Sunday, July 31, 2016

Takeaways from the Political - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Takeaways from the Political Conventions

“Let us become servants in order to be leaders.”

― The Prince in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

Make America actually great again iconic what difference does it make absolutely let us actually stand absolutely as one actually unity absolutely get ‘im out of here unity iconic lock her up iconic unity actually career actually woman absolutely politician iconic dump Trump absolutely character iconic stronger together iconic hard actually work absolutely black lives actually matter absolutely undocumented iconic RINO actually progressive absolutely killary iconic Isis actually drumpf absolutely values iconic work actually dignity and respect actually values and morals actually brothers and sisters actually Code Pink iconic all lives matter absolutely boycott Israel actually the American people iconic fast and furious actually divorce absolutely immigration iconic Russia actually emails absolutely hacking iconic change-maker actually mother iconic trans-pacific partnership actually feel the Bern absolutely the only poll that counts is on election day iconic the other America actually inside the beltway absolutely outside the beltway iconic Joe Six-Pack actually the kitchen table absolutely working families iconic got the memo actually didn’t get the memo absolutely hey hey ho ho iconic the people will stand up to Washington actually build bridges absolutely build a wall iconic for the 21st century actually reach across party lines absolutely for the children iconic for the future actually at the end of the day absolutely the fact of the matter is iconic the heartland of America actually my father came to America with money in his underwear absolutely media bias iconic my amazing wife actually bromance absolutely swing state iconic populist actually glass ceiling absolutely blue lives matter iconic all lives matter actually came up short absolutely breaking news iconic woo woo actually rapid-response team absolutely technical woes iconic unity actually the base absolutely gays iconic guns actually God iconic Sandernistas actually hashtag absolutely traitor iconic raucus actually matchup absolutely syncs iconic tweets actually cyberwar absolutely treason iconic faux news actually pastor absolutely hyphen iconic I’m with her actually convention bounce absolutely plagiarism iconic evolve actually lyin’ Ted absolutely lion Ted iconic yuge actually passing the baton absolutely not for sale iconic protestors actually police barricades absolutely yes we can iconic endorsement actually teleprompter absolutely campaign manager iconic Clinton camp actually Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz absolutely under the bus iconic roar actually historic roll call absolutely Melania iconic media tents actually American flag absolutely LGBTQ iconic pivot actually midnight in America absolutely morning in America iconic I am your voice actually disaffected absolutely believe me iconic forgotten men and women actually politically correct absolutely bankers iconic Satan actually USA USA USA absolutely HILL-A-REE HILL-A-REE HILL-A-REE iconic diversity actually believe me absolutely NAFTA iconic coal miners actually Benghazi absolutely trade deficits iconic Iran treaty actually thank you God bless you and God bless America iconic actually absolutely

(Balloon drop)


Saturday, July 23, 2016

High Summer - poem

Lawrence Hall

High Summer

High summer is but headaches, haze, and heat
Parasitical heat, malignant heat
Heat creeping through the walls, even at night
Mocking the futile thermostatic air

By day all thoughts are wither’ed away
The words of favorite books shimmer unread
On pages like an oasis vaporous
Unreachable, or by an enemy occupied

There is no healing, hope, or hope of hope:
High summer is but headaches, haze, and heat

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Cleveland Yellfest - column

Mack Hall, HSG

The Cleveland Yellfest

Roderick Spode: “Citizens…I say to you that nothing stands between us and our victory except defeat! Tomorrow is a new day! The future lies ahead!”

Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps: “D’you know, I never thought of that.”

- Jeeves and Wooster

Three disparate groups of civilization’s dissenters are said to have flung bodily wastes at each other in Cleveland, Ohio during the first of the two summer covens. Developing one’s ideological thesis statement in one’s urinary tract system is not quite Churchillian oratory.

+ + +

The discourse in the hall where the first coven was held was not exactly Churchillian either, with all those errant adverbs flying about. Communication becomes more effective when such clutter as “actually” is removed – after all, one cannot “unactually” do, see, or experience anything.

Further, an icon (also spelled “ikon”) is a two-dimensional religious image featuring Jesus or a saint. Icons are common in the Eastern Orthodox churches, less so in the West. Referring to a person as an icon is like referring to him or her as a crucifix, a cross, or a religious painting: “And now I want to introduce to you a real crucifix of our political movement…” or “He was such a religious painting of the music world.”

