Saturday, November 12, 2016

If We Build the Wall (If It Be Your Will, Leonard Cohen)

A3: Good walls make good neighbours.
B3: Good neighbours make good walls.
- Us and Them, David Campton

I've been listening to If It Be Your Will on repeat since Leonard Cohen died because it so perfectly expresses my spiritual viewpoint.  Of the versions I've found, my favorite is the one by the Webb Sisters, which was the model for these lyrics.  This song has been a balm in the midst of the most divisive week I can remember.  The presidential elections have divided up the country to such an extent that demonization almost seems to be the norm, though I have been inspired by many friends doing their best to wage peace with a passion.

Every time I feel frustrated with dualistic thinking that pits one group against another, my thoughts turn to the short David Campton play Us And Them.  A simple but devastating tragedy, it depicts the gradual slide from neighborly behavior to all-out war as more and more unnecessary divisions are introduced.  In the play, the narrator is the only character who really has any insight into the whole horrible process, but here, I imagine the spokesperson of each group in a duet, wherein both slowly realize the harm that a wall could bring.

If We Build the Wall

If we build the wall
Where we draw our line,
Everyone will call
That division fine.
Chickens, sheep and swine
Won't wander off at all.
Neighbors?  You'll be mine
If we build the wall.

If we build the wall
That obstructs our view,
Borders will grow tall.
Lurid tales will, too.
Borders will grow tall
As we wonder what you do
If we build the wall
Twixt us and you.

If we build the wall,
We'll turn into spies.
Friendliness will fall;
Virulence will rise.
As suspicions sprawl,
Our animosity will swell
If we build the wall
And build it well.

As war draws near,
We'll spill our spite.
We'll fall prey to fear,
Turning from the light.
Turning from the light,
Stragglers will crawl
Into the night
If we build the wall.

We'll only fight
If we build the wall.
So, should we build the wall?
No, wisdom killed the wall.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Star-Gazer

Thanks to a little nudge from my dear friend Andrea, I wrote a poem yesterday to go along with James Hance's magnificent painting of Luna. I find it delightful that he happens to have chosen my two favorite characters to paint first. Still very eager to see the rest of this series!

The Star-Gazer

Luminous Luna, wrapped up in wonder,
Gazes at gemstones that sparkle in space.
She’s never needed a wand to fall under
This spell of resplendence that brightens her face.

Inky and vast is the void far above her.
Still, as she joins the celestial dance,
Endless connections form figures that hover
In fresh constellations that gaily entrance.

Mystery rests like a shawl on her shoulders;
Nothing unknown is a peril to fear.
Darkest despair is unable to hold her;
Facing the grim, she knows light lingers near.

Some will insist that she couldn’t be stranger;
Different, indeed, is the sight of her soul,
Finding delight in the midst of each danger,
Seeing through sorrow a spirit made whole.

Cheered by the hare that is ever inside her,
Shining its hope through her numinous eyes,
Limpidly, Luna lets foolishness guide her.
Would that the rest of the world were so wise!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hagrid's Hands

I've been trying to get myself back into poetry-writing mode. Here's one I wrote yesterday, inspired by James Hance's exquisite portrait of Hagrid holding an infant Harry.

Hagrid's Hands

His hands are huge and roughly worn
By ceaseless care for wondrous things
From hippogriff with mighty wings
To iridescent unicorn.

He’s shrugged off scorn for clumsy gaffes,
For addled wits and massive frame,
And felt the sting of misplaced blame,
But through the pain, still Hagrid laughs.

He laughs because the love he bears
Leaks out in heaping bursts of mirth
That heal the heart and shake the earth.
The night shines with the light he shares.

But sorrow mingles with his joy
And fills his mind with cloudy fears.
His gentle eyes fill up with tears
While handing off this baby boy.

A splashy droplet makes a mark
Upon the sleeping infant’s nose.
For just a moment, moisture glows,
Then fades away into the dark.

The lightning scar on Harry’s head
Will one day drive his hero’s quest.
When evil puts him to the test,
He’ll show that good prevails instead.

Perhaps this tear’s a tiny gift
To cradle him through his neglect,
A bit of love to recollect
When Harry’s soul could use a lift.

