Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Dairy Queen Waitress in Tuscany - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Dairy Queen Waitress in Tuscany

Eat, drink, pray, love, hamburger, shake, and fries
Boyfriend, baby, trailer park, sad tired eyes
Creepy men, cranky boss, and ice-cream floats
A wheezing Honda with overdue notes

Cinder-blocks, fluorescents, grilled cheese to go
No child-support this month, another cup of joe
Ten-year-reunion, can’t go, how time flew
Two shifts that day, the trailer rent is due

Baby at Mama’s, boyfriend still in bed
He’ll look for work tomorrow, that’s what he said
“Order up!” the fry cook hollers, and she
Dreams of a someday-summer in Tuscany

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Road to Magdalena, New Mexico - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Road to Magdalena, New Mexico

The wind is cold, a Colorado cold,
Blowing the summer back to Mexico
From whence it came; it sat upon this land
For dreary months of heavy, lifeless heat.
But now the desert dawn is blue; the stars
Make one last show before withdrawing to
The Caves of Night beyond the timberline,
Where no man walks, for fear of ancient gods.

This desert dawn is blue with promises;
The road to Magdalena creeps beneath
The ridges where the Watchers of the night
Seem now content to still their thunderstorms,
And grant a grateful pilgrim sunlit hours.
There will be coffee in Magdalena,
And not much else. The cattle drives have ceased,
And the railroad is gone; the school is closed,
As are the saloons.  But there should be coffee.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day III: Something about Life - poem

Lawrence Hall

Memorial Day III: Something about Life

“Live. Just live.”

-Yuri in Doctor Zhivago

The plane lifted, and the cheering was wild
And then pretty quickly the pilot said
“We are now clear of Vietnamese
Territorial waters.” There was joy,
Even wilder cheering for most, and quiet
Joy for a few. For one, Karamazov
To hand, peace, and infinite gratitude.
“I’m alive,” he said to himself and to God,
“Alive. I will live, after all.” To read, to write,
Simply to live. Not for revolution,
Whose smoke poisons the air, not for the war,
Not to withdraw into that crippling self-pity
Which is the most evil lotus of all,
But to live. To read, to write.
                                                 But death does come,
Then on the Vam Co Tay, or now in bed,
Or bleeding in a frozen February ditch;
Death comes, scorning our frail, feeble, failing flesh,
But silent then at the edge of the grave,
For all graves will be empty, not in the end,
But in the very beginning of all.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day II: Bad Morning, Viet-Nam - poem

Lawrence Hall

Bad Morning, Viet-Nam

No music calls a teenager to war;
There is no American Bandstand of death,
No bugles sound a glorious John Wayne charge
For corpses floating down the Vam Co Tay

No rockin’ sounds for all the bodies bagged
No “Gerry Owen” to accompany
Obscene screams in the hot, rain-rotting night.
Bullets do not whiz. Mortars do not crump.

There is no thin rattle of musketry.
The racket and the horror are concussive.
Men – boys, really – do not choose to die,
“Willingly sacrifice their lives,” that lie;

They just writhe in blood, on a gunboat deck
Painted to Navy specifications.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day I: Liturgy in Time of War - poem

Lawrence Hall

Liturgy in Time of War

I will go to the altar of God
To God who gives joy to my youth


The dawn (evening) is coming, another hot, filthy, wet dawn (evening). Let us arise, soaked in sweat, exhausted, to speak with sour, saliva-caked mouths, to meet the deaths of this day (night).


In the name of Peace in Our Time,
For the Hearts and Minds of The People,
For the Land of the Big PX
For round eye and white (black) (brown) thigh,
I greet you, brothers.



I confess to almighty God
And to you my brothers
That I have sinned through my fault
In my thoughts and in my words
In what I have done
And in what I have failed to do,
And I ask Blessed Mary…

But how can I ask Her anything now?