+ + +

Outside the Cleveland yellfest three, oh, real Americans were photographed posing in discount-store camouflage, gas station sunglasses, and the now requisite Pictish woad while cuddling what appeared to be poorly-maintained rifles with the usual curvy fruit magazines. They averred that they were present to back up the police. What a comfort to everyone, eh? One wonders if any of them ever took any military or police training beyond perusing the lurid pictures in a Captain Leotard comic book.

They should stop it. Just stop it. If they want to be cops, then they should apply for the academy. If they want to be soldiers, then they should enlist. But first they should grow up, stop playing with guns in the street, and get out of the way of the True Blues, the men and women who endure a rigorous program of physical and mental training, including ethics and law, and who take a sacred oath.

+ + +

The Republic of Turkey does not tolerate political conventions or political dissent.

Democratically-elected Turkish President Recezp Erdogan is reported by the Daily Mail to have sacked (so far) 50,000 judges, police, military, and teachers, and forbidden them to leave the country. This is in addition to some 9,000 others previously arrested on allegations of trying to overthrow their beloved leader. Those arrested include 115 generals, 350 other officers, and almost 5,000 enlisted men. Even before the recent coup attempt the loving father of his people arrested some 2,000 of his fellow citizens, including children, for not liking him.

If true, this means Erdogan is arbitrarily removing from both high-level and low-level government positions those industrious and thoughtful citizens from solid, stable working class and middle class backgrounds who are essential to the orderly life of a nation of laws.

In contrast to Erdogan’s fuhrerprinzip, American politics are goofy and undisciplined, but seem to work most of the time. At the ‘Publican Convention the Colorado, Alaska, and several other delegations, in the best tradition of a free people, made a spirited defense against being pushed about by the party bosses. They lost, but unlike the outspoken in Turkey they weren’t arrested, stripped naked, beaten in the streets, and crowded into concrete cells while shackled to each other, there to await show trials and executions.

Our inefficient political process, despite the stupid hats and cartoon tees and mugging for selfies, is in its bumbling pretty good after all.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

On the First Ballot - poem

Lawrence Hall

On the First Ballot

Whose are these snarling faces, grown ugly in
The primordial aggression of the pack
Made manifest through individual fears
Witch-stirred inside a cauldron adamant

Dark sorceries beneath arena lights
Ferality and fists pumping in hate
Unhappy beings robed in cartoon tees
Cruel-yelping for the blood of innocence

Now to be splashed and burned and hated more:
Whose are these snarling faces – yours? Or mine?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Iconophiles - poem

Lawrence Hall


Iconophiles are true revolutionaries
Lowering their voices but raising their hearts
Falling into a written picture-prayer
Upon a bit of board or card – Creation

Made small and held within the hand, the eye
And knowing deeper in, all that was made
And Him Who was begotten before all
Permitting us to see before we see

Hymning formlessness into light and truth -
Iconophiles are true revolutionaries

Monday, July 18, 2016

Unintelligible Screaming - poem

Lawrence Hall

Unintelligible Screaming

Young conscripts posted to a midnight bridge
They lean against an armored car and smoke
Wondering what idiot had the bright idea
Of a pointless exercise in guarding a road

Young conscripts posted to a midnight bridge
The first few drivers turn around as ordered
But then there are more, and these leave their cars
And gather ‘round, and yell and push and grab

“Get the lieutenant on the line…no…wait…”

Young conscripts dead upon a sunlit bridge

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Must There be a Balloon Drop? - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Must There be a Balloon Drop?

Why do political conventions always feature balloon drops as the final spectacle of spectacles? Such is appropriate for a child’s birthday party, not as part of the sober, serious governance of a republic.

Okay, that’s just grumpiness. For a good, restorative laugh nothing beats watching superannuated Republicans in funny hats and cartoon sunglasses trying to dance to the groovy pseudo-sixties rhythms of the convention rent-a-band

Don’t mock them, Democrats; you’re next.

+ + +

The Atlantic, nee’ The Atlantic Monthly, features a useful article on “book deserts” in the USA, and as its thesis asks this relevant question regarding the intellectual and ethical development of pre-school children: How do you become literate when there are no available resources?”

