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Tom Hanks Makes America Great Again

Variations on a theme

He who hesitates is lost
He who masticates is flossed
He who vegetates is mossed
He who masturbates is tossed
He who capitulates is bossed
He who gesticulates is crossed
He who intoxicates is sauced

Short Story: A Poem

“For my pleasure I had as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.”
—Robert Frost

*
I. The Boxer Rebellion

Your turn of that page
has opened a drawer.
My home. I am his underwear.

He’ll always show you
the contents of his drawers
but never what he’s wearing.

He’s that kind of fellow.
But I’ll give you a clue:
I am his only pair of boxers.

To put it briefly,
he suffers a shortage.
Why only one of me?

Why only one day
of freedom per week
when he could have seven?

That is the question
I once heard
his girlfriend ask.

He replied like Robert Frost
that a little freedom
is almost too much

and went home and
put on briefs.
Short changed.

*
II. A Brief History of the Work Week

Briefs #1 (Sunday)
Freedom’s just another word for lost
In funhouse laundromats where dreams are tossed.

Briefs #2 (Monday)
You’ve got to work to make a living wage,
You’ve got to button up your daily rage.

Briefs #3 (Tuesday)
You’ve got to count your syllables and keep
Your cock and scrotum snug and fast asleep.

Briefs #4 (Wednesday)
You’ve got to keep your humpday hopes pressed down,
It makes no difference if you smile or frown.

Briefs #5 (Thursday)
You might love her, she might love you, but then
Your Adam’s apple bulges up again.

Briefs #6 (Friday)
Thank God? Well, maybe in the morning light,
But Eden’s underwear gets torn at night.

Briefs Chorus (all together)
Like Frost said, don’t play tennis without net.
Don’t let your balls fly free from match to set.

*
III. The Girl Who Was Saturday

I like it when my man is frisky
But when he drinks too much he gets so frisky
Like a shooting star on a Saturday night
He shines so bright but then he passes out.

I like it when he takes me out dancing,
I like it when he cuts loose a little bit, you know,
On a Saturday night after a long week of work,
When he takes off that tie, loosens up his collar, and swings like a birch tree.

I like it when my man gets frisky
And I like to drink and have a good time
But if he drinks too much too fast he passes out too soon
And when I’m ready for the fun to continue on, he’s gone.

He’s lying there in his boxer shorts. I love those boxers,
The ones with the palm trees and the Christmas lights,
He looks so peaceful sleeping there, like an angel, like a fallen soldier, like a child,
But I want my man to wake up and take me to the promised land.

I like it when my man is frisky, when he’s had just a little whisky.
But when I see him on a Wednesday or a Thursday,
He never has those boxers on, he’s wound up tight and white,
But I love my man when he gets frisky on a Saturday night.

*
IV. The Naked Poet Speaks

O boxers, I hear the siren call
Of your easy-open fly
And your free and airy ways.

O briefs, you’ve
held me close and kept me
Safe since childhood.

O Adam, O Eve, O Fruit
Of the Loom, what have you wrought?
Who told you you were naked?

Since childhood, I’ve been
Burdened and blessed with the words
For the days of the week.

I’ve been clothed
With the fabric of toil and dread,
Of yesterday and tomorrow.

But now I stand undressed
Before the dresser of my shame,
I stare into the abyss of my drawers.

In this present moment
I ask of you, O Robert Frost: speak
Your will and testament to me.

*
V. The Shorts Not Worn
(with apologies to Robert Frost and his underwear)

Two shorts submerged in a yellow drawer
And sorry I could not model both
And be one wearer, long I wore
The tighter briefs till I was sore
And then I bent and scratched my undergrowth.

Then took the boxers, just as fair
And having no doubt the looser fit
They were the ones I wanted to wear;
So easy to whip it out and piss anywhere,
The opening truly being made for it.

And both that morning equally lay
In my drawer with shirtsers and socksers.
Oh, I kept the briefs for another day!
Yet knowing how freedom has to have its way
I doubted if I should ever change from boxers.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
On Korrektiv.org ages and ages hence.
Two pairs of shorts in a drawer, and I—
I wore the ones more loose to thigh
And that has made all the difference.

