Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Alligator of the Cave


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Neo-Platonism

 

or

 

The Alligator of the Cave

 

If the shadow behind the shade shifts shapes,

Souls shall shudder at the shimmering show

As shafts of sunlight shine reality

Upon the shabby, shop-soiled shibboleths

That long have formed seductive, sheeny shells,

Those shapeless shields that shutter shamefully

Humanity’s shallow, sheering shoreline

And shatter the shaken shards of constructs sham

To the chagrin of the shaken – but only

If the shadow behind the shade shifts shapes.

Pupils Fixed and Dilated


Lawrence Hall, HSG

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Pupils Fixed and Dilated

 

He was not permitted to die in peace

The only mercy granted was release

From fear and mortars falling from the sky

There was no possibility of saying goodbye

And the river water stank, as did the night

His end was as flickering as the light

Pale gaspings, a fluttering pulse, dead sweat

D5W, battle dressings, and yet

The only mercy was in his release

He was not permitted to died in peace

 

Noisy, Shiny Things


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Noisy, Shiny Things

 

Loudspeakers dangling from the overhead

A telescreen magically descending

Air, light, and sound electrically controlled

By banks of glowing buttons and monitors

Radiance falling upon the holy drums

Upon the shimmering percussion set

Upon the amplifiers standing on guard

Lest a moment of God’s silence break through

As the people listen obediently to

Loudspeakers dangling from the overhead.

Upon Thoughtlessly Writing "No" in a Book


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Upon Thoughtlessly Writing “No” in a Book, The Last Divine Office,

by Geoffrey Moorhouse, Said Book Not The Borrower’s

To Mark, Fold, Bend, Dog-Ear, or Leave Lying Carelessly About

 

An Apology

To Mr. and Mrs. Jason Petty

And

Their Heirs and Successors
Forever

Princesses to Our Great King

 

Good Mr. Moorhouse lost the plot

One place in his book at a certain spot:

He curiously praised The Middle Way

(Same old heresies every day);

Your book’s borrower quite forgot himself -

‘Twas not his book from his own shelf -

But egregious Error disturbed him so

He protested with one word: “No”

Written above the offending line

In ink, not neatly, but fine

And, he prays, not obtrusively

Or alienating, you see,

Your children who will someday read

This good, sometimes misleading screed

And wonder why old Mister Mack

Subjected it to rude attack

For such is not the thing to do

To anything borrowed, old or new.

Please know your friend is very sorry

Yesterday, today, and tomorry

Rebuke him in any way you devise

But please spare him arraignment at the assize

And may our Lord please bless us all,

Our Lady, too, for we are small

In faith, unlike good Cuthbert, strong

For God and us – but this is too long

And time it is to make an end

By thanking you for the books you lend

And thanking God for you. Amen.

 

-Lavrentivs Maccabaeus Brendanvs DeAvla, His Mark: X

Poetry of the Occupation


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Poetry of the Occupation

 

“…trained in the politics of the day, believing the great new system invented

by a genius so great that they never bothered to verify its results.”

 

-John Steinbeck, The Moon is Down

 

Political poetry occupies the streets

Brakes squealing to a stop before an idyll

Squads of inclusive stormtroopers disembark

Into men’s souls to enforce unity

Armed with warrants and inquisitions

The bills of indictment already drawn

Needing only a tap upon a screen

To serve in the office of a signature

And sensitive to death the personal life -

Political poetry occupies the streets.

But the Animals were First


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

But the Animals were First

 

“We read in Isaiah: ‘The ox knows its owner,

and the ass the master’s crib….’”

 

-Papa Benedict, The Blessings of Christmas

 

The ox and ass are in the Stable set

In service divine, as good Isaiah writes

A congregation of God’s creatures met

In honor of their King this Night of nights

And there they wait for us, for we are late

Breathless in the narthex of eternity

A star, a road, a town, an inn, a gate

Have led us to this holy liturgy:

Long centuries and seasons pass, and yet

The ox and ass are in the Stable set.

Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome

 

See now Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome

Three celebrants mitred with golden light          

And vested in pillar, temple, and dome

They lift life’s elements in sacred rite:                 

Jerusalem the Wild, where prophets sing

Athens the Reasoner, amid her vines                    

Rome, the Giver of Laws, whose trumpets ring

And send us civilization through wonders and signs                       

In faith and form and word and polychrome -

See now Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome

When Autumn Slipped Away


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

When Autumn Slipped Away

 

When Autumn slipped away into the night

Taking along her gentleness, her smiles

The creaking walls ticked minutes dark until

Winter arrived on wild winds winging south

And made dawn’s colors hide within the earth

Yesterday’s glowing woods – now cold and grey

Haunted by drips and damps and hopelessness

And voices from a summer’s yesterday:

The world was wan with poor, pale-patterned light    

When Autumn slipped away into the night

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Forces of Happiness


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

The Forces of Happiness

 

“There will be music, dancing, happiness….By order.”

