My Old Kentucky Homesite

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In Kentucky, We Call It “Litta-chur”

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/07/2010

April is the cruelest month — unless you’re a poet.

Limerickers, clerihewists, haikuans, parodisiacs, doggereleers, and versifiers of all kinds, have good reason to celebrate, for we are now well into National Poetry Month.

What does that have to do with atheism, you might well ask? Basically, nothing, except that some of our language’s most celebrated poets were skeptics. Herewith, a small sampler of excerpts:

Percy Bysshe Shelley
How calm and sweet the victories of life,
How terrorless the triumph of the grave!
How powerless were the mightiest monarch’s arm,
Vain his loud threat, and impotent his frown!
How ludicrous the priest’s dogmatic roar!
The weight of his exterminating curse
How light! And his affecting charity,
To suit the pressure of the changing times,
What palpable deceit! — but for thy aid,
Religion! but for thee, prolific fiend,
Who peoplest earth with demons, Hell with men,
And Heaven with slaves!

Matthew Arnold
“Christ,” some one says, “was human as we are;
No judge eyes us from Heaven, our sin to scan;
We live no more, when we have done our span.”

Algernon Charles Swinburne
Since man, with a child’s pride proud, and abashed as a child and afraid,
Made God in his likeness, and bowed him to worship the Maker he made,
No faith more dire hath enticed man’s trust than the saint’s whose creed
Made Caiaphas one with Christ, that worms on the cross might feed.
Priests gazed upon God in the eyes of a babe new-born, and therein
Beheld not heaven, and the wise glad secret of love, but sin.

Emily Dickinson
“Faith” is a fine invention
When gentlemen can
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.

Edgar Lee Masters
And it will be some centuries before it becomes an accepted understanding
That Jesus had no mind capable of doing good for the world.
While possessing power to put Socrates and men like him aside
So that they could do little for the world.
That this has been so and is yet so is just as mysterious
As the so-called problem of evil can be to any mind.
For no one can explain why Athens, which was indeed a city set upon a hill,
Did not last forever for the benefit of all climes and peoples;
And why Jerusalem, a village of demons and camel dung,
Became the shrine of the world
Whereto men make pilgrimages to see the place where Jesus died for men.
While few are interested in the jail where Socrates gave up his life
Rather than surrender his freedom to think.

Langston Hughes
Go ahead on now,
You’re getting in the way of things, Lord.
And please take Saint Gandhi with you when you go,
And Saint Pope Pius,
And Saint Aimee McPherson,
And big black Saint Becton
Of the Consecrated Dime.
And step on the gas, Christ!

Don’t be so slow about movin!
The world is mine from now on —
And nobody’s gonna sell ME
To a king, or a general,
Or a millionaire.

Robert Frost
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth —
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth —
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall? —
If design govern in a thing so small.

Also on the atheo-poetic front: Despite its blatantly anti-theistic content, and largely due to the votes of my readers (for which I’m grateful, although not eternally), my poem “Horton Hears an Evangelical” has been named the winner of the Silly Poetry Contest.

Posted in Books & Bookshops, Freedom from Faith, From Bad to Verse | 10 Comments »

Some Urgent Messages

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/24/2010

You are old, Larry Wallberg,” the readers swore,
“And your verses all stink to the skies.
And yet you have entered a Poetry War —
Do you think, at your age, that is wise?”

“In my youth,” the old geezer replied to his friends,
“My writing left editors chilly.
But here on the Intertubes, nothing offends,
For ALL of the writing is silly.”

“You are old,” said the readers, “and feeble of wit.
“Your talents continue to sink.
And yet you expect us to vote for this shit?
(You don’t even give us the link!)”

“In my youth,” said the sage as he typed the address,
“I hoped to leave readers agog.
But now all I wish for is fame, more or less,
At Percy’s nonsensical blog.”

