Thursday, June 30, 2016

Poetry is Not - poem

Lawrence Hall

Poetry is Not

Poetry is not

The unacknowledged legislation1 of


Poetry is a forest footfall soft
Not heard, but sensed somehow, in autumn’s leaves


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Come Laughing Home at Twilight - Beaumont Hamel, 1916

Lawrence Hall

Come Laughing Home at Twilight

Beaumont-Hamel, 1916

And, O! Wasn’t he just the Jack the Lad,
A’swellin’ down the Water Street as if –
As if he owned the very paving stones!
He was my beautiful boy, and, sure,
The girls they thought so too: his eyes, his walk;
A man of Newfoundland, my small big man,
Just seventeen, but strong and bold and sure.

Where is he now? Can you tell me? Can you?

Don’t tell me he was England’s finest, no –
He was my finest, him and his Da,
His Da, who breathed in sorrow, and was lost,
They say, lost in the fog, among the ice.
But no, he too was killed on the first of July
Only it took him months to cast away,
And drift away, far away, in the mist.

Where is he now? Can you tell me? Can you?

I need no Kings nor no Kaisers, no,
Nor no statues with fine words writ on’em,
Nor no flags nor no Last Post today:
I only want to see my men come home,
Come laughing home at twilight, boots all mucky,
An’ me fussin’ at ‘em for being’ late,
Come laughing home at twilight.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Smoking is Bad for Your Feet - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Smoking is Bad for Your Feet

In childhood our parents often cautioned us against any sort of forceful leader with “So if he told you to jump off a cliff would you do it?”

They didn’t mention the hot coals, though.

According to ABC and other news sources a fellow in Dallas talked thousands of people into giving him money for a motivational exercise in walking barefoot on hot coals.

Cold coals simply don’t enjoy the cachet of hot coals.

Casualties so far are given as dozens.

Welcome to the Trump University Class of 2016. Or maybe the United States Congress.

One might as well say that telling people to put their fingers into lamp sockets is an exercise in team-building.

First of all, walking across hot coals, shod or not, is illogical. Why would anyone do that?

Second, if someone does want to walk across hot coals, why doesn’t he dump his Fourth of July barbecue over after the wienies and burgers have been cooked and then walk on his own coals? Then he can burn his feet down to the quality of his brain for only the price of a bag of charcoal.

The Motivator reigned over a flock of crystals ‘n’ essential oils believers during a three-day sheep-shearing called “Unleash the Power Within.” One supposes that after three days there was nothing left to be unleashed from the credit cards of the faithful.

Just what power was on a leash was not made clear, except for the power to walk on hot coals, and, yeah, like that’s going to make the individual or the world better. And does a power owner walk into a pet store and ask for a leash for his power? Is there a leash for walking on hot coals and a different one for walking across the street against the light?

The Motivator’s program avers that walking (he says “storm”) across hot coals will help the…um…participant "overcome the unconscious fears that are holding you back." The illogic is that fear of being burned is a conscious fear, not an unconscious one, and is not symbolic of anything except the possession of the survival skills expected of a six-year-old.

Some folks don’t need to own hot coals without a background check and lessons with a certified instructor.

All others need to be on a no-fry list.

On his site The Motivator presents as a handsome man with a fine set of teeth, the usual chin-fuzz, and the now-requisite pimple-on-a-wire microphone, and adored by thousands of cheering followers. He says stuff. He has more money than you. He must be right. Obey him.

To paraphrase the old song, here’s your hot coal.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Calendars, Alligators, and Hipsters - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Calendars, Alligators, and Hipsters

How curious that according to the mechanistic Gregorian calendar the 21st of June is the beginning of summer, while in a wiser folk tradition it is midsummer, as in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the far north, where the sun doesn’t complete disappear on St. John’s Day, people stay up all night – or, rather, day – to party.

Far south of the equator the sun is mostly absent, and in New South Wales folks shiver in the cold rain and short days of summer.

The sun is as far north as it goes, and now begins its voyage south. Those who have occasion to drive roads laid out on an east-west axis can note the changes as well as those ancients who built Stonehenge for the same purpose.

A ten-year-old boy probably knows best – summer begins on the Monday after school lets out, and ends in August when classes resume. Summer is bare feet and a cane fishing pole, and later watching the afternoon clouds build up to thunderstorms while herding the cows home to the barn for the evening milking. The other seasons are but not-summer, limited to the horizon of a board at the front of a classroom, once black or green for chalk and now likely to be instructive flashes of colors beamed from a gadget programmed by the Texas Legislature and its British master Pearson Publishing.

