Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Yankee Doodle Cigar Box

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

The Yankee Doodle Cigar Box

Open the old cigar box,
Get me a Cuba stout
For things are running crossways,
And Maggie and I are out

- Kipling

The decay of civilization continues with the demise of the cigar box.

In the not-so-long-ago even the cheapest cigars (Roi-Tan – “The Cigar That Breathes”) were sold in wooden boxes secured with little brass nails.

Little boys didn’t smoke cigars (well…once or twice…) themselves, but a castoff cigar box was a childhood treasure, a source of almost-raw materials for building toy forts, airplanes, cars, ships, and army tanks.

A cigar box also served as a pirate’s treasure chest for hiding old pocketknives, marbles, Canadian pennies, firecrackers from last Christmas, brass washers, keys without locks, locks without keys, a Timex wristwatch that didn’t run anymore, stubs of pencils, bits of chalk, string, airplane glue, crayons, .22 shell casings, pliers, screwdrivers, dice, and a little plastic disc that, when tilted, made a tiny hunter in a boat lift his shotgun and bring down a duck.

Every child took a cigar box to school to hold crayons, those dinky, stamped-metal, blunt-nosed scissors, and that crumbly white paste which wouldn’t stick anything together. The labels remained, which would now be forbidden under state law as promoting the use of tobacco by children.

Some manufacturers sold empty no-name boxes as school supplies for a time, but these were quickly superseded by the now ubiquitous and iniquitous transparent plastic boxes which somehow seem un-American.

Wooden cigar boxes for cheap machine brands were first replaced by thick, heavy cardboard. These were sturdy enough for squirreling away little oddments in a drawer, but wholly inadequate for building another USS Texas, a bomber, or a railroad station for the three-rail O-gauge (the Marx vs Lionel vs American Flyer debate is deferred).

Sadly, grocery store cigars no longer come in real boxes at all; they are tucked into folding envelopes of thin cardboard, useless in every way. Straight shame.

After the Depression and World War II, the concept of “the richest nation on earth” was almost as much a fiction as it is now. National prosperity didn’t much come down to ex-G.I.’s, but they figured they were blessed in having jobs and food and no one shooting at them, and the promise of a better future. A J. C. Higgins on the gun rack instead of a garand, a pair of dress shoes instead of combat boots for going to church, and the luxury of a six-cent cigar after work or down at the American Legion - all spoke of small victories.

The names of those brands return from the past: Roi Tan, King Edward, Wm Penn, Dutch Masters, White Owl, Phillies, El Producto, Muriel, Swisher Sweets, John Ruskin, most of which have gone the way of the Missouri Pacific, Pan American, and Studebaker. The plain wooden boxes in which those cheap, machine-made, post-war cigars awaiting the touch of the match contained more than cigars, they were cultural artifacts.

Cardboard just won’t do.

Where now is the modern boy to hide his old pocketknives, marbles, Canadian pennies, firecrackers from last Christmas, brass washers, keys without locks, locks without keys, a Timex wristwatch that doesn’t run anymore, stubs of pencils, bits of chalk, string, airplane glue, crayons, .22 shell casings, pliers, screwdrivers, dice, and a little plastic disc that, when tilted, makes a tiny hunter in a boat lift his shotgun and bring down a duck?

-30-


The Twenty-One Egyptian Martyrs

Twenty-One Martyrs of Egypt

Baptized into the mystery of death
Simon again carrying the Cross of Christ
But now each Simon carrying his own
Marched to the beach under the whips of scorn
Crowned with humiliation, fear, and pain
Agony, the obscenity of death
Canonized on the Cyrenian shore
Lifted up into eternal Joy
Twenty-one martyrs teach us how to die
Baptized into the mystery of death

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cambodia Comes to an End


Mack Hall, HSG


 

Cambodia Comes to an End

 

The Cambodian government recently arrested two American sisters for desecrating a religious and historical site by taking bare-bottom pictures of each other in Angkor Wat.  The two young women kept their shirts on, though – perhaps these were tees printed with “These ARE My Church Clothes®™” or maybe the obligatory portrait of pathological murderer and capitalist fashion ATM Che Guevara®™.

