Friday, March 31, 2017

A Reception Perception: Deception - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Reception Perception: Deception

Hi how are you so good to see you again
Do try this cheese dip we’re so going to miss
You around here you have such a gift for
Lighting up a room well golly I haven’t

Seen you in so long how are the kids doing
A grandchild really rotator cuff surgery
I remember when you first came to work here
Yes but God always has a plan you know

Has it been so long oh my time sure flies
Hi how are you so good to see you again

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Get Your Free Navy Seal Flashlight Now - poem

Lawrence Hall

Get Your Free Navy Seal ™ ® Flashlight Now

Genuine Navy Seal ™ ® Secrets that they
Don’t want any Real Americans to know
Secret Navy Seal ™ ® muscle building techniques
Secret Navy Seal ™ ® camouflage gear

Look like a real GENUINE Navy Seal ™ ®
Confuse the Deep Illuminati ™ ® with
Your secret Navy Seal ™ ® Decoder Ring
Let’s not forget your Navy Seal ™ ® Duct Tape

And get your free Navy Seal ™ ® flashlight now

Free shipping with orders over $50

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Revolution is a Corpse - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Revolution is a Corpse

The revolution is a stinking corpse
And spreading béarnaise sauce all over a corpse
While chanting “It’s alive!” doesn’t make it so
Because a revolution can never live

Artists are never revolutionaries
Because artists work up the good and true
From the foundation of creation
While revolutionaries obey diktats

Rearranging a corpse is never art
And revolution is always a corpse

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Electromagnetic Lust - poem

Lawrence Hall

Electromagnetic Lust

They wander about, each connected device
Talking to other connected devices
Looking into each electronic soul
In which no secret can ever reside

They speak of batteries and images
Of apps, restarts, resets, and memory
Measured by quantity of something-bytes
Each in electrical love with itself

They wander about, each connected device
Wishing to be free of its human host

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Russians Hacked my Homework - Column, 26 March 2017

Lawrence Hall

The Russians Hacked my Homework

Why is any murderous loser referred to as a “lone wolf?” “Lone reptile” is more appropriate.

Let us not sentimentalize wolves; they are carnivores who eat calves, colts, sheep, rabbits, housepets, children, joggers, and each other. They are not rational beings and cannot exhibit any sense of mercy, pity, or ethics. Even so, they are superior to the sort of human who, although blessed with a brain, a soul, and a universe in which to pursue the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, can only obsess on his own grievances and resentments (cf. C. S. Lewis’ A Preface to Paradise Lost).

+ + +

Do congressmen have to worry about insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays? No? That’s the affordable care act the rest of us want.

+ + +

The Writers’ Guild of America (which isn’t really a guild since they do not have a patron saint or a parish church they support) is threatening to go on strike. And one understands: the daily terror of possibly being crushed by a falling laptop computer, the risk of toxic chemicals in fashion coffees, heatstroke while lounging by the pool, being gored by a rogue pencil, and the back-breaking agony of re-typing Beauty and the Beast every few years must be soul-destroying.

Yes, the idlers spending leisurely days at the bottom of coal mines and on factory floors and high up on utility poles during storms understand the agony of the WGA. After all, how can Americans survive these challenging times without the literary wit and ethical uplift of each weekly episode of Mom?

Are carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, roofers, and electricians paid residuals every time a house they built long ago is bought and sold? No?

+ + +

In our Republic’s capital reposes an institution styling itself Excel Academy Public Charter School. Just why a school requires four adjectives to identify itself is unclear. Further, a charter school is a public school, and “academy” is synonymous with “school,” so this accumulation of puffery could read “Excel Academy Public Public Academy” or “Excel School Charter Charter School.”

That’s the sort of non-thinking that leads committees to re-name libraries “learning resource centers.” If you plop down a lot of polysyllabic words the children will magically become better readers and thinkers, right?

+ + +

This month’s Imprimis from Hillsdale College features Christopher Caldwell’s excellent article about why Americans don’t understand Russia and why Russians don’t understand Americans: An acquaintance suggests that the most salient sentence in the article is this: "Most Russians have come to believe that democracy is what happened in their country between 1990 and 2000, and they do not want any more of it."


CPAs for Christ - poem

Lawrence Hall

CPAs for Christ

Voice: an old-time numbers warrior

“I just didn’t feel welcome in a traditional church,
You know, the stuffy cowboys for Christ church,
With latte’ splatters on my alligator shoes
And ink stains on my computer-worn fingers

“Here I’m welcome to keep my green eyeshade on
Because Jesus loves everyone, even CPAs
It’s like the old times when at night accountants
Swapped stories around the expresso machine

“There’s just something real plain and honest here,
Praisin’ that Great Auditor in the Sky.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#Winston Churchill Defies the Nazis - poem ("of a sort, sir" as Jeeves might say)

Lawrence Hall

#Winston Churchill Defies the Nazis

#Intersectionality come together
#As one we are cliché strong privileged
#Patriarchy ethically sourced all options
#Are on the table chilling effect quagmire

#Teutons behaving badly doomsday clock
#Transgressive sustainable Guccifer
#Renewable change the gender binary
#Wiretapped microinequity

#Unity in diversity is strength
#Build bridges not borders no fascists here

And let The People say “#Meme”

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Lawrence Hall


A smart and funny kid, lanky and tall
Cliché mop of hair which on him looks good
Personality-plus, new jokes each day
He makes the day better by being around