My brothers,
Pray for me to…

But how?
Priest: (But there is no priest)


Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, Lord, have mercy on us now

Have mercy, Lord, on a generation
That sits smugly in college lecture halls
And protests endlessly in coffee shops
The war they hear, see, on T.V., for free
Justice and peace by the semester hour
Like, y’know, peace, love, Amerika sux
Play the guitar, toke, apply to law school

Have mercy on us
Who crouch behind sand bags
And clean our weapons
And protest nothing
And kill in the heat
And die in the hear
And throw ham and lima beans away


Glory to God in the highest
how many bodies yesterday?
And peace to His people on earth
Vietnamese? Or us?
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father
ham and lima beans?
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory
Doc, I can’t go home to my wife with this clap
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father
cigarette, canteen cup of instant coffee
Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
playboy magazine
Have mercy on us
relief behind the sand bags
You are seated at the right hand of the Father
i rot
Receive our prayer
i want to be clean and dry
For You alone are the Holy One
clean and dry. just once.
You alone are the Lord
why do they chew that?
You alone are the most high
you mean the betel nut?
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father



Father, you make this day holy.
Let us be thankful for
The many little joys of
This day, for life, for
The chance to worship
You. In the end, bring
Us to you, so that we
May be cleansed of mud
And sweat and filth and
Guilt, and live with you
In peace forever.


Father, just get me through
Another day of this mess.



From the Intensive Care Unit, NSA DaNang

A twilight world
Of neither peace nor battle
And of both

A man world
Embracing life and the grim death

Peering into infected wounds
Night building shiver
Down from the black sky flares float

Broken bodies from the war somewhere
Eyes of a shattered nineteen-year-old Marine
Staring at the door to Yokosuka


A Song of Descents

I cast down my eyes
Into the mud
Into the blood
It seems cleaner than death and drugs and casual sex
Drink Coca-Cola

I turned my eyes away from you, O Lord
And made this
Build this
Came to this
Samantha and Darren on Bewitched

Have mercy on…but how can we ask? How dare we ask?


Old Man, Viet Nam

Old man, a dog is barking at your heels
Old man, with the tired, weathered face
Are you afraid to turn around and deal
This dog a kick, to put him in his place?

Or is it, old man, that you’re just too tired?
Just too tired to turn and show anger
Just too tired to have your temper fired
Beaten by years of contempt and danger

Where are you going, trudging so slowly?
What are you thinking, behind those tired eyes?

Probably not about ham and lima beans


In the Cold White Mist

After an all-night run on the river
Our boats arrive in the village at dawn
Dawn is never cold along that rive
Along that steaming, green, hell-hot river
But the mist is cold, the grey-green dawn mist
And after the engines are cut – stillness
Foul brown water laps at the mudding bank
Sloshing softly with fertile, smelly death

In the cold white mist

The boats are secured, and watches posted
We step off the boats and onto wet land
And follow the track into the deep mist
It becomes the street of a little town
A dairy lane along which cows slopped home
And where dogs and chickens and children
Bounded by carefully swept little yards
And little wooden houses with tin roofs

In the cold white mist

But some of the houses are burnt. The smoke
Still hangs heavily in the whitening mist
The lane is littered with debris. A lump
Resolves itself into a torn, dead child
Across a smaller lump, a smaller child
Their pup has been flung against the fence, its
Guts early morning breakfast for the morning
We smoke cigarettes against the death-smells

In the cold white mist

Beneath a farm tractor rots a dead man.
When they – they – had come at sunset
He had hidden there. And they shot him there
A man with bare feet and work-calloused
His hair is black; his teeth need cleaning
They shot him beneath the village tractor
His blackening blood clots into the mud
And our lungs choke in the white mist of death

In the cold white mist

White mist. The path disappears into it
Smoky skeletons of little houses
In which there will be no tea this morning
No breakfasts of hot tea and steaming rice
No old widows to smile in betel-nut
No children to mock-march alongside us
Pointing at our big black boots, and laughing
At us, for wearing shoes in the summer