URGENT MESSAGE FOR FELLOW OLD FARTS: If you are even older than I am, and too infirm to key your heartfelt praise for my work into Sir Silley’s long, meandering thread, you may simply cut and paste the following into your comment there:
I vote for “Horton Hears an Evangelical.”

URGENT MESSAGE FOR ATHEISTS ONLY: We appear to be losing the culture war. It’s obvious that most of Percy Bisque Silley’s readers have not voted for my far superior work because they don’t approve of freedom from faith. Fight back by cutting and pasting the following:
I PROUDLY vote for “Horton Hears an Evangelical.”

URGENT MESSAGE FOR  NON-REPUBLICANS: A quick scan of those votes already cast reveals that the ultra-right-wingers are trying to gain control of this election. Don’t let that happen! You may cut and paste the following:
I vote for “Horton Hears an Evangelical.” However, any resemblance between the title character and the symbol of a political party living or dead is purely coincidental.

URGENT MESSAGE FOR POETRY-LOVERS: I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear. But very few of the entries have really catchy tunes. If you prefer hummable verses, cut and paste the following:
I vote for “Horton Hears an Evangelical.” I’d much rather sing that one than “Kumbaya” or “Jolene.”

URGENT MESSAGE FOR PUZZLE-FREAKS: Everyone knows how important it is for poems to have anagrammable titles. So get your caps attuned, your taunt spaced properly, and cut and paste the following:
I vote for “Horton Hears an Evangelical.” Oh, a charlatan verges online!

My name is Larry Wallberg, and I approved this mess. Thanks for your support, and may grog bliss America.

Posted in From Bad to Verse, Seriously Silly | 15 Comments »

Horton Hears an Evangelical

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/02/2010

[Note: A couple of years back, I posted the following pseudonymously on my previous blog. I’d like to acknowledge authorship under my real name, so I’m republishing this piece here on the appropriate date: Dr. Seuss’s birthday.]

In a place known as Whoville the folks got distraught
When Horton the elephant said what he thought.
“The oddest of oddities isn’t as odd
As people believing that there is a god.”

The Who Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists
The Who Vegetarians, Wiccans, and Nudists,
The Who Presbyterians, Baptists, New Agers:
All spread the sad news on their cell phones and pagers.

A Who Evangelical fell to his knees
And he said, “Oh no, Horton! I beg of you, please!
We always have liked you. We all think you’re swell,
And we can’t stand the thought that you’re headed to hell!”

But Horton just laughed and he wiggled his trunk.
The bible to him was a big bunch of bunk.
He meant what he said and he said what he meant,
“Religion is silly a hundred percent.”

The Who Evangelical let out a snort in
A very snide way most insulting to Horton.
“You say you’re an atheist? Here’s what we’ll do —
For we all know that atheists are anti-Who —

We’ll drive you from Whoville; we’ll send you away.
Or else we will force you to worship and pray.
A person’s a person, no matter how small,
But an atheist isn’t a person at all!”

But Horton just laughed once again even louder
And told all the Whos he would not take a powder,
Nor worship some stupid nonsensical being
That no one was hearing and no one was seeing.

“I will not be threatened,” he said. “It’s not funny.
I won’t trust your god with my flag or my money!
I will not allow him to influence science.
An elephant thrives on his own self-reliance!”

The Who Evangelical said, “My dear chap, sure
You think you’re so smart, but just wait till the rapture.”
The anti-Christ’s coming and then you will find,
That your friends are in heaven but you’re left behind.

“We cannot allow that to happen to you,
Because, after all, Jesus loves ev’ry Who.
You must accept God for the good of us all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.

“And though you’re no Who (you are just a big elephant),
God loves you, too. What you are is irrelevant.
He can destroy us if someone’s defiant.
A sinner’s a sinner no matter how giant!”

The Whos approached Horton, began to surround him.
If some of the Whos had their way, they’d have drowned him.
Some others thought maybe they might build a fire.
And stoning was mentioned among the Who choir.

