Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Class of 2012


The Class of 2012

On graduation night you’ll sit among
Your friends, a make-the-sponsors-flustered crowd
Of the alphabetized, well-rehearsed young,
Well-shepherded, well-chaperoned - still loud!

And yet, somehow, surprisingly alone
You’ll be, your thoughts spinning wildly, your heart
Aflutter as you stifle a nervous yawn,
Yes, one among many, but still apart.

For this brief hour is when your childhood ends,
An awkward, happy, frightening, joyful truth,
And you must make your way without those friends
Who with your loving family blessed your youth.

But, oh! It’s here, it’s here – up stands your row;
Adjust your cap – it’s time for you to go.

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

James Bond is Assigned a Chaperone


Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

James Bond’s Chaperone

The Secret Service is so secret that they’ve got their own web site:

http://www.secretservice.gov/join/index.shtml.  One wonders if they’ve also got their own lingerie catalogue.

The matter of the lads in the Preobrazhensky Regiment doing a geriatric spring break in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is no secret, either, and like Fyodor Karamazov making goo-goo eyes at a tired waitress at closing time, the matter simply won’t go away.

One of the many problems with the Victoria’s Secret…um…Secret Service is that not even they seem to know their purpose.  An American might infer that the boys in buzz-do’s are assigned to guard the President, but consider these two paragraphs from the SS’s own site:


The United States Secret Service culture is represented through the agency’s five core values: justice, duty, courage, honesty and loyalty. These values, and the Secret Service adage “Worthy of Trust and Confidence,” resonate with each man and woman who has sworn to uphold these principles. Not only do these values foster a culture of success, but they also hold each person to the highest standards of personal and professional integrity.

Because our highly-trained workforce is one of our greatest assets, we empower each individual to realize their full potential and more. The Secret Service offers career growth and opportunities to make your future as dynamic and rewarding as it can be. Those who are dedicated, driven by integrity and welcome unique challenges often find that the Secret Service is a perfect match.

And let The People say: Huh?

The SS has cores that resonate with dynamic thing-ness fostering assets whose potential is dedicated and unique, and, like stuff.

Who wrote this obtuse, cliché’-sodden, Mission Statement drivel?

Shocked, shocked that there are hormones (and possum-poor English usage) going on in here, our otherwise let-it-all-Bill-Clinton-out government is suffering its quadrennial election-year spasm of Puritanism and has promulgated a Willy Wonka list for the superannuated frat boys who trifle with girls’ hearts while carrying weapons.

The first rule is that on overseas trips the SS agents must not have foreigners in their rooms.

You see, there’s already a problem here.  If you are a Yank visiting, say, Liechtenstein, you are the foreigner.  One is reminded of the Bill Mauldin cartoon of Willie and Joe on pass in Paris and remarking “Did you ever see so many foreigners in all your life?”

The second rule is that SS agents may not patronize “non-reputable” (minus two points for not writing “disreputable”) establishments.  Y’know, back in the day that would have pretty much put all of San Diego’s Lower Broadway off limits.

The next three rules detail drinking.  Excuse me, ma’am, but shouldn’t a forty-year-old SS agent pretty much know how to order a single glass of wine with dinner, go to bed early (and alone), and behave himself?  And if not, why have you given a drunk guy weapons and turned him loose among our nation’s friends?

Another new rule advises the Boys Gone Wild that from now on they will be accompanied by a chaperone.  This leads one to consider whether our we’re-a-world-power government is clear on the distinction between the Praetorian Guard and a high school marching band trip to Waco:

“Okay, kids, ten more minutes in the pool and then room check and weapons check.”

“Jimmy, you left your shoulder-held, gas-operated, fully automatic M4 in the lobby again!  I am so tired of picking up after you!”

“No, Billy, you won’t need your concussion grenades at breakfast.”

“You forgot your shoulder holster, Bobby?  But all the other agents remembered their shoulder holsters.”

“No, Timmy, filling the French president’s office with clown balloons would not be funny.”