 

Someone might ask where their parents were, but, really, should twenty-somethings need mumsy and dadsy to tell them to keep their britches on in somebody else’s church?

 

The government is unsure about the proper punishment.  Given the reported poses, a few swings with a switch wouldn’t be amiss for the misses.

 

Many people the age of the moonbeam girls are working double shifts at minimum-wage jobs to maintain themselves, and can’t afford a holiday at all.  These two consumers, who enjoy enough disposable wealth to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, could think of little else to do at one of the world’s wonders except to act out the content of American television programming.

 

This failure to respect others and one’s self is not limited to Yanks.  Only a week before the bad American moons arising three French tourists chose to give the temple more exposure to the, uh, culture of La Belle France than was necessary.  The Cambodian government gave them suspended sentences and sent them home, which demonstrates that Cambodia is more civilized than France.

 

The week before that some other tourists, said only to be “Asian,” also thought that a thousand-year-old religious site was a clothing-optional experience.

 

At some point Cambodia might become so exasperated at those visitors who act like British footie fans that the punishments might involve more than a scolding and a ride to the airport in a police car.  And this might be happening now - as of this writing, the two young American women are still in a Cambodian holding facility.  No privacy, no air-conditioning, no MePhone, no television, no menu choices, and maybe only a damp, crowded concrete floor instead of a bunk.  That must fun.

 

Although the young women’s lack of a proper upbringing is probably George Bush’s fault, the reality is that no matter how shabby the parenting or lack of parenting, a young adult can begin to think for herself (the pronoun here is gender-neutal).  She can choose not to be fifty shades of victim.  She can choose not to be a cliché, a parasite, or a passive receiver of destructive sub-cultural indoctrination. She can choose to respect others by first respecting herself. 

 

Helping visitors grow up is not the responsibility of the government of Cambodia, who are busy enough recovering from a generation of Communist horror.

 

In the end (as it were), Cambodian tourists don’t visit churches in the USA in order to drop trou for a selfie in front of the baptismal font.

 

-30-

Brittle Sunlight


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Brittle Sunlight

 

Most say a sunbeam’s glare is beautiful

The February sun slanting upon

Poor optimistic flowers opening out

To celebrate the trickster’s transient warmth

Haze grey is gentler, drifts of morning mists

Through which ascending light speaks promises

Of happiness along life’s pearling dreams

When no sun marks or assigns us dutiful hours

To those who see whole worlds in shoaling leaves

Cold February fogs whisper happiness

National Public Radio Considers the New Cardinals


Lawrence Hall


 

National Public Radio Considers the New Cardinals

 

authentic marginalized periphery

environment climate change key issues

chained to the tradition smacks you in the face

geographical diversity voices

of the global church geographic choice

revolutionary crop developing world

spiritual Alzheimer’s ideological conclusions

mandarins at the Vatican the left

upper echelons hot button dialogue

diverse comments for this thread are now closed

A Flickering Light Among the Winter Trees


Lawrence Hall


 

Shhhhh - Did You See That?

 

A flickering light among the winter trees,

A bell that’s barely heard within the wind

Like rumors of poor wandering souls who mourn

Departed glories through a moonless night

While guarded in forgotten rites by soft

Mysterious footfalls heard in the dark

By frightened men who scuttle quickly back

To where the feeble streetlamps flail against fear,

Saying nothing to their pals in the pub about

A flickering light among the winter trees

Texas' Proposed Open-Carry Law


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Texas’ Proposed Open-Carry Law

 

All teachers trample the Constitution

All teachers promote contempt for the Flag

All teachers should be in an institution

All teachers are weird (and that one’s a fag)

All teachers despise the military

All teachers should be slowly microwaved

All teachers hate meat; they’re vegetary

All teachers hate Jesus; they can’t be Saved

All teachers are evil; the children are harmed:

And thus, they say, all teachers should be armed

Upon Learning that the Southern Poverty Law Center Maintains an Enemies List


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Upon Learning that the Southern Poverty Law Center

Maintains an Enemies List

 

Does anyone maintain a list of friends?

