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Lawrence Hall

                              A Texas Ranger on the Trail

                                 For Ranger Brandon Bess

His steely eyes stare into the microscope
Following a ****** track of DNA
Across the scrubby badlands of the lab
And into computer analysis

His gun hand targets matching saliva swabs
With a hair-trigger spectrophotometer
Double-loaded with HLA-DQalpha
Against Minifiler STR at high noon

Say, pardner –

If you commit a crime in Texas, then you had best
Beware the Ranger with a Teichman test
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                            Scheduling the Execution of a Friend

Oh, yes, that oak is a friend, a fine old friend
Happy companion of lazy summer days
When I sat in its shade and drowsed over a book
Gently fanned by the leaves in those dreaming hours

Home to the mourning doves and angry jays
Preening cardinals and shy chickadees
Flying squirrels by night and grey squirrels by day
Armadillos, opossums, and raccoons

But dying now upon its grassy lawn -
The tree service will come for it at dawn
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                   Can Internet Service Providers be Saved?

                      Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

                                     -Leonard Cohen

Multiple Voices from an ISP:

Our order support team reported back…
you had 2 work orders. Your work order with us
has been cancelled and the email you forwarded
to me is the installation group you will need
to contact about scheduling. Sorry…We have received
this work order that was already scheduled for 5/8
morning. There are no notes from any dispatcher
speaking to you and changing the appointment
date/time. Below are the notes on the account
and no appointment changes have been made.
Called to t/s modem; modem is offline…
t/s modem is offline…Upgrade for
the Unlimited Bronze 12…set expectations…
I do not know who this sales group is. They
do state you are scheduled for 5/4 but the work
order they sent to the 3rd party installer
shows your [sic] scheduled for 5/8. We do not
have techs in your area tomorrow…I have sent
your account to the order support team…Your appointment
scheduled [sic] has been updated…Changes have been made
to your ViaSat account.

API INSERT (Note) 04/30/2021 11:01:56 AM CDT BEP scheduling work order during creation. API UPDATE (Schedule Date) 04/30/2021 11:01:56 CDT Unscheduled Unassigned API INSERT (Note) 04/30/2021 11:01:53 AM CDT

Installation notes…Our records indicate…
We need to confirm your appointment…Your appointment
schedule has been updated…as your preferred date
could not be accommodated. We sincerely apologize…
We have been trying to reach you with the number you provided…
We have received your work order and would like to confirm…
Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message
to the following address…Your Viasat Internet
payment failed…Payment has not been received…
If you do not make a full payment soon…
relaying denied…To avoid interruption
of your Viasat service…You may also call us…
agent assist fees may apply…

Thanks for being a Viasat internet customer!
The sub-contractors who do the installation and repair are professional; the problem is with the office-gnomes who appear not to listen even to each other.
Lawrence Hall Apr 28
Lawrence Hall

                   About that Bicycle Leaning Against a Sunlit Wall

About that bicycle leaning against a wall
All artsy and stuff in the slanting sun
“Take my clear photograph!” it seems to call -
Nah, put away your Leica - it’s been done
A poem is itself.
Apr 27 · 23
Physician and Poet
Lawrence Hall Apr 27
Lawrence Hall

                                     ­     Physician and Poet

                                          For Allan Pulliam
                                           Texas A & M ‘21

          I used to admire your poetry…I shouldn't admire it now. I
          should find it absurdly personal. Don't you agree? Feelings,
          insights,'s suddenly trivial now. You don't agree;
          you're wrong. The personal life is dead in Russia. History has
          killed it.

