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This Machine Is Not Responding

April 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Well, gosh.  This is something neat on a dreary Thursday: thanks to this morning's Google Alerts, I've learned that somebody wrote a nifty little poem based on the Milkweed Triptych.

How's that for a lovely compliment?  I'm amazed that anybody would feel compelled to take up a pen and compose verse after reading Bitter Seeds.  Wow.

The poet, David A Marcillo, has graciously consented to let me post his poem here.

The Coldest War, by David A Marcillo

General Jack Frost is done with the nipping.
He gnaws, thrashes, and batters our noses,
leaving us panting like dogs at the frozen air.
The icy skies manage to burn us inside and out,
a juxtaposition we didn't consider.

The Kremlin suffers from Jack too,
but they're better prepared.
He pays them much longer visits in their homes,
a houseguest who lingers a bit longer than expected
is much preferred over one who arrives without notice.

We created the General, but now we can't control him,
we bred this dog, never thought he would turn on us,
shaking off restraints, breaking free of his muzzle.
Perhaps sentience in human creation was something
we should have studied, something we could have prevented.

General Jack now controls our attacks,
prevents our retreats.
He cuts a path in his blizzard,
storm torn asunder like the Red Sea
creating a sunny and relatively toasty
twenty degrees.

That is the path we travel,
tanks and soldiers on foot,
birds in the sky must follow
Jack's newfound volition.
Like a child developing coherent thought
then enveloping the world in his games,
he has brought us all to a chilling realization:

This Coldest War has become more than us,
Kremlin and Eagle become meaningless
in the arctic blue eyes of our machine,
created to win the war, but spiraled out of control,
a frozen waterspout tearing through our ranks
and throwing Reds wherever they may fall.

This machine is not responding.
This machine is powered by volition.

(©2011 by David A Marcillo; reposted with permission from the author)

Thank you, David!

Speaking of poems, it wasn't until I'd finished writing the third Milkweed book, Necessary Evil, that I learned about "Dreamland" by Edgar Allen Poe.  I almost wonder if I didn't stumble across this a long time ago.  Perhaps it somehow got lodged in my subconscious, where it lay dormant, quietly influencing me for who knows how many years until I wrote the Milkweed books.  I know I wasn't consciously aware of the poem.  But check out this first verse:

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
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.

If I had been consciously aware of this poem, I would have tried to find a way to work it into the books.  Huh.


Melinda April 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm
This is all totally made of cool. Compliments to both David and Poe.
Steve Halter April 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm
Both poems are pretty cool. Has David seen The Coldest War? The Poe poem is clearly a sign that you should write another trilogy of some sort. :-)
Ian April 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm
Unless David managed to bribe somebody in my critgroup, I don't think he has seen the second book. His lovely poem is a perceptive interpretation of Bitter Seeds, or so it seems to me...
Steve Halter April 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm
Yes, definitely. "This machine is powered by volition." I quite like that line (among the others). Coolness.
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