He’s not around today. But here’s his name
His date of birth. Some words that don’t make sense…
So that’s why no one’s seen him since…since when?
But when you ask, no one says anything

A smart and funny kid, lanky and tall
No one can hear him crying in the holding cell

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lady Day - poem

Lawrence Hall

Lady Day

And now comes Lady Day, a new year’s day
When happier hours to summering begin
And farmers follow their ploughs among new fields
While in the hedgerows early snowdrops bloom

Old debts are settled, new agreements made
And the oldest promise of all proves True
On this the day of the Annunciation
As spring comes early in Galilee, and here

And all because our Lady said yes to Life
On this our Lady’s day, a new year’s day

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Night Court - Allergens for the Prosecution - poem

Lawrence Hall

Night Court - Allergens for the Prosecution

For the Prosecution: Spring Allergens
For the Defense: Anti-Histamines and Acetaminophen

If only headaches went away at night
They don’t, and a fresh catalogue of pills
Does nothing except fog reality
The world spins on and on, and sometimes off

The pillow is a bitter accuser
Detailing again all of life’s mistakes
The sheets and blankets wrinkle in disdain
The world’s last spring-wound clock grinds through the hours

Maybe the world will stabilize at dawn
If only the headaches will go away

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Big Bird Leaps the White House Fence - column

Lawrence Hall

Big Bird Leaps the White House Fence

Jumping the fences at the White House has become as fashionable as soccer. Last week one fellow climbed the fence (“Goalllllllll!”) and roamed around the grounds for about fifteen minutes before he was arrested. Why fifteen minutes? Perhaps he finally had to wake up the Secret Service himself.

Was the jumper Senator Tim Kaine, hoping and hopping to get a leap ahead for 2020?

On another occasion a Secret Service secret agent left in her car a Secret Service secret computer, a Secret Service secret access card, a Secret Service secret radio (“Is that you, Agent 99?”), Secret Service secret lapel pins, and maybe a Secret Service secret Sergeant Preston of the Secret Yukon secret decoder ring. In her driveway. Overnight. Soooooooooo secret.

All this Secret Service secret spy stuff was secretly liberated from the secret agent’s secret car by the C.I.A. Or the F.B.I. Or the E.I.E.I.O. Or that sock-puppet from the trash can on Sesame Street. Or the rascally Russians taking their secret orders from Rachel Maddow via secret short-wave bowls of borsht.

But we mustn’t worry; Secret Service secret spokesguy Shawn Holtzclaw (his secret code name is surely “The Claw”) assures us that Secret Service secret laptops do not contain secret stuff, and are protected by secret layers of secret security. Like secret car windows.

Maybe they should have built a wall, a really Yuge wall, around the car. Or bridges. Or something.

If Secret Service secret computers do not contain secret stuff, why are they protected by secret layers of secret security?

Instead of defunding the Secret Service (“From the files of Police Squad”), President Trump is threatening to defund Public Broadcasting, which receives some of its income from taxpayers and some from advertising. Given that the wavy airs are clogged with multiple providers of entertainment and propaganda, is continued public funding of PBS important? It doesn’t seem to provide anything not already available on other slushy channels. It’s just a television network, and that some small part of its funding is through the ideology of press gangs doesn’t give it a halo. Let Big Bird find a gig on Doctor Phil, or on that show with all those harridans shrieking at each other.

But this must be said in defense of PBS – they have never broadcast even one episode of Mom.


Free Shipping with Orders over Fifty Dollars - poem

Lawrence Hall

Free Shipping with Orders over Fifty Dollars

Free shipping with orders over fifty dollars
Let’s see – add Colin Dexter, John Updike
And a few pounds of Graham Greene, perhaps
John Steinbeck, Rex Stout, and Ford Madox Ford

Packed in foam peanuts with T. S. Eliot
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Olivia Manning, Henrietta’s War
“Leaf by Niggle” for a few ounces more

Tolkien and Lewis, those Oxford scholars -
Free shipping with orders over fifty dollars

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grandfather's Vespers - poem

Lawrence Hall

Grandfather’s Vespers

His rocking chair pendulums in the dusk
His coffee cup’s half-empty, what’s left’s gone cold
His newspaper’s folded and set aside -
In the evening light he doesn’t see so well

Mist rises from the neighbor’s new-mown field
Shy rabbits nibble along the old fence row
Grandchildren escape from supper into the yard
Chasing lightning bugs while Grandfather smokes

His rocking chair pendulums in the dusk
And so helps stabilize the universe

Monday, March 20, 2017

Speech of Freedom - in rebuke of certain Middlebury College students

Lawrence Hall

Speech of Freedom

I will listen – now tell me what you think
And tell me what you think, not what you feel
Not what you were commanded by bullhorns
Not chants beginning with “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho!”

I will listen – now tell me that you think
You, not a crowd, a hive, a swarm, a shoal
You, not a mood, a whim, a committee
You, not a photocopied manifesto

Because I want to hear you – you, not echoes
I will listen – now tell me what you think

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saint Joseph the Just - poem

Saint Joseph the Just

for every man

Saint Joseph in a dreary winter night
Took to himself a Newborn not his own
Yet who is always his, the Child of Light
Whose crib Saint Joseph knew to be a throne

Saint Joseph shows men truth: each child is ours
Adopted by each good man upon birth
True fatherhood ordained in starlit hours
And ratified in Heaven and on earth

Saint Joseph is the man who looked into
The eyes of Mary in her happy youth
This strong man looked into her eyes and knew
She bore within her all eternal Truth

Our witness is Saint Joseph, ever just:
God calls each man to take each child in trust

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The First Mowing in Spring - poem

Lawrence Hall

The First Mowing in Spring – Inspection Tour

Interior Dialogue


Why is That Old Man Talking to Himself?

