Like Candles When They Quietly Go Out

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


Like Candles When They Quietly Go Out
“He mourns the sons of princes, sown in the dust.” -The Seafarer

When we were young
A friend once showed me a passage in a book
In which the monks of a certain cloistered order
Were often blessed with wonderfully peaceful deaths
Like candles when they quietly go out

Domine exaudi orationem meam

Now we are old
Our books require a rather larger print
Our foolish dreams were put by long ago
And the works of our youth are memories
Like candles when they quietly go out

Domine exaudi orationem meam

And we are candles
Still giving out a little bit of light
Anticipating with hope the morning Sun

Domine exaudi orationem meam


Jacques Says Little About Lingering
Reflections after a Nuclear Stress Test

A youth almost rushes to throw his life away
In questing Shakespeare’s bubble reputation
An old man wants to cling to life a little more
Another year, please, or another day

But mortality lies within the man
A metaphorical battery that doesn’t last
In shipping and handling contents may have settled
There may be a penalty for early withdrawal

But life is not for our casual disposal
For it is an eternal summer dawn


A Cloud of Unknowing in Ordinary Time

Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense
You’d think that hurting like an adolescent
Would end with adolescence
But it doesn’t

Maybe we can find some good in the hurt
That when we hurt we’re carrying someone else’s hurt
It sounds awfully thin
Maybe it’s enough


Something About Life
“Live. Just live.” -Yuri in Doctor Zhivago

The plane lifted, and the cheering was wild
And then pretty quickly the pilot said
“We are now clear of Vietnamese
Territorial waters.” There was joy,
Even wilder cheering for most, and quiet
Joy for a few. For me, Karamazov
To hand, peace, and infinite gratitude.
“I’m alive,” I said to myself and to God,
“Alive. I will live, after all.” To read, to write,
Simply to live. Not for revolution,
Whose smoke poisons the air, not for the war,
Not to withdraw into that crippling self-pity
Which is the most evil lotus of all,
But to live. To read, to write.
But death comes,
Then up the Vam Co Tay, or now in bed,
Or bleeding in a frozen February ditch;
Death comes, scorning our frail, feeble, failing flesh,
But silent then at the edge of the grave,
For all graves will be empty, not in the end,
But in the very beginning of all.


The Great Replacement Theory

But of course we will all be replaced
We sit outside at dusk with single-malt and cigars
Low voices remembering the challenges we’ve faced
Our loves and losses, children, careers, and wars

Yes, of course we will all be replaced
Others will sit on this lawn and watch the stars
Perhaps in these same chairs, carelessly spaced
And ask each other: Is that Venus? Or Mars?

For you and I will return to dust, old man –
As must everyone in God’s great Plan


The Last Time I Saw Dan

It’s only a Denny’s, right? Over on Garth Road
Just off the interstate. Breakfast with Dan
Years ago now, but the table was still there
Where we drank coffee and I mostly listened

Oh, his body was frail, had been for years
But his mind, oh, that mind, physician and pilot
Philosopher, writer, scientist, raconteur
His thoughts were always far beyond the stars

I thought of him all through my breakfast special
And when I left, patted the vinyl bench
where he had lived

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