Friday, October 20, 2017

Autism - A Boy and His Dinosaur -poem

Lawrence Hall

A Boy and His Dinosaur

In another world, a silent world within,
The dominant species are dinosaurs.
Never having fallen, no evil obtains,
And beneficent reptiles live there as -

As innocently as butterflies.
In his quiet world of gentle reptilians
A little boy is never without a friend,
A Saurian with an unpronounceable name,

To share a cave, a thought, a book, a toy,
And so that world with a best-friend dinosaur
Is the child’s real world, the only one
Where he knows love.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pedal-Pushers of the Undead - column

Lawrence Hall

Pedal-Pushers of the Undead

These crisp autumn days mean that soon college administrators will be telling students what they must not wear for Halloween lest they hurt the feelings of other young grownups.

No one ever asks why college students are thinking about Halloween, that non-holiday, at all. They’re beyond trick-or-treating, don’cha think? College students should be doing college-student-thinky-things, like solving for x or writing about the influence of Fannie Brawne on John Keats’ existential vision of something-or-other.

And, besides, if folks on college campuses (or is that campi?) were to wear costumes, how would anyone know? To visit a college campus now is to wonder why so many people dress as if they looted their garments from hurricane debris – tee-shirts with pictures of that bearded mass murderer, knee-pants (yes, those 1950s pedal-pushers have risen from the sartorial dead), clown shoes, and desperately goofy hats.

That’s the faculty, of course; students usually manage to dress more appropriately.

As for the hurt feelings, well, I know of at least one college that last year greeted its incoming students with coloring-book sessions. If anyone suffers the Aunt Pittypat vapours from seeing someone costumed as capitalist oppressor Thurston Howell III the faculty can hand him a coloring book and a box of crayons in approved colors: “Look, honeykins. Here’s Mickey Mouse. See? Let’s color his house environmentalist green, okay? Then you’ll feel allllllllllll better.”

Oh, yeah, coloring books for college students will advance the arts and sciences of this great nation.

In Texas, college students who meet the legal requirements are permitted to carry firearms on campus, but are forbidden to dress up as Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, or Zorro. A distressed 21-year-old princeling whose emotions have been triggered – yes - by being asked to, oh, read a book or solve some engineering problems may lawfully carry a pistol while on his way to his coloring-book sensitivity therapy to express his existential outrage.

And citizens are arguing about Halloween.


The University Drama Club Presents... poem

Lawrence Hall

Look Back in Petulance

A Kitchen Microwave Drama
Featuring Angry Young Persons

Dramatis Personae:

Rainblossom – an existential performance artist

Skydream – a self-authenticating air-vegan

The stage is set as the world of our dreams, peopled with only the good who dream dreams and vision visions and, like, you know, and don’t eat our forest friends, and stuff. The actors are dressed in hand-dyed Colombian ruanas to represent The True.

Rainblossom –

I demand that you validate our soul!

Skydream –

As a cosmic sunbeam of otherness

I must not.

Rainblossom –
                             O where are my comic books?

Skydream –

They have been cleansed, just as my soul has sung
Unto the Cosmic Dissonance of love

Rainblossom –

Oh, Oh, Oh

Skydream –

                      Look, Look, Look

In unison –

                                                       A vision of…Truth

Rainblossom –

But our truth, not some other bogus truth

Skydream –

                                                                       Woke, Woke


The writers, cast, and crew of The Green Street Meadows Collective of Artists and Workers with Fists and Dreams and Words United Against the Occupation (Your Major Credit Card Welcome) neither need nor desire your cheap, shallow, bourgeois, sexist, racist applause to validate our existential worth. Be in awe, and then slink away in your individualist privileged guilt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Mirror Heal'd from Side to Side poem

Lawrence Hall

The Mirror Heal'd from Side to Side

When a mirror looks
Into you, deep inside you
Does it see itself?

(An allusion to Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This is NOT the Age of Weinstein - poem

Lawrence Hall

Blah-Blah-ing in the Age of Blah-Blah-Blah

No, this is not The Age of: Hefner, Clinton,
Obama, Trump, Harvey, Putin, Kim, Xi
Trolls, polls, super bowls, or cinnamon rolls
Kurz, Kaepernick, Ginger, or Mary Ann

Nor yet again an Age of: Gold or lead
Bronze, pewter, silver, nickel, aluminum
Chrome, nichrome, copper, brass, titanium
Thallium, thorium, thulium, tin 1

This is the age of You, unless you insist
On claiming this the age of something else

1 Yes, I had to look all that up

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mother of Exiles - poem

Lawrence Hall

Mother of Exiles

Saint Mary’s Church of Frydek, San Felipe, and Sealy

The grasses of the coastal plain are still;
Across the road a summer field plowed under
Waits through October’s lingering heat for frosts
While the distant Interstate chants to itself

Our Lady of Frydek, Mother of Exiles!

First Nations, Spaniards, Mexicans, Czechs, Poles
Italians, Germans, English, Vietnamese

Have ended their pilgrimages here, with You
Where God has led them for His purposes

And here, dear brother, God has led you too
To wait with them, with Her, for history’s end

Which will be
The Beginning

Sunday, October 15, 2017

You Russian Poets - poem

Lawrence Hall

You Russian Poets

You Russian poets must write your lines in blood
For often that is all that is left to you
By invaders, revolutionaries, and
“The briefcase politician in his jeep” 1

Perhaps every Russian is a Pushkin
In frost and heat, in every deprivation
Plowing in the face of the enemy
Building civilization with frozen hands

And always shaping noble tetrameters
Into an eternal song of Russian spring

1 Yevtushenko, “Zima Junction”

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Mild Suburban Christianity from 30,000 Feet" - poem

Lawrence Hall

“Mild Suburban Christianity”

A famous religion writer jets about
The world, from holy site to holy site
And being holy here and there, he writes
About his being holy here and there

And in his profitable scorn dismisses
“Mild suburban Christianity,” as if
Labor and thrift are somehow unworthy
Of a holy writer seated in first class

Editor-in-chief of This, President of That

(And free to be a non-profit 501C)

He asks for gifts from those suburbans mild

Friday, October 13, 2017

Viet-Nam Service Medal - poem

Lawrence Hall

Viet-Nam Service Medal

A dragon lurks among the bamboo trees
And if sometimes half-hidden, still, always there
Sometimes half-forgotten, but always there
Is he a glorious dragon? Sometimes, yes

But then some nights he stirs the leaves awake
His eyes – they seem to flicker through the dark
His claws – they tear into the freighted soul
His blood – like Duncan’s, will not wash away

But dragons are good – what is it that one sees
If not a dragon lurking among the trees?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sorting Out Russian Poetry - poem

Lawrence Hall

Sorting Out Russian Poetry

Avant-garde post-modernism ego
Futurism symbolism acme
Ism constructivism cosmopol
Itanism formalism neo

Formalism futurism imag
Inism proletarian real
Ism absurdism maximalism

Socialist realism, nothingism -
Poetic beauty, in spite of the Isms

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Dreaded Microsoft 10 Security Alert Popup of Doom That Won't Go Away - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Dreaded Microsoft 10 Security Alert Popup of Doom
That Won’t Go Away

(In order to receive the best support, we request all users initially download and run the Genuine Diagnostics tool (MGADiag.exe) at this link Click "Continue", click the "Copy" button then “Paste” the report into a reply message in this thread.)

I took a miner's lantern and a pouch
Of vampire-bane and crawled into the dark,
Dark tunnels of Security Updates.
I may have slain the beast, but it was dark

(Microsoft Genuine Advantage > Closed - Office Genuine Advantage Validation Issues (Office) Read-Only)

So dark in there. I lunged with vague commands
All printed in translation from the Orc
And strange lights flickered, flickered, flick…off
Restart reboot alt control shift…huh?

(Post this question in the "Suggestions and Feedback for the Forums" Forum at the following address

Silence. A stench of death…it’s dead, it’s gone…
But wait…no…NO! I hear a popup coming…!

(Marking as Answered. Your feedback is important. Bye.)

Penny Wise and Penny Foolish - column

Mack Hall

Penny Wise and Penny Foolish

Emptying one’s pockets at the end of a busy day of bringing home that metaphorical bacon reminds us of how useless is all that pot-metal we take as change and then carry around almost to no purpose.

In Ye Olden Days a pocket full of coins was a good thing: a cup of coffee cost a nickel, as did the daily paper and a Hershey bar, a Coca-Cola was six cents, a telephone call was a dime, and a hamburger was a quarter. These things weren’t cheaper; it’s that the money was worth more.