“Biff, you were told very clearly to bring along tear gas, not poison gas.  And you think you lost those canisters where?”

In all seriousness, any nation’s leader is a target for evil.  The President should be protected.  To this end he should reassign his current Streltsy to parking-lot duty and hire some old-fashioned street cops for the White House grounds and a couple of no-b…um…no-nonsense Army or Marine sergeants for his trips.

-30-


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Courthouse Square, Jasper

Verizon: Massive FAIL

A lovely photograph of a foggy street scene in Jasper should be here; I suppose, as the Chorus in Henry V says, you can picture it in your imagination.

And picture this: Verizon lies. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

English Ivy

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

English Ivy

Why do some call this vine an English ivy?
Does it wear tweeds, call for a cup of tea,
And tut-tut over a pipe and The Times?
But far away from England climbs this vine,
Far up the bark and branches of an oak
Wanting to see, perhaps, the spring-blue sky,
A squirrel’s nest, the perfect leaf, a bird
Spying on the curious cats below,
On pups in happy repose, tummies up
To the dog-friendly sun. 
                                       O peaceful vine!
Your contract is renewed each day without
An interview, evaluation, or
The filing of an annual report.
You play your days in leafy-green ascent,
Dependant on your sturdy tree, yourself
A pastoral road for ladybugs and ants,
The occasional ceremonial worm
Or caterpillar; an auditor of
The coos and whos and cawks and squawks and trills
There cooed and who’d and cawk’d and squawked and trilled
By merry jays and robins, mockingbirds,
And silly, so-sad-seeming whippoorwills.
Oh, ivy, glad indeed, to celebrate
Your liturgical seasons dutifully!

Easter Vigil, Sort Of

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Easter Vigil, Sort Of 

A vigil, no, simply quiet reflection
Minutes before midnight, with all asleep
Little Liesl-Dog perhaps dreams of squirrels,
For she has chased and barked them all the day;
The kittens are disposed with their mother
After an hour of kitty-baby-talk,
Adored by all, except by Calvin-Cat,
That venerable, cranky old orange hair-ball,
Who resents youthful intrusion upon
His proper role as object of worship.
All the house settles in for the spring night,
Anticipating Easter, early Mass,
And then the appropriately pagan
Merriments of chocolates and colored eggs
And children with baskets squealing for more
As children should, in the springtime of life.

A Night of Fallen Nothingness

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

A Night of Fallen Nothingness

The Altar stripped, the candles dark, the Cross
Concealed behind a purple shroud, the sun
Mere slantings through an afternoon of grief
While all the world is emptied of all hope.
The dead remain, the failing light withdraws
As do the broken faithful, silently,
Into a night of fallen nothingness.

Roadside Detractions

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Roadside Detractions

An empty cigarette packet smokeless
An empty chewing gum wrapper gumless
An empty soda bottle sodaless
An empty chicken basket chickenless
An empty shell casing, yes, bulletless
And this is the road America walks
To its vague YouTubeifest destiny

20 September 1870


20 September 1870

Like vultures hovering over the faithful dead
The rank red rags of base repression hung
Upon the blast-breeched walls of captive Rome;
The smoke of conquest fouled the ancient streets
While mocking conquerors marched their betters
At the point of enlightened bayonets
To the scientific future, murdering those
Who bore themselves with quiet dignity.

False, sinister Savoy sneered in disdain
At ancient truths, this costumed reprobate
Who played at soldier once the firing ceased,
And claimed Saint Peter’s patrimony on
The corpses of the merely useful who
With this day’s slogans fresh upon their lips
At dawn advanced upon the remnant walls
So thinly held by so few Papal Zouaves

And thus befeathered fat Vittorio
Was given his victory by better men
On both sides there, their corpses looted by
The pallid inheritors of Progress.
The son of a Sardinian spurred his horse
Along the streets of now obedient Rome,
And to the Quirinal by a passage broad,1
And finally to the Ardeatine Caves.


