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  #1  
Unread 01-21-2021, 06:30 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Default Of Course I Still Love You

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xxxxThe Earthquake and Magnetism Man

My father watched atomic bombs go off.
Say what ?! He really did, you mustnít scoff.
Fifteen or twenty, the count I never knew, whatever!
There were plenty in dry Nevada and the remote Pacific
Atolls with heavy glasses and some dozen miles aside.
He showed me, his youngest child, with clearance, one day
A color photo almost as big as me of one climbing orange
Mushroom after he came back from a special area far away.
At work he quietly unpacked the arcane seismograms of
Other bomb tests by people whose names I mustnít say.
A partly secret life, well spent, with strain he did not need
For a pacifist believer in the Apostlesí Creed.

His first work was merely science: the earthís magnetic
Fields, its earthquakes, better buildings, its continental drifts.
Then suddenly these got interesting, and he had gifts
That no computer then made could judge for sure,
And that aged himóas I watchedótoo fast, as quakes
Mixed with who did this one, quake following quake or blast.
He didnít work alone, and Iím sure the results were treaties
That kept the peace. He was a peaceful man, a fire spotter
In dangerís forest, with an American co-worker from Japan.

There's a National Geographic photo from í44,
Doing precision measurements to help us win that war.
Another later on the front of Life magazine in a crowd
Of khaki-covered men in a desert, photoed from behind,
Watching a glowing growing monster supremely loud.
Silent and angry, yet I guess he had to be rather proud
To be so trusted, working where he never expected or
Ever even wanted to work, yet had to work, measuring,
Reading, watching, when safetyís silent push came
To safetyís major shove.

May he rest forever in peace, and yes somehow
I hope to celebrate with him (perhaps above)
If and when we can meet and chat, and I
Can show him this tongue-tied sonís
Enormous and imperfect love.










My father watched atomic bombs go off.
Say what ?! He really did, you mustnít scoff.
Fifteen or twenty, the count I never knew, whatever!
There were plenty in dry Nevada and the remote Pacific
Atolls with heavy glasses and some dozen miles aside.
He showed me, his youngest child, with clearance, one day
A color photo almost as big as me of one climbing orange
Mushroom after he came back from a special area far away.
At work he quietly unpacked the arcane seismograms of
Other bomb tests by people whose names I mustnít say.
A secret life, well spent, with strain he did not need
For a pacifist believer in the Apostlesí Creed.

A face-on picture in a National Geographic of í44,
Doing precision silent work to help us win that war.
Another later on the front of Life magazine in a crowd
Of khaki-covered men in a desert, photoed from behind,
Watching a glowing growing monster supremely loud.
So quiet and angry, yet I guess he had to be rather proud
To be so trusted, working where he never expected or
Ever wanted to work, yet had to work, measuring,
Reading, watching, when safetyís silent push came
To safetyís major shove.

May he rest forever in peace, and yes somehow
I hope to celebrate with him (perhaps above)
If and when we can meet and chat, and I
Can show him this tongue-tied sonís
Enormous and imperfect love.



Changes to Version 1:

Title is "The Earthquake and Magnetism Man", was "A Nuclear Family"
Section 2, Line 5 (23 Jan 2021) is ďaĒ, was ďtheirĒ
Section 1, Line 6 (25 Jan 2021) is "youngest child", was "little boy"
Section 2, last 3 lines: addition of "or ever wanted to work ... measuring, reading, watching"

Last edited by Allen Tice; 02-04-2021 at 08:49 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-22-2021, 09:41 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Allen, I enjoyed this. This is heart-felt--sincerity is not your usual mode. I like it.

I found some of the rhymes forced--I think you should take them out and go full-on sincere.

The most unfortunate rhymes were "musn't scoff" and "off"--who the hell in America says "mustn't" nowadays? Frankly, who says "scoff"?

Also, "perhaps above" sounds forced after "shove."

Best,

Aaron
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  #3  
Unread 01-22-2021, 12:38 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Thank you, Aaron. Yes, it is 99 and 44/100% sincere, like the floating bars of Ivory Soap, and 99 and 44/100% true too. The molecules of air in very very small bubbles that make up the rest of the soap and make it float are also sincere, though devoid of cleaning power. In the composing process nothing was forced, so I will have to consider your feeling of forcedness. Today is my mother’s birthday. So it’s for her as well. She was nearly driven crazy by the facts of this history. I regularly forgive her. It’s a dithyramb with rhymes. So?

Who says “scofflaw”? The news media, politicians, and my crowd of idjuts. “Mustn’t” is right there in my autocorrect. Stay safe.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 01-22-2021 at 08:56 PM. Reason: Escoffier
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Unread 01-23-2021, 01:31 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Yes, Allen, this turns into a genuine remembrance full of remembered love and hope of someday being together. I honestly don't know what to make of that along with the atomic bomb information. The father helped design atomic bombs. That does complicate things but I'm not sure that is part of the intended mix in the poem. There is so much admiration for the imagery of the bombs exploding. I'm not sure what is intended but am pretty sure it does not have a question and doubt. It's written as though he could have just as well been a painter who painted these giant, orange images. There is no hint of doubt or morality, only remembrance and admiration and longing. I don't know if you can avoid that and have a poem with deep resonance when the central imagery is atomic, but am sure that it could, with alterations, turn this into something important and powerful. Maybe you need to dig a little deeper, wonder a little more about his work and all about his work.