                                     -Strelnikov in Doctor Zhivago

Don’t write to be approved by masters who
Wear Rolexes in the Name of the People
Don’t write to be approved by masters at all
But be your own authority and see

Your work, your words are nobler than manifestos
The latest noisy Guelphs and Ghibellines
All Power to the Constituent Assembly
One folk, one nation, one waffle with syrup

Write freedom through verses, and disobey
Anyone who wants to take your voice away
For a young friend, former student, and poet who will enter medical school this autumn.
Lawrence Hall Apr 26
Lawrence Hall

                        “Now This Ain’t No S---”

The old chief took a slug of coffee and said,
“What’s the difference between a fairy story
And a war story?
One of ‘em begins with ‘Once upon a time’
And the other with ‘Now this ain’t no s----'"

And it is so.
Lawrence Hall Apr 25
Lawrence Hall

                       A Footprint on the Road to Santiago

A footprint on the road to Santiago
It has meaning - a footprint, and another
An indent from the ferrule of a stick
Toward a vision of a Field of Stars

Sin-weary and sunburnt, a pilgrim plods
Through weeds and dust and sometimes traffic lights
And idlers mocking from across the road
Toward a vision of a Field of Stars

Where free from sin and pain and blood and scars
He may at last find peace in that Field of Stars
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Apr 24
Lawrence Hall

                       He Just Walked in Front of the Train

He just walked in front of the train, they say
Off in the woods, the lonely woods, the night
The rails as screaming horror in his wild death
Blue jeans, yellow shirt, no identification

He just walked in front of the train, they say
The black-box cameras will show something of it
But not the emptiness that chased him there
Blue jeans, yellow shirt, no identification

He just walked in front of the train, they say
Blue jeans, yellow shirt, no identification
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Apr 23
Lawrence Hall

               A Polite Response to an Invitation to a Crawfish Boil

Aquatic roaches
Foul, malodorous decay
Lawrence Hall Apr 22
Lawrence Hall

                                      Poetry Magazine Responds

Dear Valued Customer We have received
your email and it has been assigned
to one of our e-commerce team members.
Should we require additional information

we will contact you. Otherwise please be assured
that your request will be processed in a
timely fashion. Sincerely, Customer Care Department
Lawrence Hall Apr 21
Lawrence Hall

                  Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing

            “…that led me to answer an advertisement in
            the Sunday Times and take a job…with a
            correspondence school…”

             -Elizabeth Bishop, “The U. S. A. School of Writing”

And a certificate!

The ad presented as a joke, only it wasn’t:
(Famous Name Brand School)’s Continuing Studies Program
Will make you a Hemingway for eighty dollars
And there is a student testimonial

And a certificate!

Embrace the tools solidify develop
Accomplished authors craft tutorials
Dedicated dynamic cohort peers
Passionate instructors prestigious fellows

And a certificate!

Achieve the goal for which you have been aiming!
(And a certificate, suitable for framing)

Only eighty dollars

      “The U. S. A. School of Writing had been raided
       by the police shortly after I left…”

                                      -Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry is rightly praised, but her prose, less often noted, is equally delightful in its construction and content.
Lawrence Hall Apr 20
Lawrence Hall

                                 Oath Peepers Security Cameras

The security cameras around the house aren’t much
The cheapest available on
They take dim pictures of the UPS guy
And fuzzy grey shots of ‘possums at night

A problem is that they think they’re Army cameras
That the batteries they took never expire
That the science of optics has been betrayed
And that light is whatever they want it to be

Along the windowsills they belch and *art:
“Tina Modotti is a traitor to art!”
Yep, I've done better.
Lawrence Hall Apr 19
Lawrence Hall

                                     ­ No Straight Lines in Nature

That commonplace of art instruction is true:
From the rainbow to the tomato worm
And in the rhythms of our chambered hearts
Creation curves itself around our lives

A straight line is of the imagination
Repudiated even by that famous crow
Who flies as he will and not according
To the abstracts of mathematicians

Nothing in nature chooses graphed confines -
Of course the man-made coffin – that features straight lines
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Apr 18
Lawrence Hall

                          Morning Coffee with Signor Bialetti

Wreckage is everywhere, two apple trees down
Limbs and leaves and litter, shingles and wood
The lawns are white with shoals of springtime hail
The lines are down and the power is out

But Signor Bialetti from Italy
A super-hero in aluminum
Is pleased to take his place on the camping stove
Twirl his moustache and stride through Sterno fire

Singing songs from his favorite libretti
While making us coffee – O brave Signor Bialetti!
A poem is itself during a power outage.
Lawrence Hall Apr 15
Lawrence Hall

