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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #309
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
David Gunn

I am -- or somebody like me is -- in a large tureen of heavy syrup from which most of the fruit cocktail particulate matter has been extracted. Oh, I have to dodge the occasional watermelon pip and tangled mass of apricot pulp, but mostly the view is unobstructed from horizon to horizon to horizon. To stay afloat, I have to tread water -- all right, syrup -- and that fluid-roiling activity brings to the surface a dozen gigantic maraschino cherries, one of which I recognize from a picture postcard I purchased at Prairie Dog Town in Oakley, Kansas. That was in 1982, the same year that the phrase "bobbing on the surface like surprised ducks" forced its way into the literary consciousness. Coincidentally, all of the cherries are bobbing on the surface like surprised ducks. The cherries (but since when do cherries have broad bills and webbed feet?) begin to quack (aha!). I momentarily lose my concentration and slip below the surface of the syrup. It is peaceful here: the light is comfortably diffuse and favors the indigo side of the spectrum; the syrup is the temperature of bath water and the age of Aquarius; and I seem to get plenty of oxygen by sucking on the grapes. From somewhere I hear a human voice soliloquizing. It is very deep, and so probably male, though a Vocoder-altered lyric soprano is not infeasible. If I hold the grape six inches to the left of my nose and peel back the skin slightly, the reception improves. It is a recitation of Dylan Thomas’ "Do not go gentle into that good night" -- except, thanks to wave diffraction by the syrup, the "rage, rage against the dying of the light" part comes out as rrrrrrgggggggggg rrrrrrgggggggggg aaagggggggggggg da dddddddggggggggggg uggva lgggggggggt.

A crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos, swims by. The wake from its churning webbed feet stirs from slumber a pair of parabolic pear halves that had attached themselves to the bottom of the tureen. "Rrrrrrgggggggggg rrrrrrgggggggggg," it says, with a peculiarly corvid accent that resonates in my teeth, prompting a wake-up call to a strand of floss that had wedged between the two upper cuspids long ago but which still retains its sentience. The pear halves also respond, though in a medium about which I can only speculate. Automatically, I return the compliment, "rrrrrrgggggggggg rrrrrrgggggggggg." He nods, acknowledging the brief quid pro crow, and swims on.

A potato languidly approaches, and I begin to have doubts about the authenticity of the fruit cocktail. I try to avoid it, but it gravitates to me like a consonant to a Dutch language camp. It bumps into me, making eye contact, and I have a sudden memory of another story, one so riddled with plot convolutions that I figure one more loose end can't hurt.

I push off from the potato and shoot to the surface, where I momentarily bob like a surprised maraschino cherry. Directly above me is poised a gigantic runcible spoon, and my sanguine attitude fades. I hastily paddle to the nearest side of the tureen and dive into a mound of brown, cowering apple wedges as the spoon plunges into the fruit cup. For a long moment, there is utter, eerie stillness, but then the spoon triumphantly pulls out of the syrup, the hapless potato in its bowl. "Rrrrrrgggggggggg rrrrrrgggggggggg," it grumbles. I am no longer keen to hang around and begin to climb upon the apple wedges. Fortunately, they afford reliable purchase, and I am able to scramble up the side of the tureen. The spoon returns, re-cleaves the cocktail, and scoops out two cherries and the crow. This time, their rage is palpable, if futile. But it is also contagious -- I can feel the fury welling up inside of me. As the runcible spoon returns for a third helping of helpless fruit cup, I rrrrrrgggggggggg against it. It pauses in its downward arc, then approaches me with circumspection. The spoon glimmers with deathly darkness, and I know that the hearty trencherman on the far end of the handle is the old Reaper himself. "Rrrrrrgggggggggg," I cry out, as the prongs of the spoon pluck me from my purchase. The tureen disappears behind me, the Stygian shore looms ahead -- inescapable, perhaps; though I continue to rage, for I will not go gentle into that good night.

Nothing so daunting or fruity accompanies this 309th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, for it's springtime at last in the rollicking hills of middle Vermont: the snowpack is retreating into the darkest recesses of the woods; the back roads are doing their annual imitation of amusement park rides; the crows are circling high above, ready to swoop down and pounce on any unwary cherry. And in the headquarters of Local Affordable WGDR Radio, eager to take whatever spare change you, our listening audients, can muster during this fundraising session, looms Kalvos.