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April 16, 2007


Absolute, mindnumbing tragedy.

what kind of deranged fuck kills college kids

what kind of deranged fuck kills college kids

same kind of f*ck that kills high school kids - one of them

A poem by Philip Levine:


The new grass rising in the hills,
the cows loitering in the morning chill,
a dozen or more old browns hidden
in the shadows of the cottonwoods
beside the streambed. I go higher
to where the road gives up and there's
only a faint path strewn with lupine
between the mountain oaks. I don't
ask myself what I'm looking for.
I didn't come for answers
to a place like this, I came to walk
on the earth, still cold, still silent.
Still ungiving, I've said to myself,
although it greets me with last year's
dead thistles and this year's
hard spines, early blooming
wild onions, the curling remains
of spider's cloth. What did I bring
to the dance? In my back pocket
a crushed letter from a woman
I've never met bearing bad news
I can do nothing about. So I wander
these woods half sightless while
a west wind picks up in the trees
clustered above. The pines make
a music like no other, rising and
falling like a distant surf at night
that calms the darkness before
first light. "Soughing" we call it, from
Old English, no less. How weightless
words are when nothing will do.

The rest of the poem isn't particularly appropriate, but the final quatrain of Poe's Paean springs to mind:

Therefore, to thee this night
I will no requiem raise,
But waft thee on thy flight,
With a Pæan of old days.

I plan to raise a glass to the fallen tonight; I encourage everyone to do the same. The best revenge, even against the dead, is living well.

Last night Mrs. R. and I (re)watched the Buffy season 5 finale, _The Gift_. It expresses a sentiment similar to _Anarch_'s above. Extra talking-about-the-universe and attempted-book-reading with Rilkekind for me tonight.

The Royal Navy toast to the memory of dead comrades, profoundly moving in its simplicity: absent friends.

Absent friends.


Josephine Duthie
Aberdeen, Scotland

Like a flower a child should blossom
Safe within a world of care,
Never lend them to the stranger
Who will strip their futures bare.

If we take the snow in winter
And the sun that warms the air,
Mix them with the clouds of heaven
Will you send our children there.

Like a flower she gives us beauty
Like a stem he turns her head,
Pluck them from the perfect picture
Then there's only ghosts instead.

If we take the snow in winter
And the sun that warms the air,
Mix them with the clouds of heaven
Will you send our children there.

Like a flower a child should flourish
Growing stronger day by day,
Take the life that flows inside them
And the sunshine fades away.

If we take the snow in winter
And the sun that warms the air,
Mix them with the clouds of heaven
Will you send our children there.

WHY, Death, what dost thou here,	
        This time o’ year?	
Peach-blow and apple-blossom;	
Clouds, white as my love’s bosom;	
  Warm wind o’ the west	       
  Cradling the robin’s nest;	
Young meadows hasting their green laps to fill	
With golden dandelion and daffodil:	
  These are fit sights for spring;	
  But, oh, thou hateful thing,	       
        What dost thou here?
- Clarence Chatham Cook, On One Who Died in May

I've been trying to find a text for my mother's funeral service. She is in the process of dying. I've been thinking about her life and what her experiences meant to her and to my brothher, sister and me. She's eighty-one and has Alzheimer's so her death will be a blessing particularly for my dad who has been her primary caretaker for the last five difficult years.

So I've been thinking all the usual agnostic stuff about how a life turns into ashes and memories and how once the people with the memories die there's nothing but ashes left. Humbling thought. Depressing. Especially since I don't think my mother was happy very often.

These kids, though, were at the beginning. They had just barely got started in their lives. The shhooter robbed them of their chances to love and be loved, to have children of their own, to develop themselves. How totally, completely selfish the shooter was.

Anyway the text I have tentatively chosen for a moment of meditation during the sevice is " I must always cherish all livinng things." (Buddhist) It's kind of hard to feel that way toward the shooter but it's a healing way to try to feel about everyone else right now.

The Book of Common Prayer's approach to grief includes prayer on behalf of all "who watch and wait and weep this night".

Thanks, publius. This is going to be a very hard night of grieving and waiting and worrying for many people in this area, where so many people are Tech graduates and have children and friends there.

Of course there can be no announcement of the names of victims until the families have all been notified, and at least two dozen people are at hospitals, some in critical condition. So the level of anxiety is very high, as is the shock and horror that everyone feels on learning the news.

Something to think about--this sort of event would be a quiet day in Baghdad. Which should give us all pause.

I really wish that people would not bring Iraq into this. Apples-oranges, etc.

For me, as my wife and I sit down to dinner we will say a very simple prayer for the families.

So many children gone because of some whim of someone who didn't "cherish all living things."

i've long thought that college is the peak of one's existence. it's the birth of the adult mind fused with the pleasures and passions of youth.

to be robbed of it like that is, well, there really aren't words

Of course there can be no announcement of the names of victims until the families have all been notified, and at least two dozen people are at hospitals, some in critical condition. So the level of anxiety is very high

There’s only a couple of pictures of police moving a body that I have seen but I think it was a terrible decision to put them up on the web as this thing was still unfolding. I’ve been picturing the frantic parents around the country looking at those pictures trying to determine if it might be their loved one…

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,--but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, --
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave,
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

More Millay.