Around 1983 some alligator-shoe boy ruled that the copper penny should no longer be made of copper, but rather copper-clad, whatever that means. A penny now appears to be made of painted floor-sweepings, and is worthless. Dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, once made of silver, are as substantial as Monopoly® money. Purchasing power now begins only with the dollar, and a bouquet of dollars at that.

Why, then, does the government still manufacture play money, and why do we carry it around?

For adults the penny is probably a matter of sentiment. Although there is no longer any such thing as a piece of penny candy, we remember those childhood days and so remain attached to pennies that really aren’t even pennies. A penny is rather like Prince Albert in a can, which no longer exists even as the wheezy telephone joke: “Have you got Prince Albert in a can? Well, you better let him out before he suffocates!”

Canada rid itself of the penny in 2013, saving $11 million a year in bothering with them. The Dominion does not seem to have suffered thereby. Since Canadian pennies are the same size as U.S. pennies they show up in circulation south of the 49th fairly often. If you save your Canadian pennies then in a few years they will be worth, well, nothing. But the Maple Leaf is pretty.

Spanish escudos and reales have not circulated hereabouts since 1821 or so, and the English pound has not purchased any tea on the east coast since the tiff beginning in 1776. However, the old saying “penny wise and pound foolish,” meaning thrift in small matters but wastage in greater ones, lingers, much like the penny.

One wonders if, two hundred years ago, moms and dads in Nacogdoches, Anahuac, and San Augustine cautioned their children about being reale wise and escudo foolish.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Ite ad Joseph - poem

Lawrence Hall

Ite ad Joseph

For Joseph Thaddeus Petty
Sunday, 8 October 2017

Then let us go in to Joseph this day,
His day, soft-cradled in his mother’s arms;
He does not rule Egypt, but rather, our hearts
In the ordained hierarchy of love

His sisters in their turns nestle him too -
“Be sure to support his head – yes, that’s right” –
Their playmate new in the garden of life,
Their brother in the cloisters of Creation

He sleeps, so, shhhhhh – now let us slip away
For we have greeted Joseph on this happy day

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Big Kids - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Big Kids

For Claude Bevil Blanchette Hall,
Of Happy Memory


Sprinkled by the janitor from a coffee can
The oily smell of the green sawdust sown
Along the old school hallway’s green tile floors
And pushed along with a long-handled broom

My brother’s at the door with my lunch money
He’s one of The Big Kids, 5th grade, y’know
High up on the third floor, where we can’t go

Not yet

What’s it like to be one of The Big Kids?


My brother’s on a higher floor again
And what’s it like up there, where we can’t go?

Not yet

Claude Bevil Blanchette Hall was the son of Claude Duval Blanchette and Katherine Mattie Bevil Blanchette.

Claude Duval Blanchette was an officer on the tanker SS Muskogee, which was torpedoed off the Carolinas on 28 March 1942 with the loss of all hands. His son, Claude, was born on 12 October 1942, and died on 6 October 2017.

After the war Katherine married Hebo Ogden Hall.

All happy, happy memories.

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Houston Man Accused of Decapitating Mother - poem

Lawrence Hall

Houston Man Accused of Decapitating Mother

He was a quiet man who always kept
His lawn neat would give you the shirt off his back
Was on his way to Bible study wouldn’t
Harm a flea that’s not the (name) that I know

Seemed like a normal everyday guy to me
Never saw this coming just can’t believe it
Let us come together and stand as one
Because that’s not the kind of people we are

We just won’t let them change the way we live
He just snapped so GoFundMe tee-shirt give

Friday, October 6, 2017

Truck Stop Restroom Cologne - poem

Lawrence Hall

Truck Stop Restroom Cologne

Denny’s / Flying J, Orange, Texas

Check out the boom-chick in the parking lot -
Love and diesel fumes are in the air.
Tattoos and cigarettes, oh, man, she’s hot!
Industrial peroxide tints her hair
Like rainbows in a toxic fuel-oil spill.
Her waist is a rockin’ forty-four,
A pavement Venus posed before the grill
Of a Peterbilt outside the truckers’ store.
How can the lovestruck swain lure her to his cab?
Persuade her to give him her innocent all?
A ripped-shirt display of a manly ab?
Wait - what’s that machine on the restroom wall?

Cool dude, you’ll never have to truck alone
If you scent yourself with restroom cologne.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Paleo-Yuppies at Work and Play - poem

Lawrence Hall

Paleo-Yuppies at Work and Play

Fading slowly from the existential struggle,
Waving their MePhones about in protest,
They swarm to Starbuck’s for adjective coffees,
Uniformed in knee-pants and bulbous sneaks
And Chinese soccer tops with little checkmarks,
Their graduate degrees at parade rest,
And in confusion, suddenly-stalled careers
Raging against the thirty-something machine.
Not trusting anyone under forty,
They rustle their foam cups and resumes’
Instead of suspicious Democrats,
And demand promotions and Perrier.
They mourn pinstripes and leather briefcases,
And the old floppy disc of yesteryear,
And fumble their PowerPoint Presentations
Tho’ once they illuminated the world
With colored markers on glossy whiteboard.
They no longer play games on a Commodore
Or rock to neo-Carib fusion jazz;
Their Rush is Right baseball caps are now filed
In trays of antique curiosities
Beside the moldering hippie stuff shelved
In an adjunct of the Smithsonian
Where curricula vitae go to be eaten
By a computer virus named Vlad.
Now, as the sun sets on Ferris Bueller’s day,
They count and verify their MeBook friends –

They did not change the world, not at all, but
The world changed anyway, and without them,
And in the end they love neither Jesus
Nor The Force; like Eve, they bow to an Apple.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Paleo-Hippies at Work and Play - poem

Lawrence Hall

Paleo-Hippies at Work and Play

Having withdrawn from the existential struggle,
Surrendering their arms and protest signs,
They muster in Denny’s for the Senior Special
Uniformed in knee-pants and baseball caps
And Chinese tees that read “World’s Greatest Grandpa,”
Hearing aids and trifocals at parade rest,
And quadrupedal aluminum sticks
Raging against the oxygen machine.
Not trusting anyone over ninety,
They rattle their coffee cups and dentures
Instead of suspicious Nixonians,
And demand pensions, not revolution.
They mourn classmates dead, not The Grateful Dead.
They do not burn their Medicare cards
Tho’ once they illuminated the world
With their flaming conscription notices.
They no longer read McKuen or Tolkien
Or groove to ‘way-cool Peter, Paul, and Mary;
Their beads and flowers are forever filed
In books of antique curiosities
Beside a butterfly collection shelved
In an adjunct of the Smithsonian
Where manifestos go to be eaten
By busy mice and slow-pulsing fungi.
As darkness falls they make the Wheel, not love

They did not change the world, not at all, but
The world changed anyway, and without them,
And in the end they love neither Jesus
Nor Siddhartha, but only cable t.v.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Saint Garden Gnome - poem

Lawrence Hall

Saint Garden Gnome

An obscure barefoot friar in Italy
Long labored in the Perugian sun,
Heaped rocks upon rocks, and then other rocks,
Up to a wavery roof of broken tiles,
Repairing with his bleeding hands God’s church

Then, better known – it wasn’t his fault – this friar,
With others in love with Lady Poverty,
In hope and penance trudged to far-off Rome
To offer there his modest Rule of life,
Repairing with his mindful words God’s Church

Along the delta of the steaming Nile
He waved away the worried pickets, crossed
Into the camp of the Saracens
Preaching Christ to merciful Al-Kamil,
Offering with a martyr’s heart God’s Faith

Saint Francis is depicted in fine art
In great museums and in modest homes -
And you can find him too, down at Wal-Mart,
Between the plastic frogs and concrete gnomes.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Lady and Her Two Knights - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Lady and Her Two Knights

For their Nona and Papaw

Three young adults walking along to Mass
Pals from childhood, arms around each other,
Laughing, and pausing briefly for a mama-picture -
For them, even October is their spring

And in this springtime of their lives they offer
All of their happiness to Our Lord Himself,
All together Ad Altare Dei,
To God who giveth joy to their youth1

Three friends laughing, taking the morning air:
Two knights honored to escort their lady fair

1paraphrased from the Missale Romanum of 1962

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Dachshund Among the Leaves - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Dachshund Among the Leaves

For Liesl-the-Wonder-Dachshund, of Happy Memory

A merry dachshund yaps, and leaps for leaves
Wind-strewn across the still-green summer grass
As Autumn visits briefly, and looks around
To plan his festive moonlit frosts when soon
Diana dances across November’s skies.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Old and Unselected Poems - poem

Lawrence Hall

Old and Unselected Poems

Pale, penciled scribblings, old bits, old notes
Forgotten drafts in old books shelved away
And lines painfully worked out during lectures
About Napoleon’s painful hemorrhoids

And the declensions of those Latin nouns
Which with their verbs Omnis Gallia divisit
Or something like that, forgotten long ago -
But not
             her hair
                          her voice
                                         her smile
                                                         her eyes

Others cannot write to her happy theme -
She writes herself as iambs in a dream

Friday, September 29, 2017

About Windows Creator Update - a caution

Apologies, but about Windows Creator Update...
My two-year-old laptop was NOT happy with Windows Creator Update with regard to functionality and the clarity of the screen images.  I was able to uninstall, but there are residual buttons that won't go away.  You might want to check with your I.T. person before accepting Windows Creator Update into your machine.

