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David W. Parsley

What the Future Dares

... till the Future dares / Forget the Past, ...

"Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats,"

Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821

 

Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved

when the wind blew?

"The Last Leaf," O. Henry

 

It wasn’t about Behrman’s masterpiece

or petals from the sick child’s flower,

nor what the girl from Kansas found

in the dusty back yard where real leaves

darken and drop like packaged rainbows.

 

Some few tout expired courtesies

shifting with Alvin and Whitey, the boy

who could not run as fast as his fellow,

porches posing bare ruined choirs

where late the latch key hides

unlooked-for tyrannies among the stuff.

 

It preceded a resumed cowardice

poising us high on boards of water

to surrender the hard won liberties.

Such betrayals have always chased us

hand in hand from pluming towers

on descents for later repudiation.

 

When the planes returned still pregnant

human cargo, attendant baggage, fire,

did upper reaches of the self-made labyrinth

sense fingers trace to world’s oblivious center

trailing shadows in art colony, belfry, slum,

entrance to subways’ prophetic walls?

 

They who passed above our non-plus

entered that oblivion a defining wave

of prey to revealed contagion planted

in common furrow to our sustaining

works and charities, craft, invention, cures

for cancers, tau-mediated degeneration.

 

Clear forensic eludes. At Krajina,

Glasgow, Cairo, and Tashkent,

the black sites render inventive wrongs:

the forgetting in our darker dares coupled

like smoke bled orchestrated immolations

to leave us rocking spectators agape

never-agains that haunt but not compel.

 

Absent depone, the immolators emerged

striding mists prefiguring such plumes

with diminutives banned the learning places

offering throats to goalish stanchions or

stones drawn from a hundred hands

like rain to wash our culpable extremes.

 

Such excess tempts more forgiveness

than found at Gettysburg and Shiloh

reversing the rituals of desecration

when dispatch to rightful station

presaged approaching railway escort

to gas chamber and killing field.

 

It is here the daring flickers brightest

through the discredited inmost veil

threatening to torch creation’s face

with Dream tales shaping civility

through our disobedience.

 

Then crowd shining eyes to memorial steps

as less tremulous word goes forth

finding time and place at Washington,

Tiananmen, Sabarmati Ashram,

Cairo again, now thawing in wind

arrived from lift of Tunisian night.

 

Generations ascend from their knowing

to relearn the debt ceiling of intolerance

adjacent the other jostling blunders waiting

to append fresh bubbles and crashes,

pyramids and labor towns, catastrophic

alliances with their ruined streets.

 

Blameless we forecast sidestep

of killing fogs, mustard hued precipitation,

fresh eboli sprung from canister or thicket,

mushrooming gales on waves of light.

With dam and inoculation, popular fiat, web,

kinetic kills, daunting ducts and bridges,

we thwart such contest to our sovereignty.

 

These number deeds like star voyages.

Though through genomic probings

man should breathe the breath of lion,

take on knowledge of scorpion,

wisdom that is asp, we fear not

advent of that strange and other soul.

 

Then may human reach to silicon

and frame its pre-sentient dust,

inscribing her perfected image,

speaking her Watson, new Deep Thought.

Then could human breathe to Not

the currents that may or not be soul.

 

In that ecumenical hour of awakening,

dull gaze lifted as from sickbed confusion,

what dread hand or eye will move

through gusts and any height demanded,

with brush or finger settle leaf among

brittle vinery, myrtle, or yew so fixed

it should neither tremble nor fall?

 

 

© 2012 David W. Parsley

 

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Larsen M. Callirhoe

masterful, masterpiece David.

 

 

victor

Larsen M. Callirhoe

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David W. Parsley

Thank you, Victor.

 

- Dave

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This complex but highly readable work draws in from numerous sources, imagery, fact and allusion relating to the human condition and the way things are. With regard to the future. One could say that Necessity is the Mother of Invention or argue that the future looks bleak (except for those who control great might). Stephen Hawking said the future of mankind is dependent upon leaving this planet. Carl Sagan said that realistic space travel is as far in our future as Columbus is in the past. Meanwhile we each deal with whatever faces us as current rates of population explosion and climatic changes leave us all wondering who will make the harsh decisions as to who will lower their standards of living so that others may simply eat and survive. Alternatively, will humanity be culled by famine, war, pestilence and terminal illnesses, or by man himself.

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i've read this 3 or 4 times- and it still moves me. It is simply a fantastic piece deserving of fully embraced encounter. i'll get bak when I have some thing of significance- other than good job! Juris

thegateless.org Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-) Or if your bored, head to the Zazzle store: https://www.zazzle.com/store/gateless. If you buy anything I lose a bet, so consider that before you violate the digital rules.

