Trap Door

My imagination was captured the other day by this article about recent discoveries at an intriguing place in Wyoming called Natural Trap Cave.

The cave was first explored by paleontologists in the 1970’s, and then sealed up for thirty years.

The 2014 expedition has been making news for the variety of animal remains found in a well-preserved state at the bottom of this naturally formed pit. It’s 85 feet deep with a hidden opening perfectly positioned to receive unwitting prey in full flight from a pursuing animal, or scavengers too hungry to resist getting tragically close to the edge.

Since no one has been in the cave for several decades and the only way to get down to the bottom is to rappel (or fall) in, I immediately took Natural Trap Cave off my vacation spot list even though it would be a true wonder to behold.

But because art can transport us to places we will never go, I did commission Trail Baboon’s Sing-Song Poet Laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler to craft a rhyming masterpiece from the point of view of some prehistoric horse, pack rat or other careless mammal who tumbled into the abyss.

This is what he gave me:

Sprinting through the underbrush I hurtled at a run.
And by the time I saw the hole my plummet had begun.

A sudden transformation. Total darkness fell at noon.
My legs continued churning like a roadrunner cartoon.

I couldn’t gauge the distance. Eighty feet? Perhaps a mile?
No matter. At the end – I’m just a fossil on the pile.

I’ve been here undisturbed for 20,000 years (about).
To every new arrival, far too late, I say “Watch out!”

While I admire the brevity of this work (you can’t write an epic about falling 85 feet), I did challenge STW on his use of the roadrunner cartoon imagery. A short-faced bear (extinct 11,000 years ago) is just one of the animals found at the bottom of this pit who would have no familiarity with the Merrie Melodies oeuvre. The others include every single creature whose remains are down there.

Thus, I argued, this work violates the rule that says an artist must honor the boundaries of the fantasy world he creates. Obviously, the poem-writing skeleton of an extinct animal would never have had the chance to watch Saturday morning TV. Thus, the roadrunner reference makes no sense and should be removed.

STW responded in verse, as usual.

While I honor all opinions about every work of mine,
You’ve mistakenly put “artist” and “boundaries” in the same line.

You cannot know what I had in mind, exactly, when I wrote,
I control the contours of my world and you don’t get a vote.

When the animals looked upwards from their unexpected leap,
they had visions, as you would, if you were dying in a heap.

And what last hallucination would you see at your life’s close?
Some would opt for God or Yaweh. But for me, it’s Warner Bros.

If the TV was on in your hospital room at the very end, what would you want to watch?  

46 thoughts on “Trap Door”

      1. Dale, you remind me of something I should probably have on my bucket list.

        Back in my babysitting days, when you ended up watching old movies on the late show, the parents came home before the end of FailSafe with Henry Fonda. By the time I got home and raced to the basement to turn on the tv, it was over and the Star Spangled Banner was playing (anyone know how that got started?) at the “end of the broadcast day”.

        I have never seen the end of that movie….and don’t any of you tell me either.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Warner Bros cartoons hands down! I think I own everything from the ’40s and the ’50s. After that, they weren’t nearly as funny (with a coyple of notable exceptions).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Leaving aside for the moment that if this really were the end, the tv had jolly well better not be on in my hospice unit (and thanks, Dale, now I’m going to want to ask the hospice folks I work with if anyone has ever requested Daffy Duck)…….

    I’m pretty sure I’d want to be seeing a movie. Maybe out of Africa. Haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it since it first came out.

    or maybe Milo and Otis, because surely the delinquent cats will be with me, and they like that one too, as does the s&h.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it should be on every POLST form.

        Every electronic chart at eork carriers at the top either a green Full Code tab or a red DNR and/or a red DNI tab (I confess my little green political heart thinks the DNR tab should be the green one–having diversified interests has its drawbacks).

        Now I’m going to be imagining a black and white TV or NoTV tab as well.



  3. “I control the contours of my world and you don’t get a vote.” Words to live by.

    I’m pretty sure, like MiG, that I don’t want television in my room at the end, but for the sake of argument….

    I have several movies that are my favorites.. they are comfort watching and I’ve seen them over and over and over again. If I want some background while I’m in my studio or doing chores around the house, these are my first choices:
    American Dreamer (Tom Conti, JoBeth Williams)
    Star Wars (IV,V,VI only)
    Hopscotch (Glenda Jackson, Walter Matthau)
    When Harry Met Sally (Billy Joel, Meg Ryan)
    Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood, Laura Linney, Ed Harris)
    The early Johnny Weismuller Tarzans

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Early Woody Allen, for me. And speaking of “go towards the light”, you know I am partial to Irwin Allen’s old TV series, The Time Tunnel.
      Though perhaps as I was fading out, it would all sound like German to me.


  4. An interesting question. There’s so much that I’ve already seen and so much more to see, presuming I don’t die anytime soon. I think, at least for now, I’d have to go with Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


    1. Wise choice, TGITH.
      If I had this one on, I would probably expire at the same time as Sir Robin.

      Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
      Sir Lancelot: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is your name?
      Sir Lancelot: My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
      Sir Lancelot: To seek the Holy Grail.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?
      Sir Lancelot: Blue.
      Bridgekeeper: Go on. Off you go.
      Sir Lancelot: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.
      Sir Robin: That’s easy.
      Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
      Sir Robin: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I’m not afraid.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is your name?
      Sir Robin: Sir Robin of Camelot.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
      Sir Robin: To seek the Holy Grail.
      Bridgekeeper: What… is the capital of Assyria?
      Sir Robin: I don’t know that.
      [he is thrown over the edge into the volcano]


    1. I think it would make for an interesting film sequence to have someone making their final exit watching Bob Ross and the Magic of Painting….”happy little clouds”….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. No way do I want to be watching TV as I’m about to make my final exit. But give put on a good set of headphones and my iPod and I’ll be good to go.


  6. I actually came close to this experience but it wasn’t my time to exit and TV was the last thing I’d be interested in, but, imagining what I’d choose, it’d definitely be Harold and Maude. Cat Stevens background music, her joyfulness, and her desire to choose her own time to die. She went out with a smile and, just before her goal date, changed the depressed young man’s life forever. I, too, want to use the last few weeks or months of my life to model how sweetly it can be done.

    I used to believe that it’d be so terrible to know you were dying; that I’d be grieving intensely with the pain of knowing I’d never see my loved ones again. Having come so close, however, I’m unafraid now because I’ve experienced being that ill is all there is and that acceptance of death is a release from bodily suffering.


      1. Hey, I actually found it (and with only a few seconds of searching). It’s not exactly prominent, at least not on my screen.


  7. OT – They’re putting in a new main sewer line on our street today, so starting at 7:30 this morning and until they’re done, no water. Can’t wash my hands, brush my teeth, water my garden or flush the toilet. Guess I’ll take a nap. Going out for dinner with my 93 year old friend, Eleanor, so don’t care about cooking supper. Hans will, no doubt, get Chinese take-out.

    BTW, Dale today’s rhyming masterpieces are excellent.


    1. Thanks for the compliment, PJ. But of course you’re referring to the rhyming abilities of Schuyler Tyler Wyler, whose interest in different rhythmic patterns in poetry ended sometime in the third grade.
      But he is an excellent elementary school-level poet!


      1. They did the same thing in my neighborhood. Or at least I think it was the same thing. It was a one-day deal. They happened to pick this past Tuesday. It was the primary election, and I serve as an election judge, so I left at about 5:45 AM and got home at about 9:00 PM. They were gone when I got home. Timing is everything!

        Liked by 1 person

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