+ + +

The small boy fishing with a cane pole is increasingly endangered by the false but legislated ideology that millions of large, carnivorous reptiles constitute an endangered species and so must be protected, while children may with ecological approval be sacrificed to horrible deaths in the claws and teeth of dinosaurs privileged by Molochian laws.

+ + +

Rome has elected the first-ever woman mayor, Virginia Raggi, an attorney who wants to eliminate corruption and Mafia influence in the city. Now it is Caesar’s husband who must be above suspicion.

+ + +

Last Sunday 65,000 Okinawans demanded that American Marines and sailors leave. Every American Marine and sailor agreed. On the same day China began measuring Okinawa and the rest of Japan for new curtains.

+ + +

The Irish national police, the Garda, have been instructed to conduct raids only during the work day out of consideration for the suspects. One hesitates to suggest that this courtesy is, well, a very English thing to do.

Would the ban include traffic stops after 5:00 P.M.?

+ + +

Adolf Hitler was a self-obsessed drug user, non-drinker, non-smoker, wannabe artist, socialist, and diet faddist who wrote a book all about himself and his feelings, shacked up with his squeeze, had his horoscope cast every day, and wore funny clothes and funny hair. Aren’t we pretty much talking about a hipster?

The Austrian government wants to tear down the apartment building in which Hitler was born lest crazy people make a shrine of it. Yes, but then they’ll make a shrine of the parking lot or fast-food restaurant that will replace it because no one can eliminate geographical co-ordinates.

Are there any alligators in Austria?


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Watch List - poem

Lawrence Hall

Watch List

Bulova, Caravelle, and Hamilton
Gaudy Rolex and sturdy Omega
Humble Timex and Comrade Citizen
Tag Heuer measuring Switzerland’s slopes

Caravelle, Movado, and Ingersoll
Longines, Wittnauer, Elgin, and Eberhard
A Dunhill pretending to be Big Ben
Elgin and Gerard-Perregaux (mais oui!)

Ticking the hours ‘til civilization
Tocks its escapement motionless at last

Summer solstice - poem

Lawrence Hall

Summer Solstice

Apollo seems to pause his passages
His constant celestial orbitings
And gaze upon the north; he may not fly
Beyond his long-appointed limitings

Thus now he seems to stop awhile and rest
Above this earthly altar of repose
Until the bonfires of our good Saint John
Remind him to resume his pilgrimage

His solar voyage to December’s south -
Apollo seems to pause his passages

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

No-Fly List - poem

Lawrence Hall

No-Fly List

The ostrich cannot fly; the emu’s still
The penguin waddles on his icy hill
The kiwi stays in place, as does the rhea
As for the Campbell teal’s flight, no way-a

The auk and steamer duck are out of luck;
Extinct they are, and buried in the muck
The cassowary (always feathers, never hairy)
Can only envy its cousin, the canary

A flightless bird - like you, it seldom moves -
One hopes, comrade, your attitude improves

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Icarus, Dude! - poem

Lawrence Hall

Icarus, Dude!

Young Icarus worked late in his stable
Laying out feathers on an old table
A dreamer of dreams by olive oil light
This visionary with an idea of flight

All scorned his wax wings, but he wasn’t mute:
“Oh, no; I’ve got a golden parachute
I’m boxing outside the think, don’t you see:
Science for the fourth century B.C.!”

He showed them all, and flew to the sun
(His landing, alas, wasn’t much fun)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Safety Deposit Box - poem

Lawrence Hall

Safety Deposit Box

A safety deposit box is but a grave
Of bits of paper connecting the dead
With bits of land sold long ago, and lost
In housing tracts and Wal-Mart parking lots

Pictures, medals, Army discharge papers
Clear title to cars and memories
Running-board picnic buffets at the creek
In a summer that will never come again

Oh, let it go and celebrate the Now:
A safety deposit box is but a grave

A Fog of Unknowing - 13 June 2016 - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Fog of Unknowing - 13 June 2016

If fifty lives were ended yesterday
How can anyone know that this is so
And how it came to pass, since those more equal
Cannot agree on how and why and who?

The glowing screens barely contain the shrieks
Of shrill denunciations flung about
Like ragged posters in polluted winds
Torn fragments of the most delicious lies

There were clouds today, but the rain passed by
Though fifty lives were ended yesterday

Not Listening to The Voices - a three-dot column

Mack Hall, HSG

Not Listening to The Voices

A famous American brand of acrid, yellow-tinted fizzy water containing a soupcon of alcohol is for a time re-naming itself with a patriotic Yankee-Doodle label. Nice, but the corporation that makes this stuff is a Belgian-Brazilian concern.

