Percy Dovetonsils

Freshman - 539 Points (12 Aug,1948 / Tokyo, Japan)

The Headlong Summer Rush - Poem by Percy Dovetonsils

Told to read Summerhill
before we arrived
we wondered how our
overweening ambitions
could square
with a school
which gave us
our own head,
not that Amherst ever trusted us
that much.

We soon found
Indian summer gave way
to a monkish, Protestant,
befitting 19th Century seminarians,
including struggling half asleep
through the Quadrangle's waist deep drifts
to mandatory chapel,
which was somehow guaranteed
to make us
the brokers, the surgeons, the authors,
of tomorrow,
or at least suicides, madmen, and dropouts.

Hilarity, despair, and sheepskins ensued,
followed by world travel, admission to the best schools,
achievement, over achievement, under achievement,
drink, doubt, drugs,
love, betrayal, redemption, analysis, denial,
wives, mistresses, boyfriends, children, grandchildren,
male menopause, sterility, impotence,
complacent retirement, death with our boots on,
not necessarily in that order,
yearning for alternative lives and universes,
diminished testosterone,
self scourging, self forgiveness,
puzzling over where we made the wrong turn
and just how lost we had gotten, GPS or no GPS,
fulsome self-congratulation
for wherever it was
we imagined
we found ourselves,
as well as wonder
at how many right turns
we had accidentally

Our ranks,
like the riddled soldiers of Pickett's Charge,
like a wino's choppers,
grow ever thinner
as we, who once fancied ourselves
America's, and even the World's,
now find ourselves
for vacancies
in posterity
and wondering how
our once infinite set of possibilities
narrowed so suddenly
to this

(12/31/1 elegy for the Class of 1970, Amherst College)

Poet's Notes about The Poem

I wrote this for my Amherst classmates on the last day of 2012. Friend and classmate Bob Bernstein bullied me into writing it. It's dedicated to those of us who have already died, gone mad, gone off the grid, or otherwise departed.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013

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