Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is Your Chakra Unbalanced? - poem

Lawrence Hall

Is Your Chakra Unbalanced?

You haven’t adjusted your chakra yet?
You’d better make an appointment with the vet!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

You Can't Squeeze a Turnip out of Blood - poem

Lawrence Hall

You Can’t Squeeze a Turnip Out of Blood

A ship deserting a sinking rat
An envelope pushing anything else
A committee thinking inside a box
Or being reinvented by a wheel

A woman picking up the jaw she dropped
And shelves flying onto the product
A minor motion picture, unpacked jam
Something about a girl with bathroom eyes

The more change things the change more things
For the hamster turning though the wheel is dead

Estate Sale - Books $2 - poem

Lawrence Hall

Estate Sale – Books $2

Saint Joseph Sunday missals on a shelf
Four small ribboned missals, one for each child
“Introibo ad altare Dei
Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.”

Fifty years later, the same little books
Still in a row on the same little shelf
Waiting for the little hands that never again
Will reach for them while Dad honks the truck horn

And Mom fusses with the slow-cooker stew
On a Sunday that God remembers with joy

Sitting on the Porch - poem

Lawrence Hall

When I was a boy I didn’t understand why in the evenings old people liked to sit on the porch with a pipe or a cup of coffee, doing nothing:

Sitting on the Porch

Sitting on the porch, not thinking at all
About the rain dripping off the eaves
The old bird-dog dog dozing on the planks
The yapping puppy annoying the cats

Sharpening a pocketknife, not thinking at all
About boyhood, the war, marriage, children
That last letter from far away, the funeral
And has the coffee finished percolating

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord…” -
Sitting on the porch, not thinking at all

An Extended Family - poem

Lawrence Hall

An Extended Family

A recluse is always uncomfortable
Billeted in a crowded and noisy house
Roommates who simply will not get along
Arguing about the cheesecake in the reefer

And whose turn is it to wash the dishes
That radio is entirely too loud
Didn’t anyone pay the electric bill
And will you ever learn to wipe your feet

A big old House upon its Seven Hills -
A recluse is always uncomfortable

Monday, May 23, 2016

Undeclared War is Good Business - Invest Your Daughter - column

Mack Hall, HSG
22 May 2016

Undeclared War is Good Business – Invest Your Daughter

Mr. Donald Trump’s butler is said to have said ill-mannered things about the President. I don’t understand this – my butler never speaks inappropriately.

+ + +

Prime Minister Trudeau got into an almost Long Branch Saloon tussle on the floor in Parliament last week, strong-arming one MP, elbowing another, and pushing others aside, like the new sheriff coming in to clean up Wild West Ottawa. A helpful video explains the dust-up employing not cowboy metaphors but sports terminology:

+ + +

Nicholas Clairmont, who writes for The Atlantic, not only opines that the un-American practice of conscription should be restored but that it should include women. Really. Nicholas Clairmont is a grown man who wants your daughter or granddaughter to be captured by press gangs, shipped out, and shot for the greater glory of Nicholas Clairmont. What a mensch, eh.

+ + +

Freedom from the Freedom from Religion Foundation – now that is a freedom much to be desired.

+ + +

Australians are experimenting with robot ranchers. These machines wander about to monitor crops and cattle while sending computer analysis to (for the present) humans. One imagines the robotic remake of Red River. Or perhaps C3PO as Matt Dillon, not in Gunsmoke but in Vague Chirpy Phaser Noises.

+ + +

Candidates for elected office are chosen by popular vote. The exception is this year’s presidential election in which the voter is expected to vote for the least unpopular. Not even prom king and queen are elected on such a goofy basis.

+ + +

The President, without bothering with Congress, has decided to sell (translation – you’ll pay) weapons to The Glorious Working People’s Peace-Loving Communist Republic of Viet-Nam and to send ships to protect them from the increasingly aggressive Glorious Working People’s Peace-Loving Republic of China. Sounds like 1963 all over again.

Viet-Nam doesn’t like us.

China doesn’t like us.

The Philippine government doesn’t like us.

Japan doesn’t like us.

They just use us against each other.