God bless those who through taxes, contributions, and volunteer service make public libraries free to all, especially to little children.

+ + +

One of the new robot cars is reported to have caused a fatal crash. What a marvel of technology modern science has given us: a car driven by a computer that can text, apply makeup, take selfies, look for those PokeyThings, light a cigarette, get drunk, scream obscenities at other computers in other cars, change the radio, ignore stop signs, and drive twice the speed limit.

+ + +

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...

From “Antigonish,” Williams Hughes Mearns

Americans, ever submissive to little plastic boxes that light up and make noises, have taken to searching for little beings that aren’t there. The little Orwellian telescreens layer beings that don’t exist upon physical realities that do – including parks, streets, cemeteries, churches, and gang headquarters. The purpose of this new game (“Human – fetch!”) is – well, let’s be real: the initial free access is a loss-leader for selling the player stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the game also allows a certain internet company-which-must-not-be-named to access the player’s machine, including contents and emails.

Let’s blame the police. And President Bush. And fluoride.

Old people are already complaining: “By cracky, in my day we played Angry Buzzards on a Mac II, and we were glad to get it.”

+ + +

There were probably no PokeyThings or pretty balloons in the streets of Constantinople and Angora last week. Confused and leaderless young conscripts were sent out – by whom? - in what was later said to be an attempt at a coup. Unwilling to shoot their fellow citizens, these isolated lads were quickly overwhelmed by hordes of healthy and better-organized young men who were not unwilling to humiliate, beat, and murder the young soldiers who had been ordered into an impossible situation and not told why. And as someone asked later, where did all those thousands and thousands of brand-new Turkish flags come from in the middle of the night?

How good it would be if children could go to bed with their mothers reading Goodnight, Moon to them, all without any fear of gunfire, rockets, mortars, rioters, tanks, and murders just outside the window.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gently Used - poem

Lawrence Hall

Gently Used

Gently used clothing, and gently used shoes
Gently used school supplies for charity
Gently used cast-offs – there’s nothing to lose
Gently used humans? Not a priority

The Summer of 2016 - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Summer of 2016


In Viet-Nam you looked around
For even a stem of grass astray
You watched the water; you watched the ground
Upriver along the Vam Co Tay


Safe home, the earth did not explode
There was no need to pause your breath
And hope they hadn’t mined the road
With stakes or bombs of gutting death

No cause to bring your piece to bear
On creeping shadows among the trees
Or a curious movement over there
Upon the sweet, leaf-singing breeze


Except that now there is – O dreams
Lost and desolate among death-screams

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Alexandria in a Seabag - poem

Lawrence Hall

Alexandria in a Seabag

The barracks is a university
So too the march, the camp, the line for chow
McKuen shares our ham and lima beans
John Steinbeck helps with cleaning guns and gear

(You’re not supposed to call your rifle a gun)

The Muses Nine are usually given a miss
But not Max Brand or Herman Wouk
Cowboys and hobbits and hippie poets
And a suspicious Russian or two

Tattered paperbacks jammed in our pockets:
All the world is our university

What the EZine Reviewer Learned - poem

Lawrence Hall

What the EZine Reviewer Learned

What I learned about the best cliché that
You’ve never heard of Mother Theresa
The Dalai Lama and me I went there
To teach them, but they taught me, how to love

And to embrace the possibilities
A heart like a butterfly with issues
Of marginalized voices crying in unison
While raising awareness of awareness

Because the paramecium was here first
Weaving a windsong tapestry of hope

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Saint Peter ad Vincula - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Saint Peter ad Vincula

1st chess player, moving a pawn: “En passant.”
2nd chess player: “Just down the hallway, second door to your left.”

+ + +

Can a chess player have a checkered past?

+ + +

What is an ozone action day? What is ozone? Is it good? Bad? Decades ago the boys and girls with thick glasses and white lab coats were telling us that there was a hole in the ozone layer, said hole being a bad thing because ozone is a good thing. Now the hole in the ozone layer is closing up, and that’s a good thing because ozone is a good thing. But an ozone day is bad thing, and we are told we should not mow our yards or drive our cars lest there be more ozone.


I wish in either case that the roving peddlers of make-it-up-as-you-go-along ideologies and “paving materials left over from a job” who infest my driveway would carpool, not so much for the ozone but so that I could conveniently shoo them off as a discount package.

