Tony Jolley

Rookie (17th June 1958 / England)

Netherworld - Poem by Tony Jolley

Chance, shrouded by his sombre suit of grey fatality,
Stalked the campus corridors
With an implacable, yet indiscriminate, finality.

He’d been there before:
Knew every room and hall,
Window and wall,
Better than the back of the hand
That held the Book of Time
Which would draw one last line
Under a life not unlike mine.

And we who remain
Will reduce the rubble to reason:
The science of Chemistry
Systematically employed to deduce its own demise
In some bitter (yet inevitably successful) irony
As effect is wedded to cause:
Mendeleev’s magnum opus
Its silently compelling witness.

Though evidence will doubtless be found
To fully explain the What, the Where and the How,
The Why will lie,
Forever buried,
In that faint and foggy netherworld
Whose compass points are:
Fact and fiction,
Action and inaction.

But what of the Who? ………
Not the one who did or didn’t;
Not even the one who once could and now can’t:
Rather, what of the Who that is me and you?

Who are we? -

Are we more, or less, than we were?
… Or merely more-or-less as we were?


Written a few days after the Chemistry School at the University of Haute Alsace, France, had been destroyed by a massive explosion with the sad loss of one soul and more injured and ‘not yet out of the woods’.

NB. Mendeleev was the Russian scientist who first had the vision of the complete Periodic Table of Elements…despite the fact that a little over half the elements were actually known in his time [and therein lay his genius]


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 29, 2006



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