Monday, June 26, 2017

A Soldier Smoking a Cigarette - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

A Soldier Smoking a Cigarette

A soldier lay beside a railway line
Smoking a cigarette, not thinking of much
Among some hundreds of other conscript lads
Upon a grassy glacis above the fields

The boxcars waited in the stilly heat
The soldiers waited like young summer wheat
Occasionally stirred about by winds unseen
And finally stirred about by orders unheard

They rippled into the cars, and were taken away -
A shadow lay beside a railway line

Sunday, June 25, 2017

For a Methodist Minister Newly Posted - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

For a Methodist Minister Newly Posted

We feel sometimes, we know sometimes, that we
Are aliens here, exiles and witnesses
As Abraham was sent from his father’s house
And Moses as a child was set adrift

The Apostles upon their voyages
By blood declare there is no lasting home,
Not here, so trusting in God to guide His ark
We thus are cast upon the waters of baptism

For on this planet each of us arrives
Afloat and in a Hebrew blanket wrapped

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Alter Christus, Alter Vir - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

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?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The University of Old Lawn Chairs - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

The University of Old Lawn Chairs

The new lawn chairs are now the old lawn chairs
How many summers - has it been that long?
Their runners are rusty, their paint is pale -
The flip-this parvenus would disapprove

Not rusty but rustic, these fine old seats
Of learning have weathered many terms
Supporting the front-yard sciences and arts
Of lightning bugs, conversations, and scotch

The cicadas’ songs, the rising of stars
With us enthroned as luxuriously as czars

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Arc of the Solstice - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Arc of the Solstice

High summer’s solstice is the year’s proud crown:
The sun has reached his apogee, and now
Will linger through July’s life-ripening days
Then drift into a worn Augustan gold

September is a sort of seasonal coup
Who in the equinoctial treaty signs
For a slow dissolution of the sun
And all his ancient power to rule and reign

In his old age the sun is seldom seen –
Diana, then, is crowned as winter’s queen

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jenny's - as a poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

It’s Bad Only if Jenny’s Fried Chicken is Closed

Warnings and categories – a tropical storm
It’s really bad if Jenny’s has to close
No fried chicken, no electricity
No lights, no burgers, no coffee, no fries, no hope

A flashlight in the night is weak and pale
Our manna in exile - crackers and Spam
And coffee from a Thermos, not enough
To lift the spirits of the chicken-deprived

But now the sun is up, the storm has passed
O tell us that Jenny’s is open at last!

It's Bad Only if Jenny's Fried Chicken is Closed - column, 21 June 2017

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

It’s Bad Only if Jenny’s Fried Chicken is Closed

Let us remember the seven categories of storms during hurricane season:

1. Tropical storm
2. Category 1 hurricane
3. Category 2 hurricane
4. Category 3 hurricane
5. Category 4 hurricane
6. Category 5 hurricane
7. Category Mr. Frank has to close Jenny’s Fried Chicken

Some decades ago a Galveston television reporter interviewed a young mother who after a lesser storm complained that she had no food and no milk for her baby. “THEY should have been better prepared for this!” she exclaimed angrily.

Let no one resort to stereotyping with the useless pejoratives of “millennials” or “snowflakes,” for in illo tempore everything wrong in the world was the fault of “baby boomers,” and the fantasy of global warming hadn’t yet been dreamed up.

And as for keeping food, diapers, canned milk, clean clothes, a pocket knife, a gas grill (for use OUTSIDE) or at least a nifty little Sterno stove (for use OUTSIDE), that is not a matter of hurricane preparation; that is a matter of good household management in every generation.

The loud a.m. radio boys advertise disaster food stores capable of feeding that famous Family of Four for a month after nuclear annihilation and / or the collapse of the Euro, and the non-panicky can only ask why. Isn’t the household well-stocked anyway?

At this point someone will bring up “the good old days when…” but it’s not about those days that really weren’t all that good. All thoughtful householders have, well, things – things like food, water, clean clothes, alternative ways of cooking, lots of paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights, battery radios, jugs of drinking water, and a good, sturdy, American-made pocket knife.

About the only special hurricane preparation anyone should need to make are some buckets of water standing by for flushing the toilets.

A useful addition to home preparedness is a portable car battery charger, essentially a car battery residing in an attractive plastic shell and with a handle for carrying. Jumper cables are stowed on either side of the gadget. Instead of trying to maneuver cars and connect their batteries via 20-foot cables, you simply place the battery charger on a fender or other support and charge from that.

