–Dallas 2012

“I’m tired of frogs and flies and gnats,” God said,
“So kill a goat. Then, use its blood to cake
Your posts and lintels thick, or I will take
Your sons when I come down and strike them dead.”

Last night we heard planes buzzing overhead.
As pesticides rained down on White Rock Lake,
We laid there, half asleep and half awake.
I thought about the Hebrews: They, in bed,

Had heard Egyptians screaming, or the still
Emptiness of death. The angel came–
Or didn’t–and then left. This was the same,

But with the roles reversed: God not the shrill
Whining of the planes, but the moths and strays
Who’d die–or wouldn’t–gasping in the haze.

In this Preview the Author welcomes his new Progeny,
mercifully born in the Hour
before her Brother’s date of birth, 2011. And by
Occasion fortels Something,
but he hasn’t decided what yet.

Yet once more, oh ye bottles, and once more
Ye diapers browne or amber, like a beer,
I come to fill you up and throw you out,
And tolerate the shout–
Forc’d fingers bar her bellowing from my ear–
Bitter complaints that I can’t help but hear.
They urge me to get up now: they’re my cue,
For Avonlea awakes, wakes ‘ere the dawn!
Young Avonlea: and I must wipe her rear.
You would not stir for Avonlea. You knew
That I’d get up, and with a yawn
Rolled over, feigning sleep. I, lying near,
Unslept and stumbled through the darkness blind
Without disturbing you. You’re in the clear.

From The Phantom of Venice.

1st Voice:

Tell me: where’s the fancy bread?
Did you eat it in my bed?
The sheets are full of crumbs and spread!
Reply. Reply!*

2nd Voice:

You mistrust me, and, in your eyes
I see where your suspicion lies.
The secret’s mine and, with me, dies!

1st Voice:
You ate my bread but will not tell!
I’ll evict you–!

2nd Voice:

Go to hell.
Go to hell.

*The first folio stanza reads as follows, although most reputable scholars believe this edition of the song to be spurious:
Tell me, where’s the fancy bread?
In the pantry or the shed?
Where’d it go? And where’s my spread?
Reply, reply!

I want a thesis, a too common want
When published folk have taken every new one
And written them in journals, filled with cant
And theory packed so thick that none could view one!
‘Mongst such as these I do not dare avaunt.
I’ll therefore cry off, and say “Screw one
And all of them!” Is it a crime
To go to bed a bit before my time?

Hail! Mistress of the fieldes of Academe,
Adopted sister of the holy Nine.
Assist me now, as I unpack a theme
From prose and poems, workes that will align
To forme an argument of my design.
Help me, oh tweed-clad Muse, recall texts crammed
Into my head. In sacrifice, I will consign
A page of Phaedrus to the flames. Exammed
And passed, I’ll praise thee;  failed, first I’ll be–you next–damned.

I’ve wasted a week of precious time this summer on an entirely frivolous personal week. I’ve had friends up from College Station, visited a friend in Killeen–in order to watch the LOST finale and drink beer–and, now, I’m going to visit the same friends I just had up to my home at theirs in College Station. There’s a meltdown looming on the horizon, when I get home and realize how much work this means I haven’t done. Next up are Pilgrim’s Progress and Leviathan. At some point, this will lead to a Bunyan-esque allegory of the summer (I hope). For now, here’s a Miltonic parody. Enjoy.

How soon hath youth, the raucous thief of time
Stol’n on his wing my summer’s first full week.
My reading days pass by  me in a streak,
My wasted spring in bureaucratic grime.

Perhaps my brain can justify this crime:
If, in my work, I made my mind too weak,
Some books I read would simply seem antique
That with more timely rest I’d find sublime.

But whether I work hard or harder play,
The clock will still in strictest measure tick
And hours, weeks and fortnights pass me by,
Rushing toward examination day.
All hangs, if I work slow or I work quick,
As ever on the grad commitee’s  “Aye.”

And as he yode an elder led him out,
That Rhetor hight, well-versed in grammarye,
Whose taske it was to set that young clerke’s route,
For he knew where those spells were said to be
Which lost were to antique catastrophe
And would the titan Ignourance defeate,
So he that clerke advised in his degree,
And oft a proverb old would he repeat:
That spells were hid ’til magi them could list complete.

This saw the Greatbooke clerke did but frustrate,
For he mote not list spells he never knew,
Nor things he never heard of yet  relate,
And so he knew not what he did pursue:
As when that child of Danaë did subdue
The gorgon, victim both of wrath and love,
And, forced to fight a fiend he mote nat view,
Look’d onely at his shield, and blindly strove,
So he that elder followed wherever he did rove.

Eftesoons beside the path they did behold
A gorgeous damzell on an iuory mare,
Yclad in verdant dress, and locks of gold,
And well did she her tender tresses wear.
To accent her endowments, and a pair
Of scales shee held, shee Aura hight,
And eke her buxom sister, no less faire,
With face that seem’d to spurn and to invite,
Term’d Fama, looked fair from on her palfrey’s height

Those two to distant Conference were bound,
And they that clerk bade also to attend,
For sure they were that wizards did abound
Who surely would their wisdomes gladly lend
To one who sought that giant’s reign to end.
The elder daungers dire perceived in this,
And warned his charge what mischiefs did portend,
But here those ladies offered him a kisse:
The smallest fauour, yet to him it seemed the highest bliss.

That would the titan Ignorance defeat,