With heaving sighs, the giant stands,
A tender glimmer in his eye.
The time has come to say goodbye,
But Harry’s safe in Hagrid’s hands.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Sight of Sarah (The Sound of Silence)

All right, after a long hiatus, here is my first attempt at a new parody, this one about Chuck, which didn't take long to join the upper ranks of my favorite TV shows. I figure this is sometime mid-season one, and Morgan, having had some sort of late-night emergency demanding a one-on-one with his best friend, comes over, waking Chuck from a vivid dream involving Sarah. This is Chuck's inner monologue, which he can't say aloud because Morgan doesn't know about his spy life and won't say aloud because he doesn't want to hurt his feelings.

Anyway, I'm a little rusty, but here's my first parody of 2011, to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence.

The Sight of Sarah

Hello, Morgan, my old friend.
You’ve come to talk to me again.
You couldn’t wait till I stopped sleeping.
Cracked my window and came creeping.
Listen, buddy, you don’t mean to be a pain
Or a drain,
But I am stuck on Sarah.

In blissful dreams we walked alone,
Undisturbed by Casey’s phone.
I felt distant from the daily grind
Of seeking secrets locked inside my mind
Till my eyes were dazed with a flash – not a flash of fright,
But of delight –
At just the sight of Sarah.

I knew right then I wanted more
Than herding nerds in Big Mike’s store,
More than staying inside the car,
More than what I have tried so far,
More than, up till now, I ever would have dared.
I prepared
To spill my guts to Sarah.

Foolish? Maybe. Even so,
I just had to let her know.
Maybe if I said it in my head,
From the safety of my own bed,
I could speak the truth in life as well.
You know how hard I fell
For Sarah…

So I practiced and I prayed,
But confession was delayed
When she vanished with no warning,
And I saw that it was morning.
More specifically, Morgan, I looked at my watch, and it was 4:02,
And staring at you
Just can’t quite match the sight of Sarah.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gandalf the White (The Rake's Song, Colin Meloy)

I have Lord of the Rings on the brain right now.  Here's a reflection from Gandalf - the slightly less responsible movie version, who's into drinking in libraries and barging in on hobbits in the middle of the night - addressing Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas to the tune of the Decemberists' The Rake's Song.

Gandalf the White

As I researched objects of power,
I blew rings and guzzled tankards of beer.
Then an Elven matron caught me,
And she chided, “Sir, you can’t smoke in here,
All right?  Books might ignite!”

Though I was irked, I had what I needed:
Confirmation we were facing the worst.
So much to do, a war to prepare for...
But I had to see Frodo off first.
I brought his plight to light
And gave him quite a fright.

“Frodo,” I told him, “Bilbo left a golden trinket.
I can’t rest until it’s finally gone.
Riders from Mordor could come to your door,
So you and Samwise must leave with the dawn.
Your flight starts at first light.”

Then when he left, I went to the wizard
Who I could count on to help with my quest.
Though I suspected that my efforts would be futile,
I had hope when I consulted the best -
The White - he’d set things right.
But White was not too bright.

Saruman locked me on the top of a tower.
Took an eagle to escape from his wrath.
Came back to you, and I led you but tumbled
Toward the Balrog as you ran up the path.
Our fight went on all night.

Then after I won, I left but returned here.
Seems the world was not finished with me.
I know that you think I don’t look like Gandalf;
That’s because the Grey is gone, you see.
So cite delight, not fright.
I’m called Gandalf the White!

Moria (Today, Randy Sparks)

Gimli sings the praises of Balin and Moria to Legolas to the tune of John Denver's Today.


Today, in the kingdom that they call a mine,
We’ll find sanctuary and lavishly dine.
The tests of tomorrow are ages away;
Balin the valiant will host us in style today.

Legolas, let me assure you that no one
In all of your halls where the Elven lords sing
Can rival the heart of that cousin of Gloin.
Truly he’s the noblest of kings.

Today, in the kingdom that they call a mine,
We’ll rest - once the wizard can work out this sign.
The tests of tomorrow are ages away;
Balin the valiant will host us in style today.

His deeds are recounted in old Bilbo’s story,
Well-known to the hobbit who’s bearing the Ring.
Come, let us meander through Moria’s glory;
Beauty is not just an Elf thing.