But, wait – there’s more! The more expensive battery chargers also contain an air pump and hose for inflating a tire, cigarette-lighter sockets, ports for charging MePhones and other electronic gadgets, a 110-volt outlet, and a built-in flashlight. These take a charge, good for months, from a household outlet. Always follow instructions.

No, you can’t run an air-conditioner from a portable battery charger, but you can operate a fan and a reading lamp.

If you have a fan and a can of Spam and a light for reading, you’ll get through the night just fine, while the prodigal fanless and Spam-less gnash their uncharged MePhones in the outer darkness. In the morning Jasper-Newton Electric will have the power restored, and as Vera Lynn did not sing, there’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover and the sun will shine again as Mr. Frank and his merry band re-open Jenny’s Fried Chicken.

-30-

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Old Communist Movie Director - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Old Communist Movie Director

From the Criterion Collection

The object now of film-school interviews
His gravelling, decades-gone voice echoing
Into a recorder his decades-gone news
How wonderful he was, and all-knowing
About Thuh Fascists, Thuh Workers, and Thuh Jews
Hugging his resentments, and loudly crowing
About the Blacklist through his smokes and booze
How bravely he defied the Rightists, going
In exile to England on a luxury cruise.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Shakespeare in the Pork - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

Shakespeare in the Pork

Is this a protest which I see before me,
Clichés to abuse the script? Come, let me meme thee.
I have a master’s degree, so hold still.
Art thou not, sign waver, a Democrat?

Or art thou but a pale Republican
Proceeding from the heat-oppres’sed brain?
(that swamp metaphor, remember?)
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As a 1950s fraternity boy

Civility thickens, and threatens life’s play
So all you ideologues, just
                                              go
                                                      away

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Dog Not Taken - doggerel indeed!

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com

The Dog Not Taken

Two roads diverged on a paper ballot
Rejecting both, I voted for my dog

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sangerhalle fur Kinder - poem

Lawrence Hall, HSG
mhall46184@aol.com



Sängerhalle für Kinder

A happy child with sunlight in her hair
Joyfully shrieking her own An Die Freude
Splashes her friends with water and mud and fun
And they, as happily, splash in reply

The children assemble in a muddy creek
Instead of the Sangerhalle at Die Wartburg
Not making revolution, but childhood songs
Manifestos of freedom to fling about

The forest, then, is their true singers’ hall
A celebration of innocence for children all

Some More Existential Questions - column, 15 June 2017

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

Some More Existential Questions

Why do fruiterers (that’s a real word) place company logos on bananas? Do people have strong brand loyalties with regard to fruits and veggies? Do they have bumper stickers that read “My Other Fruit is a Pitaya?”

Have you ever seen a jaw drop? Really?

The ads on the InterGossip often say that a concept or an isolated fact is insane. How can this be? Only a person can be insane. An income might be low or high, but it cannot be insane. If you were in Paris and fell into the river you’d be in-Seine. Thank you, thank you very much; you’re a great audience.

Other than it being a Ye Old English tradition, why must all twelve jurors agree on a conviction? Ten of the twelve, or even eleven, would save face for the holdout and, further, provide a little protection for jurors in cases involving gangs and revenge.

Why is it that those who loudly demand answers (“demanding answers” is a big buzz-phrase just now) don’t ask a question in the first place?

Why is it that shooting someone is now often the first resort in responding to a negative external stimulus? There are two methods of making an argument – that is, to state and defend a thesis – logical and emotional. Promoting good gas mileage in a car advertisement is an appeal to logic. The suggestion that the car is so aesthetically appealing that the guy who buys it might at last get a date for the prom is an appeal to the emotions. Both arguments can be valid. But shooting someone is an appeal to nothing but infantile rage.

What was the appeal of “The Soup Nazi?” Why would anyone purchase food based on the likelihood of being verbally abused by the seller?

Why do people say “actually?” as in “I actually met Prince Harry” or “It was actually awesome.” Can one unactually meet Prince Harry? If something is awesome, can it be unactually awesome? Adverbs are a curse. Actually. Absolutely. Get rid of them.

Were our high school biology teachers lying to us when they said there are only two genders? How is it that global warming is “settled science” (the “or else” is implied), while biology is not?