The construction flagman who smiles and waves

The neighbor’s boy who visits for a game of chess

The Friday morning coffee commandos

The waitress who flirts with all her old men

          The helpful sackboy at the grocery store

          The man who repairs your air-conditioner

          The nurse-practitioner who makes you all better

Does anyone maintain a list of friends?

The President Asks Congress to Approve More Corpses


Lawrence Hall


 

The President Asks Congress to Approve More Corpses

 

military force resolution robust

authorization national security

interests into harm’s way absolutely

necessary deployment enduring

offensive combat role limits authoritative

document timetable revisit the issue

discussion constitutional authority

AUMD  ISIL  ISIS, stability

integrity necessary and appropriate

associated persons or forces boots

Vocations


Lawrence Hall


 

Vocations

 

“I consecrate you to a great novitiate in the world.”

 

-Father Zosima to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov

 

The monastery gate opens easily

If it really needs opening at all

The road outside often leads somewhere else

But then it just as often leads back again

The distance measured by a crucifix

Where a weary traveler can pray awhile

Or maybe Harry Bailey’s hamburger joint

A cup of coffee and a cigarette

Offered by a pilgrim in the neon night

The monastery gate opens easily

The Student Commons


Lawrence Hall


 

The Student Commons

 

In the student commons between classes

Fluorescent lights over the Coke machine

Cartoons and soaps on the television screen

Grim thirty-somethings hunched in plastic chairs

Staring like Eloi at the Morlock box

Where Tom chases Jerry past Vanna White

And then across the bed where Brook and Ridge

Wrestle in geographic ecstasy

On the muddy banks of the sports channel

In the student commons between classes

One Shade of Going Viral


Lawrence Hall


 

One Shade of Going Viral

 

A cloud of virus-sodden tissues builds

Billow on billow, like a summer storm

Weathering up for the afternoon rain,

Or like a trash-can snowman sneeze by sneeze.

A cold is like a favorite childhood toy

Discovered in a shoebox tucked away

Or a Robin Hood book of summer dreams

Three days’ escape from responsibilities

And pulling at a tissue once again

A cloud of irresponsible indolence builds

Does This Machine Kill Fascists?


Does This Machine Kill Fascists?

 

Does this machine kill Fascists?  Probably not

Unless it bores them to a yawning death

Through soporific clichés crudely imposed

Upon a few poor, battered chords that twang

Like the barbed wire of an Arctic gulag

Where happy comrades

Shiver in the snow

Wither in the wind

Starve on slops

Burn with typhus

Rot in the tundra

As they build the future upon mass graves

While the anti-Fascist cashes his checks

Lawrence Hall

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cuddly Carnivores


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Cuddly Carnivores

 

Why do we humans cuddle carnivores

Give names to yapping little quadrupeds

Who growl at socks and shoes and closet doors

And rumple all the covers on all the beds?

What possible use is a dachshund pup

Who chews whatever her tiny teeth reach

And what doesn’t digest comes right back up -

Little dogs are impossible to teach!

But in my arms my Astrid softly snores:

That’s why we cuddle baby carnivores

For Rod McKuen



Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

For Rod McKuen

 

The gentle singer of my youth has died

The poet of empty Sunday afternoons

And solitary strolls through Balboa Park

Among lovers and Frisbee-chasing dogs

Of laughing with shipmates while cleaning rifles

Because we knew more than the armorer

About dreaming away from learning war

About pretty girls laughing in the sun

A chansonnier in sweater, sneaks, and jeans:

The gentle singer of my youth has died

Politicians and Potties


Mack Hall, HSG


 

Deflating the Float Ball

 

The thought of political functionaries escorting citizens to the potty is creepy / stalky, but maybe not unexpected.  After all, for years the national government, unable to cobble together a budget, has nonetheless regulated the capacity of the toilet tanks to which on some occasions they herd citizens.