 

-Town Crier in Dance of the Dead, an episode of The Prisoner

 

The Forces of Happiness are released

To worry out of their burrows those poor

Unfocused souls who mumble about their days

In happy, innocuous solitude

With books and cups of tea and scribbled lines

Of happy wonderings and teasing thoughts.

And such is not acceptable to those

Who suffer not the individual -

To herd him into organized submission

The Forces of Happiness are released.

 

Ten Things You Never Hear in December


Mack Hall, HSG


 

Ten Things You Never Hear in December

 

  1. “Some of our Christmas gifts were made in the USA.”
     
  2. “Every time It’s a Wonderful Life is broadcast, an angel rips its wings off.”
     
  3. “Our radio station has pledged not to accept the use of fragments of hymns in advertising because chopping up religious songs fails to respect both faith and art.”
     
  4. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Advent.”
     
  5. “I love Hallmark Hanukkah movies.”
     
  6. “Sometimes ya just want to kick Tiny Tim’s little crutch out from under him.”
     
  7. “I can sing ‘Ding-Dong, Merrily on High’ and keep a straight face.”
     
  8. “A reindeer got run over by Grandma.  The game warden was curious about a reindeer in East Texas.”
     
  9. “We need to put the ‘X’ back into ‘Xmas!’”
     
  10. “How tiresome of unoriginal newspaper writers and television programs in always coming up with different stuff about ‘the real meaning of Christmas.’  The real meaning of Christmas was made clear 2,000 years ago.”
     
    -10-

Sunday, December 14, 2014

But the Animals were First


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

But the Animals were First

 

“We read in Isaiah: ‘The ox knows its owner,

and the ass the master’s crib….’”

 

-Papa Benedict, The Blessings of Christmas

 

The ox and ass are in the Stable set

In service divine, as good Isaiah writes

A congregation of God’s creatures met

In honor of their King this Night of nights

And there they wait for us, for we are late

Breathless in the narthex of eternity

A star, a road, a town, an inn, a gate

Have led us to this holy liturgy:

Long centuries and seasons pass, and yet

The ox and ass are in the Stable set.

Otto and Jim


Mack Hall, HSG


 

Otto and Jim

 

Sainsbury’s is a fairly new company in England, having been around only since 1869.  Now a large supermarket chain, its annual Christmas television mini-movie ad of three or four minutes is a minor marketing custom.

 

This year, on the centenary of the first Christmas of World War I, Sainsbury’s little Christmas film, wholly free of advertising, is set during on the Western Front in 1914.  With snow falling on the battle area and soldiers shivering in the muddy trenches at night, an English soldier opens a package from home to find a letter, a picture of a girl, perhaps his wife or girlfriend or sister, and a bar of chocolate. 

 

From across the mud and snow we hear German soldiers singing “Stille Nacht.” The English soldiers join in, but of course in translation as “Silent Night.”  It sounds hokey, but the director makes it work, and the singing really did happen in several places along the battle line a century ago.

 

In the grey, cold morning, our fictional English soldier climbs a ladder, waves his hat, and clambers out into No Man’s Land, almost provoking a fight.  But a German soldier quickly realizes that there is no attack and tells his comrades not to shoot. 

 

Our young English soldier and our young German soldier, followed by others from both sides, approach each other slowly, slowly, hands always in sight, and then meet in the wasteland between the trenches.

 

“My name is Jim.”

 

“Mein name ist Otto.”

 

Otto and Jim, both monolingual, can only shake hands and beam at each other over shared photographs until someone begins a footer match. For a brief hour English and German soldiers pose for pictures, play footer, and beam at each other a great deal because when you don’t share a language you can at least beam.  An English sergeant and a German sergeant are standing together beaming approval at the merriment when everyone hears shooting from down the line.  Hasty farewells are made, Otto and Jim shake hands one last time and wish each other “Happy Christmas” and “Frohe Weihnachten,” and everyone trudges sadly back to their duty stations.

 

As Otto resumes his position on the fire step he discovers that Jim has slipped his precious chocolate bar into Otto’s coat as a gift.  Back in the English trench, Jim wryly observes that all he will have for Christmas dinner is a bit of hardtack, and that’s okay.

 

And that’s it.  The end.  Sainsbury’s made a moment, and made it good.

 

The film is overlaid with better-than-average insta-emo music, and there is no advertising.   The weak, greeting card-ish “Christmas is for sharing” at the end is a clumsy and entirely redundant appendage.  The sharing was in the film; the producer compromises the moment by spelling it out. Further, both those who love this Christian holy day and those who, obedient some script, loathe it, can agree that there is far more to Christmas than a bumper sticker.