In the cold white mist

They are dead and rotting in the white mist
On the edge of the jungle on the edge
Of the world, here along the Vam Co Tay
And the people pour out of their houses
To greet us on the fine summer morning
A corpse across a doorway, another
Bloody-doubled across a window sill
Still another strewn down the garden path

In the cold white mist

The other patrol doubles back to us
And they tell us that the Ruff-Puff outpost
Must have been overrun the night before
He had heard their radioed pleas, and had
Run the river at night to get to them
And the ARVNs had fled through the village
And the VC had stormed in behind them
And it was knife-and-gun-club night in town

In the cold white mist

A little girl is the lone survivor
She looks may six. Cute, except for the
Bubbling, sucking, bayoneted chest wound
We patch her, and tube her, and use suction
Sort of like fixing a bicycle tire
And in the wet, gasping heat take her back
With us downriver, where a charity
Hospital leaves her on the steps to die

In the cold white mist

It will be our turn again tomorrow
Not a one of us died today. Today.
But a village is gone, burnt and rotting,
Soon to disappear into the jungle
Along the green Cambodian border
Up some obscure river. Up there. Somewhere.
A few hundred people. Their ancestors’ graves
Will fade with them untended, forgotten

In the cold white mist

Radio Hanoi might blame it on us.
But maybe not. We made our report and
Nobody really noticed; no one cared
The talk is of the VC battalion
And where it has gone, and where it might go –
Maybe into death under an air strike
“And you guys better get in some sack time,”
Says the C.O. as he turns to his maps.

In the cold white mist


I’m scared, and I want to go home. I don’t care any more about justice or fighting Communism or winning the hearts and minds of the people. I can’t think about all that right now, because I’m scared, and I want to go home.
I don’t care about truth or loyalty or bravery or honor. If Miss March were here she wouldn’t get cold, but she sure would get sunburnt. And in a few days her skin would start rotting. Then nobody would want to see her in the nude anymore.
I’m scared, and I want to go home.
Up the Vam Co Tay, everyone is scared, everyone is tired, everyone is sick, everyone could die: sailor, soldier, officer, priest, farmer, fisherman. Everyone rots in the wet heat. The skin bubbles and flakes and peels, and is pink again, to bubble and flake and peel again.
I’m scared, and I want to go home.
I’m Doc. I’m a scared, stupid kid with an aid bag and a few months’ training. But I’m Doc. I’ve got to fake it. I’ve got to be cool and calm because this other kid with his guts hanging out will probably make it if I don’t screw up and if the dust-off from Saigon can get out here now.
I have an old dog at home, and my folks write and tell me she sleeps outside my window at night, waiting for me to come home. Someday we’re going to run and play in the woods and fields again. She’ll bark and run wide circles, and dare me to catch her. I will laugh under the autumn leaves. But now my nights are glaring darkness, fits of sweat-soaked half-sleep, then sirens and falling glares and falling mortars, and then the Godawful racket of all our engines of destruction. There isn’t any use in all this.
I’m scared, and I want to go home.

And I don’t want any ham and lima beans.


We believe in the Land of the Big PX
In presidents in suits, and generals,
In makers of economic strategies
We believe in flak jackets and .45s and peace

We believe in swing ships and dust-offs, yes
In the dark, green omnipresent Huey
Eternally begotten of technology
Blades to rotor, windscreen to machine guns
Made, not begotten, one in being with us
Through it all things are transported to us
For us men and our hunger and our hope
It comes down from the skies
By the high power of technology
It was born of the long assembly line

For whose sake are we crucified today?
Who suffers, and who dies and is baggied?
And on the third will arrive back home
To be neatly packaged in stainless steel

But not in ham and lima beans


Preparation of the Gifts


Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this cheap Algerian wine to offer,
Fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become anaesthesia for our souls.