*
VI. Whose Woods These Are

We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief exposé.
The frost is coming, so bundle up, okay?
Be it brief or boxer, boxer or brief,
Relax, unwind, get some relief.

*
VII. Epilogue

The page has turned, the drawer
is closed. The leaves are
falling from the trees.

One brisk fall morn, in the middle of the week,
whistling a carefree tune, he put me on,
slipped on some pants, a shirt, socks and loafers.

I said, Man are you puttin’ me on?
He said: Well,
I’m taking the day off.

And we went shopping
over at that dress-for-less place
and bought a bunch more of me.

Two packs of three, to be exact,
and that’s enough to form a tribe,
for seven days of freedom every goddam week.

The woodchucks and squirrels
are squirreling away their nuts
in the backyard as daylight declines.

But his are hanging loose now
as he kneels and asks his girl
if she’ll tie the knot with him next summer.

So it seems that just when he found
his freedom, he gives it up.
I’m not surprised. He’s that kind of fellow.

*
*
*
THE END

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Birthday Limerick

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A fellow named Potter was born
On this date in a stable, forlorn
And the angels sang Hank
Williams songs while they drank
Irish ale from the night till the morn.

Nicholas Frankovich on Several Things

At National Review Online. Like so many other writers I’ve discovered at the magazine over the years, Nicholas Frankovich has become the guy to go to for the Catholic culture overview.

On Trump’s intrusion into sports:

The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. A few months later, they went to the White House for the traditional round of presidential congratulations. Manny Ramirez was a no-show. Why? He didn’t like the president, George W. Bush, a baseball man himself, a former part-owner of the Texas Rangers? Sox officials said Ramirez was visiting his sick grandmother. Boston won the Series again a few years later, and the president invited the team back to the White House. Again, no Ramirez. Bush’s response? A shrug, a teasing smirk. “I guess his grandmother died again,” he said.

On the decline in Catholic Literature:

The traditional Catholicism that is the setting of that backward-looking novel included a lot of looking backward itself, of course. That’s what made Catholicism traditional. For believers immersed in the faith, the past was alive no less than the present. They could see ghosts. A heavyweight from the Norman Mailer generation of American letters once commented on the Catholic writers of her generation. They were sure of themselves, she recalled, though not preachy. Spend time with them and it was hard to escape the impression that they knew something you didn’t. That’s gone. So the flowers in the garden aren’t what they used to be? Blame the flowers if you like, but it remains the case that the soil has been depleted.

Here he is on reasoning behind the Novus Ordo:

In the 20th century, Church leaders began to advocate an effort, more deliberate and thorough than in the past, to enculturate the faith among the various nations of the Third World: Catholic missionaries should learn, and learn to love, local customs and languages and to translate the faith into forms that would be meaningful and appealing to indigenous peoples. Implicit in their argument was the need for the Church to pour the Romanità out of Catholicism so that vessel could accommodate the new wine of non-Western cultures.

Read Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), the Vatican II blueprint for liturgical reform, and you will notice a lot of concern for the mission lands. References to them dot the document, and in their glow the reader is led to imagine that the point of the many broadly sketched recommendations is only sensible and moderate, generous but not extravagant.

In the mission lands, let bishops adapt the liturgy to local cultures. Trust their circumspection and sober judgment: “Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.”

No sooner had Western Catholics digested and largely shrugged in agreement to the gist of this plan for liturgical reform than they discovered that Rome now counted them, too, as inhabitants of mission lands, in effect. In America, English was introduced into the Mass by increments, which meant of course that Latin was ushered out at the same pace, until the process was complete in the fall of 1970.

The movement away from the sacred, classical language and toward the vernacular was accompanied by a corresponding change in tone and style, from solemn and formal to less solemn and less formal. William F. Buckley Jr. recorded for posterity a typical reaction of many a Catholic: both a sense of loss and a glum resolve not to be sour about it. Surely some good could come of this?

Night Rain

                …presently after they shall be honored and exalted,
                shall come to nothing and vanish like smoke.

