Sunday, September 19, 2021

Love Against Chaos - poem


Lawrence Hall


Love Against Chaos


Chaos - when a child doesn’t have a bed for sleep

Good meals for nourishment, peace every day

Books of her very own to read and keep

Parents and friends, a few toys for play -


But when you make a child safe and warm for the night

And give her breakfast at the family table

Daily lessons for instruction and delight

A few easy chores, as far as she is able


And all in a home ruled with blessings and love

You give that child a happy life

                             And you give Chaos a shove

Friday, September 17, 2021

To Oaf Qweepers and Such - poem


Lawrence Hall


To Oaf Qweepers and Such


In your made-in-China cheap camouflage

A forty-four strapped to each forty-six waist

You fast-food waddle and wheeze along the streets

Waving your Pepe and Confederate flags


Playing at movie soldiers yet again

With other aging oafs in beards and tats

And yelping at people who work for a living

While you parasites just stink up the place


The rest of us are trying to build a nation


Get out of the way

Go home

And fondle your director’s cut of Patton

The Death of Our Old Hippie Truck Driver - poem


Lawrence Hall


The Death of Our Old Hippie Truck Driver


For Brian, of Happy Memory


For every star that falls to earth a new one glows.
For every dream that fades away a new one grows.


-Rod McKuen


Suddenly there was cancer eating away

At what was left of his star and his dreams

That second star to the right was suddenly closer

And we can’t know what that far shore is like


But he had often seen the rainbow’s end

Shining across the windshield of his rig

Over his mountains and his magic lands

Interstates according to Peter Max


For years he rolled to the beat of ‘68 -

No more runs, now; his logbook’s up to date

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Edgar Allan Poe Takes a Selfie and I Take an Antihistamine - errant nonsense


Lawrence Hall


Edgar Allan Poe Takes a Selfie and I Take an Antihistamine


Quoth the critic:

                             No one’s ravin’ y’know

Something about a bird – maybe a crow?

Lenore married a physicist on the go

Plutonium shore, not Plutonian (oh!)


Quoth the critic:

                              No more her beau

She kept the cage, but gave the bird to Poe

Anyway, the scientist’s name is Moe

She says his nuclear fission makes her glow


Quoth the critic:

                             Let’s end this show

(Antihistamines – I shoulda said no)


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

An Address to the Several Caesars and their Generals - poem


Lawrence Hall


For the Good of the Republic


To the Caesars and their Generals

(But not to the Senate; they have made themselves irrelevant)




You have medals and money and country estates

Book deals and bank accounts and pleasure gardens

You can retire in soft luxury now -

Your military contractors have seen to that


The Rubicon is ruby with your soldiers’ blood

And the Tiber is stopped with the loyal dead

Who fell upon your sword-sharp signatures -

And now you conspire against each other


You have done enough; go home to your musicians

Your receptions, your hunting parties, your…wives

You could pray for the dead

But you won’t




If you love your nation you will not meet

At the Milvian Bridge

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

You are a Solitaire - poem


Lawrence Hall


You are a Solitaire


A generation cannot choose to be lost

Even though many might give up on life

Sulk in self-pity in a crowded space

As if no one ever suffered before


But trust yourself to make a stronger choice

Refuse to be defined except by you

Consider the teachings of the wise, not the loud

And build your life by the standards you set


For after all, you are not a generation -

You are your own creative, industrious self

Monday, September 13, 2021

Paying the Electric Bill to a Tattooed Arm - poem


Lawrence Hall


Paying the Electric Bill to a Tattooed Arm


In the August-hot, exhaust-fumed drive-through

Summer-sun glare against the window glass

Armored against robbers and customers

Who might want to steal electricity in person


Through the glass one can see a slender arm

And a shift in the light shows it to be

All splotchy in decaying reds, greens, and blues

Seemingly covered in a foul tropical blight


The window slides open to a beautiful smile

The corpse-like arm pushes out



                                 A receipt

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Chicago, a German U-Boat, and a Cab Driver with a Secret Sorrow - weekly column, 12 September 2021


Lawrence Hall, HSG


Chicago, a German U-Boat, and a Cab Driver with a Secret Sorrow


Many years ago I had occasion to take a taxi in Chicago.


I’m still doing therapy.


I had arrived by train (“Grandpa, what’s a train?”) and had a six-hour wait for the next, so I took a taxi from Union Station to the Museum of Science and Industry for a celebration of Young Sheldon-ness.


The temperature that day was 106, but that was before climate change was invented so Chicago might be cooler now.


Union Station was not air-conditioned.


Chicago was not air-conditioned.


The cab was not air-conditioned.


The vinyl back seat was all greasy and yucky as if it had recently been used for carrying corpses down to the river.


The driver was all greasy and yucky too, and really big, so I kept the conversation to general topics and he kept it to an occasional grunt.  He seemed to be carrying a secret sorrow and maybe weaponry.


At one point there was a traffic jam so he whipped his cab onto the sidewalk for a block or so, scattering pedestrians. He appeared not to be in a sporting mood so the walkers became leapers, and energetic ones at that.


A few blocks further on we were stopped at a traffic light when he and the equally large driver in the cab next to us began exchanging verbal unpleasantries questioning each other’s genetic coding, modes of life, and value systems, not unlike primeval carnivores sizing each other up for lunch.


At one point my driver pulled off his shirt – he was not pretty – preparatory to doing battle. So did the other driver. Not pretty, no, no.


Chicago, city of the big shoulders. Big waistlines. Big fists.


Happily, at this moment the light changed and every driver began honking and, um, vocalizing their impatience. I discovered that this is a Chicago tradition: whenever the traffic light turns green everyone within a quarter-mile radius begins honking the horn, bellowing impatiently, and making any pedestrians around play dodge-human. Both the big men driving the taxies magically appealed to each other’s better natures and I was carried in safety to my destination.


You never see any of this on The Bob Newhart Show.


The Museum of Science and Industry – provided you can get there alive – is fascinating. One of the favorite exhibits was the computer display where you can walk through the remains of a second world-war British computer. Beyond the huge steel frame and what looked like chain drives there is little left.


Especially fascinating was a working replica of Blaise Pascal’s 17th century calculating machine, often considered the world’s first such gadget although it is possible that the Greeks and Romans managed similar devices. No apps for games, though.


How the Pascaline Works - YouTube


The claustrophobia-inducing German u-boat is also fascinating. Someone cut some hatches on the sides of the hulls so you can sort-of walk through it. I don’t remember that I was able to stand up fully at any point. I do remember the pretty blue-and-white-checked sheets and an occasional wooden bulkhead panel. Sleep was a matter of a rotating hot-bunk system and everyone lived and worked and often died in a milieu of heat and racket and machinery and torpedoes and valves and gauges. In the summer heat the temperature inside the hull was over 110, which, the docent advised us, was about the typical inside temperature when the boat was at sea.


The deck gun had been removed and placed inside where children played on it and pointed and trained the gun all around.


I understand that in Chicago children still play with guns.


The unarmed taxi drivers are scary enough.




The Last Time I Saw Dan - poem


Lawrence Hall


The Last Time I saw Dan


It’s only a Denny’s, right? Over on Garth Road

Just off the interstate.  Breakfast with Dan

Years ago now, but the table was still there

Where we drank coffee and I mostly listened


Oh, his body was frail, had been for years

But his mind, oh, that mind, physician and pilot

Philosopher, writer, scientist, raconteur

His thoughts were always far beyond the stars


I thought of him all through my breakfast special

And when I left, patted the vinyl bench

                                               where he had lived