Again, apologies for being off-task.

Hitler's Panties - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Hitler’s Panties

Someone has purchased Adolf Hitler’s undies for $6,700.  And let the people say, “Eeyewwwww.”

The buyer’s name has been kept unmentionable, and one understands why: a collector of fanboy unmentionables is a candidate for a room next to the fellow who is convinced he is Napoleon.

Dear Leader’s bvds apparently were misplaced in the laundry in an Austrian hotel in 1938.  Imagine being the room service guy who had to explain how he misplaced Der Fuhrer’s drawers.  Someone kept them as a souvenir of good times, and they were recently sold at an auction in Maryland.  This classy ‘n’ sassy delicate (gentle cycle only) is usually not the sort of thing that appears on Ebay.

Importing Hitler’s you-know-whats into the USA must have been amusing – how would the customs label read?

Boxers? Or briefs?

Boxers.  There is an “AH” embossed on the garment, but no little swastikas, fasces, double lightning bolts, or Winnie-the-Pooh characters.

One imagines those quiet evenings at home with Wolfie and Eva Braun, roasting civilizations in the fireplace and whispering sweet Nazi-ings to each other while accoutered in their loungewear.

There was that awkward occasion when AH discovered that EB kept a poster of a topless Josef Stalin in her boudoir, but they made it up when EB giggled that AH’s ‘stache was much ticklier than JS’s.

Did Stalin lounge about the Kremlin in his longIvans ‘way into the wee hours listening to The Andrews Sisters records and autographing death warrants?

But maybe the old boy was a bit more risqué, something in sync with “The Volga Boatmen’s Thong.”

One wonders if there is a market for General Tojo’s no-nos.

Or a Mussolini bikini.

Mao Tse Dung’s Long March Xuans.

Ah, well, we’d better keep this shorts…uh, short.


The Saunter of the Penguins - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Saunter of the Penguins

Across our lives the Penguins saunter along:
The Odyssey, The Ministry of Fear
Parade’s End, Penrod, To a God Unknown
Ragged with study, stained with tea and beer

Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Whitman’s Leaves
Tennyson, Wordsworth, The Alexiad
Monsignor Quixote, Wooster and Jeeves
And Yevtushenko – he was quite the lad!

Dog-eared and all crinkly, Scotch-taped with age -
Each Penguin is a wise, eternal sage

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Have You Seen Ken Burns' Latest Television Show?" - poem

Lawrence Hall

"Have You Seen Ken Burns’ Latest Television Show?"

No, I was in the play. I didn’t like it.
The plot, setting, and characterization
Were all wrong, and the clumsy denouement
Was poorly written and acted.

War profiteers from John Wayne to Ken Burns
Have claimed my illegal war for their own
"Hell hath no fury like a non-combatant"
Beyond that, the VA is ashamed of me

So, thanks, but no. I'm good. Bitter, but good
For I was in the play. I didn’t like it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Alexander Pushkin and the Poker-Playing Dogs - poem

Lawrence Hall

Alexander Pushkin and the Poker-Playing Dogs

We can have our Pushkin, all thinky and sad
And our poker-playing pups, cheating at cards
Ruslan and Ludmylla dancing on ice
At the Houston airport Holiday Inn

Did Pushkin paint the poker-playing pups
Or carve tetrameters while in his cups?
That green baize poker table, a samovar
And the Big Giant Head, who needs an ace

We can have our Pushkin, all thinky and sad
And too those kitschy dogs, being real bad!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Decorating a Mansion - poem

Lawrence Hall

Decorating a Mansion

Let be set out a wooden crucifix
Of indifferent and artless workmanship
Upon a table where the lamplight falls
In yellow circles on a book or two,
And sheets of paper and a quirky pen.

Let be set up a surplus Navy bunk
With mattress and blanket, and pillow too,
If Brother Guestmaster has them to hand,
Luxury enough for merciful sleep,
Or combat desperate against fearful dreams.

Let be set into the wall a hook or nail
To serve the office of a wardrobe there,
Burdened with little but perhaps too much:
A decent habit for the liturgies,
A worn-out coat, a hat against the sun.

Let be set into the cell an exile,
A man of no reputation at all,
Unnoticed in the streets, unseen, unknown,
But who delights in anonymity,
Here in this palace in Jerusalem.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fragments in a Fragmented Season - weak and stupid not-really-a-poem

Lawrence Hall

Fragments in a Fragmented Season

Neither a cyber-warrior nor a cyber-worrier be

But is this flower a patriotic flower?

The nation that never had much use for me
Except to send me to an undeclared war
Is suddenly broken

Was I playing with the puppies when the revolution began
        And so didn’t notice?

“Take It Down!” someone scrawled on a statue in New Orleans
        Dear New Orleans: Saint Joan of Arc was never a Confederate

Dear Canada: Do you really want to be a republic?

The vice-president takes shelter within his armored hair, and is silent

The Real Knees of Irving, Texas

Think about a Wal-Mart employee taking a knee during the morning Wal-Mart chant

It’s the Russians, no doubt

Chess ratings are up

Everything’s an Orwellian Two-Minutes’ Hate now. Even the hours and seconds are outraged

“Your attitude’s been noticed, comrade.” - House Warden to Yuri in Doctor Zhivago

Maybe the Republic will be in better shape next season.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Waiting for our Masters to Grow Up - poem

Lawrence Hall

Waiting for our Masters to Grow Up

The barbarians who lord it over us
Thunder denunciations at each other
On whether they should kneel or stand to flags or balls
And with whom they should be photographed

Some swagger in government, in suits and ties
Some swagger with buckles binding their foreheads;
Like schoolboys they compare the size of their…purchases
And bubble themselves with fawning courtiers

As ever, we workers, savers, writers, readers
Must be the grownups - unlike our leaders

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Our Lady of Walsingham - poem

Lawrence Hall

Our Lady of Walsingham

O how beautiful is Our Lady Queen!
Queen of our hearts and hopes, to her we pray,
Sweet Empress over forest, down, and dene ,
And happy Sunrise over the pilgrim’s way

O let us crown Our Queen with leaf and flower
Gathered this morning in the dawnlit dew
For we in this island are Her true dower
Pledging our faith with thorn and rose and yew

She gives us Her feast day, cool and quiet and green -
O how beautiful is Our Lady Queen!

There is No Such Thing as an Unloaded Gun - column

Mack Hall, HSG

There is No Such Thing as an Unloaded Gun

Recently the news spoke of a little child searching through her grandmother’s purse for candy. Ordinary this would be an “awwwwwwww…” moment, reminding of us how our grandmothers spoiled us over the protests of our parents.

Instead of candy, the child found her mee-maw’s pistol. It discharged. The child is dead.

Many questions follow: since the grandmother carried a firearm, why did she violate every teaching on gun safety? And further, why did she feel the need to carry a firearm at all? Was she afraid of other women?

No, almost surely she was afraid of males (one cannot call them men) who violate every teaching of scripture and civilization in menacing women.

We can all do better.

My old daddy (he visited France, Belgium, and Germany 1944-1945) taught that the first rule of gun safety is that there is no such thing as an unloaded gun. And then a series of Navy and Marine Corps instructors taught me the same.

Now of course a gun sometimes is loaded; otherwise, there would be no Bambi for supper. But when there is no Bambi about, unload the gun. Then fear that it is loaded.

In Viet-Nam one of the most common causes of GSW (gun shot wounds) was the mishandling of weapons. Although every Marine and sailor was taught / coached / urged / re-taught firearms safety, after a few months of carrying and cleaning firearms daily, many of the lads became careless.