+ + +

And just try to find Independence Day decorations, including flags, not made in the peace-loving, granola-munching, gluten-free, Workers’ and Peasants’ Glorious Republic of China.

+ + +

Speaking of peace-loving peoples, how ‘bout that European love-fest going on in Marseilles, eh?

+ + +

An Oregon state judge ruled that a person may self-identify as “non-binary” instead of man or woman.

So much for the science of DNA.

The concept of non-binary is awkward. Imagine a couple of sailors of either sex granted a Cinderella liberty, with one suggesting “Hey, let’s go to the USO dance and see if we can meet some cute non-binaries.”

+ + +

A headline said that London has its first nude restaurant. Are there any restaurants that wear clothes?

+ + +

Robots are replacing more workers, which is why we might soon see R2D2and C3PO out by the dumpsters smoking cigarettes and muttering into their MePhones. The Borg robot will ask you if you want to pay with cash, credit, or your soul. You can tell the supervisor robot by its decades out-of-date shell and its cheesy painted-on moustache.

+ + +
Imagine a Santa Fe passenger train stopping at the faux-Spanish colonial depot Tucson, Arizona for a crew change and a mechanical check. A young man wearing a business suit and smoking a cigarette gets off the train to make a pay-telephone call and to buy a newspaper and a souvenir postcard. He wears a wristwatch and carries a fountain pen and a pocket knife.

He is thankful to be home from the war, and no longer needs to carry a weapon or worry about bombs, bullets, and ambushes.

Such things once were.


Discharge Papers - poem

Lawrence Hall

Discharge Papers

Now trudging up the creaky courthouse steps
He ran and skipped up forty years ago
One step at a time, now, clinging to the rail
So insolently scorned in his callow youth

The papers deposited long ago
Are needful to the VA office gnomes
Who probably will say no anyway
As they always have. Their slogan should read

“To ignore him who shall have borne the battle” -
He trudges up the creaky courthouse steps

The Romance of Foreign Postage Computerized Printouts - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Romance of Foreign Postage Computerized Printouts

Where are the postage stamps of yesteryear;
Aye, where are they…? (Wait, that gag’s been taken)
It’s only a computer stickered printout

One wants a postage stamp, with a portrait
Of a king, a president, or a loon
Swimming alongside a senator’s yacht
With a halo of “Two Pence” over its head

One tires of the latest computer gear –
Where are the postage stamps of yesteryear?

The Gardener - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Gardener

Unnoticed are the gardeners and the gods
Mary Magdalene mistook one for the Other
Thinking the Other had been thrown away
Cast out like the first of all gardeners

Beyond the rivers, into a desert
But this Man taken for a gardener -
He really was a gardener, and is,
And the Master Gardener works quietly

To tend forever the gardens of our souls -
Unnoticed is the Gardener who is God

A Saturday Morning Wall-Eyed Hissy-Fit - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Saturday Morning Wall-Eyed Hissy-Fit

On a rainy Saturday morning, two cats
For reasons known to them alone, round off
(For cats, being more circular than angled,
Can never square off) – a catty cacophony

Of yowling, growling, prissing hissy-fits
In mutual feline outrage, their tails
Twisting like scorpions, or furry snakes
Threatening death – or at least disapproval

Much to the delight of the back porch dogs:
On a rainy Saturday morning, two cats

Beneath the Dome - poem

Lawrence Hall

Beneath the Dome

A coven of wispy wraiths squatting on the floor
Of a ruined temple built by better men
Importuning yet another false god
To be as empty as they, and ooze forth

To destroy in screams and blood the innocent
They riffle little books they cannot read
And grunt again five bitter syllables
That shut away their hearts from life and love

They summon the pale thing that they worship
And to their shrieking horror
it will come

Dozing in a Lawn Chair - poem

Lawrence Hall

Dozing in a Lawn Chair

Cicadas sing the evening heat and damp
Amid the sinister sweet scents of night
Unseen and mysterious musicians
Following the script of a tropical murder

The smooth assassin enters from the left
His dinner jacket, white, immaculate
Hangs perfectly from his muscular frame
As his steady hands reach for a cigarette

In a paperback forgotten on the lawn -
Cicadas sing the evening heat and damp

No Way, Shape, or Bombshell, Actually - poem

Lawrence Hall

No Way, Shape, or Bombshell, Actually

No way, shape, and form literally dropped
A bombshell to the next level, with no
Ifs, ands, or buts defining a generation
While living in the shadows of America

Where the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Going viral in trending a hashtag
Through user-generated content link-bait
Engaging the meme traffic actually

Cloudwising virtual reality
Thinking outside the box form shape way no

(And let the people say “icon”)

The Invention of the Pencil - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Invention of the Pencil

We lay our scene in a monastic scriptorium in Cumbria

“Somehow I can’t get my pencil to work.”
“Now have you first tried to re-sharpen it?”
“No, I was in fear of breaking something.”
“Okay, move over, and I’ll show you how.