+ + +

In a week in which there has been little cause for optimism about the human character there was this good moment: in Weatherford, Texas, six prisoners broke out of a courthouse holding cell, not for personal freedom but for the good of their fellow man.

The jailer, who had been chatting amiably with his charges, suffered a heart attack and fell to the floor unconscious. There was no one around except the prisoners, all of them shackled, who then broke down the door to get to the man and do what they could. None of them knew how to give CPR but they knew how to make a racket, and did.

Deputies and bailiffs in the courtroom upstairs responded to what they thought was a fight, and took charge of the scene. The medics got the jailer’s heart jump-started, and apparently he will be okay. The county installed a better door to the holding cells.

For a few minutes the six prisoners were in control of everything in the courthouse basement. They were in control of the keys, and could have bolted. They were also in control of a seventh man’s life and of his firearm. They could have made several kinds of bad decisions, but apparently it never occurred to them to do so; they made only the right decision.

You probably couldn’t trust these lads with your car or unattended lawn equipment, but you can certainly trust them with your life, and what is more important than that?

Saint Peter in Chains, pray for them and for all prisoners, and for all of us.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Make the Holy Roman Empire Great Again©™ - poem

Lawrence Hall

Make the Holy Roman Empire Great Again©™

Are all of us but Guelphs and Ghibellines
And sub-divisions of sub-divisions
G.I.N.O.s and Pre-Fab-Cabin Ghibellines,
The Stir-Clockwise Guelphs repudiating

The True-Blue Red Stir-Counter-Clockwise Guelphs
Make Fiorenza Great Again lawn signs
In dubious battle against Venetian
Leave the Holy Roman Empire Empire ball caps

For a grand tomb that will never be built
Are all of us but Guelphs and Ghibellines?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Come on in; the Water's Slime - column, 3 July 2016

Mack Hall, HSG

Come on in; the Water’s Slime!

Rio de Janeiro, that palmy and balmy romantic playground of old movies, is not ready for the summer Olympics. The beaches and water are polluted, venues are incomplete and in some cases construction seems to be halted, athletes arriving early for practice and acclimation have been robbed, gang warfare makes Rio one of the world’s most dangerous cities, some athletes are refusing to travel to Rio for fear of mosquito-borne illnesses, and now body parts are washing ashore.

Lean and tan and tall and tender, parts of the girl from Ipanema go bobbing…

Well done, the International Olympic Committee.

+ + +

Locally, the Houston Chronicle reports at least four cases of flesh-eating bacteria attributed to Gulf waters. The public relations mouthpieces for various communities and businesses whose economies depend on beach tourism assure us that of the millions of people who splash about in the waters off Texas only a tiny percentage have been infected.

And that’s true. Still…

We can expect PETA to file a court injunction against the beach towns and other local authorities who are working to mitigate the bacterial threat, claiming loudly that “The germs were here first!”

Perhaps Brigitte Bardot will appear for a photo-op cuddling a tranquilized baby amoeba.

And then there’s the alligator.

And the airplane making an emergency landing on the beach.

What would Annette and Frankie do?

+ + +

Exhibiting all the sophistication and secrecy of a Get Smart plot a presidential candidate’s husband and the attorney general investigating the presidential candidate just sort of “bumped into each other” in the attorney general’s (ours) private plane while cold-faced men in dark classes kept the free people of this Republic in their place. Keep moving, comrades. This, the free people are told, was all so that the presidential candidate’s husband and the attorney general investigating the presidential candidate could talk about their travels, their grandchildren, and, oh, general topics.

+ + +

On the other side of the metaphorical tarmac another presidential candidate generated a twooter (or something like that) employing the outline of a Star of David with a background of money in order to accuse the first presidential candidate of financial corruption.

When I was old enough to begin to understand, my father, who was one of the first Americans into Ohrduf, part of the Dachau complex, show me some cast-off Army photographs he had kept from that day, and while I don’t remember his exact words, they were to the effect that we must never forget.

Looks like someone forgot.

Of our charity we might speculate that the candidate, a product of expensive private schools, never knew.

But, hey, he’s mastered S.T.E.M., so it’s all okay.