Finally, what does “existential” mean? When I was at university, just before I flunked out, all the cool kids said “existential,” along with “Trotskyite,” “conspicuous consumption,” “what’s your bag,” “deconstruction,” “karma,” “phenomenology,” “post-structuralism,” and “revisionist,” all of which could be prefixed with “neo” or “reactionary.” Thus someone could be dismissed as an “existential neo-reactionary Trotskyite,” or perhaps as a “neo-deconstructionist post-revisionist existentialist.”

Existentially speaking.

-30-

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pomona at Play - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

Pomona at Play

Pomona dances among the apple trees
Light-footed through the glowing amber light;
At dusk, kissed by the last rain-drops, the breeze
Begins to sigh, and falls, to sleep the night.

And then pale Cynthia, the silver-crowned,
Rises to breathe upon each leaf and flower
Her sacred mists, softly and softly around,
And blesses dreams through many a silent hour.

Bold Helios will wake the sleeping east
And laugh away the magic of the dark;
He sets out daylight as a merry feast
And measures out his work with compass and arc

But later, them, for sweet Pomona’s play
Now celebrates the golden end of day.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Poem - or, rather, a petitionary prayer

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

For the Faithful Departed

Do we all holy rites.
Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum

-Henry V, 4.viii.115-116

Workmen approved indeed1, from far away
Like Abraham, exiled from the fields of home
But leaving here in their adopted land
Their blessings always, through family and faith

And so we ask Our Lady in several voices -
     Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
     Notre-Dame de LaSalette
     Our Lady of the Americas -

To welcome Luis and Oscar to God’s Home,
That promised Place of refreshment, light, and peace2


1 2 Timothy 2:15
2 from several Catholic prayers for the departed



Of your kindness pray for the repose
of the souls of Luis Castro and Oscar Rivera

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Camping on the Edge of Forever - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

Camping on the Edge of Forever

For HM3 Michael Dean Marconett, USN
of happy memory

Wild stars, beyond a Sterno stove’s tame glow,
We’ll live forever as we live this night:
Coffee and cigarettes and comradeship,
Our backs against the sun-warmed Sierras
As the cold falls from infinite darkness
To keep the snow in place another night,
To smile in ancient silence back at you,
To make a glowing, slumberous twilight until dawn.
Those C-rations were good after a day
Of scrambling among prehistoric rocks
Made musical by the dinosaur creek,
Water as cold as the dark end of time.
San Diego glows in the south-southwest,
Silently, inefficiently, light lost.
But you, wild, happy star, will still shine down
On dreaming youths, tonight and other nights,
Counting for us, for them, each millennium.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Forces of Happiness - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

The Forces of Happiness

“There will be music, dancing, happiness…by order.”

-Town Crier in Dance of the Dead, an episode of The Prisoner

The Forces of Happiness are released
To worry out of their burrows those poor
Unfocused souls who mumble about their days
In happy, innocuous solitude

With books and cups of tea and scribbled lines
Of happy wonderings and teasing thoughts.
And such is not acceptable to those
Who suffer not any individuals –

To herd them into organized submission
The Forces of Happiness are released




Monday, June 12, 2017

A Necktie for Fathers' Day - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

A Necktie for Fathers' Day

Roaming around lost in the 1970s
Dull advertising writers still forbid
The purchase of neckties for Fathers’ Day –
As if DNA ever wears a tie

It’s all knee-pants and advertising now
On cartoon tees and baseball caps and sneaks
Admiring his tattoos in his MePhone
And cadging guy-support from his live-in

While watching his collection of action films:
“I’ll look for a job tomorrow, babe, okay?”

Boris and Natasha - column, 11 June 2017

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

Boris and Natasha

“We can’t go arresting people for what they say in a private conversation…I’ve no doubt we shall come to that eventually, but at the present stage of our struggle for freedom, it just can’t be done.”

-Colonel Plum in Evelyn Waugh’s Put Out More Flags

Some of our federal government overlords seem to do little other than spy on each other and stage mutual investigations for show – some committee or other holds hearings and the members take turns posturing for the camera, asking questions of other federal employees and interrupting them when they try to answer. After that another committee holds hearings to investigate the first committee and asks them questions – perhaps “What did you not know and when did you not know it?” – while fluffing their feathers for the cameras.

One suspects that at the end of the day they all retire to a walled and guarded country club in Alexandria, Virginia to treat each other to expense-account single-malt and cigars, and for a good laugh.

This season’s cycle of fashionable and well-funded investigations is about whether the Russians snoop into the companies that build and program voting machines.

Perhaps they do, along with the North Koreans, the South Koreans, the Chinese, and any 16-year-old with a discount-store computer and an idle hour.