 

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David W. Parsley

Thanks to all who have found this difficult piece to be worth the effort of returning. Before replying individually, I would like to offer a suggestion to those who would find the guidance worthwhile. A reading of the opening and closing stanzas of "Adonais" would shed a little light on some phrasing, images, and major themes (i.e. the last two tags) of the poem.

 

Perhaps even more helpful: If it has been a while since you read "The Last Leaf" of O. Henry, a revisit might help identify a few of the players explicit or implicit to the poem's action. (Not to mention that it is a delightful story in its own right.) The poem includes and expands on the story's setting, a New York art colony. Characters who figure into it are Johnsy, Sue, the doctor, and old Behrman, the "failed" artist. There is even a personification that expands on the sinister Pneumonia who stalks the art colony.

 

The poem first passed through an email round robin that includes the distinguished poet, Clarence Socwell. At the request of some members of the group, I produced a list of notes, somewhat in the mode of T.S. Eliot for "The Waste Land." I can post those notes here, as well, if desired.

 

Thanks Again,

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

stimulating cerebal work-what is your IQ David?

It is always a pleasure to hear a note of appreciation for my poems from you, Barry.

 

I'm sure we all get questoned about IQ from time to time. Realizing the poem is rather far ranging in the topics it touches upon and the disparate events and works alluded to, I have to confess that simply means I have a wide range of interests combined with an acumen for making odd connections. Having never taken a standardized IQ test, I took an on-line version four years ago that estimated mine to be 140. I also have an ACT score of 29 which was weighed by a peculiarly poor showing on the English section(!). So that tells me I am in the 130 to 140 range. Probably not that unusual on a site like this one. I wouldn't be surprised to learn we have a 160 or higher somewhere here.

 

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

 

 


This intricate and well written piece demands to be reread to capture all of its nuances. So many avenues were opened, great job David.

~~Tink

Hi Tinker, thanks for telling me that the poem works for you. As I have said before, you are one of my more important checkpoints to know if I have strayed from my aim of always bringing appealing poetry that discerning readers will enjoy. It is not enough to have a good idea. The language and imagery, the emotive connection, must be there.

Thanks,
- Dave
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David W. Parsley

i've read this 3 or 4 times- and it still moves me. It is simply a fantastic piece deserving of fully embraced encounter. i'll get bak when I have some thing of significance- other than good job! Juris

Thanks for the encouraging word, Doc. I look forward to your insights. The ones I did not know were there and the ones that I did.

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

This complex but highly readable work draws in from numerous sources, imagery, fact and allusion relating to the human condition and the way things are.

I knew it was complex; thanks for confirming the readability, Benjamin. And for noting the piece's range.

With regard to the future. One could say that Necessity is the Mother of Invention or argue that the future looks bleak (except for those who control great might). Stephen Hawking said the future of mankind is dependent upon leaving this planet. Carl Sagan said that realistic space travel is as far in our future as Columbus is in the past. Meanwhile we each deal with whatever faces us as current rates of population explosion and climatic changes leave us all wondering who will make the harsh decisions as to who will lower their standards of living so that others may simply eat and survive. Alternatively, will humanity be culled by famine, war, pestilence and terminal illnesses, or by man himself.

The very kind of thinking the poem was meant to provoke: one's own speculations and extensions from the present condition of humanity. The poem just offers one person's framework, with lots of room to improvise.

 

Thank You,

- Dave

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Dave.

The poem sparkles like a gem at each reading: each expression is capable of drawing the reader through a different avenue of thought. I was going to mention Eliot's Wasteland after my initial visit (which prompted the comments). All in all this is an outstanding and stimulating piece of work which indicates the joy of literature and also revels in the use of tasteful language. It's a pleasure to come back and read it over. Ben.

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David W. Parsley

Very grateful for the eloquent tribute, Ben. I am also interpreting it as an invitation to append a few notes. Here are the ones I prepared for the round robin members who first reviewed the poem. I should acknowledge here that the poem benefited greatly from their inputs, most notably resulting in addition of stanzas four and five (the poem is much less integrated and complete without them), and modification of the beginning of stanza six. Here are the notes:

Here is a list of references that should get you through the first two thirds of the poem. More later, when I get a moment!