                      Afghanistan, Graveyard of 19-Year-Olds

                     “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”

                             -Holmes’ first words to Watson in
                                     A Study in Scarlet, 1887

Ghosts shriek in the wind from the Hindu Kush
Falling upon the lowlands in despair
Of any reality beyond death
In the blood-sodden sands where sinks all good

Walls, monuments, souls, hopes – all blow away
In the wreckage of long-fallen empires
Their detritus trod upon by tired men
Whose graves will be the howling dust of time

And yet the empire masters will return
And leave fresh offerings of more young men:
A British Enfield, a Moghul’s lost shoe,
A cell phone silent beside the Great Khan’s skull

From The Road to Magdalena, Lawrence Hall, 2012, available via

“Afghanistan, graveyard of empires” is a common saying whose source is unknown.
Lawrence Hall Apr 14
Lawrence Hall

              Awarded the Chair of Poetry at a Leafy Rural Tree

Among its ancient gifts are acorns and leaves
But the most generous stipend is peace
Oh, sure, we have our academic rivalries –
Just last night a raccoon occupied the chair

And the cardinals and jays squawk a bit
Mostly about seeds, seldom about verse
For arguing with Keats and Yevtushenko
Is my great pleasure and duty, not theirs

Who knew –

That an old steel chair dragged onto the lawn
Could be a center of civilization?
A poem is itself, especially if critiqued by a mockingbird.
Lawrence Hall Apr 13
Lawrence Hall

                                   Moo. Herd Immunity. Moo.

            "I don't know what herd immunity is, but when you
             add that to the people who have acquired immunity,
              it looks like it could be very close to herd immunity.”

                             -Texas Governor Greg Abbott,
        as quoted by the Washington Post via The Houston Chronicle

Moo. Herd immunity. Moo. Simple math.
Moo. Very close. Moo. Vigilant. Moo. Proactive.
Moo. Efficacy. Moo. Calculation.
Moo. Dashboards. Moo. Trackers. Moo. Asymptomatic.

Moo. 70% Moo. 80%.
Moo. Fourth surge. Moo. Waves. Moo. Gaps. Moo. Pockets.
Moo. Complications. Moo. Misunderstandings.
Moo. Factors. Moo. Threshold. Moo. Duration

Moo. Emerging. Probable. Moo. Data.
Moo. Equation. Moo. Very close. Moo. Died.

“I don’t know what herd immunity is…”

A cow flop is itself.
Lawrence Hall Apr 12
Lawrence Hall

                                      Our Antikythera Mechanisms

Chariots of the odds and ends of life
Wooden boxes of bronze mechanisms
By which we navigate the memories
Of all the golden islands of our youth

The hidden anchorages of lost love
And barefoot beaches of youth’s innocence
Beneath bright sunlit hills of wild must grapes
That taste of our desires in dreaming hours

All lost, alas, fallen into the sea
The sea of remembrance, eternally
A poem is itself. So is the self.
Apr 11 · 27
On Divine Mercy Sunday
Lawrence Hall Apr 11
Lawrence Hall

                            On Divine Mercy Sunday

                    Above all, don’t lie to yourself.

             -Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov

On Palm Sunday a shortage of palms
On Divine Mercy a shortage of mercy
An onion, a candle, a moment, a prayer -
We’d better give something of ourselves away
A poem is itself; an onion might be more than itself.
Lawrence Hall Apr 10
Lawrence Hall

                               Squirrels Without End, Amen

Whenever I take my book to the front-yard oak
The squirrel stretched from the feeder to the trunk
Flees in a seed-strewn panic across the lawn
To a farther tree, free of human menace

This is a young squirrel; its predecessor
Arched from feeder to trunk in exactly the same way
But held its ground, or, rather, its rough old tree
And chittered defiance in contempt of me

By summer’s end this squirrel too will stare me down -
I wonder what Pasternak wrote about squirrels
A poem is itself; a squirrel is an attitude with fur.
Lawrence Hall

                                   A Doom of Impending Sense

When you are driving away for the daily run
Of errands, appointments, disappointments
You know you’ll enjoy the company of your MePhone –