A more salient question would be why any enemy would want to interrupt this nation’s self-destruction. The free-floating temper tantrums which used to be our political parties are, through the inadequate and even malevolent candidates they present to the American people, more of a menace to the Republic than any foreign operatives.

Vladimir Putin surely considers that while gazing at a photograph of Francis Gary Powers and indulging in a schadenfreude-ish bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha over his glass of vodka.

Everything I know about Russia I learned from Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Yevtushenko, Ahkmatova, Solzhenitsyn, Vodolaskin, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Alexievich (her Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War, is the best book ever about life and death for American enlisted men in Viet-Nam), and I imagine modern Russians ignore them even as as modern Yanks ignore Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Robert Frost, Stephen Crane, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, and Ernest Hemingway.

So I know little about Russia. I can’t even find Krasnoyorsk on a map.

But I know how we can vote without the possibility of Russians, Koreans, or The Dork Avenger in his mom’s basement in Corner Brook, Newfoundland manipulating our computerized voting machines:

Don’t use computerized voting machines at all.

Let the poll watchers see to it that each voter is provided with a marker and a blank sheet of paper because Boris and Natasha can’t hack paper. Upon this sheet of paper the voter writes or prints the name of the man or woman the voter wishes to be president. If an American wishes to vote for his friend across the street, that should happen. Let the American people be free from the limited selections trickled down to them by political parties.

As with the Constitution up until 1804 (we’d have to do something with the 12th Amendment), let the first-place winner be president and the second-place winner be vice-president.

After all, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton deserve each other.

And we the people deserve better.

-30-


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dawn at the Waffle House - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com



Dawn at the Waffle House

The official Waffle House “Good morning!”
This morning is a barely audible solo
An exhausted night-shift-ending yawn-out
From a waitress who has served eight hours of hope

The morning cops, all uniformed and young
Pop in to caffeinate; an old man owns
His corner booth, still searching for the truth
And a signal among the fluorescents

The celebrant elevates the coffee pot

And now the sun will rise, the night will pass
And all will celebrate this morning mass

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Navigation Lights - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Navigation Lights

Like spirits of the ancients, veiled fireflies
Patrol as appointed the haunted dusk
Their cold lights winking secret messages
From lawn to tree, and then across Creation

And silent in her elegance the Moon
Escorted by strong Jupiter the bold
Is pleased to grace the skies with her presence
Herself obedient to that once-seen Star:

We are never adrift in our own dark nights
For they are marked with navigation lights

Friday, June 9, 2017

Anna Apples - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

Anna Apples

Apples, which last week made the orchard trees
A festival of red among the green,
Are disappearing now, and hard to find
And hard to reach, high up and hidden away

Their joyful season is fading in early June
Their mothering trees are in mourning now
For the late-winter blooms that grew so soon
And ripened into transient perfection

Like happy children playing hide-and-seek
They slip away into the leaves and years

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Restless Hope Syndrome - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Restless Hope Syndrome

At two in the morning the great ideas
Are fluttering shadows on the moonlit lawn
The old clock clanks, the new clock hums, and hours
Are an accusation against one’s works

At three in the morning one’s ambitions
Are not even shadows as the moon sails on
The old clock clanks, the new clock hums, and hopes
Crowd around the bed in disappointment

At four in the morning the silent noise
Begins withdrawing before the stale new day

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Foxy John's: Beer, Wine, Good Food, Low Prices - poem

Lawrence Hall
mhall46184@aol.com

Foxy John’s:
Beer, Wine, Good Food, Low Prices

Between class and the night shift, Foxy John’s:
Books and ideas, an old Sheaffer pen
Notes scribbled on a yellow pad, a pipe
Of Holland House, coffee, another cup
The old MG stands loyally outside
The San Diego night smells of the sea
Damp and cool out beyond the fluorescents
And at dawn, between the night shift and class
More coffee, more tobacco, weary eyes
Ill-focused on Henry at Canossa
And the ocean tides and the morning fogs,
Turning the seasons, mark shifts and studies.