Blessed be…we just don’t know


Pray, brothers, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father, to somebody. Maybe.


May the Lord, or the baggies, accept the sacrifice we offer with
our own burnt hands
For the praise and glory of…of what?
For our good, and the good of all His Church.


Little green cans, and I don’t care
Little green cans, and I don’t care
Little green cans, and I don’t care
Air cover’s gone away.


Preface for the Monsoon Season:

Father, all-powerful
And ever-living God,
We do well always and everywhere
To give You thanks
Through Jesus God our Lord
Even with diarrhea
When the mail doesn’t come
When we rot
When the heat sucks at our brains
When the mud sucks at our boots
When the horror sucks at our souls
We’re alive


Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might
The bunkers are full of blood and death.
Hosanna in the mud. Blessed is he who comes with the mail. Hosanna in the mud.


The Kien Tuong Province Canon:

A sailor is silhouetted against the dawn
Along a steamy river
Mostly helmet and flak jacket
Above dark plastic gunwales

The sailor has lost his New Testament
But there’s a Playboy around somewhere
Naked, willing women –
Miss March wants to be an actress

He also carries an old plastic Rosary
To touch occasionally
While whispering a hurried Hail Mary
He hopes She understands

Those who in bell-bottoms and head-bands
Fight Fascism
In Sociology 201
Will never forgive him

A sailor is silhouetted against the dawn
This day he is to be elevated
His body broken and his blood shed
For you and for all men


Our Father, who art in Heaven
this ain’t it
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
this ain’t it
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day…
not ham and lima beans
And forgive us our trespasses
as we shoot them that trespass against us
And lead us not into ambush
But deliver us from evil


Peace on you.


Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy….

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: grant us peace.


(But there is no priest)


Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,
But only say the word and I shall be killed.


They ate, and were not satisfied
They killed, and were not without fear.


If we do not get out of this
Make some sense of it to those who remain
May we go home. Home. Or if not,
Take us unto you, in mercy.
Home. Where you reign, for you are Lord
Forever and ever. Amen


May you walk on grass that does not explode
May you sleep without rot
Without fear
May you never see or smell ham and lima beans again.
May you live
May you play with puppies
May you find forgetfulness
May you find peace
In the Name of Him who took your death for you


This is to certify that_________________is Honorably Discharged from the________________on the____day of_______________. This certificate is awarded as a testimonial of Honest and Faithful Service.


Old men, smoking in the sunshine
Exiled outside the doors of life
Old uniforms, old pajamas
The chrome of wheelchairs, shiny, bright

Inside, polished wooden handrails
Line the hot, polished passages
Something to cling to on the way
To the lab, to x-ray, to death

And more old men, shuffling along
In a querulous route-step march
From Normandy, from The Cho-sen,
From the Vam Co Tay, from the deserts,
Past the A.I.D.S. ward and the union signs
On waxed floors to eternity

Portions previous published:

“Closing Hymn” is from “Outpatient Surgery – Veterans’ Hospital,” Juried Award, Houston Poetry Fest 1993

“In the Cold White Mist” is a Juried Award, Houston Poetry Fest 1991

“Old Man, Viet-Nam,” was published in Pulse, Lamar University, 1982

Friday, May 26, 2017

Clinic Waiting Room with French Impressionists - poem

Lawrence Hall

Clinic Waiting Room with French Impressionists

The ball-capped men, old men, sit motionless
Arms folded in existential disapproval
They read not, no, and neither do they toil1
Over boxes that light up and make noise

French impressionist lilies soften the walls
Echoing with educational racket
A cartoon shark counting the numbers off
To a child embalmed in a plastic box

While his mee-maw looks to eternity
Through a door that opens from the other side

1Saint Matthew 6:28-29

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Fifth Karamazov - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Fifth Karamazov

When young we identify with Alyosha
His optimism and his innocence
His fragile, flowering Orthodox1 faith
A happy, almost-holy fool for Christ

