In Media Res All Is Chaos

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated PG)

An August Day – But on What Planet?

An August day of dragging hoses, washing dishes
Watching hummingbirds while doing the laundry
Pulling up the last exhausted tomato vines
Feeding the dogs and cats, mowing the lawns:

The summery hours of heat and work and sweat
Considering the clouds and praying for rain
Enjoying the way the light falls on the grapes
And marveling how green the grass still is

And in the evening a glass of iced tea
And then the news –
What planet are they on?

A Reflection on Choices Made
“…they have failed to tell the truth, preferring a safe distance”

Maybe I disappoint, but now I prefer
That safe distance Yevtushenko condemned
Because in media res all is chaos
The immediacy of emotion and pain

The best of intentions, sodden with blood
Conflicting condemnations stinging with pain
Choosing to be involved, and then condemned
The sneers and scorn of an ungrateful nation

Only in reflection, with confusion crossed
Does a man learn whether he won or lost

Inactive Shooters

If only there were inactive shooters
And inactive shooting situations –
Cafes where nothing much is going on
And we forget to learn where the exits are

Terrorists too lazy to lock ‘n’ load
Bigots rising up only for another beer
Ku Klux Klankers taking a laundry day
Mad bombers playing barefoot among the flowers

A parking ticket making the front page –
If only there were inactive shooters

(Previously published in a vanity anthology, Don’t Forget Your Shoes and Grapes)

But He Had a Pre-Existing Condition

Foul smoke, yellow and sour from rubbish fires
Spasms like a snake with a broken back
Twisting among our crumbling Qumran caves
Wherein our scrollies might someday be found

Rumors as well as smoke patrol our roads
Each contradicting the other with absolutes
The eternal verities of this hour
Which must be obeyed until they must not

The death of your friend is irrelevant:
He had a pre-existing condition

It is what it is

Poetry and Hamburgers

Only in Russia is poetry respected –
it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else
where poetry is so common a motive for murder?

-attributed to Osip Mandelstam

Only in America is a hamburger respected –
It gets people killed. Is there anywhere else
Where not making a ‘burger fast enough
Is so common a motive for murder?


The Congress of Vienna Sausage

How strange to find that we are Metternichs
Among a scape of crumbling institutions
Of cracked and weedy streets, with last night’s screams
Souring in the searing, soulless midday sun

Our dreams deferred, our works falling apart
The processes of being that seemed resolved
Now knotted and tangled beyond all knowing
Our spiritual compasses pointing back at us

But we are here, with shovels, buckets, and brooms,
Lifting the CAUTION tapes, and cleaning up


“Now Tell Me Again the Things We’re Against”

She told us that she had truly been saved
Her new life of freedom had now commenced
Then she turned to a co-religionist and raved
“Oh, tell me again about the things we’re against!”

What Are We Anti Today?
“’Cause we’re the people, and we just keep on a’dragging each other down.”
-as Ma Joad does not say in The Grapes of Wrath

Being against a man because he is
Against another man will not thus lead
A man to be a man for any man

All Those Silences are Wrong

There are those who never listen to us
And there are those who snoop into our souls
And we hear not the sufferings of others
And we delight in hearing of their pain

Everybody, switch categories now

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