Upon Reading

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

A Poem is its Own Studio

Words lift themselves from the canvas of life

The iambs are open so that the light drifts in
On the artist’s favorite smiling verb
Posing on a dais draped with flowing dreams
Before a canvas of possibilities

Words lift themselves from the canvas of life

A splash of adverb might go here – or not
Maybe a subtle conjunction instead to join
The thesis and the antithesis
In a loving reconciliation

Embraced by silent interjections of love
Words lift themselves from the canvas of life

Famous Name Brand Literary Magazine Gives Only Four Commands Today

Famous name brand literary magazine
Gives us all only four commands today:

You should be watching
Reviews You Need to Read This Week
Start Listening Now
Start Reading Now

To which we who are obstinate respond:


If I Win the Lottery

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
-Fr. Zosima in Book II, Chapter 2 of The Brothers Karamazov

If I win the lottery, which is unlikely
Because I never buy a ticket, you know
I’m going to have cases of the Modern Library edition
Of The Brothers Karamazov shipped to me.

For the rest of my life I will give copies
To everyone I meet: men in red plastic caps
Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, vegetarians
A lonely soul waiting at the bus stop

Dostoyevsky for everyone
If I win the lottery

The Last Literary Magazine I Will Ever Buy

A weighty enough tome for fourteen dollars
Guest-edited by a famous visiting poet
For that much money there should be more hollers
But it’s mostly free verse, wouldn’t ya know it

Self-pitying free verse (oh, how I have suffered)
First-person pronouns shattered and scattered about
From each other with white space well buffered
Each polemic a sustained, censorious pout

The thesis of each yelp in this literary gong?
All that we say and do and think is wrong

The Natural Voice of Poetry
“The modern kings will throttle you to greet
The piping voice of artificial birds”
-Claude McKay, “To a Poet”

We love the natural voice of poetry
Sung through parking lots and lonely rooms
In low, soft winds that sigh through empty cans
Discarded on the banks of the River Lethe

But we must suffer those artificial birds
Against whom we were cautioned by friend McKay
Who landed in New York and made it Jamaica
There through the natural voice of poetry

By him the artificial birds were set to flight
And the songs of exiles given harmony and light

Upon Reading C. S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man
For Grace
“…the doctrine of objective value…” -p. 29

At least I think I read it, did I not?
The book exists and was read, but by whom?
I’m beginning to feel that I’m the trousered ape
Who feels that a slide rule is for scratching one’s back

But reality obtains – if a tree falls
That tree forever falling in the forest
In 7th grade science, and no one hears it
It sends a sound into the universe

I think I understand about truth and space
But if I’m confused, I’ll simply ask Grace!

Upon Reading Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

Cohen took his soul out into the desert
He may have left part of it there to burn
Upon the sands of war and the sands of time
A chord that echoes in an Egyptian wind

As with a corpse-like tank in hull defilade
Or an Uzi rusting among the rocks
The prayers of Yom Kippur in whispers sung
The desert waits for us to worship there

Cohen took his soul out into the desert
We should gird our loins and go look for it

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