Maybe the USA could take the Switzerland option and stay out of the coming war in Asia. We could send gung-ho Nicholas Clairmont instead.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

If the Universe is Mechanical - poem

Lawrence Hall

If the Universe is Mechanical

If the universe is mechanical
Then it is badly out of tune and time
Clattering erratically around our souls
A clockwork badly needing winding up

Whoever held the key has lost it, though
And a bent thought won’t make it go again
As it tock-ticks in the back of a shop
Of cosmic pawns there accumulating dust

From stars remaindered from a holiday sale -
If the universe is mechanical

Pick up Your Brass - poem

Lawrence Hall

Pick up Your Brass

The rubrics of the firing range are clear
And most importantly, pick up your brass -
In learning to shoot, tidiness is most dear
And empty casings chap the sergeant’s…soul

Duck and Cover - poem

Lawrence Hall

Duck and Cover

The duck and cover drill was never frightening
Not like arithmetic, or the teacher’s stare
For if the rockets fell, no more homework
Or switch-inducing notes to Mom and Dad

“Mack is a smart boy but needs to work harder.”
We crouched beside our desks and giggled
About old Kruschev bombing Kirbyville
Any American could whip three Commies

We had John Wayne and President Eisenhower

And so

The duck and cover drill was never frightening

Night Prayer - poem

Lawrence Hall

Night Prayer

Tobacco smoke rises from the bowl of a pipe
Like incense or thoughts, or dreams drifting up
Into the gathering dusk, the compline hour
A liturgy at the end of the day

That celebration of needful solitude
With the philosopher’s tools of light and shade
The evening lawn, an open book unread
A dog perhaps, in somnolent repose

Surely thinking how wonderful you are -
Tranquility rises from the bowl of a pipe

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

About this Life Thing... - poem

Lawrence Hall

About this Life Thing…

“What we mean to establish is a school for the Lord’s service”

- St. Benedict

For Cody

Your final exams are not final, you know
They’re only markings on a calendar
A cluster of large numbers and small grids
Shapelets that have no meaning in themselves

For Shakespeare will push rhyme beyond all time
And Euclid charts his pi without a date
Caesar does not count days before he writes
“Omnis Gallia in partes tres divisa est”


Schedules are useful things, but life itself
Is a joyful study without an end

Following a Path Worn by Pilgrims - poem

Lawrence Hall

Following a Path Worn by Pilgrims

Doctor Zhivago, p. 75

No one is first along a pilgrim road
Other footsteps began our journey for us -
To Bethlehem, Emmaus, Damascus –
Wherever the heart is centered in hope

Someone has stepped on this cactus before
And sat on that rock to pull out the spines
And muttered about the indignity
Of a holy man pestered with stickers

But humility is part of the search


No one is last along a pilgrim road

A House Without a Dog - poem

Lawrence Hall

A House without a Dog

Socks will not disappear
Shoes will not be chewed
Christmas ornaments will not be eaten
The floor will remain clean

But socks do not look at you with love
Shoes don’t cuddle
Christmas ornaments don’t kiss your nose
And floors don’t chase their tails

A Candidacy of Unreferenced Pronouns - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Candidacy of Unreferenced Pronouns

“At least he tells it like it is” – hear, now,
That unsourced “it” which centers every fear
And every diffuse anger and frustration
Capitalized by a plastic baseball cap

And prefaced by that poor excuse – “at least”
Which really is the least that can be said
(This side of throwing in an “actually”) -
To plead the so-sad sibilant “at least”

Is an evasive slither that must end
As Milton’s dismal, universal hiss

Event Staff - poem

Lawrence Hall

Event Staff

What if we are never the stars of our lives
Or even the audience for our show
But always staff, dutiful event staff
Important, but not as much as we think

Moving chairs for others to sit upon
Selling tickets at the parish-hall door
Spaghetti supper for the Something-Youth
And their yearly convention in Houston

And finding Mrs. Grumpy’s misplaced purse –
Event staff – we are our own autographs

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chakras in the Underground - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Chakras in the Underground

About that restroom edict – why are people constantly surprised at having the government for which they voted?

+ + +

The democratically-elected leaders of this nation are obsessed with telling other nations what to do and how to live, but, unsurprisingly, can’t even run a short railroad.

