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Prodigious


dcmarti1
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dcmarti1

Prodigious
(In the Obsolete, as in Portentous, Composed on Vigil Saturday Before Easter)

I left with no inheritance, only a plan.
There was no sibling, nor were there goats.
I never had to hear, “This, your son” and
I never had to bear, “This, your brother!”
Thirty years divided my parents' deaths,
And thirty years divided the homes
Of my birth and of my living.
Dollar-cost-averaging was my path:
I wasn't going to end up a pigherd.
Twenty years of missiles,
Then twenty years of treaties,
Then to cameras, mics, and podiums,
With someone reciting my speech in French,
While people with headphones pretend to listen.
I surmounted with a desk and a spiel
Behind plexiglass, masks optional.
“Don't touch the walls! No flash!”
This laptop has a password and a fob
With a random number generator.
Have I really returned,
Or did I ever truly leave?

Edited by dcmarti1
Correct two words in lines 3 and 4.
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  • 2 weeks later...
JoelJosol

I love the poem's musicality, enjambment, tone of voice of the speaker.

To me the key words were "left" at the first line and then "leave" at the last line. In between was a journey,  through concrete symbols implying the inclusion of the pandemic with "masks" and conferences, from the abstraction of family to more concrete words of tech connected by "then".  A key technique used is repetition of phrases "I never had to", "divided" and "twenty years".  

The challenge for me is to figure out its linkage to the title 🙂

 

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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tonyv
On 4/17/2022 at 7:55 AM, dcmarti1 said:

Have I really returned,
Or did I ever truly leave?

I suppose our experiences, in the aggregate, make us what we are today, in the now. Your life isn't somewhere out there, this is your life. When I look at others, who in the past seemed to have more to so show for life, I see now that they're the same as I am, old: no better, no worse, just different, yet, in many ways, the same with similar needs and problems. We are what we are.

I never had to hear, “This, your son” and
I never had to bear, “This, your brother!”

Thankfully, neither have I! This is full circle. I like how you've concentrated the journey into this lyrical memoir.

Tony

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

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dcmarti1
On 4/29/2022 at 10:54 PM, JoelJosol said:

I love the poem's musicality, enjambment, tone of voice of the speaker.

To me the key words were "left" at the first line and then "leave" at the last line. In between was a journey,  through concrete symbols implying the inclusion of the pandemic with "masks" and conferences, from the abstraction of family to more concrete words of tech connected by "then".  A key technique used is repetition of phrases "I never had to", "divided" and "twenty years".  

The challenge for me is to figure out its linkage to the title 🙂

 

Pro-digious. Pro-digal. Prodigal. I was thinking of that parable, and how I ALWAYS felt the other brother got the short end of the stick. (At that story's end, it is revealed that he never asked if his father could have a party, and the father never told him exactly how special he was: miscommunication.) I was an only child; never had that. But my journey, from misguided military-industrial-complex believer -with those dreams- to museum welcome desk, is true. 🙂

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dcmarti1
27 minutes ago, tonyv said:

I suppose our experiences, in the aggregate, make us what we are today, in the now. Your life isn't somewhere out there, this is your life. When I look at others, who in the past seemed to have more to so show for life, I see now that they're the same as I am, old: no better, no worse, just different, yet, in many ways, the same with similar needs and problems. We are what we are.

I never had to hear, “This, your son” and
I never had to bear, “This, your brother!”

Thankfully, neither have I! This is full circle. I like how you've concentrated the journey into this lyrical memoir.

Tony

AND, we are what we are.....because of what we weren't. Ha! I used to want to be a missile treaty verifier, then Secy of State. Yeah, that never happened. 🙂

Thanks.

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  • 2 months later...
David W. Parsley

Hi Marti, I sometimes feel like a PMO prodigal, dropping off for months at a time.  Glad this poem was waiting for me when I turned in again from my "riotous living."  Like Joel, I enjoyed the musical elements, though I had to go back and find the reasons for this impression.  Surprisingly I could only find one example of enjambment (the hermaphrodite rhyme pair spiel/optional) but it felt like there must be more.  In fact, there are few line-end rhymes at all - they appear internally, such as hear/bear, deaths/birth/path, dollar/pigherd, plexiglass/flash, etc.  Plus, there is the element of refrain in "no", "had to", "years", "divided", etc.  Music!

Before delving too deeply into specifics, I would like to take a moment to also admire the way this poem does what only poetry can do - slice through apparently disparate experiences accumulated over a lifetime to touch a fundamental set of keys in an elemental psychic chord of the poem's music.  Call this one a composition in the Chord of DC.  Among the keys in that chord: loss of parents; alienation, vice identity and domesticity (as Tony empathetically discusses above); evolving sense of purpose; transpiration vice evaporation of decades; the need for personal security; tyranny of blind forces; futility; the need to be heard.

Oh, and goats.  To go along with the pigs the narrator has no wish to herd.  Okay, I confess that I don't get the reference to the goats.  Without question the two elements conspire to touch a lyric theme related to animal domestication and duties that tie one to place, even if an undesired place, which modulates the theme of alienation.  I just don't quite follow what is intended by this explicit reference.

But that's okay, because a little mystery is always welcome.  Like Joel, too, I also did not fully appreciate the title, though I immediately saw the tie of its current meaning into the fourth key in the Chord of DC, possibly even the sixth.  And the parenthetic sub-title gives yet another, earlier meaning which touches keys two, three, and five, especially as the poet ticks off the epochs of "missiles" and "treaties."  (Notice how I have extemporaneously formalized the chord!) 

Much fuller appreciation dawned when you responded to Joel's query by invoking the homonymous "prodigal" as in the parabled Prodigal Son.  Here the first key assumes a prominent place beside the others and the pigherd reference comes blazing to vivid life, as does the lack of sibling.  Which then touches with greater emphasis on the sixth key: even if the prodigal attempts to return home who will be there to welcome him back to the hearth and longed-for sense of security, belonging?  It is in this light that the prodigal finds the need to be heard (yes, yes, that's key seven), to make a difference in the broader home of Earth with its uncountable siblings.  But even in this endeavor the narrator feels need to strive against alienating forces of sundered language and imperfect translation, even "pretended" listening, separation by masks and bullet-proof glass.

The result is simultaneously devastating and heroic.  And as I go back and ponder the pigherd, I can't help drawing another analog from antiquity in the person of the Swine Herd character from The Odyssey, faithful in the performance of his humble duties, a reliable confidante and ally to the returning prodigal king.  Perhaps there is still an underlying belief in Ithaca, its ability to console and give rest from our weary travels.

I guess I would like to summarize this commentary of mine by stating what you already know, Marti.  When you come here to PMO you will always find kindred hearts and siblings eager to hear what you are ready to bring (usually! ;-).  Please take a moment from your music making to partake of the fatted calf whose preparation you have occasioned (in vigil just ahead of Easter/Passover, no less!).  I always look forward to our now-and-again meetings in Ithaca, my friend.  Be sure that I am listening.

Cheers,
 - Dave

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