Yes, OCSteve, I wish that image had not been spread about, and I wish CNN would refrain from running it over and over. I only tuned in to watch the afternoon press conference and hear the Governor, and in that short period it must have run twenty times.

Oh, ugh. There's Lou Dobbs with a giant still of it. Click. I'm glad I have to go off to a meeting.

LizardBreath, thank you for that St. Millay.

Sitting Ducks, how an Iraqi writes of his children and Iraqi students. Our culture of violence there and here. Deranged? Yes, we are.

why not bring in Iraq, there are children and college studentws dying there every day and we know what is the root cause of their deaths How can the horror of an anonynous shooter causing deaths be any worse than deaths caused by our governments policies?

I think that this is inntended to be a nonpolitical thread. I appreciate the point made by thhe mention of Iraq but perhaps a debate about it could happen on the gun control debate thread.

The Shimmer of Evil, Theodore Roethke

The weather wept, and all the trees bent down;
Bent down their birds: the light waves took the waves;
Each single substance gliddered to the stare;
Each vision purely, purely was its own:
--There was no light; there was no light at all:

Far from the mirrors all the bushes rang
With their hard snow; leaned on the lonely eye;
Cold evil twinkled tighter than a string; a fire
Hung down: and I was only I.
--There was no light; there was no light at all:

Each cushion found itself a field of pins,
Prickling pure wishes with confusion's ire;
Hope's holy wrists: the little burning boys
Cried out their lives an instant and were free.
--There was no light; there was no light at all.

John, Wonkie,

Sorry. I wasn't trying to politicize the thread, just to keep in mind the level of suffering that the citizens of Baghdad and Baquba go through day in and day out.

This was one of Whitman's poems written for a fallen Lincoln.

For the full poem, see:

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

192. When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d


WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, 5
And thought of him I love.


O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me! 10
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!


In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard, 15
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.


In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary, the thrush, 20
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!
Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.) 25


Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris;)
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards; 30
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.


Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags, with the cities draped in black, 35
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil’d women, standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of faces, and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn; 40
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac. 45

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before
That Joke Just Isn't Funny Anymore.

So this guy walks into a gun shop,
buys himself an SLR and an M16
and kills sixteen people
on an over-the-counter
shooting spree.
After he's captured
and after the media
and the government
and the gun lobby
chew it all up and
spit it all out
they decide to crack down
on violent movies.
Get it?

Neither do I.

(Adam Ford 1998)

Less than two weeks until ANZAC Day, and you quote such an appropriate peace of poetry, publius. The Ode Of Remembrance is something we Down Under aren't used to hearing without three words added at the end, which are all the more relevant in the wake of 32 innocent people being killed senselessly:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating
And down the dark one ruby flare
Pulsing out red light like an artery,
The ambulance at top speed floating down
Past beacons and illuminated clocks
Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,
And brakes speed, entering the crowd.
The doors leap open, emptying light;
Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted
And stowed into the little hospital.
Then the bell, breaking the hush,tolls once,
And the ambulance with its terrible cargo
Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,
As the doors, an afterthought, are closed.

Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic;
And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.
But this invites the occult mind,
Cancels our physics with a sneer,
And spatters all we knew of denouement
Across the expedient and wicked stones.

-- excerpts from ‘Auto Wreck’ by Karl Shapiro

Rough wind, that moanest loud
Grief too sad for song;
Wild wind, when sullen cloud
Knells all the night long;
Sad storm, whose tears are vain,
Bare woods, whose branches strain,
Deep caves and dreary main,--
Wail, for the world's wrong!

-- 'A Dirge' Shelley

I really wish that people would not bring Iraq into this. Apples-oranges, etc.

Quite. The American college-age men shooting innocent civilians in Iraq are generally agreed to be completely sane.

why not bring in Iraq, there are children and college studentws dying there every day and we know what is the root cause of their deaths

Because that sounds like there should be less grieving over this shooting. This post is about mourning those death, not dimishing them by comparison with other awfull things.

I just read via Avedon Carol's blog that one of the people killed is Christopher "Jamie" Bishop, who was the son of Michael Bishop, a science-fiction writer.

I didn't know Michael Bishop at all - at most, we may have passed in the hall at a convention - but I know people who do know him, who may have known his son, too.

Sometimes the world feels like a horribly small place. As John Brownlee says: "As is nearly any gesture in response to such tragedy, buying a Michael Bishop novel right now is horribly impotent, but it's the gesture I can think of."

Thinking about Hilzoy's post at top, and what others have suggested about our excessively competitive society. A friend of mine just survived (unscathed) a car accident that could have killed her. In the long run it doesn't matter if your girlfriend dumps you, or your classmates look down on you, or your girlfriend isn't hot, or you fail to have a 4.0 average and enter Harvard Law School, or you don't make $200,000 a year. It is better to be alive. It's better to let others live, too.

The headspace that rejects life in this manner, that is a black hole of egotism (egoism) and misery,, I don't want to imagine it.

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