       Which you have left upon your desk at home

You buy a magazine in the checkout line
Or find a book in some cold waiting room
Or read an editorial in the local wipe
Or remember a poem from seventh grade

You glory in words, words and images dense
And feel a doom of near, impending sense
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                                   Every Poem is a Translation

Wordsworth considered his rainbow up on high
And what he saw and felt through it, he wrote -
Translating an arc of refracted light
Into a transcendent vision of life

But his considerations through paper and ink
Are but darkness and silence without readers
Because the rainbow needs our vision, our joy
Without which there is no rainbow at all

We open the book, the page, the words, the light
To find the rainbow that he wrote to us
Perhaps every rainbow is a translation too.
Lawrence Hall

                  Send Not to Ask for What the Vulture Seeks


                         Try not to Look Like a Dead Cow

Coragyps atratus, with wings spread wide
In narrowing circles menacingly
Soars in malignance above the countryside
I think it seeks…I think it seeks…for me!
As John Donne did not say...
Lawrence Hall

                             “What’s Holding us Back!?”

                           A video clip from Natuashish

Two little children on a snowmobile
Which smokes and sputters, going nowhere
“What’s holding us back!?” is their merry squeal
Frozen-breath frosty in the springtime air

Two little children both ready for a ride
Realize they are held back by a third
But only for a moment (at least he tried!)
Three little children, each a happy snowbird

And off they go, following their own chosen track -
Dear little children, nothing will ever hold you back!

AnthonyGermain (@AnthonyGermain) / Twitter
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                 What I Learned at Breakfast this Morning, Mannnnn!

A café’ scene for one flat, nasal, abrasive, loud Voice and any number of Bobbing Heads:



(Heads bob)



(Heads bob)



(Heads bob)



(Heads bob)



(Heads bob)



(Heads continue to bob as curtain falls)
"Would you like some more coffee, sir?"

"Just the check, please."
Lawrence Hall

                         Easter Sunday 2021, the 2nd Covid Year

In some churches the ***** thunders at dawn
Ours squeaks (it might be a bargain from Sears)
This does not change the truth, the awe, the Light
That shines upon the Altar this Easter day

Last year the Holy Mass was forbidden by law
An eleventh plague blighted land and air
And so for us there was no exodus
From the brick pits in which we found ourselves

And in the pews –

Empty spaces, empty hearts, absent friends
But there is the Promise, the Promise fulfilled
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                          Holy Saturday 2021, the 2nd Covid Year

Lent begins in winter and ends in spring
The Stations of the Cross, the self-denials
Are trivial, perhaps, but then so are we
Better that way:

                                     The harrowing is not here
A poem is itself
Lawrence Hall

   Thoughts During that Famous Light Collation on Good Friday

This morning I mowed the lawn, the springtime lawn
Then messed about with flowerpots and bees
In this little safe space of happy green
A shadow of Heaven beneath wise Plato’s oak

This evening I will visit Jerusalem
And follow timidly the Stations of the Cross
Not wanting to be noticed by Romans or Greeks
(Setting aside the fact that I am a Roman)

Time stops - with faltering steps and a contrite heart
A journey into the dark, and then – waiting
A poem is itself.
A Sequence of Poems for Holy Week

(Some of these were submitted in past years)

Holy Thursday 2017

On this Maundatum Thursday falls a bomb
From the belly of a beast, falling, falling
From the Empyrean and through the blue
Past mountaintops and misted valleys deep

And then into the planet’s earthen flanks
Its pulses to repudiate Creation
In vaporizing the structures of life
Into primeval molecules of dust

Because some bad men might be lurking there
On this Maundatum Thursday falls a bomb

Maundy Thursday – Mass of the Last Supper

“Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang”


The air is thurified – the incense given
Our Lord upon His birth is fumed at last;
The censer’s chains, clanking like manacles
Offend against the silence at the end of Mass

Supper is concluded; the servants strip
The Table bare of all the Seder service:
Cups, linens, and dishes, leaving in the dark
An Altar bare, prepared for sacrifice

In Gethsemane the flowered air is sweet
But iron-heeled caligae offend the night

6 April 2012, Good Friday

A Night of Fallen Nothingness

The Altar stripped, the candles dark, the Cross
Concealed behind a purple shroud, the sun
Mere slantings through an afternoon of grief
While all the world is emptied of all hope.
The dead remain, the failing light withdraws
As do the broken faithful, silently,
Into a night of fallen nothingness.