We didn’t need the VC; Yankee-Doodle carelessness killed a lot of the lads.

The teaching that there is no such thing as an unloaded gun is a psychological truth necessary for our survival. Even the sharpest of us misplace our car keys, forget hair appointments, and fail to notice that the date on the inspection sticker has expired. No one is perfect.

When transporting a gun, unload it, and then fear that it is loaded.

When crossing a fence, unload the gun, and then fear that it is loaded.

When storing a gun, unload it, and then fear that it is loaded.

When climbing the Bambi-stand, unload the gun, and then fear that it is loaded.

Fit a lock to the trigger of a gun, and then fear that it might fire anyway – because it can.

A six-shooter is a five-shooter, no matter how much the manufacturer brags about the safety features. Never, never, never, never, never leave the hammer resting on all those clever safety gates, because beneath all that gim-crackery is a bullet that can kill.

Never, never, never, never, never leave a round up the spout of a semi-auto, no matter how often John Wayne did it. You ain’t John Wayne. Heck, not even John Wayne was John Wayne. Marion Michael Morrison was a cinema actor, okay? He never made the first day of military or police training.

Respect the firearm, because the firearm doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about you.

There is no such thing as an unloaded gun.

There is no such thing as an unloaded gun.

There is no such thing as an unloaded gun.


Friday, September 22, 2017

A Rocket from the Colonial Office - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Rocket from the Colonial Office


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Course that you teach, you need to get that task
Completed now. The task was supposed to

Have been completed by September 5,
According to a previous email
Reminder – this is actually your third
Reminder. If you need help completing

This aspect of your responsibilities,
Please let me know if you have uploaded
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Is not showing, we may need to contact

IT for assistance. Thank you for your
Dedication to /)/) College.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

And Just How Did the Cow Eat the Cabbage? - poem

Lawrence Hall

And Just How Did the Cow Eat the Cabbage?

The question was answered in a cafe at noon:
The cow ate the cabbage with an ordinary spoon

Thank you for your kind attention.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

20 September 1870 - poem

Lawrence Hall

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 today’s slogans fresh upon their lips
At dawn advanced upon the remnant walls
So thinly held by the last legionaries

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 to take enforced salutes,
And to the Quirinal by a passage broad,
And finally to the Ardeatine Caves.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Maccabees, and all that Mess" - poem (from a disputation overheard in a cafe)

Lawrence Hall

Maccabees, and all that Mess”

Antiochus declared himself to be
Epiphanes – a god unto himself
And persecuted suffering Israel
With pagan images and fire and death

The blood of martyrs Mattathias moved
And all his sons, hammers chosen by God
To cleanse the Temple of all perfidy
And through eight days rededicate the world

But now

Dismissed by the café theologian
As merely “Maccabees, and all that mess”

Monday, September 18, 2017

Paterfamilias - on the Death of a Friend's Father - poem

Lawrence Hall


For Eldon Edge

An empty chair beside the fireplace waits,
And lamplight falls upon an open book,
Pen, pocketknife, keys for the pasture gates,
Dad’s barn coat hanging from its accustomed hook.

But he will not return; his duties now
Transcend the mists of the pale world we know,
And you in grief must carry on, somehow;
Your duty is here, for God will have it so

The good man takes that chair reluctantly;
It is a throne of sorts, and one imposed,
Not taken as a prize, triumphantly,
But in love’s service, and in love disposed.

An empty chair beside the fireplace waits
For you, whom doleful duty consecrates.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reptilian Whisperings - poem

Lawrence Hall

Reptilian Whisperings

Ipse cum caro sit reservat iram, et propitiationem petit a Deo: quis exorabit pro delictis illius?

He that is but flesh, nourisheth anger, and doth he ask forgiveness of God? who shall obtain pardon for his sins?

-Ecclesiasticus 28:5

Like Cleopatra’s asp they want to cuddle
Against one’s heart: resentments slithering
About, indignities, enormities
Demanding incessant indulgences

Their reptilian whisperings hissering
Self-pity, inverted self-spiraling,
In closing, falling, dying loops until
Nothing is left even to pity itself

They are writhing about us even now -
Like Cleopatra’s asp they want to cuddle

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Civilization Requires a Little Effort - poem

Lawrence Hall

Civilization Requires a Little Effort

Upon reading Amon Towles’
A Gentleman in Moscow

Civilization requires a little effort
Ties must be knotted correctly, shoes must be polished
Cuffs must be linked, but not at all gaudily -
Elegant understatement at all times

On every occasion say “Thank you” and “please”
When addressing a lady one’s hat is off
And if tomorrow they are going to shoot you
Or beat you to death in a re-named street

Do comb your hair, and try to stand up straight -
Civilization requires a little effort

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Richest Country in the World - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Richest Country in the World

A concrete sidewalk for skipping to school:
A busy flower shop, the picture show
Post office, the hole-in-the-wall café
The general mercantile, the old feed store

The school is gone; the sidewalk hasn’t changed
Except that no one walks it any more -
Just archaeology, weeds and bricks that tell
Of once-upon-a-time along Main Street

No townsfolk now, only unroofed walls and sky
Not far from where the four-lane passes by

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three Generations in the Student Commons - poem

Lawrence Hall

Three Generations in the Student Commons

I. Berets, Coffee, and Cigarette Smoke

Much merriment and argument, and songs
Of love or revolution sung around
An old piano or a new guitar,
With poetic verses falling like leaves

II. Ball Caps, Diet Sodas, and Purity of Thought

All turn and tune to a cinder-block wall
Upholding the Orwellian telescreen
Cartoons and Vanna White, and then at noon
With Gilligan, the Skipper too, still lost

III. Pink Hair, Bottled Water, and Fear

No merriment, no argument, only silence
As paling shadows, unaware of each other
Bow down, like Eve before that Eden-tree,
And worship the little boxes in their hands

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Fish on Ice at Mixson's Grocery - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Fish on Ice at Mixson’s Grocery

As with my teacher’s disapproving eyes
A poor iced fish glared out upon the world -
Without her sanction everything had changed
And silent on the ice she watched life pass

Holding my mother’s hand, I was passing too
From baby food to breakfast cereal
Somehow the fish appeared to feel that this
Was an affront to her cold dignity

And thus her eyes – they seemed to follow me
And since the fish was dead, what could she see?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Now That We All Know What a Plinth Is... - poem

Lawrence Hall

Now That We All Know What a Plinth Is…

What will we establish upon our bare, ruined plinths
Where late the stern-visaged generals stood? 1
Guitarists, perhaps, or free-verse poets
Or refugees from Harvard’s sophomore class

We could erect erections to erections
As advertised on the family radio
With brazen legends reading “Hey-Hey! Ho-Ho”
Honoring the noble eloquence of our age

Or, with roses for remembrance, leave them bare
Amid shrill protestations of despair

1 Cf. Sonnet 73, Shakespeare

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inquisition of a Waitress by the Morals Police - poem

Lawrence Hall

Inquisition of a Waitress by the Morals Police

V: “So where did you say you went to church yesterday?”

R: “I went to the Cowboy Church. I try to get
To church, you know, as often as I can
But my boyfriend and me we don’t often work
The same shifts and he’s my ride so I don’t

“Get to go as often as I’d like, you know,
But I like to go and it’s good for me
But sometimes I just can’t; you know how it is
I went yesterday and I sure feel good.”

V: “Well, now, then, that’s all right, darlin’; good for you.”

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Man Born Blind - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Man Born Blind

We are all born blind, and stumble through our lives
In darkness lost along the River Styx
While clinging to our long-accustomed fear
As if it were a rule to be obeyed

The light is offered, then usually denied
As if it were yet another cruel joke
Long promised and then suddenly yanked away
More lost hopes rotting among the mouldering leaves

For some the obscure is more comfortable
Than promised light that never seems to shine

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Saturday in September - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Saturday in September

Sweet autumn is the year healing itself
The sun sleeps later, and feels better for it
His early rays tentatively touching the trees
As if seeking his wristwatch to tell the time

A sweet day off is a healing time, too
The linens all rumpled with dreaming dreams
Forgotten at first light, but lingering
A happiness just out of reach, of thought

But happy all the same; now yawn, and stretch -
Another day of possibilities

(But I fear there is a lawnmower involved)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Forestry for Romantics - poem

Lawrence Hall

Forestry for Romantics

Silence obtains in the forest clearing
The leaves all seem to be holding their breath
Little rabbit pellets on a pine tree stump
Cut only yesterday, still oozing sap

Fresh raccoon paw-prints in the muddy spots
But nothing moves – we are intruders here
Suddenly a silent shadow – a hooded hawk
Over there – a woodpecker drilling for bugs

If we hold still, stand still, not whisper a word
The forest will return to her appointed works

The Hurricane and Those Awful Millennials, column, 9.7.17

Lawrence Hall

The Hurricane and Those Awful Millennials

Roadside couches – couches, couches, everywhere. Each is a piece of furniture someone long ago chose for its appearance and service. It was the comfort zone for a family cuddling for the movies, the study carrel of choice for students, home turf to the family dog, paid for on the installment plan, and now cast out. Soaked and sour, irredeemable, couches wait for disposal. After the memories, a thought remains – did anyone check under the cushions for coins?