V: Have I left that shovel outside since fall?
R: Your ol’ daddy would say something about that!
V: I could have sworn I put that hose away.
R: Obviously, you didn’t. And what a mess.

V: Pretty little ground flowers – shame to mow them
R: Shame if you don’t – later, they’ll choke the grass
V: Where is the copper cap for that corner post?
R: I told you to use lots more glue, but nooooo

V: You got anything good to say this morning?
R: Well, ain’t it grand to see another spring!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thin Green Beer and Plastic Chinese Leprechaun Day - poem

Lawrence Hall

Thin Green Beer and Plastic Chinese Leprechaun Day

Saint Patrick saw a slithery snake
He killed it with (a garden rake?)

Then made the others go away
Thus Ireland is snake-free today

He blessed the land, all glowing-green
The most beautiful island ever seen

The snakes were gone, and all their hissing
But now –
‘tis Ireland’s faith that’s missing

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cinder Block State University Resists the Occupation - poem

Lawrence Hall

Cinder Block State University Resists the Occupation

Our social change internal journey to
Diversity student coordinator
Studying art facilitating a
Safe space internally generate student

Dreams of diversity dreaming diversity
Art Installation students will write their
Dreams on pieces of fabric and paper
To help guide students to their dreams the general

Path to diversity student coordinator
It’s complicated project individual

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Public Intellectual - column

Lawrence Hall

A Public Intellectual

“Life…is paralleled by the unconditional value of each and every person.
It is that which warrants the indelible quality of the dignity of man.”

-Viktor Frankl

Reza Aslan is a public intellectual (public intellectual - how do you score a gig like that?) with a B.A. from Santa Clara University, a master’s in theology from Harvard, a master’s of fine arts from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara.

Last week Reza Aslan packed along his resume’ and his catalogue of university degrees and traveled to India to eat a bite or two of human brain.

Dr. Aslan’s career is one of writing and editing thinky-books about religion, writing, hosting, producing television shows, and receiving vaguely-named awards from vaguely-named organizations.

He is also the host of CNN’s Believer.

He has not yet appeared on a cooking show.

Last week this religious explorer visited some believers in India who occasionally eat other people. Well, hey, we all worship the same god, right? After sharing a meal (no doubt Dr. Aslan will insert a Last Supper / Eucharist metaphor here) with members of something called Aghori, this well-educated man frivolously posted:

“Want to know what a dead guy’s brain tastes like? Charcoal…It was burnt to a crisp! #Believer.” ( and other sources.

Dr. Aslan referred to the Aghori as a Hindu sect. Hindus say not. Loudly.

When Dr. Aslan returned from his devotions, do you suppose his wife Jessica greeted him with a kiss?

He and his wife have three small children. Child protective services might want to look in on them occasionally. But perhaps Dr. Aslan disapproves of eating the brains of family members. Other people’s children, maybe.

So who did he eat? A man? Woman? Child? Was the victim an Aghori? Was the victim okay with all this?

And where is the government of India in this matter?

God gave Reza Aslan life and superior intellect and energy; the U.S.A. gave him sanctuary from the Iranian revolution and then freedom and educational opportunities offered to few; in the end, he responded to those gifts of God and those gifts of freedom by eating the brain of a fellow human being for the entertainment of Americans.


Beware the Odes of March (tho' this is not really an ode) - shabby doggerel and punning

Lawrence Hall

Beware the Odes of March (tho' this is not really an ode)


In the Italian Kitchen with Brutus and Cassius


I Come to Curry Caesar, Not to Baste Him

Julius Caesar on the Ides
Marches to the senate house
Up to him young Brutus strides
And, too, Cassius (what a louse!)

Then mean Brutus takes his knife
So does Cassius; you know the ballad:
“Lettuce chop cold Caesar’s life
And thus create the Caesar salad!”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tools of the Patriarchy - poem

Lawrence Hall

Tools of the Patriarchy

Fence pliers, claw hammers, crescent wrenches
Nail sets, c-clamps, wood planes, mitre boxes
Come-alongs, White Mule gloves, ball-peen hammers
Jumper cables, wood planes, mill b*st*rd files

Plumb bobs, twist bits, cross-cut saws, ripping saws
Tire irons, air compressors, pressure gauges
Brace-and-bits, drawing knives, pneumatic jacks
Cold chisels, clamps, mortar trowels, channel locks

A twelve-hour day plus d*mned low pay, you bet!


A work ethic, knowledge, muscles, and sweat

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Information Superhighway - Please Use Alternate Route - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Information Superhighway - Please Use Alternate Route

You have read your allotted quota of
Free articles this month to read more please
Subscribe or sign in you the supplied the wrong
How to supply this site the server is asking

For your user name and password warning
Your user name and password will be sent
Using basic authentication on a connection
That isn’t secure unauthorized this server

Could not verify that you are authorized
To access the document requested

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Out of Focus at the End of Time Woo Hoo - poem

Lawrence Hall

Out of Focus at the End of Time Woo Hoo

At the end of time, when reality
Is ripped and flung aside as the flimsy
Tissue of ephemera that it always was
As the deep oceans tremble fearfully

As the skies, and the universe itself
Thunder in the agonies of their deaths
And poor mankind is face in fear at last
With that true Vision all unknowable

The last sound in this created world will be
The rattle of collapsing selfie sticks

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Did Russians Hide Nukes in Your Sock Drawer? - rhyming doggerel

Lawrence Hall

Did Russians Hide Nukes in Your Sock Drawer?