When older, the sensual Dimitri,
With irresponsible lusts and desires
Grasping for the rewards of the moment
Now, ever now, wanting everything now

Then older still, as intellectual Ivan
Sneeringly aloft, above all faith and flesh
A constructor of systems and ideas
From the back pages of French magazines

Though never do we identify with
Nest-fouling, leering, lurking Smerdyakov
Our secret fear, unspoken fear, death-fear:
That he might be who we untruly are

But hear, O hear, the holy bells of Optina2
Those Russian messengers3 singing to us
Inviting us to meet Alyosha again
At Father Zosima’s poor4 hermitage

1Russian Orthodox
2The name of the real monastery upon which Dostoyevsky modeled his fictional one
3The Brothers Karamazov was first published as a serial in The Russian Messenger
4Poor only by earthly standards

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On the Occasion of the Firing of the Director of the F.B.I. - poem

Lawrence Hall

On the Occasion of the Firing of the Director of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Immaculately vested in suits and ties
Men fly about in executive jets
And pay each other to investigate
Each other for paying each other

To fly about in executive jets
And pay each other to investigate
Each other for paying each other
To fly about in executive jets

And again investigate each other,
And laugh with each other on the golf course

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hymn of the Holy Drum Set - poem

Lawrence Hall

Hymn of the Holy Drum Set

A middle-aged man in an open shirt
A shaped and sculpted five-0 shadow fuzz
An earring and a tat, sneaks and jeans because
He wants to reach the kids where they’re at

And where they’re at is in suppressed giggles
At an old man with a pimple-microphone
Around his face like mucous on a wire
They pocket-text each other angelically

“Can I have an ‘amen?’”

He puts the devil in a world of hurt
That middle-aged man in an open shirt

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Morning Dialogue with One's Self - poem

Lawrence Hall

A Morning Dialogue with One’s Self

(As both the alarm clock and the smart phone make unpleasant noises)

Today is the first day of the rest of…
Put a sock in it, all right? It’s too early
For optimism. Two feet to the floor
Yes, two feet, same number as last night

(The bed does not care whether it is made up)

Not making the bed. Those two feet forward
North to the kitchen and the coffee pot
Switch on. Window humidity-streaked
Cats posing prettily in the dawn-light

(The coffee machine gurgles happily)

A fresh new day, and with it new adventures
Still not making up that bed. Don’t gotta.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Graduation Speech Soup

Lawrence Hall

Graduation Speech Soup – Simply Stir and Serve

Keep the torch alive to pass to a new generation with the key that unlocks the road to the future follow your passion the unemployment will follow we’ve been through some amazing times together make a difference to thine own self be true commencement means a beginning not and ending as we go forth life is a journey not a destination we made it all the hard work we’ve put forth to this point in time these are the best time in our lives as one door closes another door opens because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step to make the world a better place trust your instincts you don’t find education in books we are the future bright with promise some see the future and ask why but we see the future and ask why not Habakkuk 2:7 we did it I can’t believe we’re here believe in yourself live your dreams to be all that you can be God has a plan for you we have the responsibility to build a new world if opportunity doesn’t know build a door don’t follow the path blaze a trail because there is no one like you because you are an individual just like those other hundred or so people your age and dressed just alike because life is what happens while you’re making plans live, laugh, love you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow dance like nobody’s looking (even though they are, and laughing) aim for the moon and if you miss you’ll hit the moon (or something) life is not waiting for the storm to pass it’s about dancing in the rain because you are a new generation called to miss 100% of the shots you don’t take because we were all one big family who have lived, laughed, and loved together hey and remember the time (name) barfed on the stairs we’ll all that that shared moment to remember together we can’t save all the starfish but I can make a difference for this one because as a great man Robert Frost said in “The Road Not Taken” we can make a difference for all the starfish in the sea of life today is the first day of your rest of your life oh, the places you’ll go like maybe eternal stasis in front of a smartphone I don’t know why they asked me to be the speaker shout-out to Mom wear sunscreen because your future’s so bright close your eyes and remember when hey, an air horn, that’s so cool, no one’s ever done that before woo-hoo I want to congratulate each of your on your incredible talents and abilities as you begin your journey to a bright and shining future because we are the best class (name of school and a shout-out to the mascot)) has ever graduated (since last year) a dream is a wish your heart makes and you can become anything you dream to be or wish to be or something #lifehack #hashtag now go forth and make your lives exceptional although on Monday morning we’ll wake up and realize we’re just some more unemployed Americans.


