Out Of Service

A collection of poems by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall written over the summer of 2021 (Rated PG)

Cognitive Dissonance by Order of Higher Authority

The greatest evil is…conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices…
-C. S Lewis, Preface to The Screwtape Letters

It is illogical to determine
That a class of humans must not be human
And so not only may this class be destroyed
But must be destroyed for some sort of cause

It is illogical to determine
That some should be ashes or specimens in jars
Quivering bloody lumps flung into fires
Or into bags labeled “Medical Waste”

It is illogical to determine
Who may live, and who must be
medically served

The Epistemology of Lies

Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
-Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov

The problem is not in detecting a lie
But in detecting that which is not a lie
In a fallen world in which snakes twist and writhe
Around the golden apples of our youth

Through our garden they slither, shiny and smooth
And at first softly, susurrantly, soothingly
Assuring us that that we don’t know what we know
That we should trust them, follow them, obey them

And if we pause to think, they bully us all –
And one by one the golden apples fall

As the Rescuers Stood Down
Surfside, Florida

When the rescuers stood down last night they left
Their prayers, their desperate hopes, their bitter tears
Upon those troubled rocks where they poured out love
They poured themselves, and they are empty now

What’s left must soon come down:

Concrete and steel, toys and dolls, Mama’s pictures
Letters from friends, ‘phones that won’t ring anymore
Eyeglasses, fountain pens, lesson plans, books
Spare change, unfinished poems, unfinished lives

The rescuers will return, and try again
Because their hearts are in that wreckage still

A Laser Focus on Screaming Deaths

Look upon my Works, ye Mighty, and despair
-Shelley, “Ozymandias”

Laser focus laser focus laser
Focus laser focus laser focus
Laser focus teens falling to their deaths
Laser focus escape for two thousand dollars

Laser focus or a promissory note
If the enemy overrun the airport
We’ll laser focus your refund back to you
With this laser focus degree of precision

Shredded body in the laser focus
Of the wheel well

Bagram Air Base – Under New Management
(Shelley was Right)

I met a veteran from an antique land,
Who said – “A looted fortress of concrete
Stands in the desert…Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk lies a computerized spreadsheet

Whose clever numbers and totaled-up tallies
Tell that our keyboard commanders well read
The shifting winds in political rallies
(Never mind an accurate count of the dead)

And on the side of a wrecked deuce-and-a-half:
My name is Builder of Democracies;
Look upon my Works, ye Mighty – and laugh!
The well-built airbase remains yet today

To that colossal base still standing there
The Chinese army speeds from far away.”

Bismarck and Hood

Pocket knives, love letters, rosaries, wrenches
Pictures of ski trips, girlfriends, wives, and mums
Notebooks, youthful attempts at poetry
Toothbrushes, naughty pictures, candy from home

Lockers of toilet paper and light bulbs
Study guide outlines for promotion exams
Spit-shined shoes, the smoking lantern is out
Now battle lanterns and battle stations

Death-screamings through the ventilator exhaust
From thousands of teenaged boys forever lost



Thus saith the comma-less yellow plastic bags
Fitted to the gasoline pumps of the nation
Where men are free from fuel and punctuation
Free not to take vaccines, wear masks, or vote


The check is in the mail that does not come
Or maybe in a hijacked delivery truck
Silhouetted by a burning liquor store
Where dreams of lottery winnings go to die


And there’s nothing left in the looted shops
(Let’s blame the teachers, Asians, and cops)

You’ll Have to Bring Your Own Shovel

The rising waters are not baptismal
Sandbags are available at the precinct barn
And presumably sand; you’ll have to bring
Your own shovel, though, and your own muscles

They say we don’t need our masks anymore
We could sew them into little sandbags
And use them protect a child’s dollhouse
Against the rising storms of adolescence

Then at bedtime read a book to the child:
Goodnight, Storms from the Gulf of Mexico

We are not Adjectives

Hemingway says we should eliminate adjectives
(I really have a thing against adverbs, actually)
And, yes, Mr. Hemingway is correct
(But I’m very sure I am too, totally):

Conservative, liberal, democrat
Republican, fascist, reactionary
Communist, progressive, socialist, green
Centrist, radical, neo-this or -that

Noise, all noise through the television night –
But you in your wisdom are peace
and light

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