1Paradise Lost X.404

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

The Campaigning Season

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

The Campaigning Season

Beowulf dripped with his enemies’ blood
Montgomery learned of war in Flanders’ mud

Young Davy Crockett grinned down a big bear
Orville and Wilbur conquered the air

Horatius defied Lars Porsena, thus saving Rome
Kit Carson called the wild prairies his home

Wolfe and Montcalm died ‘neath the walls of Quebec
Lewis and Clark made their continental trek

At Monmouth Molly Pitcher crewed a cannon
Goliad echoes the death of Fannin

Brave men and women we well remember,
And from cold March until hot September

On fields of struggle (like Abraham’s plain)
New leaders conquer despite fear and pain

While facing Mad Momma and her (reproach) --
God have mercy on a Little League coach!

Of Biblical Proportions

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Of Biblical Proportions

“This contest is the game of the century!!!”
The announcer gasped almost breathlessly,
“A slug-fest of biblical proportions!!!”
He yelped in haste, his excitement inspired
(perhaps)
By the team mothers sharpening their claws
Upon the tattered reputation of
The umpire (who, in his innocent hours,
Filled prescriptions down at his pharmacy.
Please know, before you leave: his name was Steve).
And every pitch and hit and bounce and catch
Was then remarked with apocalyptic praise
Employing multiples and multiples
Of exclamation marks (though one would do)
To set the sports fans’ faithful hearts ablaze
With love transcendent for Our Team so true,
And Dante-esque hatred for The Other,
Words well-worn in canonical cliches’
Calling down thundering Truth from Horeb
Parting the seas, purifying the Temple
(or at least the plywood concession stand)

All this hyperbole was merely to frame
A middle-school girls’ scrimmage softball game

The Aging Iconoclast on the Late Show

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


The Aging Iconoclast on the Late Show

His long career enriched with icons smashed,
An existential poet, heavy with age,
Was preening in the green room of fashion
Awaiting his at-last adoration
Upon the glowing boxes of the world.

“I smashed the vain icon of privilege,”
He trilled to all, while a thin girl in tats
Powdered his nose. “With just my vengeful pen,
“I broke the icon of capitalism!”
A singer-stripper sipped her soda, and sighed.

“I then exposed the icon of the news,
And held it up for the people to scorn.”
He did not see the makeup artist roll
Her eyes.  A desperate young comedienne
Pretended to be busy with her skull.

“And I alone broke all the icons of
Hypocrisy in Wall Street.  Death to debt!
My icon-smashing verses smashed the world
Of formulaic poetry forever!”
A sex-change surgeon sharpened his pink tongue.

“In my day we smashed icons in the war
Against shopworn bourgeois complacency!”
The arbiters of this week’s taste and thought
Waited, in sequence obedient, their turns.
And then a voice, uncertain, asked at last:

“What’s an icon?”

Kittens in a Basket

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


Kittens in a Basket

For Sarah

Three kittens in a basket squirm and mew,
Small carnivores in training ‘gainst the day
When they’ll stalk crickets through the morning dew,
Progressing thence to mice and larger prey

For now they attack the basket and each other,
Patrol the jungle of an old bath towel,
Torment the dachshund and their own poor mother,
And, being cats, rehearse a high-pitched yowl

Their eyes are wide, their teeth are sharp, their fur
Is softer than a dream of Eden’s dawn
They signal naptime with a three-cats purr,
And so dismiss me with a gentle yawn

Someday wild hunting will be their great art;
The only thing they capture now is my heart.

Literary Woes

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


Literary Woes

“Well, she was like ‘Whoa!’ and I was like ‘Whoa!’
And so, like, ‘Whoa!’ You know, I was all ‘Whoa!’
And so we were both all ‘Whoa!’ Like, totally ‘Whoa!’
And so like when we were all totally ‘Whoa!’
Then they were like all ‘Whoa!’ Like, you know,
And so like everyone was totally ‘Whoa!’
Not just fractionally ‘Whoa!’ but wholly ‘Whoa!’
And, like, you know, it was cosmically ‘Whoa!’”

