Friday, September 18, 2015

The Critic and the Philistine

Shepherd Rick guides his flocks
With collies scripted for their task,
Assuring a tick in every box,
Dancing to exacting clocks,
Answering queries before they ask!

Armchair tourists find better fare,
(A far more honest mise en scène)
When Jonathan Meades takes the air
To show us what is really there:
Mendacities! – described with spleen. 

Contrast Meades and his anti-matter counterpart, Rick Steves.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Another verse (worse than the other...)

Some verses are written to satisfy and suffice the writer; others are written to be seen or read, with the futile hope that they may find a reader who can read the writer's mind back into the text. The Arrow is prompted to post the following observation with no other motive than to move it from his desk onto the cryogenic regions of our digital galaxy.

Methuselah’s Deathbed

Supine upon his gurney,  waiting to succumb,
Methuselah’s epiphanies sum up a weary life.
Caressing beads beneath a calloused thumb
He’s glad, at last, to face the surgeon’s knife.

Methuselah’s epiphanies sum up his weary life:
Erotic memories, those little deaths he savors
(He’s glad, at last, to face the surgeon’s knife)
Will make his end epitomize the joy he favors.

Erotic memories, those little deaths he savors
When the mask upon his grizzled face descends
Will make his end epitomize the joy he favors:
Orgastic ecstasy, in an unexpected instant sends

(When the mask upon his grizzled face descends)
Oblivion, relief– the true surcease of sorrow.
Orgastic ecstasy, in an unexpected instant sends
Nowhere, hell, or paradise the clay we borrow.

Oblivion, relief– the true surcease of sorrow–
Impossible emotions for Methuselah to feel,
Having spent his last and worst tomorrow:
Time’s bell shall peal, repeal, repeal, repeal…

But not one moment more is there to steal
Caressing beads beneath his calloused thumb!
He prays the next round brings a better deal
Supine upon his gurney, waiting to succumb.

Monday, July 13, 2015

American Classics

Hagiographers of PBS are always on the lookout for prime time artists they can commemorate. Deceased talents furnish biopix directors with "material" to portray just as roundly and realistically as icons of forgotten Orthodox saints. Empty niches grow apace with the incessant demand for the European eye-candy desserts served up by Rick Steves. Recent sacrifices on PBS's altars to Ste. Philistia include Norman Mailer and J.D. Salinger. 

Parthian was not surprised when a friend sent along a scrap an intern found while carrying rejected scripts to the shredder. He posts this doodle with a caveat, that it is the attitude of cynicism he finds significant, more than the expression itself, however clever it may be

Mailer dealt in salty speech,
But J.D.’s was saliner.
Each treasured an ingenue’s tears
Before demons or domestic fears
Made him drop and then malign her!

Friday, May 8, 2015

One more beast


A Geisha’s coiffure needs a stiffened pillow;
her loneliness, a bedtime toy.
So if you want to give her joy
stuff this misbegotten armadillo,
present it with a serenade– a wild fandango!

Sin thereafter with abandon! Dance a tango
to sounds of Theramin, Mandolin and Koto–
offer eternal sacrifice to Eros, ex voto.

Your fun spells extinction for the Pangolin? 
Anthropocene self-pardoned peccadillo!

At the clamorous insistence of numerous Asiatic kin, Parthian agreed to post this "tribute" to another species facing imminent extinction. He promises to abandon the post of lyrical zookeeper soon, as yet  another round of political nonsense makes its mischief felt.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Another Beast


Chimeric hybrid– an elephant-pig
(thrice as short, half as big)
ever keen for a midnight caper:
Behold Behemoth,  aka, the Tapir!

He neither gawker is, nor gaper
yet he observes his jungly scene
(obscured by steaming vines and vapor)
alert for ways to vent his spleen
upon canoes that may careen
on Orinoco’s perilous isles
where Anacondas swim with Crocodiles.

His eyes are weak,  so he “likesta peer”
(and sniff and snort, instilling fear)–
this randy, roving, ridiculous voyeur
seeks a Tapir maiden, chaste and pure.

Another scrap salvaged from the blizzard of folk-zoology noted in the last post. This comes from a different continent, and the translation from Spanish may be faulty, but it approximates the sense of the original..

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bestiary update

 The Aoudad

This desert sheep of rocky slopes
evolved a way by which he copes–
grazing always left to right
his uphill legs are shorter, quite
than downhill legs. Thus he hopes
somewhat efficiently to summit: 
one leap then reverses course!

Although untutored, still he learns
to husband well his thorny source
of victuals sparse on torrid hills.

You too may share his daring thrills
when you grow beards on legs and chin,
cavort with glee (while staying thin),
show the world that you are glad!

Emulate this lecher,  thrifty Aoudad!

