Around the House

Washing Machine

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


The Darwinian Cat
For Pepper-Cat, who brought us a Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana Berlandier)

But then, all cats are dour Darwinians
Students of the evolution of creatures
Sometimes with the eyes of good scholars, yes
But mostly by killing and eating them

They like gophers and green lizards the best
Careless cardinals and poor baby squirrels
But never snakes or scorpions or such-like pests
Or stringy, door-knocking evangelists

They eat little animals who hide in the wood –
They would eat Darwin too, if only they could!


A Pocket Notebook Found in an Old Coat

1. Memos to myself in the long ago:

McKuen asks me for my autograph
Cohen offers me one of his coolest hats
Or maybe that famous blue raincoat
Pushkin’s spirit challenges me to a duel

Book-signing in Harrod’s on Saturday
An invitation from the Bishop of Rome
For the same day as the Queen’s garden party
I need to find full-dress for the Nobel

2. Memo to myself now:

Well, maybe next year in Jerusalem –
I always keep my passport up to date


Music Around the House

There is music around the house today:
The old refrigerator hums a tune from Frozen
Handel might envy the washer’s Water Music
And the off-center dryer waltzes Blue Danube

The air-conditioner calls the wind Mariah
Boiling pasta plays a stovetop marimba
The vacuum cleaner is a Wagnerian storm
And the microwave joins in with a ring

There is music around the house today:
In rhythms of work, imagination, and play


If You Sing a Song and No One Hears It

If you sing a song and no one hears it
The song is heard
If you write a poem and no one reads it
The poem is read
If you draw a picture and no one sees it
The picture is seen
If you read a book and no one knows it
The book is known
If you speak of love, and there is no love –
Oh, yes, there is

When you give something to the universe
It was given to you first
And you have kindly sent it on


The Magical Mobile Music Cabinet

An indifferent piece of family laminate
Inherited by my mother in the long ago
And in my turn by me. Moved from her house
To my garage for a time, and then inside

And then to the house where my brother lives
And then back to mine, and then back again
Where it looks to stay as an office file
That magical mobile music cabinet

I know this tale is loose and unraveling
About a cabinet that’s always traveling

(Women command that furniture be moved –
And men obey!)


Isometric Exercises against Walls

They have piled up walls; we push against walls
We push against them with our bodies and minds
The walls do not move, and we hurt
But we grow strong

They have piled up walls; we write lines upon walls
We speak against walls with our words and hearts
The walls do not fall, and we hurt
But we still speak

They have piled up walls; we pray against walls
And we grow strong
And we still speak
And we still love


Doing the Laundry

Doing the household laundry is rather fun
The old roundy-go-thump washing machine
Roundy-go-thumps in time to the dishwasher
While the electric dryer waits patiently

Someday I will have a clothesline again
And summer days and summer sun will love
My shirts and towels so sweetly dry that they
Will want to fly away on the summer breeze

And when the clothes have been folded away
The sun will want to come inside to play


When a Man is Old
For Presidents and Others: A Meditation on Aging Gracefully

Now when a man is young, he gives his strength
In service to his nation and the Faith
In war and peace, and at his family hearth
In work, and in his humble place at Mass

But when a man his old, he then should choose
To ‘change his work for a good walking stick
And sit outside the Blue Boar Inn with pipe
And glass and friends and happy memories

There is honor in manly endeavors
And honor in finally letting them go


Bifocalism for the Masses and, Like, Stuff

Bifocals – the upper lens sees far away
The sun and the moon and the dancing stars
All in their appointed places above
Great mountains and oceans and thunderstorms

Bifocals – the lower lens sees the end of your nose
The sweep hand dancing around your Timex watch
The book you are reading, the book you are writing
Your thoughts encoded in orderly lines

Bifocals – both lenses balance your sense of vision –
But take the stairs with care and precision!


Too Much Coffee Can Cause Your Brain to Shrink
(Hey, it was on the InterGossip; it must be true)

Coffee causes your heart to beat too fast
Coffee causes your heart to beat too slow
Coffee causes your heart to beat just right
Coffee alters your DNA and your mind

No, it doesn’t!
Yes, it does!
Doctors say…!
Studies show…!

Say yes, say no, say so, whaddaya know?
Now pour me another cuppa that joe!


Some Nights Around 0400

Some nights around 0400
The silence calls you up for a dreamless dream
About your future and about your past
About that somenight when your dreams are done

The dancing figures of the flickering past
Figure across the pages of the night
Some as happy memories
Some in sorrowful rebuke

Your scope of activity is limited now
But what will you do in the morning?


Washing-Machine Archaeology

History passes, so do washing machines
Rattling and spinning to the end of their span
Their dutiful cleanings cleaned out at last
Whited sepulchers around silent drums

The householder as Howard Carter finds
Behind a dead machine “Yes, wonderful things!”
Clothes hangers, metastasized dust bunnies
Inexplicable stains that hiss and spit

And in a midden, he discovers with a shock –
Almost embalmed – that famous long-lost sock!

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