Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad Pun, Good Poem

I was just reading news feeds. California is about to start an earthquake preparedness campaign called "Shift Happens." Sorry -- I know puns are the lowest form of humor; but I'm a sucker for them.

Lilacs in September

Shocked to the root
like the lilac bush
in the vacant lot
by the hurricane --

whose black branch split
by wind or rain
has broken out

into those scant ash-
colored blossoms
lifted high
as if to say

to passersby
What will unleash
itself in you
when your storm comes?

This is by Katha Pollitt

I went looking for this poem after thinking last week about the subway hero about whom I wrote [and the papers have given him the full 15 minutes of fame -- deservedly]. Today a columnist in the Times is asking people to be "heroic" and tell people on the street to pick up trash they don't put in wastebasket and pick up their dog's poop. I nix that whole thing -- we inspire more than enough petty tyrants and self-righteous nags with the smoking ban, the crazy paranoia we allow airport security people and, I suppose now, we'll have all sorts of public finger waggers when someone orders fries with their hamburgers.

Instead of nags and scolds, let's pick up the gum wrapper that misses the trash basket [and for godsakes, you don't need to be wearing plastic gloves to do it!] Let's smile occasionally and sometimes compliment someone on a great necktie or a pretty scarf. Maybe one can give a seat on public transportation to an older person or a pregnant woman or even someone burdened with lots of packages. And we can remember those word Mamas try to teach kids: please and thank you -- which true adults offer when looking into the eyes of the other person ... the latter to be accompanied by a sincere smile.

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