Thursday, October 18, 2018

Murder in Constantinople - column

Lawrence Hall, HSG

Murder in Constantinople

“When you come to the point, it does go against the grain to murder an Archbishop.”

-Second Knight in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral

After murdering Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, the knights in Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral pause the action and address the audience in contemporary speech. Up to this point the play’s dialogue has been formal and in a broken sort of verse (apologies to Eliot-ans, but the man’s attempts at verse are obscure), but here the knights attempt to excuse their actions in prose. They are as evasive and as full of it as contemporary politicians covering their (tracks).

In real life King Henry, after his “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest!” moment, had the four knights disappeared, as fans of John Le Carre’ might say. Assassins are as disposable as archbishops and journalists who forget their places.

Last week Jamal Kashoggi, a Saudi subject on some business or other, entered the Saudi consulate in Constantinople (only the ill-taught refer to that ancient city on the Golden Horn as Istanbul). He has not been seen since.

Rumor Control & Gossip Central have said that Mr. Kashoggi was murdered and dismembered, maybe not in that order, by Saudi secret agents and that his screams were broadcast by his exercise watch to his cell ‘phone outside the Saudi consulate. Maybe. Can exercise watches broadcast audio?

If there was a murder there will be no witness, for the operatives, like Mr. Kashoggi, will never be seen again. The Saudi crown prince has made friends and functionaries disappear in the past.

Recep Erdogan, the Turkish president who has stuffed lots of Turkish news correspondents into his prisons, purports to be outraged at someone else’s apparent rough treatment of a news correspondent.

Some foreign news sources have suggested that Jamal Kashoggi was a spy. Americans maintain that he was merely a journalist working for’s in-house sheet The Washington Post.

That Mr. Kashoggi lived as long as he did is a surprise. According to our own overseas propaganda service, The Voice of America (, Mr. Kashoggi’s family and pals include arms dealers, Osama Bin Ladin, former directors of the Saudi secret service, and Dodi Fayed. He may also have been associated with something called The Muslim Brotherhood. He was hired and fired and re-hired and re-fired by numerous news outlets, and after the assumption of power (in a coup?) by Saudi Arabia’s latest crown prince Mr. Kashoggi escaped from Saudi Arabia and into the arms of Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post.

Who and what was Jamal Kashoggi? Whose side was he on? Was he on the side of the good, the true, and the beautiful, or was he playing nations against each other?

Though the arm of a tyrant is long, Mr. Kashoggi was relatively safe in the U.S. Why did he travel to Turkey? Why did he enter the Saudi consulate there? For divorce papers? Really?

Our own crown prince and international arms dealer ( ( is all palsy with the Saudi crown prince. Maybe those two bromance partners could get together over afternoon tea and sort out what happened to Mr. Kashoggi.

“So if we seemed a bit rowdy…”

-Second Knight


A Person of Interest - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG

A Person of Interest

The smoking gun is interesting enough
As is the bloody knife dripping with guts
And his meth-headed beheading of his child
But otherwise – who would be interested in him?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Cold is More Poetic than the Warm - (this poem is not nearly as drippy as it sounds)

Lawrence Hall

The Cold is More Poetic than the Warm

The cold is more poetic than the warm
A man coat-huddled against December’s winds
Evokes more sympathy in those dark days
Of stinging sleet and menacing blue clouds

The warm is less poetic than the cold
A man hat-shielded against September’s sun
Evokes no sympathy in those bright days
Of dripping sweat and dripping-too sun screen

And though McKuen sang “Listen to the warm”
There’s music in the cold while icicles form

(Your grandmother and I are the only two people who
will admit that they still love Rod McKuen.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Last Christmas for Sears and Roebuck - as a poem

Lawrence Hall

The Last Christmas for Sears and Roebuck

Where can one shop for Christmas if not at Sears:
J. C. Higgins sporting goods, Craftsman tools
Kenmore sewing machines, wonderful toys
The greatest candy counter in the world

And, oh! the best of all:

The little electric trains behind glass panes
Travelling across a cotton-snow Christmas land
From one tiny plastic village to another -
The Santa Fe Railway on tinplate tracks

A little boy’s dear dream for Christmas day
(But after an hour his parents drag him away)

Good-bye, Sears; thanks for the childhood memories.

Monday, October 15, 2018

If We Respected Work... - poem

Lawrence Hall

If We Respected Work...

We would

Ask a receptionist for her autograph
Gather in thousands in awe of linemen
Practice the carpenter’s hammer at home
Invite a mechanic to the White House

We would

Order as a keepsake a plumber’s last pipe
Post pictures of teachers writing lesson plans
Make recordings of a wise plowman’s words
Publish biographies of waitresses

We would

Envy the garbageman aboard his yacht
And the workers’ lifestyle that we know not

Sunday, October 14, 2018

"Human Eyeball Parts Grown in Lab" - poem

Lawrence Hall

“Human Eyeball Parts Grown in Lab”


What do you look for in an eyeball lab-grown
While maybe it is looking back at you
And if you are looking for an eyeball
What are you looking for an eyeball with?

Will we have eyeballs grown for occasions -
A lovely blue for a day at the beach
And a stunning black for the opera
And Harris-tweed brown for a country weekend

But maybe lab eyeballs are just a rumor
A corn-ea attempt at vitreous humor!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

When Robert Frost was Invited to the White House - poem

Lawrence Hall

When Robert Frost was Invited to the White House

When Robert Frost visited President Kennedy
They spoke of poetry and power, of man
Of greatness and of God, of man’s swagger
Of poetry saving power from itself

When Robert Frost visited President Kennedy
They spoke of the poet’s responsibility
The duties of good men to other men
Of magnanimity and liberation

When Robert Frost visited President Kennedy
We lived a golden age in those few hours

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Toe Fungus Good Morning - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Toe Fungus Good Morning

A yawning dawning clinging to the coffee cup
Dishwasher safe for your happy little home
You press the button for the magic screen
And the in-box presents - a toe fungus cure


You opened the mail hoping for happiness
An existential why to the sleepless night
Matins and Lauds now electronical
And a note from a dear friend far away

But with your first sip of coffee, what did you see?
An ad for a toe fungus remedy!