7 April 2012, Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil, Sort Of

A vigil, no, simply quiet reflection
Minutes before midnight, with all asleep
Little Liesl-Dog perhaps dreams of squirrels,
For she has chased and barked them all the day;
The kittens are disposed with their mother
After an hour of kitty-baby-talk,
Adored by all, except by Calvin-Cat,
That venerable, cranky old orange hair-ball,
Who resents youthful intrusion upon
His proper role as object of worship.
All the house settles in for the spring night,
Anticipating Easter, early Mass,
And then the appropriately pagan
Merriments of chocolates and colored eggs
And children with baskets squealing for more
As children should, in the springtime of life.

Easter, 2014

Christos Voskrese!

For William Tod Mixson

The world is unusually quiet this dawn
With fading stars withdrawing in good grace
And drowsy, dreaming sunflowers, dewy-drooped,
Their golden crowns all motionless and still,
Stand patiently in their ordered garden rows,
Almost as if they wait for lazy bees
To wake and work, and so begin the day.
A solitary swallow sweeps the sky;
An early finch proclaims his leafy seat
While Old Kashtanka limps around the yard
Snuffling the boundaries on her morning patrol.

Then wide-yawning Mikhail, happily barefoot,
A lump of bread for nibbling in one hand,
A birch switch swishing menace in the other
Appears, and whistles up his father’s cows:
“Hey!  Alina, and Antonina! Up!
Up, up, Diana and Dominika!
You, too, Varvara and Valentina!
Pashka is here, and dawn, and spring, and life!”
And they are not reluctant then to rise
From sweet and grassy beds, with udders full,
Cow-gossip-lowing to the dairy barn.

Anastasia lights the ikon lamp
And crosses herself as her mother taught.
She’ll brew the tea, the strong black wake-up tea,
And think about that naughty, handsome Yuri
Who winked at her during the Liturgy
On the holiest midnight of the year.
O pray that watchful Father did not see!
Breakfast will be merry, an echo-feast
Of last night’s eggs, pysanky, sausage, kulich.
And Mother will pack Babushka’s basket,
Because only a mother can do that right

When Father Vasily arrived last night
In a limping Lada haloed in smoke,
The men put out their cigarettes and helped
With every precious vestment, cope, and chain,
For old Saint Basil’s has not its own priest,
Not since the Czar, and Seraphim-Diveyevo
From time to time, for weddings, holy days,
Funerals, supplies the needs of the parish,
Often with Father Vasily (whose mother
Begins most conversations with “My son,
The priest.…”), much to the amusement of all.

Voices fell, temperatures fell, darkness fell
And stars hovered low over the silent fields,
Dark larches, parking lots, and tractor sheds.
Inside the lightless church the priest began
The ancient prayers of desolate emptiness
To which the faithful whispered in reply,
Unworthy mourners at the Garden tomb,
Spiraling deeper and deeper in grief
Until that Word, by Saint Mary Magdalene
Revealed, with candles, hymns, and midnight bells
Spoke light and life to poor but hopeful souls.

The world is unusually quiet this dawn;
The sun is new-lamb warm upon creation,      
For Pascha gently rests upon the earth,
This holy Russia, whose martyrs and saints
Enlighten the nations through their witness of faith,
Mercy, blessings, penance, and prayer eternal
Now rising with a resurrection hymn,
And even needful chores are liturgies:
“Christos Voskrese  – Christ is risen indeed!”
And Old Kashtanka limps around the yard
Snuffling the boundaries on her morning patrol.
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall

                                    Well, Hey, Prison, Right?