Our kingdoms shall not last. The rain says that
In every word that drips from eaves tonight—
Soliloquies in sluices, gutters spit
Their gargle out on the driveway’s concrete
Like morning coffee pouring cold and hard
Into tomorrow’s undreamt cups. The words

Of rain are not to be trusted. Tonight
The roof sizzles with them—like meat on a spit.
We listen late between thunder’s concrete
Exemptions and windy inclusions that
Prescribe our mortared brick. End-stopping hard
And final as a trumpet-blast of words,

Each kingdom states the risk. What more concrete,
More sound and safe a thing to say than that?
But liquid eloquence is drowning night
And counting syllables with all the spit
And polish of modern minds that, pressed hard,
Mushroom haloed plumes, like songs without words….

What kingdom ever lasts? For those who spit
Upon their mothers’ graves have made concrete
The mystery that reigns in darkness—that
Which irrigates our time: The rain tonight
Succumbs to its own rules—its laws are hard
And fast as tongues evaporate their words.

Envoi
So rain takes note of rust, and toads (discrete
As thoughtful lovers) crowd the waterspout—
The weather front decays to scraps of snarled
And scudding cloud—the kingdoms of this world.

“One of Those”

bartender pic

FOR JOHN LYON, ON HIS 85TH BIRTHDAY

Some say the cocktail’s genesis
       Was — fiat decoctae — New Orleans:
The Sazarac, wry antithesis
       Of Northernmost mixorians.

Some say it claims Midwestern root
       In sipping supper clubs that branded
The Brandy Old Fashioned—and put
       As paid the spirit tongues demanded.

Some say the how and when of it
       Was sourced more cosmopolitan—
A toast to Peter Minuit
       Who drank the first Manhattan in.

But whiskey, bitters, wine and fruit
       (As democracy often shows)
Will always win the local vote
       Decocting taste with “one of those.”

Rally, Korrektiv, rally!

240583_orig
Take up our struggle to print books;
To you, from failing press we look.
Some cash? It’s yours, so spend it well.
If ye break fifteen grand, that’s swell!
We shall rejoice. By hook or crook
Shall Wiseblood last.

Rain on the Wing

Poet_Ted_HughesDCP_2068

The gold of Mexico is at the airport, the sticks
Of Cortes in my basement. We are free

To call the words of wisdom what a fool
Would warn us against. Ignore the rusty hook.

I don’t farm and history is a field I walk
With icons and trinkets in hand, lures and bobs.

The grey coat of heather and haggard face of coal
Conspire patterns in acres of mud-born puddles…

The myth of the trout I never caught is the net
I never set. It pulses with muscles, gills, scales

And the rainbow memory of a river – caught
Instead. We could have never been friends —

I never learned to fish and Cancer dried out
Between the stinging constellations. Religion

Was kissing the claws of my secret cowardice,
Letting Christ off the hook and stilling the plow

While foolhardy farmers, who know better than me,
Take their tools to the city – asking,

“Where’s the rain?” The hawk and wolf ask too,
And find their answer in the tombs

That false spring makes of fallen boughs
And rocks pushed around by thaw and freeze.

Blood between your teeth, you took wing one day,
Despite the rain, because of the blood,

And never looked down, not even once:
What Cortes had between the pages I’d never have.

What Montezuma wanted, crossed sticks
And shiny stones and savannahs spreading out

Beneath us, I could never break.
But the river broke the trout that broke

The river.

The House of Haddix: First Mansion

for Louise Cowan

Wisdom builds her house,
But folly with her own hands tears it down.
– Proverbs 14:1

You enter the house to see the house, four walls
And foundation under constant hazard
Of frost and crumbling emotions in time.
You enter the house to see what the house
Is not: these four walls and seven mansions,
The ghostly heads turned from the weariness
Of history, the keepers of the shades
Now gone down to sacred rest and left restless,
Unburied. Enter the house and the senses detect
A quiet genius undisturbed as attic air,
Locked in a tomb, no part of the fixtures
But like a fiction, finding the locus
Where object and memory meet, escape
Time, and maintain vigilance over what
From root cellar grows in the house of Haddix:
Expressed, the elegant elegiacs
In the dust and mold, the fingers of bone
Trace the moistened tracks a snail will make,
Moving toward inevitable lessons of the salt-lick.