The western sky is blue; the east is red
But try to put it right out of your head
If you find a Russian under your bed
Concealing a nuke that will kill you dead

The Intergossip surely must be right
So hit the keyboard now, and share the fright
On Social-Medium-Range all through the night
And type it really fast before…that LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ding-dong, the east is red, the west is blue
And ashes drift about, flake news, untrue

Re-Reading Tolkien for Lent - poem

Lawrence Hall

Re-Reading Tolkien for Lent

Across the page, across the words, soft light
Soft morning light at play this quiet day
This stand-down day when duty does not call
Not call, and life is for a few hours free

Ink on a page, now forming into songs
Songs that were old when this green world was new
And fields of flowers were as fields of stars
Fields of Creation and eternal Hope

O happy fields forever, here, right here
Across the page, across the words, soft light

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Old Pompeo Had Some Spies, C.I., C.I., A! - poem

Lawrence Hall

Mike Pompeo Had Some Spies

Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!
Among these spies he had some sneaks
     C.I., C.I., A!
With a wiretap here
And a wiretap there
Here a tap, there a tap
Everywhere a wiretap
Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!

Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!
Among these spies some Russians lurked
     C.I., C.I., A!
With a lurk-lurk here
And a lurk-lurk there
Here a lurk, there a lurk
Everywhere a lurk-lurk
Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!

Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!
And to these spies came Wiki-Leaks
     C.I., C.I., A!
With a leak-leak here
And a leak-leak there
Here a leak, there a leak
Everywhere a leak-leak
Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!

Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!
And then there was the President
     C.I., C.I., A!
With a tweet-tweet here
And a tweet-tweet there
Here a tweet, there a tweet
Every day a tweet-tweet
Mike Pompeo had some spies
     C.I., C.I., A!

Mike Pompeo had some headaches
     C.I., C.I., A!
Among these headaches was Congress
     C.I., C.I., A!
With questions here
And doubtings there
Here a quiz, there a doubt
Everybody run about
Mike Pompeo had some headaches

When You Come to a Knife in the Road - column

Lawrence Hall, HSG

When You Come to a Knife in the Road

     Thomas Becket: “Tonight you can do me the honor of christening my forks.”

     King Henry II: “Forks?”

     Thomas Becket: “Yes, from Florence. New little invention. It's for pronging meat and carrying it   
     to the mouth. It saves you dirtying your fingers.”

     King Henry II: “But then you dirty the fork.”

     Thomas Becket: “Yes, but it's washable.”

     King Henry II: “So are your fingers. I don't see the point.”

-Becket, 1964, produced by Hal Wallis

A complete table service with knives, forks, and spoons as we know them was common in Roman times. With the collapse of the empire Europeans reverted to eating with just their hands and their own knives.

Sort of like ordering from a drive-through now.

Or hanging out with British soccer fans.

In the high middle ages forks reappeared, and except for takeout and Manchester United are still pretty popular. In some restaurants, though, like one of Chaucer’s pilgrims you’ll have to bring your own knife.

Some eateries are shy about providing knives and napkins. The meal is served with a fork so thin that it will bend if you hold it wrong, and a little square of thin paper napkin that appears to have been peeled from the roll on the wall in the euphemism.

If you want a knife, you must ask for it.

If you want a second tiny square of paper napkin, you must ask for that too.

One shouldn’t complain; there’s still a plate.

In California restaurants the pepper has been replaced with pepper spray.

Okay, okay, first-world problems, right? This is not serious stuff, like Secretary Clinton having to fly commercial and occupying only two first-class seats for herself and her bubble, the poor dear. Oh, the humanity.

Still, you wonder how long before you’ll have to ask for a cup for the coffee.

Someone probably read an article the industry magazine Beyond Roadkill about how if they don’t provide knives for customers they can save electricity and soap by running the dishwasher two fewer times a year.

Thanks to a young person of his acquaintance y’r ‘umble scrivener recently had occasion to dine at a nice restaurant in Baytown (Capital of the Culinary World), and was happy to see a complete table setting: a collection of cutlery, a big cloth napkin, big plates, small plates, and bowls.

But then, Baytown’s pretty sophisticated: they’ve got traffic lights, movin’ picture shows, sidewalks, and Russian spies.

Rumor has it that former President Obama bugged the iced tea.

And then there was this guy in corner wearing Tom Brady’s game jersey and crying softly into his double mocha latte’ with a dusting of cinnamon: “But it was the right envelope. It was. I handed them the right envelope…sob!”

He had a big cloth napkin for his tears, though.