But Horton was huge and avoided the crunch of them,
Picked up his foot, and then stepped on a bunch of them.
Hoping survivors would give up their mission,
The elephant told them about superstition:

“The oddest of oddities isn’t as odd
As people believing that there is a god.
There isn’t a heaven, or hell you should dread.
A person’s a person — until he is dead.”

Posted in Books & Bookshops, Freedom from Faith, From Bad to Verse, Seriously Silly | 15 Comments »

Son of Googl-oetry

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 02/25/2010

Every day, millions of people enter keywords into Internet search engines, and get pointed to sites that frequently have little or nothing to do with the information they’re seeking. Sometimes, those unfortunate pilgrims wind up reading my drivel. As most bloggers do, I know a couple of methods by which I can track specific phrases that have led the unwary to my weird little corner of the Web. Unlike many others, however, I actually keep a list of those terms.

At first, I did so for my own amusement. At my previous blog, I was extremely flattered that someone, somewhere, would want to hear what I had to say about “tact is overrated.”  I was ecstatic when I learned that “fart sounds and what they mean” brought a knowledge-hungry populace in contact with my ideas. ”  Eagerly, I imagined sharing with the world my insights on “rosebud underwear.”

However, I soon tired of my collection. All those inane word-strings grew dull after a while.

But then, in July of 2007, I invented a new art form: Googl-oetry. At last I found a way to use, verbatim, some of those perplexing key phrases I’d amassed.

Now, I’ve got a new blog, and a new set of intriguing search terms. Each line in the following epic, including both of its alternate titles, was originally typed as a search term by someone who had no idea that he or she was contributing to great art. Crafting these entries carefully, I lovingly created a verse for our times (11:43 p.m. by my New York Airways clock).  As you can see, the work is both beautiful and profound — although perhaps unintelligible.  But then, the Googl-oet works in mysterious ways.

certainty limits freedom
yiddish for grumpy

whats kentucky famous for
ashley judd johnny depp
johnny depp ashley judd
ashley judd and johnny depp
johnny depp and ashley judd
old kentucky overalls
does johnny depp ever go back to kentucky?
i saw johnny depp in lexington
translating the ten commandments to our own language of 2010

can you swallow ky
“tomato brandy” -hybrid -“brandy wine” -sauce -aioli -seed -boy –soup
“de-lovely” jingle soda
authentic chopped liver
coney dog in kentucky
kentucky colonel dog
2 a day
stomach flu 2010 january kentucky
“the great american bathroom book”

how is old kentukey is diffrent from this kentukey
pterodactyl sightings kentucky
creature encounter with driver in kentuc
religious fanatics in kentucky
silly podunk kentuckians
d cup moms
free casual sexual encounters owensboro

thats my homesite
place that is never cloudy
winston churchill homesite
millard fillmore homesite
my old kentucky fa la la
my kentucky bell the poem
yiddish cacamoon
coonskin rotten
my old kentucky wallberg

Posted in From Bad to Verse, Google, Seriously Silly | 12 Comments »

Homesite Puzzler #1: My Old Kentucky Poem

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/07/2010

Sitting in the emotional chill of this cold, snowy Kentucky night, I was moved to write an epic about my spiritual journey from New Yawk to Lexington. But I’m no poet. So I’ve stolen lines from others, and cobbled them into the following (very) free verse.

My challenge to readers is: For each numbered line, can you identify its author and the work from which it’s taken?  I will post and update results at the bottom of this page, giving credit to those who have gotten correct answers. Partial points will be rewarded for identifying only an author but not a work, or vice versa.

[Note: To give everyone a chance, please limit yourself to no more than three identifications per comment – although you may post multiple comments.]