One is aware of some unhappy GossipNet postings regarding Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative. The posters should remove those unjust emotions from their hearts, their lips, their fingertips, and their telescreens. JNEC, as is its tradition, performed brilliantly in the recent crisis. JNEC purchases power from numerous sources because there is no power plant here. This electric power is shipped over different lines from different places, and a power line belonging to a third party in another state failed. You cannot distribute that which you do not have.

We enjoy electricity because of the work of many people, including those smart, tough buys who roll out in the middle of stormy nights to keep it going. Anyone who does not appreciate them just needs to disconnect the meter and live in a tent like a smelly old hippie.

I wish there were a power plant here. But if it were proposed, there would be a protest that it threatens rainbow field mice, cosmic toad frogs, the feng shui, or whatever. Ya can’t have it both ways. Electricity is nice. The air-conditioner, the water pump, the lights, and the kitchen can’t be powered by clamping jumper cables to an endangered species of vegetarian umpire bats.

Finally, about those awful millennials: one of the loudmouths on midday a.m. radio yakked from his air-conditioned studio far, far away about the poor conduct of millennials during the hurricane.

“Millennial” is predicated upon “millennium,” meaning a thousand years, which in its turn is predicated on the Latin work “mille,” meaning a thousand. Around 1980 someone anticipating the turn of the century referred to the children who would come of age in the year 2000 as millennials. The term carried no pejorative; it simply referred to an age group.

Millennial, a perfectly useful word, has been poisoned by the name-callers, the know-nothings who label people they don’t understand or like as “libtards,” “fascists,” “liberals,” “reactionaries,” “snowflakes,” and so many other noises that carry no meaning except within a closed loop of babbling ignorance.

“Millennial” is often used – that is, misused – as a negative stereotype for any young person who does something stupid. As with all stereotypes, it is inaccurate and unethical. To dismiss everyone born in, say, 1983 as a delicate flower calling for his smelling salts at the sight of a discarded banana peel is an ugliness in direct descent from historic slurs about Those People Who Are Not Exactly Like Me, Me, Me, and exploited to justify irrational fears.

Millennials came of age in 2000 (or 2001, if you are a math teacher). A millennial now is in early middle age, maybe a little younger, but definitely not a child or a teenager or even a twenty-something.

Millennials are our Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and reserve and guard units.

Millennials are our many law enforcement and emergency services.

Millennials are Louisiana’s famous Cajun Navy.

Those delicate, fragile millennials sure pulled a lot of people out of the water the last two weeks, patched a lot of people, fed a lot of people, sheltered a lot of people, cleaned a lot of houses for people, and kept civilization going.

Be thankful for millennials. Unlike the loudmouth on the radio, they are here for us.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Five Ashtrays Along the Bar - poem

Lawrence Hall

Five Ashtrays Along the Bar

A bartender named Blue, old hound-dog face
Cigarettes in ashtrays along the bar
One for the man who didn’t get that raise
Another for the man whose wife has gone

A third for the McKuen who scribbles free verse
A fourth for the silent philosopher
A fifth for the girl waiting for her call
To the tiny stage to show ‘em what’s she’s got

Leather jackets at the billiards table
A neon beer sign as the sanctuary lamp

How Peaceful this Morning to Drive a Desk - poem

Lawrence Hall

How Peaceful this Morning to Drive a Desk

How peaceful this morning to drive a desk
The culturally-despised desk, that cliché
The flat surface littered with papers and screens
And a telephone with buttons that light up

How lovely - fluorescents flickering over files
And not a yellow sun over shimmering muck
Lines for gas and water, rot and decay
And cast-off couches reeking in the heat

How peaceful - the ordinary all about -
Even though the men’s room is all wrecked out

Monday, September 4, 2017

Thought it was Over - poem

Lawrence Hall

Thought it was Over

Thought it was over. It isn’t. A call,
A telephone call late at night. Prepare
Once again up and out with the curfew dawn
Yawning in the windshield, searching the night

Another paper cup of coffee for the road
The last breakfast biscuit at the gas stop
Three days out of date. It’s embalmed by now
Lines for gas, only there isn’t any gas

Lines for ice, lines for food, roads flooded out
Thought it was over. The coffee is cold

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dead Fish in the Street - poem

Lawrence Hall

Dead Fish in the Street

Little dead fish shining in the morning sun
Everywhere filth and stench, glasses, a shoe
A sodden large-print bible in the muck
A welcome mat in the middle of the street

A woman’s purse without any I.D.
Other than a picture of a little boy
Happy and proud in his baseball uniform
An electrical line down – is it live?

Broken furniture and toys, and broken lives
A street of dreams, dreams swept away and smashed

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Exit the Hurricane - poem

Lawrence Hall

Exit the Hurricane (not the catchiest title, eh?)

What is that silence? It is the not-rain
The first not-rain since Friday this past week
Every loud frog gloats in unseemly song
The old, sour water recedes from the door

The whole house stinks; it stinks of damp and rot
Of clothes unwashed because the drains are dammed
Of smelly shoes and even smellier socks
Of refugee gear flung casually about

The whole house stinks; it stinks of damp and rot
Of too many people – and isn’t it wonderful!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Evacuation - really bad poem, but my daughter's safe

Lawrence Hall

She’s Safe

Until this morning my daughter was safe
For so the city said
But the waters rose, slithering up her stairs
And still the city said she was safe

She was evacuated, first by canoe
Then by an air-boat
Then by a dump truck

She and another evacuee laughed in the rain:
“Now we are the people they take pictures of”

Then by a bus

To a center at Saint Martha’s Church and School
Where someone said she would be bussed again
This time to downtown Houston, for reasons
Best known to some stupid *** of a *****

Her friend’s husband and his big ol’ pickup
Worked around barriers and through high water
And they escaped up the road to Willis, Texas
Tomorrow I will be honored to shake his hand

Long ago, when she left home, I promised
That an old man and two little dachshunds
Would wait for her. I’m even older man now
With grand-dachshunds – but we said we would wait

And we have

Best I can do at the moment
Tears of gratitude
Deo gratias

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Hurricane at the Bus Stop - Poem

Lawrence Hall

A Hurricane at the Bus Stop

Sunday Night in East Texas

There will be no big yellow busses tomorrow
Clattering along dusty rural roads
And stopping for each bouquet of children
Lovely, and flower-fresh in their store-new clothes

Through day and night, and day and night again
The rain has fallen in tired metaphors
As fire-ants float along in stinging balls
And water-moccasins swim the lawn with death

Stories and riddles by lamp-light tonight,
And “Someday you’ll tell your children about this”

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bands of Rain - poem

Lawrence Hall

Bands of Rain

The radar shows them as spiraling lunettes;
Here on the ground only rain, and then not
And then again, pale rain. The air is green,
The leaves are still, and heavy with the damp

The hurricane is far away, and yet
Its tentacles search out with menacing winds
And hidden tornados pursuivant
Poor refugees from its transient rule

And now another band, beating the walls
With hideous fury as another night falls

Friday, August 25, 2017

Facing the Hurricane with Double-A Batteries - poem

Lawrence Hall

Facing the Hurricane with Double-A Batteries

At dawn to the gas station, before the crowds
Assemble in undemocratic lines
Then hours of busting knuckles and language
On the generator long-stored and ignored

All the old lawn chairs stacked and stowed away
A “H*** Storm Brewing in the Gulf” – oh, no!
Water bottles stacking in the laundry room
Hyperbole stacking on the radio

Menacing winds roaming among the trees -
But we are ready with double-A batteries!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist - poem

Lawrence Hall

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Double-A batteries, a map out of town
A tank full of gas, a mind full of plans
A flashlight, toilet paper, a radio
A can opener and cans to go, go, go

Leather gloves and duct tape, whistles
Waterproof matches, and match-proof water
Blankies and ponchos and a change of clothes
A medical kit and a pocket knife


No one ever lists a box of cigars,
And a Wodehouse for reading by lamplight

Hurricane Cliches - Column

Lawrence Hall, HSG
29 August 2012

Eye of the Hamster

Much national news writing is predicated on clichés, stereotypes, and hyperbole, and hurricane season is when the keyboard commandos in Our Nation’s Capital (in caps) pour themselves cups of green tea, limber up their manicured fingers, and fling filler-language as carelessly as an oil sheik throwing American dollars at luxuries.