Jury Duty - poem

Lawrence Hall

Jury Panel in a Republic

A man with a gun tells the people to rise
And as the judge enters the room, they rise
The judge tells the people to sit; they sit
Dividing out twelve to determine reality

Republics dispose of liturgies,
Because duties, hierarchies, and honors
As freely given and freely received
Are odious in the sight of the people

Those free, brave people who will not stand for kings -
So a man with a gun tells them to rise

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Children at the Harvest - poem

Lawrence Hall

Children at the Harvest

A little girl with basket held in hand
Can choose and pick a bouquet in the spring
And play in peace on the warming-sun land
With flower-colors to sort and songs to sing

A little older and the strong girl now
Helps with the harvest in September’s haze
And through hard work with tractor, rake, and plow
She grows through honest work and well-earned praise

Unless –

Before a screen a girl decays, beguiled,
For now the screen is the machine that harvests

                                                                               the child

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Buddhas of Bamiyon - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Buddhas of Bamiyon

What secular new gods will be carved out
Of cultures and of stone, and heaved up to
The pedestals of corrasable truth
To be adored or else ignored in turn?

Make velcro now the test of reality
And transience transcendence in pale mists
As Plato’s shadows flickering in the cave
Denied in turn by fresh eternal truths

And in a century, when new gods frown
What creakery old gods will be thrown down?

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Lawrence Hall

Urgent! Software Security Update and
Latest Patches with the U.K. / U.S.A. Interface for Repairing the
Penguin Classics Paperback Edition of
Don Quixote


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Most Boring American Legion Meeting Ever - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Most Boring American Legion Meeting Ever

A Monologue in Two Parts



“Ya wanna talk prostrate1 cancer? I’ll tell ya
About prostrate cancer those PSAs
Don’t mean nothing and those doctors don’t know
Nothin’ I’ve had 15 on my PSA

“Ever since when and I ain’t got prostrate cancer
But this feller I knew he had a one on his
PSA and he had stage five cancer
And he died, so don’t tell me nothin’ about

“Prostrate cancer ‘cause I go the meetings
And so I know, I tell ya, yessir, I do…”

1Prostate, of course


Same Voice:

“Say, did y’all have any good buffets in Iraq
Or that other place Afghanistan
The buffets in Manila were expensive,
I tell ya, expensive, they cost forty dollars,

“Yessir, they did, and that was right down the street
From the embassy and that was too much
Just too much for what ya got, I tell ya
And they gave us ‘phone cards and they were made

“Right there and sixty minutes disappeared
Off it right when you dialed the number, yessir…”


A Second Voice (in pain, weak, much like the voice of the Bleeding Sergeant in Macbeth):

“I move we adjourn.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Withdrawal Symptoms - poem

Lawrence Hall

[again violating my rule never to write in the first person]

Withdrawal Symptoms

So I’m not going to change the world after all
That’s okay; it was doing fine without me
The moon arose last night without my supervision
This morning the sun was up before I was

And, true, there are bad men and women about
But I didn’t do so very well myself
It’s better that I didn’t change many things
And better had I worked on changing myself