The Smart Phone That Came in From the Cold - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Smart Phone That Came in From the Cold

Along the bridge that was a wall a phone
Whispered endearments to a thermostat
Hoping to turn it as a double agent
Which would betray the satellite TV

Beyond the talking doll that talks too much
The new refrigerator’s ice machine
Betrayed its memory chip to a light bulb
Which killed an activity tracker gone rogue

Your teapot is a data dump – it’s true!
And your fountain pen is ratting on you

Stoned to the No - poem

Lawrence Hall

Stoned to the No

Stoned to the No in 1968
On words and life, keeping the center between
Chaos and other chaos, hiding peace
In backwards lines and in the silences

Awkward and rare, perceived in starlit dreams
That flickered above conflicting demands
For fearful unthinking obedience
And the No is recusance, perhaps defiance

Fifty years later, still stoned to the No
On words and life, keeping the center still

Monday, March 6, 2017

I Spy with my Little FBI... - poem

Lawrence Hall

I Spy with my Little FBI

I spy with my little bright FBI
A government wet and hung out to dry
On clotheslines that might (or might not) be tapped
Through circuitry that the Soviets mapped
And passed the plans on to bad Vladimir
(Who wrestles tigers sans shirt and sans fear)
But, sure, that mighty hyperborean
Had better watch for the North Korean
And keep him closer than a dodgy brother


All we Yanks do is snoop on each other

Sunday, March 5, 2017

If the Russians Find Out That the Iced Tea was Bugged - poem

Lawrence Hall

If the Russians Find Out That the Iced Tea was Bugged

If the Russians find out that the iced tea
Was bugged they may well conclude that Area 51
Has tested Tom Brady’s jersey which was stowed
In a bus station locker in Donetsk

With the claim check issued to Kellyanne Conway
And passed to a North Korean operative via
A secret drop in a hollow pumpkin
Behind a voting machine in Spokane

That was hacked by a rogue albino nun
Carrying secret numbers for Rand Paul

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Who Will Pray for Poor Topcliffe? - poem

Lawrence Hall

Who Will Pray for Poor Topcliffe?

There must be someone to pray for the soul
Of poor Richard Topcliffe, pursuivant of
The souls of others, but not of his own
This master of irons and fires and chains

There must be someone to pray for the soul
Of a liar, a sneak, a torturer
Who hounded innocents into mass graves
Tormenting thus himself no less than them

Who will then pray for poor Richard Topcliffe?


Of their mercy, his hundreds of innocents

The Wolf Who Cried "Boy!" - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Wolf Who Cried “Boy!”

So - once upon a wolf there was a time
When errant lopes lupined about in rhyme
And mooned beneath the lonely, silvery howl
And rabbited frights with each savage vowel

One night a little lost was boyed in the wood
And wolved into the wandereds’ neighborhood
The wolfiest hunger of all cried “A boy!”
And all the other replies wolved “Oh, joy!”

And then they ate him. Wolves, eh.

Choosing Sides at Kursk - poem

Lawrence Hall

Choosing Sides at Kursk

At a railway junction great powers meet
To blacken the earth with a generation
Of young musicians, mechanics, physicians
Electricians, farmers, painters, and poets

And the philosopher who loves to fish
Ground into blood and screams and scraps of flesh
By the future which some have seen, and works
For the dress-uniform closed loop of power

So choose a side which is no side; you must
Choose a side choose a side fratricide


Greeting Card Verse - poem

Lawrence Hall

Greeting Card Verse

There is nothing wrong with greeting card verse:
Noses are red, some types of whales are blue
Two woods diverged in a yellow road, so what
Is any of that to me or to you?

A man must find a verse that fits his needs -
Archly obscure thick homilies preening
To poly spec for the cause of the day
Couched in cool cant neither pretty nor true

Are but ISBN numbers on file


Sometimes ya want to smile, crocodile!

But Why Should Someone Save the Date? - poem

Lawrence Hall

But Why Should Someone Save the Date?

But, really, why should someone save the date?
Would it be lost in Dante’s darksome wood
like a poor soul in search of salvation,
or lost in the 1950s tonight?

In what would someone save the date? One thinks
Of piggy banks, Prince Albert cans, jelly jars
Old coffee cans buried beneath a tree
Or an ice tray in the cold Frigidaire

One is unlikely to misplace a day
A week, a month, except in a tired cliché

Jackboots - poem

Lawrence Hall


Exactly what are jackboots, eh? Tell me.
Well, jackboots were designed by this guy, Jack,
You see, because jacksneakers didn’t work
And jackloafers were out of the question

Jack wanted a boot everyone could hate
Even though they didn’t know what it was
And so anyone you don’t like wears jackboots
You polish them nicely with vitriol

Available at finer shops everywhere
And you’re a Facist…Facsit…Fascist, dude!

An Older Liturgy for Vespers - poem

Lawrence Hall

An Older Liturgy for Vespers

The Vestal hearth is now a microwave
No mysteries or flames within it glow;
The kitchen table now is the altar, set
With old familial Lares and Penates:

Pepper and salt shakers of dime-store design
Flanked by a tray of paper napkins which
The children simply will not use, a spoon,
A morning coffee cup not put away

Even so -

When the mill whistle blows, and school lets out
An ancient liturgy will be renewed

Nocturne About is Fair Play - poem

Lawrence Hall

Nocturne About is Fair Play

Lyrics and sonnets and ballads and odes
All fade into the page at dusk when dusk
Begins to chill and a poetry book
Is now but a silent accessory

The ice has faded from one’s drink; a cat,
As sly as the stars, arises to slink
around the assortment of weathered lawn chairs
And their assortment of humans at peace

With an evening of low expectations
Beyond a falling memory of a rhyme

Saint Blaise - poem

Lawrence Hall

Saint Blaise

Waiting in line to have body parts blessed
Is probably a good idea, and throats
Are more accessible than pancreases
(Or are they pancreai?). A brain-blessing