 

Late in January the Democrats of the House of Representatives held what the news calls a retreat at a hotel in Philadelphia.  Part of the security was provided by the D.C. Capitol Police, exercising their strong extra-territorial arm of D.C. law in the state of Pennsylvania. 

 

Whatever the occasion or purpose of the retreat (and why do they call it that?), the House Democrats suffered the punishment of having to listen to a speech by Vice-President Joe Biden.  Ouch.

 

Reporters present reported (because reporting is what reporters do) that if they bugged out of the speech (and who wouldn’t!) to visit the euphemism they were escorted by an official Democratic Party staffer.

 

Maybe the EPA sent them so that the reporters wouldn’t be…you know…beneath illegal 150-watt incandescent light bulbs. 

 

Hey, who wouldn’t want to be the up-and-coming political functionary who is deputed to watch the watchers wee-wee?  This is why young Americans study political science in our great universities.

 

How is service on the potty patrol scored on the staffers’ annual written evaluation?

 

And what do the staffers say over coffee or a brew after their shift?

 

“Say, Biff, rough day?”

 

“Watching a CNN crone in the john.  ‘Rough day’ – ya think?”

 

“Don’t feel like Steve Kroft, okay?  I and my 4.0 GPA from Columbia fetched toilet paper for some Fox newsies who wanted to know if it were free-range.”

 

“Bartender…!”

 

What is unclear is why some of the Honorable Members of the House determined that reporters can’t go…you know…without minders.  Is the Fourth
Estate notorious for wrapping the House chambers?  Do they need reminding to wash their hands and check their zippers and buttons?

 

The reader wonders how Edward R. Murrow, Douglas Edwards, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Ernie Pyle would have responded to twenty-something functionaries supervising their occasional necessary visits.

 

If someone suggests that some aspects of our government seem to be in the toilet, well, maybe that’s not a metaphor.

 

-30-

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Weary


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

January Weary

 

Dark weeks of wind and clouds and rain have passed

Into the east where wild storms go to die

While in the west above the woods the moon

A glowing curve of cold reigns over the sky

Now close the door after a lingering look

Upon silence and frost this January night

And dream by the fire, with blanket and book,

Sweet images of spring in the flickering light

And sunlight tomorrow - the frost won’t last

Long weeks of wind and clouds and rain have passed

News From Russia


Lawrence Hall


 

News from Russia

 

The Brothers Karamazov, Book II

 

There was little news from Russia today

At the monastery the late liturgy

Was over around eleven or so

The faithful crossing themselves as they left,

Mostly poor folk, walking to their homes for lunch

And then back to work.  They hardly noticed

A party of their betters strolling about

Reading tombstones, giggling about the quaint monks

Waiting to see a reed swaying in the wind

There was little news from Russia today

Je Suis Dust Jacket


Lawrence Hall


 

Je Suis Dust Jacket

 

Can’t-put-it-down layered tapestry of

Spell-binding patriarchal must-read rich

Ness woven of cross-cultural patriarchal

Assumptions is a multi-gendered land

Mark of accessible, richly textured

Narratives that will make you laugh, make you cry,

And change your life forever through a unique

Voice of powerful unstinting timeless

Human condition moving milestone land

Mark compelling nuanced epic of searing

Honesty and gripping poignancy burnt

Into the human conscience challenges

The heterosexist patriarchal

Mainstream that will define a generation

Iconic sensual stunning absorbing

Lapidary roman a clef triumph

Definitive edgy in the tradition

Of luminous provocative.  And stuff.