                     When, with the chalice in his hands, the priest
                     came to the words ‘…receive me, O Lord, even
                     as the robber’, nearly all the convicts fell kneeling
                     to the ground with a jangling of fetters…

                           -Dostoyevsky, The House of the Dead

The first-period were really bad today
But, hey, prison, right?
The second-period were really good today
And, hey, prison, right?

After class a man arrived solo for Mass
And knelt before the Altar that isn’t there
The chaplains asked him if had been to supper
“No, but I’m not going to miss Mass.”

The man would not leave for his supper
Until the chaplains promised him again
That Mass would not begin without him
And it was so
                                     And that, too, is prison
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 31
Lawrence Hall

                        Cry "Havoc!" and Let Slip the Dogs of Joe!

That’s it. I’m not visiting the White House
Presidential dogs that bite are just too much
(If only Joe kept rabbits, or even a mouse)
I fear they’d find me toothsome to their touch

I wish I could attend a poetry reading
Or see Marine One land on the White House lawn
But I don’t want to be the lunch the dogs are eating
Or their contains-real-meat dog chewy-bone

I’m not visiting the White House, okay?
(And I haven’t been invited anyway)
Doggerel - with a real dog - is itself
Lawrence Hall Mar 30
Lawrence Hall

                      When Even Donald Trump is Clenching his Fist

When even Donald Trump is clenching his fist
It’s time to strike that posture off your list
Mar 29 · 66
The War on Books
Lawrence Hall Mar 29
Lawrence Hall

                                        The War on Books

          The war on books, codified by Stalin’s functionaries
          at the Soviet Writers’ Conference in 1934 and ruthlessly
          waged by the secret police for the following fifty years,
          was finally coming to an end, and Zhivago’s insurgent
          guerrillas were winning.

                             -Duncan White, Cold Warriors:
                    Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold war

What books will America purge this week -
What childhood adventures, what scholarly works
What entertainments of an idle hour
Will be forbidden to us in this Land of the Free?

We pray that nations blessed with liberty
Will smuggle books to us, stories and poems
With innocent ideas that give delight
And in their innocence threaten tyrants

What books will America purge this week –
And when did we become afraid of ideas?
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 28
Lawrence Hall

                               Palm Sunday Well-Sanitized

There is social distancing in Jerusalem
Mostly among Romans and Greeks and Jews
Who don’t much like each other anyway -
How is this day different from all other days? 1

This year there is no parking-lot procession
That’s good; the timing of the hymn in front
Never matches the timing ‘way in back
And the mail-order palms are sanitized

What hosannas this season, you may well ask:
Wave the virus and proclaim, “Wear your mask!”

1 Cf. The Seder

(This is only a bit of wry humor; good hygiene is always a matter of caritas in protecting others as well as one’s self.)
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 28
Lawrence Hall

                      Verse on the Cowling of a Model T Ford

          Flapper-sips forever
          No Janes
          No whisk-brooms
          Warm up your dog kennels
          And hop with that fire alarm

“This is the cat’s particulars, the bee’s knees,”
An owl-flap gushed, “Paper is so middlebrow
We hopper our lines on a motor now
It’s all about the new technologies!

"The old ways now stand back to let us pass
The carburetor rhythms our words with air
We write our poems with life, with speed and flair
The beat of the banger is the ultimate gas

“We are the apogee of poetry and art
There is no end; there is only our start!

A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 27
Lawrence Hall

                        Not Quite as Gregor Mendel Observed

Our cars are layered in pollen dust
That each old oak by nature yields
Especially on the poor windshields
Well-fertilized, and as nature must

By early summer –

Young windshields scampering across the fields
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 26
Lawrence Hall

                        Does Cambridge Have a Comma Too?