Might be an even better idea, although
A small priest could not, would not reach so high
Hands, shoulders, elbows, noses, ear lobes too
So in the end (but blessing that might be

Entirely inappropriate) you see

Even so

Let us be blessed in all humility

Habakkuk on a Letter Jacket - poem

Lawrence Hall

Habakkuk on a Letter Jacket

We’ve yet to see a quote from Habakkuk
Glittered and glued onto a run-through sign
Or embroidered on a letter jacket -
1:11 comes to mind, or 2:7

How curious it is to write some lines
of scripture to be trampled into scraps
of paper and glitter and glue near to
the concession stand and the marching band

Or wear them as a fashion accessory


We’ve yet to see that quote from Habakkuk

Cats are Iambic Pentameter - poem

Lawrence Hall

Cats are Iambic Pentameter

Light-footed cats are nature’s iambics
Each subtle feline step unstressed to stressed
Across a lawn, a counterpane, a heart
As a tail-twitching cat ballet, all grace

But dogs are four-beat Anglo-Saxon1 lines
Galumphing heavily and clumsily
Across a moor, a sleeping-bag, a heart
As a tail-wagging country reel (gone bad)

Soft-footed cats are nature’s iambics
And dogs are four-beat Anglo-Saxon lines

1Old English Anglo-Saxon (approx. fifth-twelfth century). Applies to four-stress hemistichal alliterative verse, e.g. Beowulf.

- Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within

The Seven Habits of Highly Defective People - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Seven Habits of Highly Defective People

If sleeping late, not making up the bed
Eating an unbalanced breakfast too fast
(coffee in one hand, cold compress on the head)
Rehearsing the day’s first whiny complaint

Dressing in haste, with no purpose in sight
And no life-goals beyond Saturday night
Washing and brushing all too carelessly
Constitute a defective personality

Then let us celebrate frivolously
This wonderfully defective liberty

Executive Orders - poem

Lawrence Hall

Executive Orders

Why are there no executive orders for joy
Edicts commanding merriment and fun
Memos requiring bare feet on summer days
White papers on folding paper airplanes?

Take now an oak-tree leaf, and thereupon
Write with soft, happy whisperings your hopes
And post it on the evening breeze with love
To sail beyond the softly-singing stars

Let us bring to each other each other
and let be signed executive orders for joy

Spinning Seventy-Fives - poem

Lawrence Hall

Spinning Seventy-Fives

We sang so cheerfully about far death
And seasons in the sun, without any fear
For we would be forever young and tanned
Splashing about in the happy shoals of life

The new hi-fi was almost everything
An altar to the religion of youth
The latest spinnings our gospels of truth
Before communion in afternoon kisses

And now we search for long-lost seventy-fives
And dream so gratefully about far life

About the Type - poem

Lawrence Hall

About the Type

The text of this book was carefully set
In Elbow Macaroni Minus Bold
Designed by Minus Minor the Younger
Who created it in the tradition

Of non-received mediaeval Street Vendor
Emeritus Yonkerite Torchlight font.
Minor the Younger also served the Landgraf
Ludovicus Ficus von Superbus

As Secundus Keeper of the Privy Privy
And warden of the palace coffee grounds

A Pedestrian Statue - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Pedestrian Statue

A plebeian pedestrian on a plinth
A plinth in its place in a people’s park -
He leads a charge of ordinariness
From the bus stop to the coffee shop

His evening newspaper wielded in defiance
Of an unseen enemy far away
Beyond the carefully planted shrubs and lawns
His victory is a quiet cup of joe

No noble blood in him, not even a tenth
Our happy pedestrian on his plinth

Happy Palace Bakery - poem

Lawrence Hall

Happy Palace Bakery

No one seems especially happy today
And a cube of cinder blocks is no palace
Fluorescent lights flicker most plebeianly
On a picture of Angkor Wat at dawn

A pale Cambodian sun rises over gods
Watching silently for a thousand years
And here the sun rises over kolaches,
Rolls, doughnuts, apple fritters, and croissants

Whose supplicants process in pickup trucks
In quest of truth and the blessings of carbs

The Happy Reaper - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Happy Reaper

Maybe Death should be personified as a
Merry mayhemic fellow, chopping heads
While laughing through his homicidal day
Fitting taller people into shorter beds

The Merry Reaper isn’t really grim
Lurking about and cackling in mania;
He’s simply doing what is best for him
Relieving humans of their crania

He keeps his lawn trim, and he’s really sweet,
And he lives up the block, along your street!

The Pleasants' Revolt - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Pleasants’ Revolt

No problem have a nice day thank you for
Not smoking sanitized for your protection
Your call is important to us hello my
Name is how’s my driving for quality

Control this call may be monitored
Customer satisfaction is goal one
We treat you like family please hold for
The next available representative

Sanitized for your protection your call
Is important to us hello my name

August - June - poem

Lawrence Hall

August - June

They are but faces, not even faces
But ovoid fuzzes like the innocents
In crime photographs (he was a quiet man
Who kept to himself, but his lawn was neat)

As term progresses their faces fill in
With the lines and colors of their stories
And when each story is brought up to date
Like Hamelin’s children they disappear

The years erase the chalkboard, but faces,
Faces and stories, linger forever

What We Talk About When We Talk About - poem

Lawrence Hall

What We Talk About When We Talk About


Let’s Begin the Conversation

What we talk about what we talk about
What we mean when we say what we mean
Empowering what we mean when we talk
About the resistance he will not divide

Us secure the existence of the people
Speaking power to truth sanctuary
Debate what we mean when we talk about
Campaign promises ho ho and hey hey

We have only so many rhymes, okay?
What we talk about what we talk about

Doctor Ponsonby's Patented Empowering Electrical Rosary - poem

Lawrence Hall

Doctor Ponsonby’s Patented Empowering Electrical Rosary

This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
And heeld after the newe world the space.

-Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

How out of date are simple wooden beads
An upgrade is what the Rosary needs!

Something to give your meditations spice
Connected to your electronic device

Beamed back and forth to The Cloud, you see
With mega-mega gigs of memory

Doctor Ponsonby’s Patented Empowering
Electrical Rosary is just the thing!

The Ave Maria is so out of date
It’s Ave ME now, ‘cause we’re all so great!

Make your prayers less about God, more about you
Signal yourself through sacred Tooth of Blue

A camera hidden in the crucifix
Enables you to take your selfie-flicks

The Pater beads count each joggery mile
Or kilometres if those are your style

The Ave beads are recycled with care
To save the forests, the rivers, and air

Designed in Germany, made in China
High-definition beads; there’s nothing finer

Buy the first (as advertised on tv)
And we’ll send you a second all for free

Remember: for weddings, funerals, and daily devotions
Let RAM and ROM go through all the motions

Doctor Ponsonby’s Patented Empowering
Electrical Rosary – O make it sing!

Alter Christus, Alter Vir - poem

Lawrence Hall

Alter Christus, Alter Vir

For Reverend Angelo J. Liteky

He died three times, for other men
Who lived because he died – once in Indochina
Once in his vocation, and one last time
Forgotten in a poor hospital bed

Soul-wounded in the false, incessant wars
Humanity inflicts upon itself
Fallenness falling again, ever fallen
And the ever-falling fell upon him

Though he lifted his love – always for others
He died again – and who will live for him?

Little Frankie - poem

Lawrence Hall

Little Frankie

For Jacob Garza

His name is really Jake, but he doesn’t know that,
Not yet. He knows lots of other things, though:
That slowly turning fans are fun to watch
And “Ode to Joy” plays from a little box

He knows how to smile and wiggle and kick
And coo along with the songs of the wind
And when he’s tired and needs a hug or a nap
Aunt Beverly will hold him all afternoon

His name is Jake. He’s new to the world;
He doesn’t know his name – but he knows love

What the Pope Said About the President - poem

Lawrence Hall

What the Pope Said About the President

If the pope said what they said that they said
That they said that they said that they said that
They said that they said that they said that they
Said that they said the pope…
                                                  I dunno

Maybe We'll Hear Better after the Revolution - poem

Lawrence Hall

Maybe We’ll Hear Better after the Revolution1

Some pause, some charge, some flee, some fly
Protestors wild in riot run
Methought these poor ears heard them cry
“Asparagus for everyone!”

1cf. Doctor Zhivago

The Amber Room of the Czars, as Re-Imagined for a Hotel Lobby - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Amber Room of the Czars, as Re-Imagined for a Hotel Lobby

A bloated Calvinist acquired and built
In vanity, in glory to himself
A pleasure-cube of cubits many, high
But not as high as vanity ascends

Like ziggurats, in mockery of Heaven,
Wherein strange brazen chariots in tubes
Ascend, descend, bearing those mighty men
Who bear their manhoods cheap i’th’ presence of

Their alpha whale on whom hair never sets
That bloated Calvinist Epiphanes

(Exeunt omnes, disdained by a toad)

[Allusions to Genesis, Coleridge, Shakespeare, and Milton]

If You Pick Up a Dream - poem

Lawrence Hall

If You Pick Up a Dream

If you pick up a dream, it might explode
Shooting pulses of light into the skies
And winds of words to wheel among the wings
Of truths in flight above a moonlit night

If you pick up a dream, it might explode
Into disasters unimaginable
But realized all the same, in smoking ruins
Of fragile constructs thoughtlessly knocked down

Be careful, then, along your pilgrim road:
If you pick up a dream, it might explode

Thank You for Your Service - Now Shut Up - poem

Lawrence Hall

Thank You for Your Service – Now Shut Up

Heat, mud, mosquitos, humiliation
Despair, stand to, stand down, stand to again
Wait, wait, the trucks are late; you’ll have to march
Do something with these bodies, Godammit

Damp, rot, no sleep for how many days now
Your promotion got misplaced in Saigon
We gave your medal to an officer
Because we had more officers than medals

What do you know; you weren’t in a real war
My cousin was; he told me all about it

A Cloud of Scary Witness - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Cloudy of Scary Witness

And so it came to pass on the fifth of February
The Prayers over the Offerings spoke thus:

…created things
to sustain us in our frailty

There seemed to be a poem in those lines
To be developed with full credit to
The copyright holders, and thus it is written:

…from the Lectionary for Mass ©
1968, 1981,
1997, International Committee
of English in the Liturgy, Inc.
Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Excerpts
from the Lectionary for Mass, copyright
© 1970, 1998, by the Confraternity
of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC
are reproduced herein by license of
said copyright owner. All rights reserved.
No part of the New American Bible
may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the Confraternity
of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC.
Published with the approval of the Committee
on the Liturgy, National Council of
Catholic Bishops. Please write for information
on our other publications.