Lines Lifted on Thinking of New Yawk during a Snowy Kentucky Evening

1. The great big city’s a wondrous toy.
2. I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it,
3. Turning and turning in the widening gyre
4. when the world is puddle-wonderful;
5. Flung roses, roses, riotously with the throng
6. Who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
7. Through caverns measureless to man;
8. And sang to a small guitar,
9. To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells,
10. the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick.

11. Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
12. I’d like to teach the world to sing.

13. But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away.
14. The head must bow and the back will have to bend.
15. This is the forest primeval:
16. You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low
17. Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
18. Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies,
19. Never know nothing, and never know much.
20. The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
21. Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,
22. For they’d none of ’em be missed – they’d none of ’em be missed!

23. But I have promises to keep.
24. No man is an island, entire of itself,
25. Who never to himself hath said,
26. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light;
27. Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
28. And don’t look back – something might be gaining on you.”

[Correct Answers: 1. Srsny; 2. Srsny 3. Yunshui; 4. Linwood (author), Srsny (work); 5. Kirk M; 6. Srsny; 7. Yunshui; 8. Linwood; 9. Srsny; 10. Kirk M; 11. Srsny; 12. Evie; 13. Kirk M; 14. Kirk M; 15. Srsny; 16. Srsny; 17. Srsny; 18. Linwood; 19. Kirk M; 20. Linwood; 21. Linwood; 22. Yunshui; 23. Linwood (author only); 24. Evie (author), Yunshui (work) Godless Randall (special mention); 25. Srsny; 26. Evie; 27. Kirk M 28. Kirk & Srsny (and a special mention for each)]

Posted in From Bad to Verse, New to Kentucky, Puzzles and Games | 44 Comments »

You Take the Haiku and I’ll Take the Lowku

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 12/31/2009

Yesterday, a fellow geezer reran an old post of his, in which he tried his hand at writing haiku. Seeing his effort, I was very glad I didn’t have to study that poetic form back when I was in school. Because – please excuse me, all my Japanese readers – I just don’t get it. Confining oneself to seventeen syllables in a poem is too much like tweeting.

Anyway, most of the verses that I like best are really wordy. You’re not surprised, right?

So I began to wonder: What would have happened if some well-known Western poets had haiku-ed? Well, for one thing, the Norton Anthology would be a lot shorter. But would students have been stuck memorizing the following?

William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee
to a summer’s day – or not?
That is the question.

Andrew Marvell
Had we time enough,
I’d enjoy your run-around.
But we don’t. Let’s screw!

William Blake
Tyger burning bright,
Your symmetry frightens me!
Who made thee, ol’ puss?

William Wordsworth
When you get lonely,
Picture daffodils dancing.
Believe me, it works!

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Listen, pal, am I
supposed to be all impressed
by this dumb statue?

Edward Fitzgerald
A book, some nice wine,
a little bread, and – yeah – you.
Oy, I’m in heaven.

Edgar Allen Poe
So this bird flies in,
and starts squawking “Nevermore.”
And then … phhht … I’m dead.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen to me, kids.
Forget that Harry Potter.
I’ll tell “Paul Revere.”

Robert Browning
That’s my last duchess,
whom I had killed because she
smiled at ev’ryone.

Rudyard Kipling
Boots, boots, boots, boots, boots,
Din, Din, Din, Din, Din, Din, Din.
Goddamn these hiccups!

Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Yay! Casey’s at bat!
Hit it out of the ballpark!
Why’d you strike out, jerk?

T.S. Eliot
Why don’t those women shut up
and pass me a peach?

Dorothy Parker
Men won’t make passes
At near-sighted young ladies
who don’t wear contacts.

Robert Frost
Two roads through the woods?
Yikes! Decisions, decisions.
I’ll just flip a coin.

Ogden Nash
This will be haiku,
these seventeen syllables.
(OK, so maybe it’ll take me more, like, say, forty syllables altogether, to make this swill be my coup.)

There will be no test on this, so have a Happy New Year!

Posted in Books & Bookshops, From Bad to Verse | 11 Comments »