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Updated on October 30, 2012

Some crosses are heavier to bear than others


The tragic death of a scientific great under alienation

What then has brought you to this terrific end?

A place of utter despair and loneliness without a friend.

Holding aloft a knife as a priest elevates a cross.

A bullet from a constable’s gun brings you to loss.

Oh, it started innocently enough in a long bygone day

When minds have great dreams acted out in play.

Shoot for the stars was no unreachable dream.

And so you did reach and strive for the goal supreme.

An unwavering, undying curiosity of the way of it all

Was the instrument of the gods that drove you to fall.

Struggling through the years, this path and that

To obtain the great understanding; that was that.

Endless debate, here a little, there a little, a drunkard’s walk

Ever searching through the seeming chaos, new ideas to talk.

All your friends who are gone at this time and place

Had similar quests, some success, while others met disgrace.

You tried the minds and patience of all those loved

‘Till at last all left for perceived greener things gloved.

Still your heart’s desire was the pursuit of God’s knowing.

All the while lost in myriad details, your ignorance showing.

All that you did before this bitter end was pursue

The elusive will ‘o’ the wisp, the ultimate answer construe.

The world, poor soul, is not made in that erudite way.

It is more caught up in the daily struggle to sway.

It is more concerned about profit, gain and wealth

Than arcane knowledge gained through cosmic stealth.

It care naught about the whys and hows of existence.

More concerned about the day to day things in persistence.

After all that inquiring, meandering learning so arcane

You have been given a lesson so unexpected and profane.

There you ended up, alienated, holding up a jewellery store.

Knife in hand, cordoned off by armed police might galore.

They were not interested in how the world stole your insight.

Their presence was to subdue you in their armed might.

They were not interested that such a high scientific mind

Came to face homelessness and the alienated street grime.

What they saw was a terrorist venting in a hold up.

What they didn’t see was a man of sorrows so fed up

That he now sought out the comfort of death’s embrace.

This at the end of a hard, life long struggle in place.

I stood there and watched you take mace in the face.

Still you advanced, your knife cross aloft in its place.

You persisted marching unfaltering to the cop, gun drawn.

Pointed straight at you and ready to end it after so long.

A single shot was then fired, you stumbled to the ground.

You lay there bleeding, no solace was there to be found.

An entranced crowd stood around and watched it go down.

Not a single tear was shed for you; no mourning found.

The paramedics carefully picked you up, cops with guns drawn.

In the mesmerized impromptu audience there was not a yawn.

In the waiting ambulance they treated your gun shot wound.

But you did not want to live, their best efforts met doom.

The media drummed up a lot of hype to draw in a bigger crowd.

Then it slowly became clear why you left as a departing cloud.

Suicide by police intervention was the title then called.

A great and alienated mind met its end when life stalled.

They say you were mentally disturbed in your act.

It came across the radio waves as a bona fide fact.

You were too big to be contained in such a small world.

Into oblivion after futile struggle you were hurled..

Years later, most have forgotten and gone their way.

But a few remember, carrying your memory another day.

Like you, I probed the secret depths to understand it all.

It is something to which not very many are truly called.


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    • syzygyastro profile imageAUTHOR

      William J. Prest 

      8 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      This is based on a real event that took place in broad daylight in the major crossroads in downtown Vancouver, BC many years ago. The knife weakling "bandit" was a retired and alienated nuclear physicist who was killed with a single shot by the police in what was later analyzed by media and psychiatrists as "suicide by police intervention". Yes, I felt for the man because I was a first hand witness to the entire spectacle from start to end when he died of the gunshot. The even moved me in particular because I was a child of the nuclear era and grew up in nuclear village Canada, that is, in a town that housed the nuclear scientists that worked in Chalk River experimental atomic facility. The man in question had worked there in the past. The poem is Quixotic to be sure, because by and large it is a hopeless dream to have a peaceful nuclear program without the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) in a global thermonuclear war even today.

    • sligobay profile image


      8 years ago from east of the equator

      "They were not interested in how the world stole your insight.

      Their presence was to subdue you in their armed might.

      They were not interested that such a high scientific mind

      Came to face homelessness and the alienated street grime."

      The quoted passage stands out in this "scientific mind". The word 'mind' has many perfect rhymnes,i.e. find,grind, rind,mined, pined, opined, resigned, confined etc. Your choice of the phrase " street grime" instead of "street crime" suggests an empathy for the knife wielder - a refusal to apply the social label of criminal to your friend and alter ego. He was no stranger to you, literally or figuratively. He dreamed the "impossible dream" and fought the "unbeatable foe" (Man of La Mancha). The fusion of fantasy and reality, the voyeuristic audience,the path of ananachronistic social outcast and the high heroic ideal of the seemingly insane central character leaves the reader with the image of a "knight errant" temporally removed from his proper niche in existence by centuries. Robbing a jewelry store at knifepoint is analagous to "tilting at windmills". Were I the coroner, I would list your man's cause of death as "global materialism". His was quite the quixotic adventure.

      You penned this epiteth for yourself, rather than him, methinkst. Thanks for the memory of this "celluloid hero".


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