Take now your pen knife…”
“But this is a pencil.”
“We’re still at work on the pencil knife, true,
But a penknife for now will work as well.
Oh, isn’t technology wonderful!”

(cut, cut, cut)

“Just chant for P.T. if you have any more…”
“Wait a moment; just show me that again.”

A Picture Post-Card of Notre-Dame de Amiens at Dawn - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Picture Post-Card of Notre-Dame de Amiens at Dawn

For Doris and Anthony


Merci, mes amis, for the picture-card
Of Notre-Dame de Amiens at Dawn
Of church and river greeting the new day
Over the loving heart of La Belle France

Near the Palais de Justice a streetlamp glows,
And across the Riviere des Clairons
A café opens for early risers
Workers and joggers, scholars, and poets too

While Matins and Lauds sung from the cathedral
Anticipate the sun and early Mass


But otherwise the city is at rest
Thousands of years of civilization
Do not leap out of bed like children on
A holiday; they wait for the proper hour

To rise, to offer up their ancient prayers
So that Amiens may be blessed in her work
Of loving service to humanity
Her chosen duty from the long ago

This vision is France, first daughter of the Church,
God’s lamp upon the altar of the world

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

America's Best - a memorial

Mack Hall HSG

America’s Best

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt:
He only lived but till he was a man

- Macbeth V.vii

Last week ten of our best young men and women died.

Their deaths were horrible; there is no avoiding that painful reality. But these ten did not die from drug overdoses, falling from resort hotel windows while drunk, committing crimes, blowing suicide vests among innocents, taking selfies on the edges of cliffs, in gang fights, fighting in Christmas shopping sales, or comatose in the middle of the street. They died in military training, preparing themselves for the defense of this nation. They died doing instead of talking, because in the Marines and in the Army there is no concept of hangin’ out, feeling sorry for yourself, or smoking loser-weed behind the dumpsters.

Families and friends will grieve for their military sons and daughters and comrades at their funerals and forever. They will never need to apologize for them. The families’ hearts are at half-mast but their heads are high, and the rest of us should in some way work to be just a little bit worthy of the memory of these ten and all who serve.

Those who died in service last week weren’t the common golly gee whiz supposedly super-secret commandos who write books and sue each other and make big noises; one was a Marine fighter pilot, and the other nine were soldiers in the Army, the real Army, the regular Army, the old Army, the kind of men and women who charge into a rathole to drag a nazi, a commie, or a jihadi out by the scruff of his neck and make him holler “calf rope!” without popping off about how wonderful they are.

They are good men and women, our defenders, far better than those of us who sleep in soft beds at night deserve:

Captain Jeff Kuss, USMC, 32, a Blue Angels pilot

Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Colonvazquez, 38, Brooklyn, New York

Sp. Christine Faith Armstrong, 27, Twentynine Palms, California

Sp. Yingming Sun, 25, Monterey Park, California

Pfc. Brandon Austin Banner, 22, Milton, Florida

Pfc. Zachery Nathaniel Fuller, 23, Palmetto, Florida

Pvt. Isaac Lee Deleon, 19, San Angelo, Texas

Pvt. Eddy Raelaurin Gates, 20, Dunn, North Carolina

Pvt. Tysheena Lynette James, 21, Jersey City, New Jersey

West Point Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21, Valparaiso, Indiana.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and make perpetual Light to shine upon them.”


Poetry - All Dressed up with Some Place to Go - two poems

Lawrence Hall

Poetry – Dressed up with Some Place to Go

A poem need not be so overdressed
That it embarrasses free-verse poseurs
Awash in self-absorbed, self-pitying tears
The sound of one first-person pronoun clapping

But still they should be instructed

That a poem is not about the poet
It is about the reader who has turned
His attention and the writer’s pages
To the existential questions of life

And so is properly dressed for its work

Poetry – Slouched in a Chambray Shirt and Old Khakis

Dude! Slack me some slack here - my weekend words
Deserve to wear the untied sneakers of life
Kicked back, kicked up, with a cosmic crossword
To puzzle out with coffee and iambic-free buttered toast of indeterminate
scansion and crumbs

Since scribblers should be comforted

For a poem is about the poet too
Turning his thoughts and the reader’s pages
To those same questions, but with half-and-half
Sloshed into both the coffee and one’s art

And so is properly dressed for the porch

Saint Boniface - poem

Lawrence Hall

Saint Boniface

Saint Boniface chopped down a pagan oak
The followers of Thor resented the bloke
So some years after that witching tree fell
Those pagans chopped down that Englishman as well!