Certain hurricane cliches’ disappear with time – “The Mother of All Hurricanes” is as dead as Saddamn Hussein. Others, such as “we’re not out of the woods,” seem to be as indestructible as Dracula, popping up out of his coffin every August and September.

Some entries in the well-thumbed dictionary of hurricane-babble include:

Rain event

Dodged the bullet

Storms that brew – what do they brew? Tea? Coffee?

Storms that gain or lose steam, as if they were teakettles

Hurricanes that pound

Hurricanes that lash

Hurricanes that pummel

Reduced to rubble

Wreak havoc – what does “wreak” mean?

Left a swath of destruction in its wake -- what’s a swath, eh?

Hurricanes that make landfall – well, what else would they make? A gun rack in shop class?

Hurricanes that slam ashore

Hurricanes that storm ashore – well of course they storm; they’re storms

Changed my life forever

Mother Nature's wrath

Mother Nature’s fury

Mother Nature's anything

Looked like a war zone – no one ever looked over the blood-sodden ground after a fight in Afghanistan and said “Gee, this looks like a hurricane zone.”

Decimated - unless precisely one out of every ten people was killed

Trees snapping like matchsticks - do matchsticks ever snap like trees?

Batten down the hatches - I forgot to buy a hatch; I wonder if the stores are still open

Hunker down

Cars tossed about like Matchbox toys / Cars smashed like matchboxes

Boats bobbing like corks / boats smashed like matchboxes

Roofs peeled off

Rain coming down in sheets - never blankets or pillow slips?

Calm before the storm – almost always “eerie”

Calm in the eye of the storm – also almost “eerie”

Calm after the storm – yes, almost always “eerie”

ANY allusion to Katrina

Perfect storm

Storm of the century

A Hurricane that defined a generation

Fish storm

In the crosshairs

From this list of fluffery one can then assemble a sentence wholly devoid of meaning, just like the networks do:

In my own personal opinion, and in conclusion, at the end of the day, the bottom line is that when all is said and done, when the skinny man sings, that Mother Nature, in the form of mighty Hurricane Gaia, the storm of the century, thundering and slamming ashore in a turbulent and fateful pre-dawn, wreaked havoc on our homeland, snapping trees like matchsticks and leaving a swath of destruction in her wake that looked like a war zone and changed our lives forever, requiring us to seek closure and healing from grief counselors.


And let's not forget that a hurricane on its way to Newfoundland is just a fish storm because it won't hurt anyone or damage any property. Yes, a local broadcaster said that some years ago; I wish I could quote him precisely.

Monday, August 21, 2017

4,000 More Light Casualties - poem

Lawrence Hall

4,000 More Light Casualties

          A group of journalists arrived from Moscow and were told that the Afghan National Army…had taken the ridge.  
          (They) were posing for victory photographs while our soldiers lay in the morgue.

-Svetlana Alexeivich, Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War

A touchy old man who never went to war
Now poses with his decorative generals
In their tailored Ken-and-Barbie battle dress
All prepped for combat in the officers’ clubs

New president, same as old presidents
And generals, awarding each other medals
And promotions for their golden resumes’
For sending not-their-children off to die

While they prosper on defense industry bids,
Afghanistan is the graveyard of our kids

(Shhhhhhhhhh…Don’t disturb Congress; they’re all asleep.)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Morning Meeting with God's Anointed One and His Team Fist-Pumping Woo-Hoo - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Morning Meeting with God’s Anointed One
and His Team Fist-Pumping Woo-Hoo

He pads his expenses and prays over us
About a great evil spreading its claws
We too must pray to drive out the darkness
Because dissent is sent by Satan, amen

But be ye positive, not negative
Hold hands and be one united company
Be anointed in Jesus, just like the boss
Who feels his critics should be jailed, amen

Think less, work more, do not presume to judge;
Now go ye forth and peddle that discount sludge!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Graveyard Shift at (Famous) Clinic - poem

Lawrence Hall

Graveyard Shift at (Famous) Clinic


The proto-beepers that sometimes worked
Tidy white uniforms on minimum wage
Silver plate for the * * Pavilion
Stainless steel flatware for the merely rich

Fluorescents flickering from high ceilings
Where actors and directors went to dry
Sober up, every year or so until
They went once more, discreetly, there to die

“Surrounded by loving friends and family”
Arguing in the hallways over the will

Friday, August 18, 2017

Michaelmas Term - poem

Lawrence Hall

Michaelmas Term

We might as well call it Augustinemas term
Beginning as it does on Augustine’s feast;
And though there are Vandals outside the gates
And Pelagians within, we must read

Tolle lege: take up and read. We read
We read because the scholar at his book,
Its whispered pages strewn with Paters and Aves,
Rebukes the insolence of each transient age -

The drums, the guns, the men of destiny
Are but processionals of shadows and mist

(C. S. Lewis’ essay “Education in War-Time,” available from many sources, is so much better on this topic. Beware of edited / altered versions on the InterGossip.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Pews of Mourners - poem

Lawrence Hall

Three Pews of Mourners

The widower and kin in the front pew
And in the next cousins and beloved friends
And in the third, poor disconcerted souls
Grandchildren grown, and come from far away

From far away through metaphysical gaps
And not entirely sure where they might be
Here where their parents brought them for baptism
Long since adrift upon some obscure sea

Clutches of keys and mobile ‘phones held dear
Eyes darting about in suspicion and fear

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On Reading Yet Another Essay on the Death of Reading - poem

Lawrence Hall

On Reading Yet Another Essay on the Death of Reading

Yet another essay beginning with “I”
Sophomore thesis: no one reads anymore
The power of books, the great ideas
The shared experience, the care of souls

The temptations of social media
(Really? No one ever said that before)
Escape, new points of view, humanity
Foundations of faith (but never the roofs)

If reading is dead -

If reading is dead, then who reads those essays,
Those many essays on the death of reading?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Letter from Ekaterinburg - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Letter from Ekaterinburg

Dormition of the Theotokos

Dear Alexei,

We are enjoying a beautiful summer –
The days have been perfect ever since spring
Cooler mornings now, and that’s about it -
Nothing exciting ever happens here

How is the new government working out?
Some of the banknotes are overprinted
With vague slogans covering the Czar, but
Nothing exciting ever happens here

Petrograd must be exciting for you, but
Nothing exciting ever happens here.

Write soon,


Monday, August 14, 2017

So You're Still Wearing Your Old Boonie Hat? - poem

Lawrence Hall

So You’re Still Wearing Your Old Boonie Hat?

The old man asked. Old man. Maybe my age
“The original is carefully put away;
This one I ordered off the amazon”
His wooden stick was leaned against the pew

His grown children glanced disapprovingly
At two old dudes whispering during Mass
After the Eucharist, before the hymn
And the “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”

He said he burned his Marine Corps sea bag
when he got home, but somehow you could tell
           it hadn’t helped

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Winds, Earthquakes, Fires, and a Whisper - poem

Lawrence Hall

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

He is not contained in the mighty winds
Nor in fell earthquakes from the earth’s dark core
Nor in red fires which devour what is left
But there is a whisper –

He is not contained in the missiles’ roar
Nor in the fall of civilizations
Nor in the flames of man’s self-destruction
But there is a whisper –

And where the Truth is lifted by priestly hands
There – there is the soft whispering of hope

Friday, August 11, 2017

Uncle Vanya and Lady Godiva - poem

Lawrence Hall

Uncle Vanya and Lady Godiva

Uncle Vanya came strolling down the road
Wishing he had made something of his life
His young friend Anne loquaciously agreed
And with remarkable vehemence urged him to endeavour to remediate his perceived inadequacies in the many precedent matters that
                                                                                                                 burdened him…

Don Quixote suggested that worries were giants
Cassandra said, “There is only one page left”
Nick Adams whispered, “Shh! You’ll scare the fish!”
Ambrose Silk asked the way to the world’s end

And young Lady Godiva, sans chemise
Outsourced her image on souvenir tees

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Missiles, Funny Hats, and Women Dictators - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Missiles, Funny Hats, and Women Dictators

Given that the little mansie in North Korea, where every day is funny haircut day, is again threatening the world with his elevator heels of cosmic death, the world watches and waits, and asks this existential question upon which the future of humanity depends:

Why are there no women dictators?

