustav Dore, right? 😉

 

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