NOTES FOR READER:

1. “Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821. The date is important, starting the clock on a consideration of what the Future did and will do. Principal references in this poem are to the opening and closing stanzas.
2. “The Last Leaf,” by O. Henry, is a very short story of great emotional power. It is key to the poem’s appeal to what the author (me) considers a pair of eroding aspects of modern society: a common value set defining what is best in our fellow human being; the power of Art to console and strengthen.
3. References to early 20th century movies in first two stanzas
. a. It’s a Wonderful Life
. b. The Wizard of Oz
. c. Sergeant York
. d. Boys Town
. e. Angels with Dirty Faces
4. Sonnet 73, Shakespeare– itself a veiled lament of lost values, esp. w.r.t. children
5. Latch key children – a common modern quandary for working parents
6. Obscure reference to I Samuel, when Saul showed reluctance in assuming kingship of Israel
7. Several references ensue, addressing events and fallout form 9-11.
8. References to cities that hosted “black sites” through which the “rendition” process harshly interrogated or passed suspicious detainees to countries that practice aggressive techniques, including water boarding.
9. Never Again is the mantra adopted by the international community in the wake of the Holocaust and the confinement of Japanese descent Americans during World War II.
10. “Goalish stanchions” refers to the Taliban practice of hanging girls (“diminutives”) from soccer goal equipment for the offense of attending school. [and the play on word, "ghoulish"]
11. Reference to stoning of girls and others for various offenses in extremist societies, including those under Taliban rule or influence.
12. Gettysburg and Shiloh refer to two particularly bloody battlefields from the American Civil War, exemplifying the lengths to which we sometimes are willing to go to right social injustice.
13. Gas chamber is another reference to the Holocaust.
14. Killing fields refer to atrocities committed by Pol Pot and his regime (Khmer Rouge) in 1970s Cambodia.
15. “Discredited inmost veil”, i.e. Heaven, as movingly described in “Adonais” final stanza. One of those compromised values, for good or ill.
16. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech reference.
17. Civil Disobedience, by Henry Thoreau, guiding principle adopted by Ghandi and King.
18. Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy excerpt echoed: “Let the word go forth from this time and place that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…”, with tag back up to the torching action in previous stanza.
19. Partial honor role of peaceful rebellions, successful and otherwise:
. a. Washington: MLK’s speech again and the USA civil rights movement
. b. Tiananmen: the square where Chinese authoritarian rule was challenged in 1980s, tragically crushed by brutal means
. c. Sabarmati Ashram: site of Ghandi’s Salt Rebellion
. d. Cairo and Tunisia: Arab Spring, now in progress
20. “If the People Wanted” by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi, rallying poem for the Tunisian movement.

Later references to Watson and Deep Thoughtprobe the potential of Artificial Intelligence, citing machines that have bested humans in complex tasks. Some say that a threshold or singularity will be reached in the time frame between 2030 and 2045, when AI will surpass humanity.

------------ More Notes

There are also literary references to creation texts in the Book of Genesis, Yeats' "The Cold Heaven", Blake's "The Tyger", and a whole lot more. Feel free to ask or speculate about any particular.

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Your notes provide a fascinating insight to the high level of discipline, knowledge and time required to produce such quality poetry. Spontaneity may work for some, simplicity and brevity for others....Always however, intellect, life experience and a love of language are essentials to entertain, inform,provoke, and perhaps even provide an essence of quasi-philosophical exegesis. :smile: B.

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David, I have not commented, mainly because the piece is far above my pay grade. I have enjoyed the wording and certain phrases, but some time ago I decided I didn't have time enough to learn what I needed to write such wonderful creations as this. I write mainly to express my thoughts of the moment, without consideration about form except that I want it to read well and express what I intend. I know this is a wonderful poem and I have enjoyed reading it serveral times with pleasure. Thank you.

Franklin

 

P.S. My IQ, whatever that means, was quoted to me by my seventh grade teacher as 142. I think she wanted me. lol.

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Larsen M. Callirhoe

everyone is talking about IQ's LOL.... mine is 129... but I am sure after I take some math courses started in January my IQ should go up to about 138. I just don't remember much in the way of higher mathemathics. if you don't use it you lose it. a very true connotation. I know I will get smarter once I am finished with college in 3 and a half years. from my understanding 140 IQ is considered genus level. most of you here are very bright on poetry stuff that doesn't compute in my brains.

 

this is allot of work to craft one poem David. a lot of work indeed. it took me four months to writ one poem. after that i now just write spurt of the minute emotive poetry.

 

franklin your smarter than you think. it is hard to get into the airforce. you have to be smart alright. i took the asfab as a 19 year old. i got a 70 on it. i am sure if i took it again i would get about and 86-90 range. give me a few weeks to study math before i take it again. funny my math use to be strong and my grammar and english weak. now it is vice versa LOL...

 

maybe I will take one no just for giggles....

 

great writing David,

 

victor

Larsen M. Callirhoe

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