Summer Apples - poem

Lawrence Hall

Summer Apples

A summer apple is like love, you know
Expected, hoped for, but still a surprise
A mystery, an undeserved joy
As happy as a dewy morning in June

But June then drifts away into July
And sometimes love does too, falling away
Into a summer dream that might have been
And lost forever in the mists of fall

And yet the taste remains, a sweet remembrance -
A summer apple is like love, you know

80 by 8 and 90 by 9 - poem

Lawrence Hall

80 by 8 and 90 by 9

Yeah, 80 by 8 and90 by 9
Humidity set to steam or stir-fry
Accompanied by the mosquitoes’ whine -
God preserve us from the month of July!

Ad Orientem - poem

Lawrence Hall

Ad Orientem

Let us now face the sun, and not ourselves
And so forswear the mirrored loop of Us
That zeitgeist chasing its ossified Now
Into a spiral of dark nothingness

A club that looks endlessly at itself
Sharing dismal, universal handshakes1
Can never see the Incarnation dawn
As joyful, laughing Light upon the world

His star is in the east, and too His sun -
Let us worship the Lord, and not ourselves

1Yes, pinched from John Milton

Dependence Day - poem

Lawrence Hall

Dependence Day

There cannot be an independence day
Nor would the faithful want to be exiled:
The frailties of one’s body are proof
That every breath is a dependent gift

From that infinite Word, restless with love
Who holds a worried soul, with all its flaws,
A pearl still in formation in its cell,
More dear to Him than all the universe

From love, the love of God in Whom we live
One prays there is no independence day

Inactive Shooters - poem

Lawrence Hall

Inactive Shooters

If only there were inactive shooters
And inactive shooting situations
Cafes where nothing much is going on
Forgetting to learn where the exits are

Terrorists too lazy to lock ‘n’ load
Bigots rising up for another beer
The Ku Klux Klan taking a laundry day
Mad bombers running barefoot through the flowers

A parking ticket making the front page
If only there were inactive shooters

Live Your Dreams - poem

Lawrence Hall

Live Your Dreams

A girl, all pimples, pits, and piercings pores
Over a lottery ticket bouquet
Fast-fading flowers unpetaled one by one
Desperately loved-me-not with a lucky penny

Accented by the lite beer light, she sighs,
And counts her change for another pack of smokes
The night clerk wishes she would go away
And so does she, but somewhere is nowhere

They lied to her on graduation night


She never found her cap, tossed up so high

The Courthouse Square - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Courthouse Square

A few varas west this would be a plaza
But here it is, a county courthouse square
Where trustys in their horizontal stripes
Take their commands in English (of a sort)

To mow the lawns without regard for race
Creed, or color around the monument
To the glorious Confederate dead
No one here ever heard of de Vaca

Or why bahia grass is called bahia -
A few varas west and this would be a plaza

Saturday, July 2, 2016

More Education for the 21st Century - poem

Lawrence Hall

More Education for the 21st Century

At each desk sits an attentive MePhone
With a parasite tentacled to its back

The Bean Free Cemetery - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Bean Free Cemetery

For James Bateman, of Happy Memory

Across the tracks and then away from town
And just beyond the sewage treatment plant,
And though unseen by more prosperous temporals
Set nicely in a shaded Eden-glade

No storied sepulchers are raised up here -
These graves are crowned with tears, and little tin labels
And numbered on a grid filed carefully
In a fireproof vault at the funeral home

But here the Gates of Jerusalem open:
Across the tracks and then away from town

The Evil of Banality - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Evil of Banality

In patriotic Chinese baseball caps
And 40/50 poly-cotton tees
All Real Americans assert theirselfs
In camouflage or in red, white, and blue

Dogmatic assertions punctuated
With contextual allusions to John Wayne
A Russian AK tattooed across their chests
And sucking up that p*ss-thin Belgian beer

They’d-uh-whupped them A-raabs if they’d been there
In patriotic Chinese baseball caps

23 June 2016 - poem

Lawrence Hall

23 June 2016

Will England truly be England again
Free of those inky blots old Gaunt contemned
And harsh Napoleonic edicts signed
In the name of a housepet Belgian king?


Dover’s white cliffs stand sentinel in the sun
The Saxon horse still prances on chalk hills
Free men follow the plough and work the mills
And merry Sherwood still boasts a tree or two

Now to the pub to celebrate this day -
With a pint and a song and a kiss from Joan!