 

A hundred years later Otto and Jim, and now Jim’s girlfriend, are still on duty in “some corner of a foreign field,” while those who sent them there will, as  always, spend Christmas in comfort and safety decking the halls with their resumes and graduate degrees. 

 

Young soldiers on watch all over the world will know Christmas more truly than anyone because of their isolation and loneliness.  Remember to send them pictures and letters and maybe a bar of chocolate for Christmas again this year.

 

-30-

 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Noisy, Shiny Things


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Noisy, Shiny Things

 

Loudspeakers dangling from the overhead

A telescreen magically descending

Air, light, and sound electrically controlled

By banks of glowing buttons and monitors

Radiance falling upon the holy drums

Upon the shimmering percussion set

Upon the amplifiers standing on guard

Lest a moment of God’s silence break through

As the people listen obediently to

Loudspeakers dangling from the overhead.

Incense and Latin


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Incense and Latin

 

Incense and Latin sweeten still the air

Two thousand years of faith, and beauty rare

In ancient usages to lift us up

Above our Fall, to Altar, Word, and Cup;

Poor, pale translations cannot compromise

What we have sensed through lips and eyes and sighs

Which God has granted us that we might live

Salvation given, and in turn we give

A faithful heart, a tabernacle where

Incense and Latin sweeten still the air.

The Given Bird


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

The Given Bird

 

The grackle is the tough guy of the streets

Hanging around the utility lines

Getting down, shaking down, playing it cool

Grackling at all the pretty girlie birds

Hitting up passersby for their spare food

A cigarette dangling insolently

(But only metaphorically, of course)

From his beak as he gracks verbal abuse

Even at his benefactors, one claw up  -

The grackle is the bird given in pique.

This Moon is not Eternal


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

This Moon is not Eternal

 

This moon is not eternal; it only seems

To be because in the mysterious night

It falls upon the earth in silent waves

Of memories drifting across the floor

In the dawn-drawn hours of dream-sheaving sleep

Before the eyes of an old man even as

It made shadowy mysteries for the boy

Shifting memories to leafy childhood days

And back again, a reflection of the real

This moon is not eternal, but that one is.

Happiness Visible

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com



Happiness Visible


A dachshund pup is happiness visible
Now tumbling, chumbling through the fallen leaves
Now sassling, hassling the hissing prissy cats
Now pausing in mid-bark to gnaw a paw
Now testing the dynamics of wind-flying ears
Now stalking the tasty beetle through the grass
Now chewing thoughtfully the tasty beetle
Now barfing up the not-so-tasty beetle
Now leaping to the next adventure in life
And somehow all at once – happiness visible

The Privileged Patriarchal Postcolonial Boy


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

The Privileged Patriarchal Postcolonial Boy

 

He vets his work for political tone

Writes nothing to annoy

And if his words offend – they’re gone!

The postcolonial boy

 

He was born and raised in poverty

His mother’s only joy

Still a child of privilege, you see

The postcolonial boy

 

No matter what he might dare say

No matter how polite, how coy

Nothing can excuse his DNA

The postcolonial boy

 

A shame it is that he submits

Agrees that he’s sans foy

He silences himself; he quits

The postcolonial boy

Beyond the Coffee Shop Window


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Beyond the Coffee Shop Window

 

A woman of enormous girth glides by

At high speed in her motorized wheelchair

Silent beyond the coffee shop window

Where labeled urns stand tall in orderly rows

Attended by mislabeled cylinders

In which the half-and-half is not even

A quarter-and-a-quarter of water-thinned milk

Near little colored packets of chemicals

She doesn’t break pace while turning her head to glare

In hatred beyond the coffee shop window.

But it's not Halloween


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

But it’s not Halloween

 

A man – fleshy and fat and tall he is

A shaven head and menacing blue eyes

His Cowboys tee says “Romo” on the back

He wants to share Jesus

Happy Little Water Pill


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Happy Little Water Pill

 

For Susan and Eldon

 

O happy, happy little water pill!

Commanded by the practitioner and

Filed with the pharmacist for him to fill -

And it works so well - I’m off to the can…!

Adjective Childhood Pity


Lawrence Hall

Mhall46184@aol.com

 

Adjective Childhood Pity

 

Your Irish childhood – oh, give it a pass

                                        Indian childhood

                                        Single-parent childhood

                                        Poverty childhood

                                        Small-town childhood

                                        Urban childhood

                                        Farm childhood

                                        Army brat childhood

                                        Immigrant childhood

                                        Emigrant childhood

                                        Migrant childhood

                                        Reservation childhood

                                        Mountain childhood

All the adjective pity - it’s all been said

But your childhood – your childhood, your childhood

Free it from adjectives, and you’ll have something