With apologies to DuBose Heyward and George Gershwin
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined.
Tennyson, “The Lotos-eaters”
Summertime, And the living is queasy, Traffic’s stalled, And the rent’s sky high. Our landlord’s rich And constantly bitching, So, c’mon, sweet baby, Let’s stiff the bitch and fly.
Up ‘26, there’s the hipster haven of Ashville with its majestic mountains ‘neath a blue Carolina sky. But come to think of it, We’re pretty awful lazy. So, never mind, sweet baby, We’ll stay right here and get high.
 Gershwin wrote the song “Summertime” on Folly Beach.
[Editor’s note: Dr. Morehouse is the esteemed editor of Latinate Locutions for the Habitually Silent.]
Perhaps what occurred last Friday is the result of the moon’s and the sun’s elliptical longitudes differing by 180 degrees, for in the wee hours, having been prompted from my recumbent position in the arms of Morpheus by a corporal need for vesical relief, I noticed from the bathroom window that the lunar hemisphere facing me was completely sunlit, appearing as a circular disc illuminating the night sky.
You know, it’s possible that these geriatric spouses’ curtailed narratives possess smidgens of veracity. No, I didn’t bay at the full moon, nor did thick fur suddenly pullulate from my epidermis in a lupine metamorphosis; however, the synapses of my cerebral cortex did misfire – if that’s the word – into a subversive ideation, a completely impractical plan of action, as if the Imp of the Perverse had commandeered my common sense.
Or as Ovid might say, Habeo cilium barbam supra Fundamentum meum.
A few hours after Dawn had painted the eastern sky with her rosy digits, I descended the stairs to find my consort standing before a pileof dishes an accumulation of platters in that domestic space where meals are prepared.
“Beloved,” I said, “how would you like to engage in an impractical odyssey that would have us motor from the Holy City to her sister city Savannah for lunch and then turn around and drive home in time to retrieve Haselden from the halls of academe?”
A smile of enchantment beamed from that face capable of launching a thousand ships, a face so beautiful it might prompt Mrs. Menelaus herself to google “plastic surgeons.”
Still smiling, she queried, “But do we have time?”
“Yes, my darling,” I replied. “I have officiated a marriage of science and serendipity. If we depart in thirty minutes, we can arrive at Chive Seabar & Lounge on Broughton Street at eleven when it opens, enjoy a repast of an hour-and-a-half, and then drive home and arrive at Haselden’s educational institution by 2:30 post meridian.”
By nine, we were in transit, headed south on Highway 17S, motoring past the three Rs: the Red Top Community, Rantowles, and Ravenel, the last hamlet infamous for its severe enforcement of municipal strictures governing vehicular speed. On we progressed through Jacksonboro, past the quaint Edisto Motel, and that notorious naval launch site that has been christened with the unfortunate appellation of “Cuckold’s Landing.”
After what NASCAR aficionados term a “pitstop”* (where I encountered the abomination below), we merged onto I-95, and in a mere hour found ourselves traversing the Savannah River and into the city itself.
*No, I do not suffer from a lisp.
Exactly at 10:55, our cellular amanuensis Siri informed us that “the destination is on your left,” and much to our astonishment, a parking space devoid of vehicle presented itself for the taking.
Even though what happened next might mislead the reader to consider the narrative a fictional account, just as my consort and I reached the door of Chive Seabar & Lounge, a masked woman of Asian heritage somersaulted the sign from closed to open, unsheathed the deadbolt and ushered us in to a corner table.
Otherwise, the restaurant was devoid of customers.
We ordered mussels in a yellow curry festooned with onions and pickled cucumbers, skewered scallops, and a mushroom salad, which in honor of Mr. Biden’s election, we shared socialistically.
Each dish was a savory culinary concoction of toothsomeness. And though castigated in verse for his winged acceleration, Time’s airborne Pegasus-propelled transport did not seem in a haste-post-haste mode, so the luncheon progressed in a comfortable sequence of leisurely elapsing.
By 12:30 PM, after the remuneration of the computation of the meal’s reckoning had transpired, we had exited, were ensconced in our automobile, and retracing the trip in reverse order.
The only glitch in an otherwise splendid sojourn was that we arrived at Haselden’s educational institution forty-five minutes early, although, truth be told, that miscalculation afforded us a premiere position in the vehicular parade known as – pardon the vulgarity – “the pick-up line,” but then again, our prolonged idleness also presented me with the opportunity to chide the English Department Chairman for refusing my suggestion of adding Tristram Shandy to the 6th grade reading list.
At any rate, it was a full day, and I am now more than ready to close the leaves of this journal and retreat once again into Morpheus’s narcotic embrace.
I’m really not a fan of slam poetry, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway, something to do to while away the interregnum.
Look up at your TV screens, it’s a turd, it’s a pain, it’s Donald Trump, reality TV star President who has lowered the bar on truth, justice, the American way, a fat-ass Superman wannabe, who can’t stand up straight, much less fly, doesn’t care if we live or die, calls the pandemic a gimmick, has updated the leech with bleach, this snake oil salesman extraordinaire (who claims to be a billionaire, but is drowning in debt way over his head while flooding the nation in blood red ink). Think, he can’t even drink a glass of water with one hand, shuffles down that ramp like a senile Diogenes without a lamp, spreading the seeds of dishonesty, a living embodiment of depravity, in a gaslit nation in need of a vacation. His. It’s way past time to concede.
. . . I need not rehearse The rosebuds-theme of centuries of verse.