Oh, Oxford Comma, let all hail to thee
You sorter-out of tidy sequencings
Who suffer not confusion in categories
And marshal your strong words in battle lines

Oh, Cambridge, poor Cambridge, you have not
A comma of your own; your sequencings
Were lost among the fens in Hereward’s days -
You might want to go a-fishing for them

Oh, sure, Cambridge,

You have your arts and poetry and drama
But only Oxford boasts her very own comma
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 25
Lawrence Hall

                      A Lawnmower, Chlorophyll, Birds, and Love

           “A little place in the country, a dog, a few good books –
                               every Englishman’s dream”

            -David Niven as Sir Arthur in 55 Days at Peking

A lawnmower is a rackety thing
But the garden doesn’t seem to mind at all
This second mowing of the season:
“Just a little trim along the edges”

The bees among the flowers and their little pool
Bobbin’ robins up early for their worms
Woodpeckers and finches at the feeder
And young oak leaves showing off their new green

Honoring each life as a sister or brother –
Love is much better than shooting each other
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 24
Lawrence Hall

                               Soft, Skin-Sensitive Vegan Leather

Is vegan leather
(The grim question must be asked)
Made from real vegans?
A poem is itself.  I'm not sure about vegan leather.
Lawrence Hall Mar 23
Lawrence Hall

               The Men of the Bible Class Pose for a Photograph
                   on the Steps of the Methodist Church in 1968

My grandfather once threatened some other old man
With his pocketknife just before the ten o’clock
Maybe it was over a point of theology
That’s surely as exciting as Bible class ever got

The Baptist men were the city council
And most of the school’s board of trustees too
But the Methodists somehow had more self-assurance
You can see it in their bearing and their suits

They seem to be their fathers in 1898
With railroads and sawmills – great times ahead
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 22
Lawrence Hall

                               Poetry as a Form of Prayer

               (not an original observation, but let it stand)

Poetry is like prayer
A lifetime of study
and a study of life

You never get it right
The only miracle
is that you get it at all
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 21
Lawrence Hall

                        Colonial Rule from Low Earth Orbit

                         Telling lies to the young is wrong

                                      -Yevtushenko, “Lies”

Corporations and nations orbit the earth
Colonial rulers as satellites and drones
Enneagramming through our attic beams
Their mad, malevolent multi-wave streams

Ideas not our own – they coil and writhe
As sinister blue lights through days and nights
Device calling silently to device
In unheard hissings of infogoguery

We rattle our electronic chains about
And proclaim our freedom
                                          (as we are told)
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 20
Lawrence Hall

                                I was Hangin' with Miss Marple Last Week

         “I think, my dear, we won't talk any more about ******
                     during tea.  Such an unpleasant subject.”

                                 -4:50 from Paddington

I visited Miss Marple this past week
In her little home in St. Mary Mead
Fluffy in her appearance and pink of cheek
Troweling with vehemence another garden ****

Kindness itself, she asked me to sit down
On a wooden bench near the hollyhock
A warm soft evening with the bees around
And the hourly chime from the old church clock

Tea and scandal at four, soft-scented soap –

     And in Pentonville, forlorn of any hope

A murderer awaiting the hangman’s rope
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 19
Lawrence Hall

                                 Hey, I Really am a Neanderthal!

The spit-into-a-cup DNA folks
Advise me that 742 strands
Of vintage Neanderthal DNA
Are roaming loose in the tunnels of my being

It’s good to be descended from a fine old family
Maybe that’s why my ideas drag the ground
As I lope along following the science
Live chicken tastes a lot like rattlesnake

Why don’t you join me for dinner with the neighbors?
Their brains will go well with hyena blood
Do Neanderthals scan for blank verse?
Lawrence Hall Mar 18
Lawrence Hall

                              Select All Images with Traffic Lights

When the ink on his Gospel had barely dried
Saint Matthew was interrupted by angelic sights
And then to him a Voice from Heaven cried:
“Select all images with traffic lights!”

Old William Shakespeare was a poetic bloke
Who wrote his metered verse within the lines
But his editor demanded, with a voice that broke:
“Select all images with highway signs!”

So if, dear reader, you wish to have your say -
Forget it; you won’t pass the test anyway
Prove to me that I'm not a robot...Danger, Will Robinson!
Lawrence Hall Mar 17
Lawrence Hall

                        A Song of the Lord in a Foreign Land

          “How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?

