Books Are Secret Places

Books are secret places where words go to hide
When the world goes wrong, and children are hurt
By grownups who never learned how to read or love
Or even tell funny stories around the campfire…

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You Shut Up! No, You Shut up! No, You Shut Up First!

Censorship is the control of public speech by a government agency; it has always existed and always will. Even the freest government cannot allow state secrets to be published. Censorship, when kept in its legal place, is good; when it is not kept in its legal place, it is bad.

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Two Political Campaign Signs Set on Fire

Perhaps that’s all the fire they’ve got this year
Obediently yapping into the dark
In camouflage knee-pants and plastic shoes
Both sides agreeing only in their hate…

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Political Voices

Bitter Old Men Yelping at Each Other:
My country, ‘tis of thee
“Get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap!”
Sweet land of liberty
“What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name!”

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Loaves and Wishes

“Is there a vegan option?”
“Are these fish from renewable stocks?”
“Is this bread gluten free?”
“Is this all you’ve got – bread and fish?”

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Mi Corazon

As we were finishing our meal and our catching-up, the restaurant manager walked by slowly with an elegant, elderly lady on his arm.
“This is my son,” the elegant lady said to us. “Don’t you think he is handsome?”

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Book Shops Offer Us Civilizations

Book shops offer us civilizations
Democracies of the living and the dead –
Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, and you
Over cups of coffee wrangling meter and rhyme…

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The Chainsaw Days of September

These are the chainsaw days, humid and hot
Wind-blasted shingles and wind-blasted trees
And clearing windfall in the gasping heat:
Litter to the burn-piles, firewood to the stacks…

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Weathering Plague-Time and Hurricanes

…But this year all your friends fit into cubes
On the computer screen at your kitchen table
And you hope your stupid brother won’t dance
Across the room in his Captain Marvel underwear…

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In Media Res All Is Chaos

Maybe I disappoint, but now I prefer
That safe distance Yevtushenko condemned
Because in media res all is chaos
The immediacy of emotion and pain…

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Two Cones

And now two cones are moving up the coast
Maybe tomorrow they’ll move back down again
While we stack toilet paper and MREs
Perhaps the ice cream truck’s an ice cream float…

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A Statue of Our Favorite War Hero

Let us build a statue of Sergeant Schultz
Standing bravely at the door of Baracke 2
With a bouquet of flowers in one mighty hand
And a slice of apple strudel in the other…

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Your Job is Essential

Some say this is the age of the coronavirus. Perhaps it is, but more than that this is the age of incoherence. No one agrees on what the killer virus is, where it came from, masks or not masks, isolation or congregation, work or no work, treatments, dubious medicines (Macbeth IV:1), numbers of deaths, or the utility of borders (Richard II II:1)

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Summer of the Blue Helmets

Sergeant Schneider barked at us, his young heroes
And made us crawl the beach at Oceanside
And tho’ he made each day’s harsh training1 sting
One evening at Mass we heard sweet children sing…

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Behind the Mask

A collection of poems by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall
We mourn the passing of poor Joe Draper
Crushed by falling cases of toilet paper
And though poor Joe had fever, ‘flu, and gout,
It was the toilet paper that wiped him out

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Civic Holiday (Canada)

With Jesus and some children and a sheep
The funeral home Catholic calendar says
That today is “Civic Holiday (Canada)”
I don’t know what that is, this August day…

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