Richard Wilbur, “A Late Aubade”
Although posthumous fame is essentially worthless to what Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger call the decedent, humans tend to want to be remembered after their deaths, hence tombstones, epitaphs, and those memorial verses we find on obituary pages. As I have no doubt mentioned before, I actually enjoy reading the obituary page, even the obituaries of complete strangers. Perhaps it’s the poet in me who is interested in how the writer goes about compressing a life into the narrow confines of a column of newsprint. Generally, however, I skip the memorial verses, which are generally godawful jingles heavy on end rhyme.
For example, below you’ll find a bit of elegiac verse I copped from a publication called National Post. On its website, I found a page devoted to “Memorial Verses” with this option:
Choose a verse from the appropriate category. Alternatively you may want to copy and paste the verse into the place a notice order form. When placing a notice, please identify the verse by its number to your Classified Telesales Representative. You may also change any of the verses or write your own.
Conveniently, the editors have classified verses by relationships: “Mother, Sister, or Daughter; Father, Brother, or Son; Wife or Husband; Children; Friend or Kin; Armed Forces; Prayer Corner.”
Here’s the first choice listed for a mother.
A wonderful mother, woman and aide, One who was better God never made; A wonderful worker, so loyal and true, One in a million, that mother was you. Just in your judgment, always right; Honest and liberal, ever upright; Loved by your friends and all whom you knew Our wonderful mother, that mother was you.
Of course, in my native state of South Carolina, not many would want to tar the woman who labored to bring them into the world with that vile word “liberal.” Last night during the debate between Nancy Mace and Joe Cunningham, the former used the word “democrat” and “liberal” as if they were synonymous with depravity.
Thank (in this case, given the diction of the verse) God that the purchaser has the option of changing the diction.
Just in your judgement, always right;
Honest and reactionary, ever upright.
Indeed the alliteration in “right” and “reactionary” and “upright” is an auditory improvement.
So it has occurred to me that in my retirement from teaching, I could make a few extra bucks composing memorial verses.
Let’s face it, almost anyone could do better than whoever wrote the above abomination. I mean, the syntax of “One who was better God never made” is so tortured it’s possibly in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Perhaps I could target sentimental agnostics and atheists who want their loved ones remembered, but less hyperbolically.
Our mother has succumbed to a terminal disease,
A mother who taught us manners, to say “please”
And “thank you” and “may” instead of “can,”
Who raised us without the help of a man,
Our deadbeat dad who skipped town one night,
Forever disappearing in dishonorable flight.
Yet, Mom endured life’s hardships with stoic good grace,
An exemplary example for the human race.
Loved by her friends, her children, and pets,
We appreciate that she tried her very best.
Good night, deceased mother, may you rest in peace
Safe in the cliché of death’s eternal sleep.
What do you think? Should I give it a try? Bill myself for the hours and then write it off my taxes? Anyway, if you’re in the market – fortune forbid – you know how to get in touch.
 This reminds me of a bit of dialogue from a WC Fields movie I ran across yesterday thanks to my pal Ballard Lesemann. A patron at a bar says to Fields, the bartender, “I understand you buried your wife a few years ago,” and Fields replies, “Yes, I had to. She was dead.”
 Unfortunately, I myself have become a somewhat prolific obituary writer, having composed posthumous bios for both my father and mother-in-law, my own parents, my maternal aunt and uncle, and for my beloved Judy Birdsong. The stylistic part is not easy. The memorialist needs to deftly insert introductory subordinate phrases and clauses to break the monotony of fact-filled declarative sentences.
“The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: the time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one’s own happiness.” — Ayn Rand
Jack and Jill went up a hill
to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
And none of John Galt’s women
and none of John Galt’s men
lifted one little finger
to help either of them.
This little piggy went to market (as bacon)
This little piggy as ham;
This little piggy was injected with chemicals
And ended up as spam,
And this little piggy (see below)
went wee wee on the killing floor.
Pitch Black Night
Three blind mice
Three blind mice
See how they stumble
See how they starve.
All three were poisoned by the butcher’s wife
Who didn’t get the dosage of the poison quite right,
So now they spend their very last day
in pitch black night, pitch black night.
Georgie Porgy pudding and pie
Hung with the girls and not the guys.
Puberty’s hitting him, however,
Precipitated a change in Georgie’s weather,
So Georgie ditched his girly toys
And hid in the closet with like-minded boys.
Mistress Ayn has this to say
To all of you who might be gay.
Breaking nature’s laws
Denotes “psychological flaws.”
She finds you personally “disgusting”
For your perverted lusting.
If you want to join her nation
Then you better switch your orientation.
Now I lay me down to sleep
in a universe dark and deep.
If I die before I wake,
Tough shit, them’s the breaks.
I don’t know why, maybe I’ve been cursed by a malevolent god or something, but every time I get in a line at a supermarket, it always ends up being the slowest line, no matter what. There can be a line like with 6 people in it and a line with 2 people in it, and if I get in the shorter line, invariably there will be a price check or the customer will pay with rolls of pennies, and sure enough, all the people in the long line, plus newcomers, get served before I do.
Any insights? Suggestions? It’s driving bat-shit crazy.
Seething in Winton-Salem
Grow your own vegetables, raise your own livestock.
My mother died today. Maybe it was yesterday, I don’t know. I received the telegram today. At any rate, the funeral is in a couple of days, and I don’t feel much like going. It’s so much trouble. I’d have to ask the boss for a day off and all. What would you do if you were I?
Dear M. Meursault:
I would go to the funeral and make the most of it. Relax at the wake, enjoy a cigarette or two. After the service, try to pick up a girl, take in a movie, have a swim. May I also suggest casual sex, a seaside stroll, shooting an Arab or two?
Confused, Out of sorts? Slightly nauseous? Having trouble deciding what to be or to do? Send for Jean Paul’s amazing self-help manual On Being and Nothingness. Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.