Friday, November 25, 2016
"An Explosion Occurred" by David Pring-Mill, Frequent Contributor
An Explosion Occurred
Vanilla flowers and browning pages,
playing with the modern expression
of their moment… But
we are all fingers on the same hand,
one great life, nearing a state
of collapse! How odd,
that words in books
in a reader-less world,
symbols of a subjective dream
after the dreamers have departed.
I mention all this,
because a bus exploded,
with fiery debris
landing on cobblestone streets
outside an old library.
Poet's Notes: This poem provides a brief commentary on our sad global state of affairs and the alarming degeneration of humankind into division and prejudice, as epitomized by the spate of attacks on Europe and the sheer madness of radical Islam. The opening words reference the smell of old books. I came across an article that examined why old books have an appealing smell; with an accompanying infographic created by a British chemistry teacher, the article detailed the entire process of chemical degradation and the resulting effects: "Benzaldehyde adds an almond-like scent, vanillin smells of vanilla and ethyl hexanol has a 'slightly floral' scent" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2647333/Why-old-books-smell-good-Infographic-reveals-complex-chemistry-comforting-scent-yellowed-pages.html.
I described old books and the "artful snow" of dusty shelves because I wanted to convey the worth and prestige and physicality of knowledge. We have come a long way as a species, as demonstrated by our ability to attain and preserve and expand upon the resource of knowledge. These are the stakes. There is a real possibility that we could obliterate ourselves as a species, through a series of escalating, retaliatory, and violent acts. Such a sudden end would invalidate our collective discoveries and progress.
The line "we are all fingers on the same hand" is indicative of my support for Gaia theory and it is also reflected in 1 Corinthians 12. The second stanza is intended to be a jolt, transitioning from poetic pondering to an almost newscast-style reporting of a recent attack.