Some Mornings Are Like That


Lawrence Hall


 

Some Mornings are like That

 

The day begins, but not in optimism

Sunrise is tiresome, fresh coffee tastes old

The frost in the fields has been used before

Even the evergreens are evertired

So what will you now do? Give it all up?

Oh, no.  Toothbrush and shaver to the front

A shower, hot, get dressed, laugh at yourself

Lace up your sneakers, however awkwardly

Now touch the Crucifix, take up your work

The day begins – to stand up is a victory

After Epiphany III


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

After Epiphany III

 

The stripping of the tree is almost Lenten

The ornaments gone, only “bare ruined choirs”

Remain, no comfort of carols or hymns

As it is dragged outside into the cold

It almost seems to shiver in the winter sun

Reduced to poverty and then to scraps

Which in the months to come enkindle then

An evening fire after the cows are milked

But not celebrated with festive lights

The stripping of the tree is almost Lenten

What's Wrong With Education These Days?


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

What’s Wrong with Education These Days?

 

The principal in his cartoon tee-shirt

His Nike sneakers squeaking across the floor

Sets out candy, pizzas, and canned sodas

Arranges a door prize, and assembles the faculty

Requires them to sign in so he can check on them

Orders them to hold hands and sing the school song

Reminds them they are all one big family

As a preface to his primary agenda:

To tell them to be more professional

The principal in his cartoon tee-shirt

A Clockwork Clock


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

A Clockwork Clock

 

One almost never sees a clockwork clock

Two trimmed and stamped and punched flat metal disks

With gears and wheels and springs and hands attached

And all enclosed in steel and faced with glass

On duty in the kitchen window there

To watch Mom’s baking bread or note the hours

Until The Cisco Kid lassoed a dream

To delight little boys with a golden tale

Adventures when the hands met years ago

 

But now

 

One almost never sees a clockwork clock

The Danelaw


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

The Danelaw

 

The ancient usages of Holy Church

Are hidden in dark marshes with the King 

The Eucharist is fallen into the ash

And all the sacred vessels - they are lost

The holy Chalice is but a cup for mead

The Paten a love-offering for a dancing girl

The vestments coverings for snoring Danes

The burnt Mass-book a mystery of smoke:

But Christus semper vivat, and quickens still

The ancient usages of Holy Church

 

While reading GKC’s Ballad of the White Horse.  I extend this as a modern metaphor.

Within the Octave of the Superbowl


Mack Hall, HSG


 

Within the Octave of the Superbowl

 

In ye olden Puritan colonies ye olden local police were charged by the magistrates and the clergy to verify church attendance on Sundays, even to checking the houses and businesses of absentees to make sure they really were sick, and not simply avoiding sermons of such transcendental length that even Methuselah might yawn and check the ol’ sun dial.

 

In our times the powerful purveyors of beer, fizzy-water, and cardboard calories might be tempted to petition the several states to ensure that every householder in the land is in prayerful, purchasing-power (a widow’s mite won’t cut it anymore) devotion before the Orwellian telescreen on Super-Bowl Sunday unless there is a valid excuse, such as being dead.

 

Yes, the Octave of the Superbowl is here, and all unnecessary work is suspended for a week in observance of this Great Liturgy of the Republic.  Long before the Game Itself, children and adults alike dream of the merry violence of unionized millionaires bashing each other in taxpayer-funded stadia for the profit of a small oligarchy of owners.  Attended by a praetorian guard, airships, amazonian vestals, liturgical directors, referees, commentators, line judges, hired musicians, dancing bears, dispensers of comestibles, lights, colors, sounds, smokes, and tiers of worshippers in their made-in-China vestments, the Superbowl is a display of excess and distraction that would make even the giddiest Babylonian king envious.