The Dress Code Uniform Sensitivity Ribbon of the Day

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


The Dress Code Uniform Sensitivity Ribbon of the Day

The ribbon of the day is purple, so
Wear one because it’s for – hmmm…we forget,
But wear it anyway; people will know
That you’re for something, or, oh, maybe yet,
That you’re against something of evil bent;
Green for the planet, blue against depression
You must prove to others your good intent
Brown is Fair Trade for your coffee session
At PlanetCluck’s, for some farmers somewhere
All-natural bare feet through coffee beans
But not Americans; they pollute the air
Chartreuse is for cancer (not in our spleens)
Red is for, oh, something really way cool
Yellow is for kidney failure, I mean,
It’s so like a sensitivity rule
Like, you know
And stuff

The Luna Moth

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


The Luna Moth

The moon does not in fact wax anything,
She does not wane; she simply ever-is;
She rules the softly-sung, soft-summer nights,
A willing queen, and willingly obeyed.
The luna moth, her winged votary,
Clings to indulgent oaks of their kindness,
Their moon-sent goddess from another world,
And strangely robed and crowned in lunar green,
Pheroming softly for some other moth
To come perform with her those rituals
Of love illogical, of sacrifice;
For all a luna moth can do is live
A summer week or so, but in those hours

She loves

In lunar beauty, strangely eternal
Who needs a dying luna moth?
                                                We do.

War Porn

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


War Porn

A teacher reads the Band of Brothers speech
With feeling, raw, and real – his students yawn.
Olivier orates among the fields of Eire
In paint-sloshed war-time Technicolour streaks
The same desperate speech; the students ask
“What’s with that funny haircut?  That’s so weird.”
Branagh, in subtler shades, appeals to youth,
The youth who slyly check their glowing boxes:
Agincourt is not on their calendars,
Not today. 
                  Maybe when they’re middle-aged,
After they’ve slogged through blasted fields of souls
Disposed for purposes best known to those
Who sip their single-malt, count their medals,
And send America’s children to die
In some corner of an international field
That is forever sand.




Books, Not Yet Catalogued

And Blogspot's eccentricities -- not yet understood


Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


Books, Not Yet Catalogued

One’s books are comforting: those untidy
Shelves, stacks, piles, heaps of books extend one’s soul
Beyond the self-absorption of the now
That never existed and never will.
Poor books!  They are but paper, glue, and ink,
Transient carriers of transcendence,
Small mortal things that burn, decay, and fall
Into disuse, and are seemingly lost,
Poor beasts of burden, but -- so too are men,
Both bearing messages and messengers,
Both crying, “Look!  Life is a pilgrimage
Beyond the stars within a silver cup
This side of summer leaves that sing the dawn
Even before midnight lightens the seas,
So travel light, you won’t be here for long;
You must arise, you must pull on your boots
And sling your pack, and oh! be on your way!”

Listen to Your Starets

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Listen to Your Starets

Each follows a starets: books, music, art,
News, living in the past, forming committees
For the regulation of one’s neighbors,
Manufactured anger and resentment,
A centering prayer centered on one’s self.

But

A starets true would lash with whips of words
These idle idols and idler idylls
Out of the Temples given each of us,
Lives not to grasp, rather to give away,
Sunflowers harvested in September.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

China Blocked the Titanic's Marconi Signals

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com


News Gumbo

Here, then, is a summary of this week’s news:

The Titanic sank after hitting iceberg lettuce because of global warming which was caused by evil Americans plowing their fields with oxen that were too big and that ate too much grain and then morphed into the Kardashians.  The captain fired distress rockets while checking his MySpace friending status but because the rockets were made in North Korea they simply fizzled and fell into the ocean, taking out some vegetarian porpoises.  Wireless operator McBride’s calls for help were not heard because China killed all Morse signals, suspicious that Marconi operators were saying bad things about the government in Peking / Beijing / Peiping.   In the meantime, ship security officers, supervised by The Three Stooges, were cavorting in their rooms with killer clowns and would not pay them, which embarrassed President Teddy Roosevelt who was hunting moose with the French prime minister, and this was difficult because they were both riding bicycles in knee-pants (and bicycles look goofy in knee-pants) and wearing those silly plastic-pimple helmets.

