We All Dream of Our Own Library Someday

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall


Four Out of Nine Muses Recommend Poetry

Four out of nine Muses recommend poetry
More doctors recommended Camel cigarettes
But we are not speaking of burning poetry
Except by tyrants, who are frightened of words

Kalliope, Cleo, Erato, and Euterpe
Have split the poetry racket among themselves
The other Muses have business of their own
Worthy enough in their own arts, we’re sure

But oh, our four Muses, our Muses four –
We sing for you along your Ionian shore


We All Dream of Our Own Library Someday
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
-attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero
Ad Familiares, Letter IV to Varro

We all dream of our own library someday
Shelf after shelf of finely bound editions
An oak-paneled room with a stone fireplace
And French windows that open to the sea

We all dream of our own library someday
A handsome wooden table instead of a desk
Lamplight and candlelight that fall upon
The open pages of a Russian poet

We all dream of our own library someday –
For now, a back-pack paperback must do

(My dream library is in a wood or a wooded park, but “sea” set itself into place and refused to move. Perhaps I saw your dream library for a moment.)


Book Reviewers Promote Freedom by Giving Orders
“Obey me and be free!”
-Number Six in the “Free for All” episode of The Prisoner

The irony of the imperative in most reviews
Is to make a command that the reader must heed
Keeping in chains the literary muse:
You must read this must-read which you need to read


But She’s Not My Wife

Most nights I go to bed with Agatha Christie
My wife and dog are quite okay with that

(Not a Spenserian amoretti moment)


Chuck Lorre is Shakespeare with a Laptop

Chuck Lorre is Shakespeare with a laptop
Bill Prady is Wodehouse at a whiteboard
Their Pasadena is the Forest of Arden
Or Totleigh Towers at a city bus stop

They have built for us an unfallen world
Of Woosterian plots and app-crossed lovers
At play in the laboratories of the Lord
Where the magic works but the elevators don’t

Chuck and Bill’s stories are always well-wrought
And they end each one with a provocative thought


Have You Read All These Books?

“Have you read all these books?”
“No, nor have I seen every dawn.”


The Critics Not Taken

Everyone says we’re reading the poem all wrong –
“The Road Not Taken” is about Edward Thomas
Joining the army or Robert Frost not
And why is one road less traveled and is that good?

Is it bad? And why is the wood yellow?
Who is prolonging the decision, and why?
Maybe the road not taken should be
Quoting it at every high school graduation

We’ve heard it so often that we want to say:
Just make a decision then go away!


Slogging Through the Cantos

A feral howl of sustained malevolence
The souring stench of anti-Semitism
Random ideograms scattered about
Appropriating a touch of Chinese cool

Defining tainted chic at Rapallo
Free verse scattered like post-war hopes shattered –
And did he take a splash of Mussolini
With his death-in-the-afternoon denials?

How awkward for those whose poetic sage
Was but a mad relic of a tattered age

(Death in the afternoon was a fashionable cocktail)


Lady Macbeth’s Cat

Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would”
-Macbeth I.vii.48

Lady Macbeth wrangled with Macbeth during dinner
At cross purposes outside the banqueting hall
A privy conference as to who was the worse sinner
She thought him weak; he, that she was full of gall

She wanted one thing, and he another
He yelled that she was unreasonable and demanding
She screamed that he never liked her mother
And on and on, outside on the landing

The argument was about, as it came to pass,
What dress she should wear to the king’s funeral mass

Afterword:

Oh, and that’s all to the story, no more than that;
She had little to say about the cat

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