The Road, The Tao, The Way

A short collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall


An Exercise in Humility and Colombian Coffee

I once saw one of those slogan coffee cups
(I’m sure it would have served as well for tea)
Which read something like this:

The beginning of faith
Is to realize that you are not
The ruler of the Universe

And it is so – I am not very good
At ruling even myself


Corporate-Speak Inquisitors Meet with the Faithful

They do not wear dark robes or sinister hoods
Nor even Roman collars with their Izod shirts
In fetching pastel shades of harmlessness
They rule with legal pads and plastic pens

They question us about our parish and priest
And rattle the matter of closing the church
Though it’s difficult to take seriously pasty old men
Who seem to be a bench of Miss Marples

They do not wear dark robes or sinister hoods
But menace us with evasive can’ts and coulds


My Bourgeois Leanings
“One day, at a meeting of the Komsomol…he was accused of bourgeois leanings just because he happened to wear a tie.” -Yevtushenko, A Precocious Autobiography, recounting an anecdote by his father

I am the only man who wears a tie
With proper coat and trousers (inspection pass)
Properly kitted like a proper guy
To weddings, funerals, dinners, and Sunday Mass

I am the only man who does not wear
Sneakers or baseball caps, gas-station shades
Knee pants, tee shirts, jeans with a built-in tear
Or plastic jackets shaped like hand grenades

If we are facing civilization’s end –
One’s trousers touch one’s oxfords with a quarter-inch bend


The Narthex as a Barricade

I have become a greeter in my old age
(Why is that pickup truck circling the parking lot?)
How good to see you! What happy children you have!
(Any bulges in that unknown man’s pockets?)

The Altar servers are in place for the processional
(Why is that man just sitting in that car?)
The lector gives everyone a word of welcome
(Pssst – do you know that guy sitting in the back?)

I open doors and hand out bulletins
And watch


The Road, The Tao, The Way
“The road goes ever on and on” -Tolkien

There is of course the Road, the Tao, the Way
And traveling it is more difficult with age
Or maybe now it travels more for us
But still the Road, the Tao, the Way leads on

When I was young over my shoulder I slung
A canvas bag with a toothbrush and a book
A pen, some poems, and dreams that wrote themselves
And I smoked my pipe and sang as I marched

Some have walked with me, and I with others
Most of them have walked ahead, and are gone
I think they are waiting for me among those stars
Who lighten and brighten as the sun sails away

At dusk Yeats and I talked about the Road
He said he thought there might be a poem


To the Cranky Old Man Who Complains About Girls Wearing Short Skirts in Church

If it were a crime to be young and pretty
The kids could be up for the death penalty

If it were a crime to be young and pretty
The case against you would be adjourned sine die

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