Monday, June 26, 2017

A Soldier Smoking a Cigarette - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

A Soldier Smoking a Cigarette

A soldier lay beside a railway line
Smoking a cigarette, not thinking of much
Among some hundreds of other conscript lads
Upon a grassy glacis above the fields

The boxcars waited in the stilly heat
The soldiers waited like young summer wheat
Occasionally stirred about by winds unseen
And finally stirred about by orders unheard

They rippled into the cars, and were taken away -
A shadow lay beside a railway line

Sunday, June 25, 2017

For a Methodist Minister Newly Posted - poem

Lawrence Hall

For a Methodist Minister Newly Posted

We feel sometimes, we know sometimes, that we
Are aliens here, exiles and witnesses
As Abraham was sent from his father’s house
And Moses as a child was set adrift

The Apostles upon their voyages
By blood declare there is no lasting home,
Not here, so trusting in God to guide His ark
We thus are cast upon the waters of baptism

For on this planet each of us arrives
Afloat and in a Hebrew blanket wrapped

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Alter Christus, Alter Vir - poem

Lawrence Hall

Alter Christus, Alter Vir

For Reverend Angelo J. Liteky

He died three times, for other men
Who lived because he died – once in Indochina
Once in his vocation, and one last time
Forgotten in a poor hospital bed

Soul-wounded in the false, incessant wars
Humanity inflicts upon itself
Fallenness falling again, ever fallen
And the ever-falling fell upon him

Though he lifted his love – always for others
He died again – and who will live for him?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The University of Old Lawn Chairs - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

The University of Old Lawn Chairs

The new lawn chairs are now the old lawn chairs
How many summers - has it been that long?
Their runners are rusty, their paint is pale -
The flip-this parvenus would disapprove

Not rusty but rustic, these fine old seats
Of learning have weathered many terms
Supporting the front-yard sciences and arts
Of lightning bugs, conversations, and scotch

The cicadas’ songs, the rising of stars
With us enthroned as luxuriously as czars

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Arc of the Solstice - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

Arc of the Solstice

High summer’s solstice is the year’s proud crown:
The sun has reached his apogee, and now
Will linger through July’s life-ripening days
Then drift into a worn Augustan gold

September is a sort of seasonal coup
Who in the equinoctial treaty signs
For a slow dissolution of the sun
And all his ancient power to rule and reign

In his old age the sun is seldom seen –
Diana, then, is crowned as winter’s queen

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jenny's - as a poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

It’s Bad Only if Jenny’s Fried Chicken is Closed

Warnings and categories – a tropical storm
It’s really bad if Jenny’s has to close
No fried chicken, no electricity
No lights, no burgers, no coffee, no fries, no hope

A flashlight in the night is weak and pale
Our manna in exile - crackers and Spam
And coffee from a Thermos, not enough
To lift the spirits of the chicken-deprived

But now the sun is up, the storm has passed
O tell us that Jenny’s is open at last!

It's Bad Only if Jenny's Fried Chicken is Closed - column, 21 June 2017

Lawrence Hall, HSG

It’s Bad Only if Jenny’s Fried Chicken is Closed

Let us remember the seven categories of storms during hurricane season:

1. Tropical storm
2. Category 1 hurricane
3. Category 2 hurricane
4. Category 3 hurricane
5. Category 4 hurricane
6. Category 5 hurricane
7. Category Mr. Frank has to close Jenny’s Fried Chicken

Some decades ago a Galveston television reporter interviewed a young mother who after a lesser storm complained that she had no food and no milk for her baby. “THEY should have been better prepared for this!” she exclaimed angrily.

Let no one resort to stereotyping with the useless pejoratives of “millennials” or “snowflakes,” for in illo tempore everything wrong in the world was the fault of “baby boomers,” and the fantasy of global warming hadn’t yet been dreamed up.

And as for keeping food, diapers, canned milk, clean clothes, a pocket knife, a gas grill (for use OUTSIDE) or at least a nifty little Sterno stove (for use OUTSIDE), that is not a matter of hurricane preparation; that is a matter of good household management in every generation.

The loud a.m. radio boys advertise disaster food stores capable of feeding that famous Family of Four for a month after nuclear annihilation and / or the collapse of the Euro, and the non-panicky can only ask why. Isn’t the household well-stocked anyway?

At this point someone will bring up “the good old days when…” but it’s not about those days that really weren’t all that good. All thoughtful householders have, well, things – things like food, water, clean clothes, alternative ways of cooking, lots of paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights, battery radios, jugs of drinking water, and a good, sturdy, American-made pocket knife.

About the only special hurricane preparation anyone should need to make are some buckets of water standing by for flushing the toilets.

A useful addition to home preparedness is a portable car battery charger, essentially a car battery residing in an attractive plastic shell and with a handle for carrying. Jumper cables are stowed on either side of the gadget. Instead of trying to maneuver cars and connect their batteries via 20-foot cables, you simply place the battery charger on a fender or other support and charge from that.

But, wait – there’s more! The more expensive battery chargers also contain an air pump and hose for inflating a tire, cigarette-lighter sockets, ports for charging MePhones and other electronic gadgets, a 110-volt outlet, and a built-in flashlight. These take a charge, good for months, from a household outlet. Always follow instructions.

No, you can’t run an air-conditioner from a portable battery charger, but you can operate a fan and a reading lamp.

If you have a fan and a can of Spam and a light for reading, you’ll get through the night just fine, while the prodigal fanless and Spam-less gnash their uncharged MePhones in the outer darkness. In the morning Jasper-Newton Electric will have the power restored, and as Vera Lynn did not sing, there’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover and the sun will shine again as Mr. Frank and his merry band re-open Jenny’s Fried Chicken.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Old Communist Movie Director - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

Old Communist Movie Director

From the Criterion Collection

The object now of film-school interviews
His gravelling, decades-gone voice echoing
Into a recorder his decades-gone news
How wonderful he was, and all-knowing
About Thuh Fascists, Thuh Workers, and Thuh Jews
Hugging his resentments, and loudly crowing
About the Blacklist through his smokes and booze
How bravely he defied the Rightists, going
In exile to England on a luxury cruise.