Back in Las Vegas, the Taliban were dancing the night away with the Castro brothers in a fund-raiser for Hugo Chavez.  You ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen an octogenarian Cuban minister for socialist culture shakin’ it to the new fusion hit, “Rock me Like a Byzantine Princess of the Ikonoclast Persuasion.”  The Taliban accused stay-at-home mothers of not knowing enough about beheading infidels,  and Fox News’ John Stossel aired a one-hour report detailing how World War II could have been won three years earlier if it had been run by small business internet start-ups free of IRS regulations.

Canada urged the United Nations to send in monitors to oversee Bill Clinton and Lady Gaga because of their proximity to a Tim Horton’s just across the border, and the NRA (National Rifle Association) considered the possibility of funding laboratory experiments on solar-powered green firearms whose on-board computers would disable the firing mechanism when the scope senses a vegetarian target species.  Greece is considering issuing bonds to bail out the city government of Branson, Missouri, and Congress is pondering legislation to limit the height of beauty pageant crowns because of their menace to low-flying aircraft. 

Harry Potter appeared with Jerry Springer to reveal that one of his ancestors may have done something naughty, and Britain’s Daily Mail website featured previously unknown pictures of New Jersey’s Governor Christie dieting.  The Principality of Liechtenstein launched drones to spy on Monaco, and Britain’s parliament and the Archbishop of Canterbury assured Prince Harry that there was no canonical impediment to his forthcoming marriage to Snooky in an outdoor barefoot ceremony with a Titanic theme on the beach in Labrador, which would be a hairy marry Snooky shipwreck.

You say this news roundup doesn’t make sense?  Do you think the news as reported this week makes any more sense?



-30-

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Ship Sank -- My Pancreas Will Go On

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

My Pancreas Will Go On

The 15th of April is the 100th anniversary of, well, the ship sank.

In books and films the facts of the Titanic are posthumously cluttered with all sorts of interpretations about the symbolism: the Titanic represents the collapse of Edwardian England, the Titanic is an indictment of technology, the Titanic is a religious lesson about man’s hubris, the Titanic is about the evil of Big Business / Wall Street / The City, and, in a 1943 Nazi propaganda movie, the Titanic is all of the above.

And all that is just too much interpretation.  The Titanic was a really large motorized thingie that someone was driving too fast, at night, and without any headlights.  There’s just not a whole lot of cultural significance in that.

You might as well say that you realized that your life was an existential lie when you bent the shaft in your lawnmower by carelessly mowing into a chunk of wood obscured by weeds.

But folks do enjoying fooling around with the Titanic, and even now a new television film is in release. 

The ship sinks.

The 1997 version of Titanic is unlike other films about the tragedy in that it features a happy ending -- only a very grim man could find himself unable to shed tears of joy when Jack, long, tedious hours into the plot, finally disappears beneath the surface of the Atlantic, leaving only a floating sheen of cliches’. 

Mr. Cameron’s film is excellent in its use of decidedly post-1912 technology – the computerized ship is the star, and it works; the intrusion of the stereotype-sodden fictional lovers pinched from Romeo and Juliet is not only unnecessary but at times annoying.  The depictions of historic people, such as Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus, are much more interesting, even when they are cruelly wrong, as with Lightoller and Boxhall.

The best Titanic film is A Night to Remember, based on Walter Lord’s book.  Filmed in 1958 on a budget of mere thousands of dollars, the producers took care to avoid fiction altogether: every character in the film is grounded – or watered – in a real person, and every bit of dialogue is sourced and verified.  A browse through the ever-useful IMDB reveals a treasure of anecdotes, such as the matter of the Lucky Pig.

The hypercritical might at this point protest the historicity because in the end the ship sinks intact, which, as we now know, didn’t happen.  The producers researched survivors and found that although some reported that the ship broke in two, far more said that it remained intact, and the producers went with the majority opinion of people who were there.