Where is it written that women can’t wear funny dictator-hats and threaten other nations with thermonuclear destruction?

Being a mass-murderer with a goofy hairstyle is the last good ol’ boys’ private club. They might as well put up a sign on Communist Party Headquarters which reads “No Girlie-Comrade-Chicks Allowed.”

Cromwell, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Enver Hoxha, Mousey-Dung, Ho Chi Minh, Tito, Emperor Hirohito, and all the other boys in the band – all guys and all with funny-hair things going on. Lenin with his waxed chin-spike, Uncle Joe’s shrubbery moustache for tickling the girls to death, Uncle Adolf with a most unlikely growth under his nose and a really happenin’ comb-over, Mao with his proto-Princess Leia side-buns, and kindly old Uncle Ho whose wispy beard was the envy of all his death-camp commandants – would a woman leave the comradebunker for a busy day of oppressing millions while wearing such hairstyles?

Have you ever thought that if Vladimir Lenin traded his dictator suit for knee-pants and a slogan tee he’d look like an assistant football coach?

If Kim Jong Un were Kimmie Jon Un she’d certainly have some sharp words for her hair stylist. All the other dictators would be laughing at her, you see, and wouldn’t let her sit at the cool dictators’ lunch table.

A woman ruler in North Korea wouldn’t aim missiles at Guam; she’d book a vacation there.

Does IKEA sell flat-pack nuke shelters? They would be designed by Nordic shieldmaidens but manufactured in South Korea.

Are North Korean missiles fitted with gender-neutral restrooms? If not, they can’t be allowed in the USA.

Whom (“whom,” he said, for he had been to night classes) do we blame for the current tension among old men with weird hair and nukes, the Boomers or the Millennials? Global warming? Fluoride? Daily bathing?

Women rulers would not send their people into the streets to wave their clenched fists about in mass demonstrations about the Great Satan USA; they’d sponsor national spa-therapy days with drawings for gift baskets.

Women rulers would not exchange threatening twoots; they’d exchange recipes.

If the Castro sisters had ruled Cuba the last fifty years there would have been a lot more NO SMOKING signs and a lot fewer firing squads.

If a woman were secretary-general of the United Nations she’d make Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and Kim Jong Il write essays about how they’re going to play more nicely together in the future. She’d tell the South Koreans to shape up and stop expecting everyone else to take care of them, and, another thing, about their corrupt Olympic wrestling judges (ya think we’d forgotten that, eh?).

Take your daughter to work day in the Kremlin? Um, no.

Let’s just be real: women are superior pilots, surgeons, attorneys, and, whatever the superannuated frat boys in Silicon Valley might yelp, engineers. But when it comes to mass murder and the destruction of ancient cultures and even of whole peoples, well, that’s still a total guy-thing, okay?


Encountering a Fawn on a Rainy Morning in August - poem

Lawrence Hall

Encountering a Fawn on a Rainy Morning in August

The mother deer                the farmer’s new fence
With her accustomed elegance and grace
Her fawn, confused, abandoned in the field
Held still, and pondered a new mystery

For a motorist, the asphalt is The Way
Menaced by mysterious fields and woods
For a deer, its fields and woods are The Way
Menaced by mysterious dark asphalt

The baby deer then found an open gate
The motorist found his way to Wal-Mart

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"And When Night Comes..." - poem

Lawrence Hall

“And When Night Comes…”

“And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much    you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God's hands and leave it with Him.”

—Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

They twist her witness with bent arguments
Scholarly papers, harsh editorials
Like smoke and ashes obscuring the heavens
Telling her in retrospect who she is

But in her end, and in her beginning
She left all quarrels on the altar of man
And gave herself on the Altar of God
Because her only crime was loving Him

     and us

Those who emend her – again they martyr her:
They do not know what else to do with her

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ouroboros - a frivolous poem

Lawrence Hall


Writhing about in man’s mythologies
Is a completeness, itself to affirm
Scriven in the ancient cosmologies:
The self-ordained perfection of The Worm

The Samsara of the self-seeking soul
And a self-admiring self-causation
Itself entire, a universal whole
Devouring its tail in auto-phagation

But metamorphoses have come to pass:
The endless worm’s head is now up its own (self)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rule 2 - Don't Write Poetry about Poetry

Lawrence Hall

Rule 2: Don’t Write Poetry about Poetry

A poem is a magic looking-glass
In which you see others, and not yourself
And search it for veiled possibilities
This mirror for the needs of –
                                                  not yourself

When you tap-tap to push pixels about
Or set in place a line of ink and hope
Into a meaning that you have perceived
It is a bedesman’s prayer for –
                                                  not yourself

A poem is a magic-measured song
That helps make sense of life for –
                                                  not yourself

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feast of the Transfiguration - poem

Lawrence Hall

Feast of the Transfiguration

Cleverly invented myths would be easier
Comforting assurances of ease in life
And no mention of difficulty
Humiliation, and death without hope

Not even mountain mysteries for us
Slogging through the slough said to be Despond
Conflicting texts and testimonies
A lack of clarity in so many things -

Cleverly invented myths would be easier


If truth weren’t a mess, it wouldn’t be true

2 St. Peter 1:16-19

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tears of Saint Lawrence - Perseid Meteor Showers - poem

Lawrence Hall

Tears of Saint Lawrence

The tears of Saint Lawrence fall by the hour
Fall from the cosmos as our good saint weeps
Silently for us through those smoky nights
When hope seems but a burning mockery

The tears of Saint Lawrence remind us of
Certain promises made in the long-ago
That all would be well, and rainbows and rain
And refreshing streams are all part of them

The tears of Saint Lawrence fall, gently fall
As if our dreams were being baptized too

Friday, August 4, 2017

The 1970s - poem

Lawrence Hall

The 1970s

A giant Hannibalian elephant
Descending from the alps slowly to die
In the valley of the Po, pricked about
Bellowing outrage in its agonies

Of leisure suits and suburban barbed wire
Recorded on minutes of missing tapes
As polyester doubleknits await
A bump-up in the daily gasoline line

Hubris rotting in the dust of the age
And did you hear they’ve raised the minimum wage?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Bag of Cabbage Chips - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Bag of Cabbage Chips

Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your
imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.

-#6 in Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

A voice:
                  Be still, and know that I am Chip
Be still, because this might sting a little
There, now, wasn’t that easy? Here’s a tissue
Who’s a good boy, then! Here’s your free tee-shirt

Now that you are one with the ‘way cool kids
You can use your implanted chip to buy
A cup of coffee – or maybe a bag of chips
Log into a computer, and open doors

The one small thing you cannot buy or see
Is the return of your own human dignity

On the Electronic Chipping of Employees - column

Mack Hall

Goodbye, Mr. Chipped

Slavery was practiced among the ancient Celtic and Nordic cultures, an enormity only incompletely suppressed through the missionary work of Saint Augustine of Canterbury and his successor, Saint Anselm, who wrote: "Let no one dare hereafter to engage in the infamous business, prevalent in England, of selling men like animals." Not that the East Saxons, West Saxons, North Folks, Mercians, Northumbrians, East Anglians, or Cantii much paid attention to the Church.

Fitting a slave – a thrall – with a thrall-ring around his neck as a clear sign of his bondage was practiced by some war-leaders and chieftains. One of the sub-themes of the novel Ivanhoe is the natural desire of thralls to be free, and thus rid of the thrall-ring.

A free man also possessed the right and the duty to bear arms, and could wear a knife on his belt. That longship has sailed.

In the High Middle Ages a free man employed by a great lord was required to wear his lord’s livery. Livery continues as work uniforms, which are now matters of safety, hygiene, and advertising rather than badges of subordination.

Logic and a sense of history suggests that men and women now would consider being enthralled (in its denotative meaning) by a master an abomination; in practice, the STEM-inistas of at least one American company seem to be eager to wear a modern and more technical version of the thrall ring: the electronic chip.

Three Square Market, in Wisconsin, is a software company that wants its thralls…um…employees to submit to the enormity of being chipped.

Instead of a blacksmith forging and securing an iron ring around their bowed necks, a medical technician will insert a microchip beneath their company-owned skin.