Age is aware of its own absurdity
And wisely it withdraws from messing things up

     A cup of coffee now would be so nice

Monday, May 15, 2017

All Settings on Auto-Destruct - poem

Lawrence Hall

All Settings on Auto-Destruct

“a man enthroned as if it were a committee”
-Yevtushenko, from “Zima Junction”

Senator Pelosi has her head blessed
By the loving hands of The Dalai Lama
And Comey’s looking for a brand-new gig
Maybe as Cassandra’s Mrs. Blossom

J. Edgar’s iron men are said to be in tears
Special investigators rub their tentacles
In delicious anticipation of
A feast of scandals and expense accounts

     “Well, doctor, what have we got?”
     “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cats and the Office of Prime - poem

Lawrence Hall

Cats and the Office of Prime

With the dignity of an abbess the cat
Enthrones herself upon the morning fence
To welcome with due solemn liturgies
The daily rising of the given sun

Her slow lavabo accomplished, she turns
Offering the peace of Cat to the assembly:
The lesser cats, the even lesser dogs
The night-chilled lawn, the dewy leaves, the light

She blinks her blessings there upon the day

     And all is complete

When happy children then come out to play

Saturday, May 13, 2017

You're Not Really Country - poem

Lawrence Hall

You’re Not Really Country

You’re not country if you have trash pickup
And running water, electricity
Flush toilets, a satellite on the roof
And thirty channels of John Wayne TV

You’re not country if you have carpeting
A pickup truck that runs or a Volkswagen
That doesn’t, more books than hunting rifles
And a toilet-paper personal preference

You’re not really country if you have these things –
Be sure to give God thanks for that, y’hear?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Neither a Menshevik nor a Bolshevik Be - poem

Lawrence Hall

Neither a Menshevik nor a Bolshevik Be

                                                            What is’t you do?
                                                                                                  A deed without a name.

-Macbeth IV.1.48-49

This is not a matter of recusancy
To wish a blessing on your houses both
That in the Grace of God you amend yourselves -
But go away and do it somewhere else

And take with you your posings and your twootings
Your alligator shoes, expense accounts
Your plastic soldiers all saluting you
And your designer plots of great import

And leave good folk alone to their good work
With sweat-stained hands in clean domestic peace

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Withdrawn from Salem Public Library" - poem

Lawrence Hall

“Withdrawn from Salem Public Library”

“Salem Public Library, East Main Street,
Salem, VA 24153”
A happy book, thought-stained, and often-read
An anthology of Russian poetry

Salem, Virginia must be a marvelous town
A library stocked with poetry, and stocked
With poetry readers who have turned again
And again to favorite pages here and there

Long-ago poets murdered by the Soviets
But finding love at last in Salem, Virginia

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adventures with an Olivetti - poem

Lawrence Hall

Adventures with an Olivetti

(In which the scrivener violates his rule never to write in the first-person)

My bed was a Sears & Roebuck sleeping bag
And my world headquarters that old MG;
An Olivetti portable processed
My words, my fresh young words, that no one read

I owned more books than clothes, and only those few
That could be stowed in the passenger seat;
I fancied myself the new Rod McKuen
And I wasn’t - but I remember the road

When the world was new, adventures every day
And I miss that - but mattresses are nice

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where do I Apply to be Corrupted? - poem

Lawrence Hall

True Faith and Allegiance

A retired admiral peddles insurance to
“My fellow veterans,” still ripping off
The enlisted with bogus bonhomie
About how they all were merry shipmates

Retired generals ooze into something new
Suits for the business of dealing in souls
Souls bought and sold internationally
Where careless talk could cost discreet kickbacks

The surviving enlisted, wounded and sick,
Are doled out vouchers for a bus ride home

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Flying Squadron of Church Ladies - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Flying Squadron of Church Ladies

At First Communion the Flying Squadron
of Church Ladies surround the children to:
Reprove, reproach, command, censor, chastise,
Berate, exhort, implore, upbraid, adjust