My two cents. I hope it helps.

Best
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Unread 01-23-2021, 06:21 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I disagree strongly where you say there is no hint of doubt or morality. I knew this man, better than anyone, even the rest of his family, I think.

I think the subject matter of this is so overwhelming that it is easy to fail to grasp the details. Thatís understandable, yet unfair.

Iím sorry if I conveyed the impression that he helped design those things. That, as they say, was above his pay grade by a lot. Nor would he have done so! You havenít read it well at all!

However, without dropping any stitches, I can say (as his youngest son by far) that the man I knew who started working for the government in a seemingly innocuous position taking geophysical measurements, was the same individual who almost resigned his position during the 1930s economic Depression when jobs were very rare after he stumbled upon seismographic evidence of major US military conventional weapons tests many miles away from the small observatory he was operating, and the man who was subsequently seriously harassed and impeded by Army personnel.

In his papers I have read that he stated that if the harassment didnít stop he would leave government employ promptly and resume the life he had left behind (he thought forever) as a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer. Instead, he was promoted to run a remote geophysical observatory. Then WWII appeared. Since he was very good at analyzing certain types of physical data, he was asked to continue with a pretty good security clearance. Things got even more difficult after the warís end. I will leave it at that, but he was good enough at doing what needed doing that more weight was added to his skills.

I cannot prove the following. However, I believe that the burdens he carried, along with similar work by others in the US military and elsewhere, contributed to the cessation of above-ground testing, and, further, the development of atomic test ban treaties. For that I am grateful. And hence, his moral struggles that aged him before my eyes and before his time, were surely worth it in some way. Just because he was necessarily present to make observations up close when tests were performed should not imply his approval. All this nearly drove my mother nuts, and I understand why. Apocalyptic isnít just a word.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 02-04-2021 at 04:26 PM.
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Unread 01-23-2021, 06:24 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I think this will be good one if you push through along the lines John touches on. Here it goes really wrong:

Safetyís major shove.

May he rest forever in peace, and yes somehow
I hope to celebrate with him (perhaps above)
If and when we can meet and chat, and I
Can show him this tongue-tied sonís
Enormous and imperfect love.

The second half of safety's silent push just veers into cleverness and then right out of the poem into something that just won't translate well to outsiders especially with the counter-gravity of the bomb.
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Unread 01-23-2021, 07:51 PM
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Andrew, I will think about what you say. The stupefying events of the twentieth century beggar almost any response. Itís hard to balance I agree. We do have a degree of security from weapons of mass destruction, and my God, am I glad. I might not try to publish this, I donít know. Right now, it will marinate here for a while. May I emphasize that in no way was this man pleased with his obligations. Thereís a whole argument about whether Nagasaki and Hiroshima should have been hit. My dad had nothing to do with that at all. It was difficult for me when I recently visited Japan on a tour that went to Hiroshima. If anyone knows the complexities of sorting information out of seismographic records by hand without computer assistance, they might see some of why getting the test ban treaties was so tough. Thanks, Andrew.
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Unread 01-23-2021, 08:36 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Allen,
Though I see in my read some tension in your father regarding his work I think it is a mistake to tell John he isn't reading your piece well and then go on and fill in so much that isn't in the piece to emphasize your defense. The piece would be better if you could capture that aging before his time and the extent of the burden you suspect he carried. It just isn't there to the extent it is in you so your own capacitor creates a different charge in this for you with stored energy we don't have access to. It is common as you know for poets to do this. That force is pretty strong with this one. Who cares about publishing. This piece demands justice on its own account.
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Unread 01-23-2021, 10:29 PM
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You make some good points. I may add lines. Thanks.
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Unread 01-24-2021, 09:03 AM
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I think that when the required two weeks minimum have passed I will ask for this poem thread to be removed. Iím unsure what to do with it in the long run, and not yet sure what additions I might make in the meantime. There might be some. Right now Iím pretty sure that I donít want to delete anything already there, or change the basic thrust of what Iíve already posted, even if it goes against the grain of some readerís preferences. As Andrew and John have suggested, I may make some additions to clarify ambiguities. I will not weaken the direction of the item though. I really donít want to leave this floating around until a general thread pruning while exposing it to any random passerby, however well or ill intentioned. I hope the moderators understand. If no one comments further thatís all right. Two weeks, and then I expect to ask for its clearance, whether or not I add anything or anyone else adds constructive critique.

Itís possible, I suppose, that I could put it up again at a later time after meditating and making private additions. No promises there.
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