The D.C. subway is reported to be a mess, with poor design, inadequate maintenance, fatal fires and smoke, breakdowns, delays, and questionable accounting practices. When a subway train breaks down – or begins burning – you’re trapped in a tunnel and can’t get out and walk away.

Subways are illogical. Humans are by nature surface-dwellers, not burrowers. Given that D.C. reposes uneasily upon a swamp, tunnels there are not a good idea. And even in stable rock, packing humans, machinery, fuel, and electricity into a sealed environment is a patently unsafe practice.

But perhaps the maintenance funding was routed via Iraq, Afghanistan, and the China Seas.

+ + +

The most realistic greeting card slogan for graduation might be: Congratulations! Now you’re just another unemployed American.”

+ + +

Bernie Sanders has the endorsement of the witch community in Oregon:

…she prepared to lead them in the “amplification of positive energy of Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement.”

They gathered around a small rug with four candles, flowers and an imitation ballot box adorned with Bernie stickers. Each person was handed a replica ballot and took turns declaring what they would like to see changed…

Then they circled the candles together, chanting “be the Bern, be the Bern, be the Bern…”

When they were finished, they passed around cherries and ginger lemonade. (

At the once-Catholic University of Notre Dame this event might be confused with Sunday morning Mass.

+ + +

A current shopping-mall theology advises us that we are composed of chakras and must spend time and money balancing them. Well, hey, we mustn’t go around with unbalanced chakras.

Do you get the idea that valley-speakers who are obsessed with their chakras and reikis and gluten-free auras are the sort of people who take selfies?

+ + +

The chakras seem to have been unbalanced at a political convention in Nevada last Saturday. Things got so rough that delegate Aunt Pittypat pleaded for her smelling salts, a cup of organic rose-hip tea, Yoo-Toob time, and a lawyer.

Purse-swinging was averted only by some bored-looking deputies standing in front of the dais and asking the attendees to leave. They said “please.” And the attendees, raising their me-phones in a princess-power salute, left.

Still, that the long-obedient proletariat finally refused to be good comrades and obey the program imposed by The Party gives one hope for democracy.


The Eternal Complaint of the Elderly - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Eternal Complaint of the Elderly

Old men don’t seem to recognize the world
Its shifting cultural expectations,
Unstable tectonics in music and art
The vaporous now in the confident young

Confusion and speed, meanings without words
Words without meanings, opaque cues and codes
Mutual unintended inattention
And the sense of being invisible

Old man, the world doesn’t even see you -
And it’s all probably better that way

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Goodcomradechant and Goodcomradewear - two poems

Lawrence Hall


“Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho!
(Insert this week’s Orwellian Goldstein figure without any regard for meter)
Has got to go!”


Good comrades uniformed in baggy knee-pants
And hoodies adorned with bloody old Che
Designer haircuts to enhance the chance
Of viraling on the gossipnet today

Because the Dragon Never Forgets - poem

Lawrence Hall

Because the Dragon Never Forgets

St. George, who fights our daily dragons for us
With golden prayers, and silver sword aloft -
Shall we neglect him on his festal day
Dismissing him as a Perseus myth?

Oh, no – for any man is more a myth
Than any saint, whose glory is in God
And not in his calendar reputation
Or in the vaporous memories of men

Even unremembered, he is our shield -
St. George, who fights our daily dragons for us

The DNA of Creation - a Variant - poem

Lawrence Hall

The DNA of Creation – a Variant

Creation’s DNA appears to us
As blood and water flowing from a wound
Down, down into the dust all serpentine
Where sins lie hidden, rotting in the dark

Creation’s DNA appears to us
As wine and water mingled in a cup
Seldom spilling onto the carpeting
In an air-conditioned sanctuary

But nevertheless real for all of that:
Creation’s DNA is given to us

The DNA of Creation - poem

Lawrence Hall

The DNA of Creation

The DNA of Creation appears
As blood and water flowing from a wound,
Flowing down flesh and wood, into the ground
Blood-sodden through repeated sacrifice

Scapehumans executed by the state
Some for murder, some for thinking bad thoughts
Others for love, for living happily
For helping tend and guard the Garden of life

But this one is far different, for in Him
The DNA of Creation appears