 

All over This Great Land millions of fowl are sacrificed to the gods, and their smoking body parts rendered up on the Altar of Consumption under the transfiguring name of buffalo wings.  Yes, no matter what anyone says, Americans are a people of great faith – in spite of all evidence they believe that on Superbowl Sunday buffalos have wings just as in Ordinary Time they believe that paint stripes on a pavement will keep two cars from crashing into each other

 

Superbowl Sunday is such an essential liturgy of Americanism that those few who recuse themselves from this Holy Day of Obligation can be subject to questions about their morals.  Not to have a favorite team is to shame one’s family, especially Grammaw in her made-in-China Green Bay ensemble, and not to know the names of the competing gods in the Super Bowl is to invite McCarthy-ite suspicion about one’s religious fidelity and national loyalty.

 

At the end of the game – or Game – the faithful of the losing gods are in such despair that they feel the only way they can restore their faith is by the ritual burning of other people’s cars.  Curiously, the faithful devotees of the winning gods also burn other people’s cars, but in celebration of the increased strength of their gods.  Understanding the anthropology of primitive peoples is always a challenge.

 

After The Game, the human sacrifices begin, when the Chosen Stadium itself is as bare as a Christian Altar on Good Friday: dark, empty, forlorn, devoid of hope.  The gods themselves, when they are or are broken in body, are abandoned.  Some have been known to die alone and homeless, with none of the millions who once cheered them in attendance.  For there are always new gods and new places of worship in the cycle of diversions.

 

For now there is Mardy Graw, and the burning question of whether the made-in-China beads were deflated, and whether The Plastic King may or may not be righteously baked into the cake.

 

-30-

 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Amid the Alien Whole Kernel Corn


Lawrence Hall


 

Amid the Alien Whole-Kernel Corn

 

Given that most of humanity has always lived on the edge of starvation, the ordinary (to us) grocery store is an adventure in consumerism and culture: coffee from Colombia, tea from Sri Lanka (which was Ceylon before it watched too much television), bananas from Nicaragua, olive oil from Italy, herring from Norway, and summer vegetables shipped from California at all seasons. Sugar-sodden snacks pose seductively only an aisle away from the ascetic whole-grain breads, and diet sodas vamp desperately for the shopper’s attention like aging pop stars layered in makeup.

 

Shopping the supermarket is like shopping the world, and presumably the rest of the world enjoys effective means of transporting groceries back to the house, flat, yurt, tent, or trailer.  In the USA, it might be time for us to bring our own bags to the grocery store.

 

Not so long ago grocery sacks were made of heavy brown paper.  When the sackboy, showing off a bit, swung it in a great arc against the air the sack opened with a very satisfying “pop,” ready for action.  The good old paper grocery sack was sturdy and capacious, and once the groceries were stored away at home the sacks went on to second careers as costume masks, school projects,  and useful (though not fashionable) beach and overnight bags, and for carrying one’s own garden produce to friends.  The cloud of polysyllabic adjectives condemning the use of paper grocery sacks as a crime against red-headed toadfrogs or something is just a darned lie. 

 

Later the customer was given a choice, paper or plastic, and the plastic, too, was good stuff.  Primitive plastic grocery sacks were manly ones, quite capable of telling that “Hefty, Hefty, Hefty” upstart where to get off.

 

Alas that now shoppers in the land of Manifest Destiny have no choice.  Grocery bags are plastic only, and nouveau plastic of such a flimsy, vaporous quality that they are no more substantial than a political party’s platform.  Groceries that could be toted in two or three substantial paper bags are now wrapped into six or seven little puffs of weak, thin film.  These diaphanous fancies are carefully designed to fall apart, like an environmentalist’s excuses, between your car and your back door.

 

A modern plastic grocery bag is not strong enough to hold even a pound of coffee, but that works out okay because there are no one-pound cans of coffee anymore.  Coffee is now sold 12 ounces at a time in cardboard cylinders.  One supposes that an honest pound of coffee was detrimental to the rain forest, which used be a fine old jungle before it began taking night classes at community college and got all sensitive.