The fee for this procedure is $300, which the company will pay. Imagine a slave expected to be happy about not having to pay for the chains he must wear. Well, no, I guess we don’t have to imagine it.

The company avers that the harmless chip will allow their high-tech serfs to purchase snacks in the break room, open doors, and log into computers. Presumably their scientific employees were unable to accomplish buying a cup of coffee (or perhaps a bag of chips), opening a door, or logging onto a computer until they were degraded with, if not the mark of the beast, at least a beastly mark.

The company assures all that employees are free not to be chipped, just as employees are free not to join the company softball team, free not to donate to the boss’s pet charities, and free not to volunteer at the boss’s weekend good deeds.

If an employee of Three Square Market agrees to be chipped, he is given a chipping party and a free tee-shirt, that article of underwear which has been promoted to the status of our national costumery.

A free tee-shirt.

In A Man for all Seasons Saint Thomas More, learning that Sir Richard Riche has been made Attorney General for Wales in exchange for perjuring himself, paraphrases Saint Mark 8:36 with, “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for Wales?”

To which we might add: “But for a tee-shirt?”


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I Don't Want a Mind of my Own - poem

Lawrence Hall

I Don’t Want a Mind of my Own

No, no, I don’t want a mind of my own
A mind is a gift, and must be returned
To the realm beyond the stars whence it came
For now it is in service to humanity

A mind does not belong to its bearer
Nor is it the property of the state
Or the bombinate Men of Destiny
Or the vacuous Spirit of the Age

A mind belongs to – oh, but well you know
In Truth, I don’t want a mind of my own

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August is not a Melodious Month - poem

Lawrence Hall

August is not a Melodious Month

August is not a melodious month
Unlike September with its amphibrach
A rhythm of soothing rises and falls:
September morn and then September song

For August is a trochee all intemperate
A restive foot that wants to walk away
Impatient with discourse, laughter, and song
In its wearying heat and lassitude

August is a word alone, without a rhyme

And so

August is not a melodious time

Monday, July 31, 2017

The White House Office of Warfare and Shopping

Lawrence Hall

The White House Office of Warfare and Shopping

Some jets fly off to the wars, carrying the young
The desperate sons and daughters of poverty
Sent there by men in immaculate suits -
Thank you for your service, now go away

Some jets fly off to the shops, carrying the young
The beautiful sons and daughters of Arlington
Sent there by men who keep them as pretty pets -
Did you have a nice time in Paris today?

Some of the young die in deserts of pain
Some of the young call for more champagne

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The White House Staff and Boys' Choir - a screed, a polemic, an ill-tempered hissy-fit

Lawrence Hall

The White House Staff & Boys’ Choir

Gas-station shades, and identification
Dangling from their necks like nooses at rest
Ganymedes hoping to be noticed today
Dancing attendance upon the Throne of Games

Castrati commanded to tune their throats
Each secretly fearing he will be next
To be stripped of all for that walk of shame
Passes and pass codes passed on to others

Little Ken dolls flung about in childish glee,
While decorative generals nod and agree

(A lapse - I almost always object to poetry employed to express thoughts on politics.  Mea culpa...)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Heat Advisory - But Whom Does the Heat Advise? - heat-stressed poem of no significance

Lawrence Hall

Heat Advisory – But Whom Does the Heat Advise?

“Heat advisory issued as temps expected to reach triple digits”

-Houston Chronicle, 29 July 2017

Hey, temps, you’ve been reaching for those digits
For centuries. Always you reach, sometimes
you grasp, those urged indoor activities
while counting up to three in Fahrenheit

And not in that ungodly Celsius
Which is simply not our kind of measure
We need no Frenchified logic like that
For the Bible is free of decimals

Hey, temps, you’ve been reaching for those digits -
Now cuddle up with an air-conditioner

(This is drivel devoid of meaning; it's just too da(r)ned hot to think!)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sarah's Kittens - poem

Lawrence Hall

Sarah’s Kittens

Java and Chai are enjoying a busy day:
Learning that refuse bins tumble easily
And that falling into the water dish
Is baptismal redemption from that fall

That lusting for the flesh of hummingbirds
Safely a-buzz beyond the window panes
Is a joyful way of passing an hour
Before attending to the doggies’ bowl -

The kittens’ dish is full, but they want more -
What is a home without a carnivore?

Or two!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dunkirk - column

Lawrence Hall


Attorney, actor, and historian Joshua Levine has written a scholarly, accessible movie tie-in book about Dunkirk (French: Dunkerque) called, well, Dunkirk. Mr. Levine is a true historian, not some internet keyboard commando recycling such drivel as “stuttering machine guns” or “the rattle of small-arms fire.” These engines of destruction neither stutter nor rattle; they are really LOUD and scary. As a scholar he avoids the incessant hyperbole (OMG!) of our time, and makes his writing more effective through understatement: “A(n)…anti-tank shell removed the gunner’s head” (P. 162).

In the tradition of popular but solid historians such as Cornelius Ryan and Walter Lord, Mr. Levine makes brilliant use of primary sources, including original documents and interviews with veterans who were there: his list of sources runs to five pages. Like journalist Ernie Pyle he includes in his narrative many personal stories that give the reader a sense, as far as this is possible, of what the situation was like for individuals who were given the vaguest of orders, were not permitted to know what was going on outside their immediate areas of operation, and did not know if they would find anything to eat today or be alive tomorrow:

Bugler Edward Watson…remember watching a sergeant-major yelling at a man with a large hole in his back. The man was flat on the found crying as the sergeant-major yelled at him to get up. And then, to Watson’s amazement, the man did as he was told: “I thought this sergeant-major was a rotten sod – but he really made the fellow move.” (170)

Mr. Levine avoids sentimentality and its equally erroneous opposite, back-filling the past with contemporary fashions. He faults the Totenkopf units for their mass-murder of prisoners, not for sexism, and the topics of pollution, marijuana, and unisex restrooms appear nowhere in his narrative.

Some reviews of the film fault the young for not knowing anything about Dunkirk, but I can’t remember not knowing; I learned about it – and so much more about history – from my parents, for they, not a glowing screen the size of Connecticut, were my first teachers

When I was a lad the veterans of The Great War were in their fifties and sixties, the veterans of The Second World War were young men, and the veterans of Korea were hardly out of their teens. I didn’t know many men who had not been in the wars as servicemen or merchant seamen, or in shipbuilding, oil refining, manufacturing, or other war-related activities. My father was a sergeant in a tank destroyer battalion, in Zwickau on the Czech border when the war ended, and my mother’s first husband, second officer on the SS Muskogee, died when that ship was torpedoed in 1942. Even to a child who wasn’t paying much attention to anything except The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid on the radio, history was all around and unavoidable, a part of daily conversation at home, in the street, in the stores, in the movies. 20th century wars weren’t taught in school then because everyone knew about them. After Sputnik, American schools were required to focus on the fashionable S.T.E.M., and history, literature, music, and art were pushed to the rear of that metaphorical bus, leading to great careers for late-night comics and their ambush-questioning of people who ought to know that when a camera and microphone appear, shut up and get away.

You will observe that Mr. Watters never ask his victims questions about science, technology, engineering, or mechanics.

Mr. Watters – and we – might do better to ask why a government with very few veterans in elected office is so enthusiastic about sending the young to kill and be killed far away wars without a declaration war as required by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution (which is taught in school, and violated by our democratically-elected government) and without any apparent purpose.

There is no point in parents giving young people money to attend a concert in which thousands of young people in submissive unity obediently dry their armpits in adoration of some middle-aged man in funny clothes (Hitler, eh?) who appears to be attempting sexual relations with an electric guitar, and then complain that the young people know nothing of Dunkirk, Chancellorsville, The Somme, the Soviet gulags, or the average daily caloric intake of an American worker in 1938.

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, physical labor and technical training were for slaves, an attitude echoed in The Great Escape in a probably fictional exchange when the German commander criticizes the British prisoners for their ungentlemanly work in gardening.

The artificial division between S.T.E.M and everything else is an innovation dating only from 1957. Saint Benedict, in his Rule (still a steady seller after 1,500 years), advises us that for the Christian life should be a balance of work, study, and prayer, and so the gardening rake, the shelf of worthy books, and participation in divine services should be part of every day. A child needs to know history, music, literature, and the other arts, he needs to know how to build a fence, and he needs to be in the pew on Sunday mornings.

My review is inadequate; the book is brilliant:

Levine, Joseph. Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture. New York: HarperCollins. 2017.

And are there ever any minor motion pictures?