Transfiguration - poem

Lawrence Hall


A mysterious Light shines from Mount Tabor
On the holy Feast near the harvesting
And if a man chooses not see it
He builds a tabernacle in the dark

A stable not picked out by any star
An altar without any sacrifice
A pilgrim road that twists back on itself
A hymn in praise of hollow sentiment

If a man sees it not, he is not changed -
A mysterious Light shines from Mount Tabor

The Dragon Defense - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Dragon Defense

A dragon-errant went a-questing for
A cruel, fire-breathing knight who terrorized
The huts and hovels of poor villagers
Who humbly toiled and tilled the sacred earth

And yearly in October sacrificed
A maiden innocent in every way
To slake the dark and intemperate lusts
Of the violent and satanic knight

And thus at last the story is made right:
Take not the word of a fire-breathing knight!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Date of Departure Unknown - poem

Lawrence Hall

Date of Departure Unknown

Green leaves are like the sails of fairy ships
Set fully by their sailors in the spring
But moored in harbor all the summer months
Awaiting orders to cast off and launch

We pass the waiting time in sorting out
The fancies and the dreams we want to pack
Into the hold of our wind-singing ship
And poring over charts yet to be drawn

‘Til Ceres and Demeter bid us go -
Green leaves are like the sails of fairy ships

The Latest Hundred-Year Flood - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Latest Hundred-Year Flood

Another hundred-year flood this wet week
With south winds gusting and slinging the rain
Wildly off the roofs, hour after dark hour
Sheeting the lawns into green fairy ponds

The woods are black upon a silvered floor
And lightning sends folks inside for the day
To their recurring coffee-corner clashes
About whose rain gauge is more accurate

While the rain sings of ditches, gutters, and drains -
Another hundred-year flooding this week

Linear Life Looping - poem

Lawrence Hall

Linear Life Looping

How do they put those spirals into blank books
Threading wires along blank pages of dreams
Not yet realized or even written or drawn
Restrained as soon as penned into being

Story Line A formed up against Sketch B
And Schematic C made to dress right, dress
Addresses and telephone numbers lined
In exile on the last little page or two

Life spinning forward and up as little loops -
How do they put those spirals into blank books?

Decolonizing English Literature - poem

Lawrence Hall

Decolonizing English Literature

Fluid active shooter situation
Surreal ongoing high-powered rifle
Show of force first responders swat teams
Abundance of caution fluid active

Shooter situation surreal ongoing
High-powered rifle show of force first
Responders swat teams abundance of
Caution fluid active shooter situation

Surreal ongoing high-powered rifle
Show of force first responders swat teams

Eligible for an Update - poem

Lawrence Hall

Eligible for an Update

Good comrades once were forced to stand in lines
To register submission to the cause
And beg for life while starving in the cold
Applauding all the while their misery

Good comrades still fall in obediently
To register submission to the ‘phone
And fight for selfie-space – oooh, look at me!
Applauding bars of connectivity

The irony of queueing before false shrines -
Good comrades once were forced to stand in lines

Heelspur's Victory - poem

Lawrence Hall

Heelspur’s Victory

“And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s Day.”

-Henry V

The great man seduces a ragged host
Of aged motorcycle commandos,
Appropriating their victories and sorrows
Channeling old Hollywood movie wars


How many of his Harley-mounted host
Fear-vomited in sour Cambodian mud
Or bled their youth out in sour desert dust
DD214 everyone? Anyone?

Don’t challenge keyboard commandos with the truth -
Who knows what anything is anymore?

Everybody's a Warrior - poem

Lawrence Hall

Everybody’s a Warrior

Weekend warrior
Prayer warrior
Eco warrior
Road warrior
Shopping warrior
Coupon warrior
Spiritual warrior
Bleacher warrior
Nutrition warrior
Social justice warrior
Fitness warrior
Happy warrior
Yoga warrior
Warrior, warrior, warrior!

Given all these wars, how good it is to be

A draft-dodger

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Groovin' to the Hootenanny of Time - poem

Lawrence Hall

Groovin’ to the Hootenanny of Time

The years sneak by, as we were told

But still –

How strange it is to be this old!