 

Shopping carts have changed little; they’re still made of steel, rattle like crazy, and feature errant wheels that are determined to steer the cart to India even though you are trying to tack against them to the frozen foods.  I have been in grocery stores where the shopping carts were made of plastic atop obedient wheels, but that somehow seemed a little too Martha’s Vineyard or something.  Real Americans demand noisy, oppositional, steel shopping carts with a little fight in them.

 

Your old Granny thumped the melons, smelled the steaks, palpated the bread, and eyed the ground Charles carefully because she knew what she was doing.  Now most food products, even bananas and apples, are decorated with health and safety labels, but I’d rather trust Granny’s diagnosis than some propaganda about how an apple was grown by barefoot beatniks invoking karma-ness and the spirit of Alan Watts.

 

But, hey, it’s all organic, natural, farm-fresh, and good for the environment, right?  After all, the label says so, and who can argue with a label?

 

Coffee in cardboard and fooofy grocery sacks that exhibit the tensile strength of water vapor, well, we can cope, but how sadly progressive that sackboys no longer wear aprons, white shirts, and bow ties.  They looked sharp in a Little House on the Prairie-goes-to-town-on-Saturday sort of way.  I kinda miss that.

 

-30-

 

 

 

Community College for Everyone


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Community College for Everyone

 

“Tolle Lege - Take up and read”

-a child’s voice in Saint Augustine’s Confessions

 

You do not need permits or paperwork

A license, vouchers, sufferance, consent,

Authorization, sanction, approval,

Passport, certification, charter, chit,

Security clearance, brevet, code, key,

Party card, registration, ration book,

Rubber stamp, fingerprints, user name, badge,

Photo identification, pin number

To read a poem on a summer afternoon

You do not need permits or paperwork

Sergeant Schultz Saw Everything


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Sergeant Schultz Saw Everything

 

This sad world needs another Sergeant Schultz

That merry miles ponderosus who

Carried his rifle like a walking stick

And celebrated strudel instead of glory 

His innocent joy repudiated

The burning-soul pornography of war

In seeing nothing he saw everything

Through ordinary men living in hope

The liturgy of daily happiness

This sad world needs another Sergeant Schultz

The Danelaw


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

The Danelaw

 

The ancient usages of Holy Church

Are hidden in dark marshes with the King 

The Eucharist is fallen into the ash

And all the sacred vessels - they are lost

The holy Chalice is but a cup for mead

The Paten a love-offering for a dancing girl

The vestments coverings for snoring Danes

The burnt Mass-book a mystery of smoke:

But Christus semper vivat, and quickens still

The ancient usages of Holy Church

A Clockwork Clock and The Cisco Kid


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

A Clockwork Clock

 

One almost never sees a clockwork clock

Two trimmed and stamped and punched flat metal disks

With gears and wheels and springs and hands attached

And all enclosed in steel and faced with glass

On duty in the kitchen window there

To watch Mom’s baking bread or note the hours

Until The Cisco Kid lassoed a dream

To delight little boys with a golden tale

Adventures when the hands met years ago

But now

One almost never sees a clockwork clock

What's Wrong With Education These Days?


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

What’s Wrong with Education These Days?

 

The principal in his cartoon tee-shirt

His Nike sneakers squeaking across the floor

Sets out candy, pizzas, and canned sodas

Arranges a door prize, and assembles the faculty

Requires them to sign in so he can check on them

Orders them to hold hands and sing the school song

Reminds them they are all one big family

As a preface to his primary agenda:

To tell them to be more professional

The principal in his cartoon tee-shirt

After Epiphany III (and I'm not calling the three poems a tryptich)


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

After Epiphany III

 

The stripping of the tree is almost Lenten

The ornaments gone, only “bare ruined choirs”

Remain, no comfort of carols or hymns

As it is dragged outside into the cold

It almost seems to shiver in the winter sun

Reduced to poverty and then to scraps

Which in the months to come enkindle then

An evening fire after the cows are milked

But not celebrated with festive lights

The stripping of the tree is almost Lenten