Today, in the kingdom that they call a mine,
We’ll marvel at mithril so fluid and fine.
The tests of tomorrow are ages away;
Balin the valiant will host us in style today.

Today, in the kingdom that they call a mine,
We’ll find sanctuary and lavishly dine.
The tests of tomorrow are ages away;
Balin the valiant will host us in style today.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Triple Dog Dare (Will You Be There, Michael Jackson)

I wrote this in response to a call on Amiright for Michael Jackson parodies.  Will You Be There is probably my favorite of his songs, so I wanted to do something with it, and for some reason, the famous flagpole scene from A Christmas Story popped into my mind.  (Flick, who is verbally incapacitated throughout most of the song, is thinking his lines, while Schwartz and Ralphie and their teacher are speaking out loud.)

Triple Dog Dare

Schwartz: Dare you.
I double dare you.
Double dog dare you.
Triple dog dare!

Flick: Schoolyard
In the middle of winter.
My buddy is goading me.
Pretty poor friend!

Lousy Schwartz.
What game is he playing?
He’s pointing and saying,
“Triple dog dare!”

Schwartz: Dare you.
I double dare you.
(Flick: Why?)
Schwartz: Double dog dare you.
(Flick: Shut up!)
Schwartz: Triple dog dare!
(Flick: That’s so dumb!)

Schwartz: Dare you.
I double dare you.
Double dog dare you.
(Flick: So dumb, Schwartz!)
Schwartz: Triple dog dare!

Flick: Flagpole,
Imposing and icy.
My chances are dicey.
The guys are behind me.

They’re all staring.
They’ve gathered to mock me.
And me, I can’t talk because I took the dare,
And boy, was that stupid!
Schwartz: Dare you.
I double dare you.
(Flick: What?)
Schwartz: Double dog dare you.
Triple dog dare!
(Flick: That’s so dumb!)

Schwartz: Dare you.
I double dare you.
(Flick: Ugh...)
Schwartz: Double dog dare you.
Triple dog dare!

Flick: Help, ’cause I’ve got a flagpole on me!
Lost all my verbal control, you see.
Can’t say that it was my goal to be
Freezing cold and stuck.
I’m livid and unlucky!

Ralphie: Uh-oh.
(Flick: Ralphie!)
Ralphie: Looks like it’s frozen.
(Flick: Help me!)
Ralphie: School doors are closin’.
(Flick: Please!)
Ralphie: Look, Flick, I care.
(Flick: Weird way to show it!)

Ralphie: But... well...
(Flick: Well what?)
Ralphie: You hear the school bell.
(Flick: Yeah, who cares?)
Ralphie: Flick, if you can’t tell,
(Flick: Please!)
Ralphie: I’m feeling stressed.
(Flick: Gee, how do I feel?)

Schwartz: Ralphie...
(Flick: Hey, Schwartz...)
Schwartz: Look at ‘im flailing.
(Flick: You watch out!)
Schwartz: Hear how he’s wailing.
(Flick: Yeah...)
Schwartz: Ralphie, I’m scared.
(Flick: I’m gonna getcha!)

Flick: Save me!
(Schwartz: Sorry!)
Flick: I behaved bravely!
(Schwartz: Gotta run, gotta run...)
Flick: Why did you say to me,
“Triple dog dare?”
(Schwartz: Spare me your glare.)

Flick: Tricked me.
(Schwartz: See ya, Flick!)
Flick: Tricked me so coldly.
Nobody told me
(Ralphie: Bye!)
Flick: Life’s so unfair.
(Schwartz: Hang in there!)

Flick: Pull me.
(Schwartz: So...)
Flick: Try to unstick me.
(Schwartz: Any chance he’ll get loose?)
Flick: Get me off quickly!
(Ralphie: From the flagpole?  No chance.)
Flick: Boy, what a pair...
(Schwartz: What a dumb dare...)

Flick: Free me!
(Miss Shields: Class...)
Flick: Somebody, see me!
(Miss Shields: Wait, he’s where?  He’s out there?  How did that happen?)
Flick: Wanna feel steamy!
(Miss Shields: What a mess!)
Flick: Boy, I’m depressed...
(Miss Shields: Coming, Flick!)