Chastise, upbraid, embarrass, harangue, rebuke,
Enjoin, dictate, direct, require, apprise,
Advise, inform, beseech, explain, uphold,
Impart, compel, remind, forewarn, correct:

Because since Peter’s time, all this is what
The Flying Squadrons of Church Ladies do

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Western Civilization Will Collapse if You Don't Buy Someone's Book About the Collapse of Western Civilization - poem

Lawrence Hall

Western Civilization Will Collapse if You Don't Buy Someone's Book
About the Collapse of Western Civilization

There was a review in The University Bookman

Western civilization is in a state
Of imminent collapse, which someone says
In a review of a book which I ought
To buy if I love Jesus and the West

And somehow all this is my fault because
I haven’t finished The City of God -
Oh, Kirk-Centered sir, I really do love
The Good, the True, and the Beautiful, but

I’m not going to buy your book
Because your attitude is in a state

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why Not - poem

Lawrence Hall

Thirteen Reasons Why Not

We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny.
But what we put into it is ours.
-Dag Hammarskjold

1. God made you; you can never be replaced
2. God made you for some purpose – live to find it
3. Someone is blessed in knowing you each day
4. You must live so that others may live
5. Someone desperately needs your kindness right now
6. You haven’t yet written your book, your story, your song
7. When you offer up your suffering, you help others
8. Children running barefoot through the flowers of spring
9. Children running barefoot through the leaves of autumn
10. Dachshund puppies. And leaves. And flowers. And children
11. Coffee and a talk with a good friend
12. Breakfast and the Sunday morning funnies
13. That empty pew God has saved just for you

Friday, May 5, 2017

Approach the Pierian Spring Carefully - poem

Lawrence Hall

Approach the Pierian Spring Carefully

From an idea suggested by
Rev. Raphael Barousse, OSB

I would that I could taste the Pierian Spring
But he who drinks unworthily the sacred
Will lose even the little that he has
And wither into mummification

One’s poor attempts at innocent, ill-formed verse
May be forgiven because of their innocence
But a little learning, as the man1 once said,
Means duty, and might not be forgiven

If used intemperately or harshly; still -
I would that I could taste the Pierian Spring

1Alexander Pope

Thursday, May 4, 2017

But What About the Dog? - poem

Lawrence Hall

But What About the Dog?

Bedtime is a poem written with love:
You change into your jammies at 8 o’clock
You wash your hands and face, you brush your teeth
You kneel beside your bed and say your prayers

And then the dog leaps up onto your pillow
And then your mother says the dog can’t stay
And then you plead, and doggie looks so sad
And then your mother sighs and says, “All right,

“But only for tonight,” then kisses you

(but not the dog)

Childhood is a poem written with love

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Trapped in the Coffee Shop of Lingering Death - poem

Lawrence Hall

Trapped in the Coffee Shop of Lingering Death

He knows everything about every war
Because although he never went to one
He had good friends who did, and they told him
All about it, and about Patton, so there

He knows all about Jesus, and, like, stuff
The Templar tunnels beneath the Pentagon
The Seal of Solomon lost on Oak Island
And Mexico’s lost Tribe of Israel, so there

Which can lead the unsaved to tell a lie:
“Oh, gosh, I have to rush, I forgot about…”

So there.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

For Rod McKuen - poem

Lawrence Hall

[From 2015]

For Rod McKuen

The gentle singer of our youth has died
The poet of empty Sunday afternoons
And solitary strolls through Balboa Park
Among lovers and Frisbee-chasing dogs

Of laughing with shipmates while cleaning rifles
Because we knew more than the armorer
About dreaming away from learning war
About pretty girls laughing in the sun

And a chansonnier in sweater, sneaks, and jeans:
The gentle singer of our youth has died

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Washington Post Asphyxiates Itself - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Washington Post Asphyxiates Itself

“Democracy Dies in Darkness,” you say –
But your arguments die under your popups, okay?