Does this mean that the majority of the survivors were liars?  Not at all.  Witness narratives are unreliable because even when folks are doing their best to get the facts right they still perceive through a filter of upbringing, ideology, and wish-fulfillment.  The rivets and welds of the Titanic were asked to carry too much weight, both physical and cultural, when the bow submerged.

The underrated 1953 version with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck is no more accurate than John Wayne’s The Alamo, but is a hanky-twister because of the excellent ensemble acting.  Still, the ship sinks.

Another underrated ship of soaps is 1979’s SOS Titanic, with George C. Scott.  Surprisingly, the ship sinks. 

The documentaries, with their hours of filler and wild speculation can be dismissed.  Some say that the Titanic was ahead of its time, which it wasn’t.  Its time was 1912, and there it was.  You might as well say that you are ahead of your time because today is Wednesday and you really want to be in Friday.

One of the most interesting Titanics is a Teutonic one, the 1943 German production filmed in the North Sea aboard the SS Cap Arcona, whose own end in 1945 was a horror. 

As with all Titanic productions the film is very loose with the facts; as a Nazi propaganda film it could hardly be otherwise.  The plot features an unlikely romance between starfish-crossed lovers, a valuable jewel, an unsubtle contrast between the first-class fops and the humble but sturdy, clean, and honest volk in steerage, and dramatic scenes on the first-class staircase.  Sound familiar?

But, again, the ship sinks.

This film, the biggest-budgeted film in German cinema to that time, is very well made, and some of the scenes were appropriated for the 1953 and 1958 films without attribution. 

The director was 38-year-old Herbert Selpin, a biggie in the film industry who had directed musicals, light romance, and action flicks.  Mr. Selpin was not a happy Nazi, and for reasons never quite made clear was pulled from the production, arrested, and found (cough) hanged in his cell, a reported (cough) suicide.  Some have alleged that Mr. Selpin was open in his criticism of Nazism, which seems unlikely, and others that the anti-British sentiment is so cloddishly heavy that the film was meant by the director in a sort of double-irony to be a criticism of Nazism.

For whatever reason, Josef Goebbels, the supreme arbiter of film, found enough annoyance in Herbert Selpin to make him disappear into night and fog.  We should remember Mr. Selpin not only as a filmmaker but for annoying the Nazis and dying for it.

The Titanic will go on because, as with The Canterbury Tales, placing all sorts of different folks within a story creates its own sort of dynamic, and is worth hearing and watching again and again.

One wonders if future Titanic films will feature passengers being interrogated and strip-searched by their own countrymen.

Only one question remains unanswered: when the Titanic sailed, did the crew require all the passengers to close their books and newspapers while leaving port so that the ink wouldn’t interfere with the navigational charts?

-30-

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Old Kentucky Arson

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com


My Old Kentucky Arson

On Saturday night a large number of people in Lexington, Kentucky chose to overturn cars and set fire to couches.  One supposes they could have instead set fire to a cars and overturned couches, but that would have required a discourse contrasting free will with determinism.  Indeed, they could have chosen to overturn bicycles and set fire to lawn chairs, which would have been much less demanding physically, but one does not expect rational behavior from lemmings.

This giddiness was not an expression of joy at the vigil of Palm Sunday, but rather an outpouring of passion because one small group of young men had demonstrated greater efficiency than another small group of young men at hurling a spheroid through a ring appropriate to the size of the spheroid.

So take that, China; Americans can still throw things with accuracy and then commit arson.  We’re Number One.

According to The Tennessean, a newspaper which is part of the Something Group, Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said that “Things have not gotten out of control.”  Presumably her car and her couch were intact.

Excuse me for raising a point of disorder here, but isn’t a mob overturning cars and burning furniture pretty much an example of things getting out of control?

One photograph showed a young white man in a hoodie and a young black man hoodie-less sharing a touching moment together as they helped tip over a car.  You know, given the racial tensions in this nation, it almost brings a tear to one’s eyes to see vibrant diversity and inclusiveness as young people of different backgrounds come together as one to destroy someone else’s wheels.