          –for HCM

While the Arrow flew to a distant but accustomed target, his launching pad received a blizzard of verses contributed by careful observers of local fauna from cultures in every part of our perishing planet.  Most of them were fit only to kindle a campfire,  but a few merit the ephemeral preservation afforded by an unread blog drifting through the ether.  Today’s post is believed to originate in Algeria, as it bears a dedication with the initials “HCM”, indicating the Victorian era Bedouin explorer, Haji Chahid Muhammed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Polonius Redux

Life's cruxes demand solemnities, rites, rituals. We see this phenomenon in every culture and at the core of every religious tradition. Among the Parthians, custom calls for a boy at the onset of puberty to hunker down at his grandfather's knee (or failing a grandfather, the knee of the wisest village elder) and listen attentively to life's lessons learned. Here is a representative sample:

Tsunami torrent of lust and devotion,
Love, my love– such a chaotic emotion!

Lust’s wave overwhelms you, carries you out,
detaches your childhood’s anchoring roots–
freely you’ll wallow in aimless pursuits,
no handhold– all jetsam, your future in doubt.

The wave will subside along with the sighs
you exhale, unfulfilled, in desperate panic. 
(When raging, your hormones feel oceanic!) 
You’ll cease to seek solace in fantasized thighs,

Thrown with a partner to gasp on the strand–
survivors, miscast in life’s trivial skit,
you’ll wander a while, bicker a bit,
enacting a script that never seems planned.

A precocious Parthian youth of the 21st century returned the favor at a ceremony relegating his ancient mentor to the village nursing hut, as follows:

Thrown with your partner to gasp on the strand–
survivors, awaiting a long-deferred writ
(spotlit positions inexplicably quit)
your narratives lost, no room to expand–

Love’s wave must subside along with the sighs
you exhaled before drowning in panic. 
Flooding confusions become oceanic! 
Genesis 9:7 no longer applies.

Ebb tides suck you under, carry you out,
your footholds crumble,  convictions uproot–
freely you wallow in aimless pursuit
no handholds, just flotsam, survival in doubt.

Tsunami torrent of lust and devotion,
Love, my love– such a chaotic emotion!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lessons from the Impulsive Suicide of Andreas Lubitz

Parthian has read much prescriptive punditry following the horrendous impulse of the  Germanwings co-pilot to act out his recurrent, if not obsessive, fantasies– of destroying himself, an expensive aircraft, his anonymity, and 149 strangers, in that order. Reactions have ranged from resignation (Gourevitch, New Yorker) to hi-tech drone remedies (Cassidy, id), to palliative but practical measures (immediate change in protocol to mandate 2 crew members in the cockpit during flight). Rational risk assessors tell us that the incident represents an infinitesimal and irreducible residue of hazard after all other economically sensible prophylactics have been applied. Commentators with a broader perspective see worthwhile prospects from investing in: 

  • ground controller overrides
  • fully automated (drone) pilotage
  • more frequent and intensive mental health exams and background checks… etc.

Parthian proposes two practical measures that are immediately available, at a more acceptable cost relative to expected benefit than adoption of the U.S. crew protocol might entail. 

First, accept that powerful incentives to deny or conceal mental issues from employers and licensing authorities cannot be eliminated, however low the rate of impulsive pilot suicide may be.  The emphasis must be upon impulsive  self-destruction, because the Lubitz event’s most powerful teaching is that many, probably most, suicides do not fit the commonly held scenario of mounting despair reaching a tipping point or crisis, whereupon the dam of self-control is breached. It is much more likely that they represent long-festering suicidal ideation, confronted by an unexpected and irresistible temptation. Motive + opportunity.

Partial Remedy (with collateral benefits)
Revise protocols, to require the Pilot and First Officer to follow the cabin crew as they perform the seatbelt, tray tables, and stowage inspection after the doors close. Their duty is to make eye contact and exchange a few words with at least one passenger, in every X (time studies to determine number) rows.  This can be managed efficiently enough to cost little time, although the pre-take off checklists and other tasks must be delayed pro tanto. Parthian’s unverifiable but confident assumption is that the next Andreas Lubitz would be deterred at some significant (but indeterminate) margin from acting out a suicidal impulse because of his or her fresh and immediate encounters with trusting passengers (rather than “the passengers” generically considered).

Second, understanding that fresh personal encounters will not entirely foreclose another Lubitz-like incident, improve cockpit safety by adopting an arguably “riskier” alternative strategy to the current U.S. protocol. The alternative eliminates a cost–  impairment of the burdensome duties of the cabin crew. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Clerihews (Spring Cleaning)

Georgia O'Keefe
was of the belief
that flowers resemble vaginas–
and so her paintings remin' us

Frieda Kahlo & Leon Trotsky:
She his doll, he her tchotchke.
too soon!– dead
before they bred.

Philosopher Jacques Derrida
never varied a
whit from his claim
that all texts miss their aim.

Philosopher Jacques Derrida
construed whatever he saw
as text, only text,
never asking “What's next?”

Emily Dickinson's
similes quicken one's
sense of the numinous.
brief her effusions; in sum, voluminous!