How curious never to meet ol’ John
And so to learn just why he is foxy





[I wonder if Foxy John's is still there, down the hill from the University of San Diego]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Making a Song in a Time of Sorrow - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Making a Song in a Time of Sorrow

Making a song in a time of sorrow
Isn’t possible, you know; it doesn’t work
All hope is disconnected from the hands
And any sense of meter breaks apart

The rhythm of the self is out of tune
The patterns of existence are but smoke
Adrift among the greyscaped wreckage of life
Cascading power failures of the soul

Just drop it for now; maybe tomorrow
Rebuilding then a life out of the sorrow

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sleep Study - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Sleep Study

Do I have to buy the book? The SparkNotes?
Will this material be testable?
But all I have to do is go to sleep
In a lovely bed in a lovely room

To sleep, adorned with little EKG pads
And little wires a-running here and there
Like the wiring harness of a Packard
In need of a tuneup since ‘48

I cast aside a novel about spies
And in a bit begin to study sleep

          Number Six: "How did I sleep?"

          Number Two: "Sound as a bell. Have a nice day."

                              -The Prisoner

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Climate Change on London Bridge, column, 4 June 2017

Mack Hall, HSG
Mhall46184@aol.com

Climate Change on London Bridge

Climate change has really been rough in England the past few weeks.

Seven dead and fifty wounded in eight minutes of climate change on a Saturday evening in London – but, hey, let’s not overreact. The Spitfire, the Tommy, and the Royal Navy are obsolete, replaced with strategic teddy bears, candles, hashtags, teary-eyed selfies, and platitudes: London Strong, 1 Strong, We Are One, We Stand Together, Love Trumps Whatever, Love is Stronger than Hate, Always Choose Love, Hug the Stranger Next to You.

Yeah, that’ll work.

We have lived to see lines of British subjects with their hands up being herded down the streets of Manchester and London by British police, like a scene from Len Deighton’s SS-GB. The Nazis couldn’t manage that, but the British have now surrendered and herded themselves into captivity.

Winston Churchill said to the British people “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

The current government says to the British people “Run. Hide. Tell.”

One young police officer didn’t run, hide, or tell; he charged three terrorists all by himself. He was armed only with a stick, because British police are still mostly unarmed. He lost. He is in intensive care but will live. When he has recovered his own government will file charges against him as is now their custom. If Field Marshal Montgomery were still alive he would be court-martialed for insensitivity to Nazis.

Far above the dead in the streets of London and Manchester practically perfect pretty posh people fly about in luxury jets to and from climate conferences where they sit about in great conference rooms giving speeches and signing documents. They’re public servants. They’re for the people.

Farmers, workers, small businesses, police, and the military are regulated, given impossible tasks, and incessantly criticized, and people are murdered in the streets, but as long as the gluten-free champagne flows in the great halls of the great capitals of the great republics, all is well for the carbon-credit Leader Class.

The only thing we have to fear is climate change itself.

-30-

Lighting a Candle before Mass - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Lighting a Candle before Mass

We light a candle for

     All good people
     All bad people
     And all good causes

Because

     All people are good
     All people are bad
     And we’re working on the causes

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sometimes in Korea, Sometimes Not - poem


Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Sometimes in Korea, Sometimes Not

He wears clean overalls, a nice new shirt
A collection of small tools in his pockets
A cap that reads “U.S. Army Retired”
And for some reason his Sunday go-to-church shoes

He mumbles his Mac-Something breakfast meal
A presentation in cellophane and foam
Organic-free or gluten-full or something
And seems to visit with someone long gone

A middle-aged woman in a Daewoo
Arrives to help him up and take him home

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prologue to The Canterbury Downloads - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Prologue to The Canterbury Downloads

There is a pilgrimage which no one plans
For youth and age, across a room, a poem
Sending each other ordinary English words
One by email, the other by Pony Express

Some journey to Canterbury to pray
To God at good Saint Thomas Becket’s shrine
Some to the Burgate for a coffee shop
And texting over a mocha “The droghte of March”

One asks about the rising middle class
Of a lad who hasn’t a date for the prom

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Night Class - Cellphonia in F Flat - poem

Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com

Night Class – Cellphonia in F Flat

A chamber piece for two sulks and a soda

He yawns, his head propped up against a wall
Of head-stained, head-banged green fluorescent blocks
In the back of the room, in Marlboro Country
Reposing in sad, sullen insolence

Furtively strumming a silent keypad
Flinging his unique existential angst
Into cool, pure, plasticized electrons
And out into the meta-fusional night

Where there’s real life, man, not these books and stuff,
Real life; you wouldn’t understand. I’m me
And you don’t know who I am, man. I am:
An inspirational singer-songwriter

My own me journeying onward to me
An artist, a great soul misunderstood
Raging against a machine that isn’t there:
An angry rebel on government grants.