Stand tall, Kentucky, thou art a light unto the nations.

Apparently many of the wreckers were university students, so possibly they were rioting after heated discussions about John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Or perhaps they were frustrated about an experiment in extending Pythagorean theorems into higher concepts of calculus.

To paraphrase an old line of Samuel Johnson’s, one does not evaluate the academic standards of a university of Kentucky; one marvels that there is a university in Kentucky at all.

The rioters were celebrating a win.  If they had lost they would have perhaps tipped over an Amtrak and burned dining tables, thus continuing the transportation and furniture themes.

But, hey, if you think Saturday night was violent, just wait until the chess season.  “Checkmate!” is the call to arms that leads to copies of Spinoza being overturned in front of Barnes & Noble, graphing calculators being burned in the chemistry lab, and drive-by stern looks of disapproval.

-30-


On Your Mobile Device

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

On Your Mobile Device

Life now approaches not as a basket
Of new kittens, or an old dog asleep
In the summer sun, a letter, a clock,
A vase of flowers on the kitchen table,
A glass of beer with a friend, a soft wind,
Cold moonlight slanting through the autumn leaves,
Or a wild thunderstorm that makes one glad
To doze inside with a book and a pipe.
Oh, no.  Because life now is but an app
A-blinking on a little plastic box:
The weather, stocks, throats slit in Arkansas,
An actress drunk again in Hollywood,
All, all repose in one’s pants pocket with
Keys, coins, a bit of lint, a pocket knife,
Those relics of an irrelevant past;
We need them not: we have a plastic box.

The Penknife of Destiny

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

The Penknife of Destiny

The Romans won with gladius and pilum
(Though after battle they had to file ‘em)

The ancient Samurai were pleased to lop
Their enemies, beginning at the top

And in the West, King Arthur’s noble knights
Bore steel that gave the wicked paynim frights

And later, Robin Hood, with bow and arrow,
Taught villains about the straight and narrow

As did brave Henry at old Agincourt --
The French thought archery quite a foul sport

The sons of desert scenes waved sword and lance
(But surely all that sand gave ’em scratchy pants)

And now Great Men boast glowing, pulsing nukes
In lieu of carefully worded rebukes

Mad leaders with bombs, a threat to all life --
They disapprove of your Swiss Army Knife

When Elevators Were Given the Gift of Speech

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

When Elevators Were Given the Gift of Speech

In the Psychology Building at Texas A & M

Elevators shouldn’t be talking at all
But they insist on announcing the floor
And whether they (and their meek passengers)
Are going up or going down. 
                                          One hopes
To hear a revolutionary lift
Someday proclaim a wild manifesto:
“Comrades!  Today we are moving sideways!”

But no.  Good, passive citizens they are,
Neither voting nor thinking nor daring
They hum and chat their way from floor to floor
Mechanical functionaries of the State
Licensed, certified, inspected, and stamped

Just once, a man responded to the Voice:
“I know I’m going up!” he cried in vain
And he was levitated to a plane
Above the automatic stops of life
Existence we can never understand
And nothing more was ever heard of him

And the elevators chanted the floors
In sublime serenity forever
Of stops and floors and numbers, up and down
Mechanical verticals without end

But

Since they are elevators, couldn’t their speech
Be at least somewhat, well, elevated?

Kittens in a Basket

Mack Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com


Kittens in a Basket

For Sarah

Three kittens in a basket squirm and mew,
Small carnivores in training ‘gainst the day
When they’ll stalk crickets through the morning dew,
Progressing thence to mice and larger prey

For now they attack the basket and each other,
Patrol the jungle of an old bath towel,
Torment the dachshund and their own poor mother,
And, being cats, rehearse a high-pitched yowl

Their eyes are wide, their teeth are sharp, their fur
Is softer than a dream of Eden’s dawn
They signal naptime with a three-cats purr,
And so dismiss me with a gentle yawn

Someday wild hunting will be their great art;
The only thing they capture now is my heart.