But maybe not. How much frailty can one bear?

What Did the President Not Know and When Did He Not Know It? - poem

Lawrence Hall

What Did the President Not Know and When Did He Not know It?

Ripped from the Headlines!

Defiant Flynn insists he crossed no lines
Leakers must be prosecuted Obama
Wars of identity loyalists waged secret
Campaign to oust weaponized spin

Putin anonymous spooks agenda
Engineered “soft coup” intel chair FBI
Agenda fear Trump assassination
Needs to explained recorded calls leaks fear

The commentators yelp, the twooters groan
But no one seems to know what’s going on

An Open Letter to... - poem

Lawrence Hall

An Open Letter to…

A response to the recent fashion, victim-y and self-obsessed, of open letters

Dear Mean People,

You don’t know me but I know you hate me
Because you are not me so I hate you
Even though I don’t know you, but you hate me
For not being as kind and loving as me

So I forgive you, you Facs…Fascs…Fascists
For not thinking and feeling just like me
You just don’t understand my special needs
How my soul is a flower that always bleeds

Because your jack-boots stomped all over my heart
And I’ve got a degree; respect my smart

Good Morning, Caller... - poem

Lawrence Hall

Good Morning, Caller…

My son was diagnosed with monitoring
Resources I know he’s not the perfect
Child screaming obscenities but acting
Out one-on-one the other children don’t

Like him OCD bi-polar borderline
Medications overexcitabilities
Acting out his needs inclusivity
Outreach special needs EQ his options

A cry for help individualized socialization
My son was diagnosed my me mine I

Aliens Foreign and Domestic - poem

Lawrence Hall

Aliens Foreign and Domestic

A little Ford bearing on its bumper
A made-in-China South Vietnamese flag
Tailgated by a menacing larger Ford
Which passes, bearing on its bumper
A made-in-China Confederate flag
And then another Ford with an image of
Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
On U.S. 96 near the Wal-Mart -
There must be something in all that
                                                            But what?

Collateral Damage - poem

Lawrence Hall

Collateral Damage

His final defensive perimeter
Room 304 in The Plaza Hotel
Convenient to the bus stop, and not far
From the public library one street over

He checks out a Perry Mason each week
“They knew how to write a good yarn in those days”
And bears it off to The Corner Café’
Free refills; the waitresses always pet him

He makes speeches in Perry Mason’s courtroom
The Social Security office, and Korea

Not the Most Boring American Legion Meeting Ever - poem

Lawrence Hall

Not the Most Boring American Legion Meeting Ever

The coffee was good, the stories were old
Of days when we mumbling men were bold
And young and trim, slender of waist
Leaping to our duties all in haste

And now we sit in the parish hall
Our waists are large, our muscles small
But “with advantages”1 we dare think back
When the word was not “reflect,” but “Attack!”

The coffee is good, even when we are old
And our memories warm, tho’ the nights are cold

1Henry V

Puppies and Planets - poem

Lawrence Hall

Puppies and Planets

The universe is that construct which gives
Some definition to a man’s small soul:
He is beneath a tree, upon the ground
Beside another being not yet named

Though stars dance distantly, eternally
One’s soul is larger than the universe
And smaller than a happy child who laughs
At puppies chasing springtime’s butterflies

For such a moment may be all God wanted
In singing this world into its creation

Mardi Awwwwww! - poem

Lawrence Hall

Mardi Awwwwww!

Casualty lists, mass arrests, throwing up
On a copper’s shoes, the parish drunk tank
Big dude with QUEEN tattooed across his chest
A-blowin’ kisses and a-makin’ eyes

At the most recent poor dumb fish now trapped
In mandatory happiness Woo Woo
That’s what he yipped when he saluted a cop
With just one finger, attached to his hand

Which then was attached to his other hand
With a bulk-discount plastic tie – Woo Woo

(Emesis follows)

STEMinists - poem

Lawrence Hall


That women must be as shallow as men
And thus surrender all their high estate:
Art, music, government, medicine, law
Science, literature, administration

To be programmed, obedient to machines
That turn, tilt, twist, light up and make noises
Measure this, adjust that, obey, obey
Functionaries in a factory – why?

To bow before gadgets, just like the men -
The old Eden thing, all over again

The Secret That THEY Don't Want You to Know - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Secret That THEY Don’t Want You to Know

The secret that your banker, car dealer
Doctor, insurance agent, mechanic
Dentist, electrician, wireless service
Neighborhood Russian spy, travel agent

Hairdresser, ophthalmologist, plumber
Lawyer, barber, grocer, parole officer
Pharmacist, barista, pedicurist
Watchmaker, stockbroker, cable installer

Or county agricultural agent
Doesn’t want you to know:
                                              wait…what was it…?

Speculative Fiction - poem

Lawrence Hall

Speculative Fiction

Life planned according to an instruction book
All parts identified and catalogued
A solid base established in its zone
Some assembly required by the tenant

Permits purchased from the correct agencies
The proper engine fitted to the frame
Boilers fired up with renewable energy
The flight planned filed into the horoscope

But then the book’s first copyright expired
And 0200 is too dark for reading anyway

Catholic Calisthenics - poem

Lawrence Hall

Catholic Calisthenics

(Stations of the Cross)

Make the sign of the cross stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand

Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand
Turn stand kneel sit stand turn stand kneel sit stand

V: This is rather rough on my creaky old bones
R: Remember, old man, it’s not about you