                                             -Psalm 137

By the waters of the common sinks and stinks
They sat and wept, remembering their homes
Upon the razor wire they hung their hopes
          (Let my tongue be silent during roll call)

Their captors asked of them throughout the hours
Straight lines to the chow hall, well made-up bunks
On time to their classes and work details
          (Let my tongue be silent during roll call)

The lyrics of their songs were written by night
The notes and tones well-tuned to concrete walls
How could they sing songs of the Lord?
                                              How not?
          (Let my tongue be silent during roll call)

We all are exiles in a foreign land
          (Let our tongues sing praise after roll call)

(After over a year of lockdowns, volunteers are allowed back into Texas prisons today, Wednesday, Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2021. Saint Patrick, too, was a prisoner.)
Saint Patrick, ora pro nos.
Mar 16 · 78
Grandpa and the Kid
Lawrence Hall Mar 16
Lawrence Hall

                              Grandpa and the Kid

Grandpa gives his boy a toy truck
Or better yet a clanking army tank
Or maybe a plastic shovel and pail
Or a real Roy Rogers cowboy hat

And the little boy’s hovering mother clucks:
“Now what do you say to Grandpa? Tell me!
Say to Grandpa “Thank you.” We say “Thank you!”
No, don’t just run away; say “Thank you!”

[Extended Form for Certain Feasts and Seasons:

“Now what do you say to Grandpa? Tell me! Say to Grandpa “Thank you.” We say “Thank you!” No, don’t just run away; say “Thank you!” “Now what do you say to Grandpa? Tell me! Say to Grandpa “Thank you.” We say “Thank you!” No, don’t just run away; say “Thank you!” “Now what do you say to Grandpa? Tell me! Say to Grandpa “Thank you.” We say “Thank you!” No, don’t just run away; say “Thank you!” “Now what do you say to Grandpa? Tell me! Say to Grandpa “Thank you.” We say “Thank you!” No, don’t just run away; say “Thank you!” Amen.]

And Grandpa smiles and lights his favorite pipe
(His daughter rolls her disapproving eyes)
She sees tonight’s bath in the sand and grass
But Grandpa sees beyond this time and place

His boy builds a road, a fort, a castle, a corral
And Grandpa thanks God for his little pal
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 15
Lawrence Hall

                       Robin Hood and Jacques Derrida

As the first stars came out above the leaves
Of Merry Sherwood, the lads in peaceful repose
Put away their after-supper mending of gear
And idled over their ale of October brewing

Then Robin Hood spoke to Allan-a-Dale:

Don’t sing to us of Neo-Post-Colonial White Supremacist Patriarchal People-of-Color Matriarchal LGBTQTY Non-Binary Feminist Chomskian Existentialist (existentialist – how quaint) Hegelian Post-Structuralist Logocentric Sausurian Psychoanalytical Post-Modern Marxist Jungian New Critical Cognitive Scientific Neo-Anarchic Canon-Repudiationist Neo-Informalist Catarrhic De-Constructionism.

Sing to us
                                                       a story.
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 14
Lawrence Hall

                Socrates on the Courthouse Lawn in Liberty, Texas

                         “Strong minds discuss ideas,
                          average minds discuss events,
                          weak minds discuss people.”

                     -attributed to Socrates, but no one knows

Imagine if you will old Socrates
On an old wooden bench on the courthouse lawn
Playing checkers with all the other old men
On an old picnic table throughout the day

He lifts his old straw hat in the leafy shade
With his old bandana he wipes his old bald head
And sagely asks the old questions of us
And through his dialectic dismantles old cant

And that must be why, as the ages pass
They’ve made for him a monument here in the grass

(While passing through Liberty, Texas I saw on the courthouse lawn a marble slab engraved only with “Socrates”.)

Liberty County Courthouse -
Liberty, Texas, Bed & Breakfast Hotels (
Socrates (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
A poem is itself.
Lawrence Hall Mar 13
Lawrence Hall

                    Penguin-Random House Sends me a Survey
                    and Then Rules Me Unqualified to Respond

Survey Completed - Thank You / We're sorry.
You do not meet the qualifications
for this survey. We sincerely thank you
and appreciate your time and participation

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Poetry is where you find it.
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