When is a Man Ripe for Harvesting?

A collection of poems by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall


When is a Man Ripe for Harvesting?

Sunflowers are easy enough – the petals turn brown
And the base is yellow, or better yet
When in the heat of summer birds and squirrels
Present themselves in your garden as dinner guests

But humans, now – that’s a bit trickier
It would be most undignified to be eaten
And pills and electrocardiograms
Are even more undignified in their own ways

Autumn would be better, on a golden day
Yes, autumn, bright autumn
when the geese are calling


Farewell to an Old Comrade

“He yaf not of that text a pulled hen
That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men”
-Chaucer, Prologue, 177-178

A man visits his pal in the hospice room
Two great old pals, best friends from boyhood
In school and in the Army together
Best men at each other’s weddings long ago

Hunting trips, laughter, campfires, and coffee
They tramped the woods and fields into old age
Until the arthritis house-bound them at last
But, peace:
A good man whispers farewell to his dying friend:

“I remember our tramps through the mists on the moors –
And can I have that fine old Purdey of yours?”


Darwinians Infected with Cognitive Dissonance Visit Gettysburg on July 5th, 1863

They consider the news in several editions
Ignore the diagnoses of learned physicians
Number the dead at the local morticians

And conclude:

“They must have had pre-existing conditions”


The Cliché is to Say That We Didn’t See It Coming

A happy child, cuddling one of her pets –
That’s the picture they used for her obituary

We didn’t see it coming


Her Brief Candle
“Do we all holy rites…”
-Henry V, IV.viii.118

Her candle was too brief

But she was here
And she gave us joy

Conventionalities are no good now:
We are all stricken in the loss of a child
A happy child, in whom we are forever blessed
Today and forever, in happy remembrance

But still, it hurts
She’s not here now

Are we asking too much
That she should be?

No

Because if she were here
She would give meaning to our feeble words

“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and make perpetual Light to shine upon her.”


Death at 0200

Graduation shouldn’t be marked with casualty lists
Commencement’s happiness blighted by dawn
The quotes from Frost and Lincoln ashes and smoke
“Go forth!” now cancelled by “services pending”

Graduation shouldn’t be marked by casualty lists
A seat in university taken by another
A summer wedding that will never take place
A name not on the roll at recruit training

Graduation shouldn’t be marked by casualty lists
Of lives ended in the springtime of youth


The ’57 Chevy in the Woods

The shell of a Chevy rusted in the woods
Almost lost in the blackberry bushes
All of its windows broken, the front bashed in
Pale creepers writhing in and out and down

A rich man gave his son this car, they said
The boy wrecked out and died at hot rod speed
His daddy had the car towed into the weeds
Not knowing what else to do in his despair

We carelessly flung pine cones at the corpse
Then in our shame slunk quietly away


He Has it All – 1

An entire floor of a building he owns
The great room illuminated by soft lights
A perfect fireplace row of red oak flames
Beneath a mantel of carven German work

One wall is paneled with leatherbound great books
The seatings are a find from Finland last year
Champagne is set out in Romanov crystal flutes
His guests in evening wear wait silently

And as he is rolled away in funeral home wraps
His family are scrambling for the scraps


He Has it All – 2

An entire bunk in a shabby rented room
Illuminated by a dangling bare bulb
His plastic coffee mug, a sink full of dishes
Beneath a dusty window on the alley

A plywood shelf bears a television for cheap
From Goodwill, illegally wired to the cable
After pocketing his pal’s pocketknife
His roommate waits silently, and weeps

A pack of cigarettes, a Bic, a comb
And angels vying for the honor of bearing him Home


No Surrender to Viruses or Fools
“My head is bloody, but unbowed”
-Henley, “Invictus”

We planned to build in peace a better world
With hands and tools and minds and arts and sweat
A home and bed for every little child
With love and peace around each family’s hearth

But now we daily read the deaths of friends

Futility is wormed into our hopes
By fatal vapors coursing through the air
Adrift on breathy particles, scornful
Of everything we’ve worked for all our lives

For still we daily read the deaths of friends

Some of us blame each other, or just give up
And wallow in despair, but not you and I

Let’s help each other – we’ve got a world to build

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