Sunday, January 21, 2018

John Keats Out by the Back Fence - Photograph, Nikon J1 (before the cheap plastic spring which keeps the battery in place failed, and which Nikon refused to remedy under their own warranty)

That Old "When I was in Graduate School" Thing...

Lawrence Hall

“When I was in Graduate School…”

“When I was in graduate school when I
Was at Oxford when I was working on
My doctorate at the Sorbonne when I
Was on my fellowship when I was hiking

The Andes on my gap year learning from
The Colorful Natives when I received
The Something-Something Prize for Young Poets
From The Oppressed Grant Recipients’ Front…”

One notices that

Literary articles never begin with
“When I was busting my knuckles on the drilling rig…”

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dawn - Photograph, Canon SLR

The Poets Have Been Remarkably Silent on the Subject of Firewood - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Poets Have Been Remarkably Silent on the Subject of Firewood

(as Chesterton did not say)

“…’on back…’on back…’on back…WHOA! Kill the motor.”
Leaning on the side of a pickup truck
Remembering the arcana of youth
On the farm: White Mule gloves, axe, splitting maul

Red oak, white oak, live oak, pine knot kindling
Three of us loading wood in the cloudy-cold
With practiced skill setting ranks of good oak
From the tailgate forward, settling the tires

Loading, unloading, stacking, and burning:
This winter’s firewood will warm us four times

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Physics of a Bridge, Baytown, Texas - IPhone photograph

We're All Icons Now - poem

Lawrence Hall

We’re All Icons Now

Is there anything left that isn’t iconic?
Each sports hero, actress, and tummy-tonic

Now let The People say “iconic”

Each recipe and coffee colonic
And every writer said to be Byronic

And let the reviewer chant “iconic”

Famous lovers, erotic or platonic
Mountains and islands, and plates tectonic

And let The Newsies type “iconic”

Animals natural or bionic
All weather systems, calm or cyclonic

And let Mr. Meteor cry “iconic!”

Every magazine is stuffed with “iconic”
Which any Byzantine would find ironic

And let the Romans cry “three dimensions!”

Wait...dimensions…declensions…these don’t rhyme with iconic…

Oh, and don’t forget that for every reviewer every writer weaves that same old layered tapestry of…something or other

And when you go home tonight just be sure to hug your children

Thursday, January 18, 2018

This is not August - column re winter, snow, cardinals, burst pipes...

Lawrence Hall, HSG

This is not August

As my MawMaw, of happy memory, used to say, the weather has been “airish.”

In yet another example of the settled science (cough) of global warming the temperatures dropped ‘way below freezing last week and, because there was a little bit of snow the newsies again and again filled time and space with vain repetitions of the tiresome and false “winter wonderland.”

Those who wake up on a 15-degree morning to discover a burst water line do not wax poetic about winter wonderlands.

One does not imagine that linemen, road crews, tow truck operators, police, fire, ambulance services, and others have ever alluded to working ten or more hours a day in freezing rain / sleet / hail as any sort of winter wonderland experience.

Because snow is uncommon here, the first flakes falling and swirling in eddies are fascinating. The cliché is that no two snowflakes are alike, but they seem to be, cold fluffs “that fall on my nose and eyelashes” (The Sound of Mucous) and look exactly alike, differing only in size.

As the snow accumulates it softens the contours of everything, and bounces the available alight around so nicely that it seems almost to be a light source itself. The dark winter woods gradually become light winter woods, and somehow quieter.

During freezes the squirrels and birds work the feeders, which need frequent re-fillings (hint – chicken scratch from the feed store is much less expensive than designated bird seed, and the critters are just as fat and sassy on their proletarian diet). The cardinals especially stand out in winter.

In cold weather the neatly stacked firewood from three summers of carefully saving trimmed limbs as neat billets descends further every day. Turning over the bottom course means turning hibernating frogs and worms and fierce-looking horned beetles out of their winter homes. One trusts that they simply grumble a bit and then dig deeper and resume their sleep.

After a day or so, when the sun reappears, the barometer aspires to higher things and the air seems to harden, the snow is like that last guest, the one who won’t go away. Ice melting from the roof drips musically from the icicles and to the ground, and road surfaces steam as the dark asphalt converts sunlight into heat through radiationless transition (and let the people say “Thermodynamics”).

The aging snow lurks along fencerows, the bases of trees, and dark corners, seeming to withdraw into itself. It is not pretty anymore, and hangs around for days until one afternoon you realize that, like your firewood, it is all gone.

Just as the parental complaint that “Your room looks like it was hit by a hurricane!” is not necessarily a metaphor in August, “It’s freezing in here!” is not necessarily a metaphor in January.

And this is not August!


When We Flew Among the Stars - poem

Lawrence Hall

When We Flew Among the Stars

When we were children we lay in the grass
And counted the stars, but only up to
A hundred or so, because we got lost
But not out there in space, right here in space

For space had fallen here, all around us
Oh, don’t you remember? We were among
The stars, flying wildly through the silences
Beyond all time, beyond all sense of self

We almost found the secrets of Creation -
And then our mothers told us to come inside

Astrid-the-Wonder-Dachshund - Iphone photograph

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Billy the Kid's Grave, Fort Sumner, New Mexico - Iphone photograph

Neo-Post-Colonial Artificial Intelligence Deconstructed - poem

Lawrence Hall

Neo-Post-Colonial Artificial Intelligence Deconstructed

All intelligence is artificial
We do not huddle in burrows, issuing forth
Only to chase down other living things
Beat them to death, drink their blood, and eat them

We moderns huddle in cubes above the ground
With indoor plumbing through pipes that sometimes freeze
While we are gazing, searching for lost truths
In glowing screens made in slave-labor camps

And we have stopped slaughtering other creatures -
We have machines to do that for us now

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Snow in East Texas - IPhone Photograph

Little Plastic Army Men in Action on a Snow Day - poem

Lawrence Hall

Little Plastic Army Men in Action on a Snow Day

If I were a boy

I’d range my toy soldiers before the fire
Vast armies of plastic in green and grey
With the cannon blasting the enemy -
A glorious victory again today!

If I were a boy

I’d eat my morning cereal with Robin Hood
Propped up in his Whitman book before me
Its pages open to an England where
Every day is summer, green upon the lea

If I were a boy

My mother would remind me, to my sorrow
That I have a ‘rithmetic test tomorrow

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dad's Old Pickup - photograph

About that False Alarm in Hawaii... - poem

Lawrence Hall

I. From a Vietnamese / Cambodian / Egyptian / Israeli / Lebanese /
Sudanese / Syrian / Afghan Child’s Garden of Verses

Flare light
Flare bright
First flare I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Not be blown to death tonight

II. From an American Man’s Twooter of Self-Pity

Subtle beep
Subtle beep
‘wakening me from my sleep -
Oh, no! I’m going to die!
Not meeeeeee! Don’t wanna fry!
It’s all about ME – boo-hoo!
Poor ME! Poor ME! I’m gonna SUE!