Heightened security theater

a numbered post for lucas green

A newspaper over the sink to catch the hair — last year’s headlines.

It seems some ants don’t work at all, & the others never notice.

The peepers’ convocation is full of ominous silences.

When we kept pigs, my brothers and I would take turns grabbing the electric fence.

Every curse was a dollar closer to owning the OED.

Green tomatoes into the hot pickle crock & dollar bills into the jar.

The first year we had pigs, we ate their brains & called it head cheese.

In Taiwan, I could never bring myself to eat fried chicken feet.

Tadpoles in the shrinking puddle bum-rush each fallen catkin.

Bobbing in the wind, a bumblebee beside the bleeding-hearts.

Bleary-eyed, I run electric clippers over my scalp.

16 Replies to “Heightened security theater”

    1. Thanks. The symmetry here rose organically and unconsciously, but I did tweak it during revision — for example, I switched the opening and closing lines, once I figured out that that “headlines” pun was a key.

  1. I love it, and I’m honored.

    Starts strong (with that Simic-like image) and doesn’t let up. I sometimes envy your access to the little trapdoors of the brain.

    1. You have no cause to envy anyone. But my technique for this post, as for yesterday’s (“Ga”) was to write when my mind was near the point of total exhaustion, just before sleep.

  2. “Every curse was a dollar closer to owning the OED.” Love it.

    Thanks to you and Beth for pointing to another marvelous blog.

    I don’t want to encourage behavior that leads to poor health, but exhaustion-poetry suits you. And I’m glad it’s an electric shaver and not a straight razor.

    1. Yeah, you know — one of those barber-kit things. Doing the back of the head and neck is always a little tricky…

      We did finally buy the Oxford English Dictionary (full-size, not the miniature version), but most of the cost came from the parents’ savings, I’m afraid. The OED jar had turned into a household bank, and eventually most of the dollar bills were replaced with IOU notes. My brothers were Scrabble fanatics, and they used the OED as the official dictionary for their matches for many years thereafter.

  3. PS — loved the article on the ants in the NYT. Read it at a coffee shop yesterday. (Photo and headline captured me.)And here it is in your work. And sidebar.

    1. Yeah, wasn’t that a fun article? The Science Times is the best part of the NY Times in my opinion. SO much better than the Book Review, for example. To say nothing of their political coverage.

  4. Bulbous tadpoles bum-rushing: great line. No one uses bum-rush anymore; or clotheslined.

    And amen to The Science Times, the only reason to read. I long ago drop-kicked print subscription after that loathsome pre-primary investigatory piece, proving that Bill and Hill no longer sleep together.

    The OED story sounds like la famille Fadiman.

  5. The Google, she never lies.

    Ah Clifton – the serious all-round literary guy who also strayed into entertainment, an Edmund Wilson/Steve Allen hybrid. He and fabulous writer Wilfred Sheed, for example, milked the last of the well-paid lit gigs as Book of the Month Club judges.

    He seemingly also narrated every film-strip during my grade school years, circa late Triassic.

    At any rate, his daughter Anne (author and former editor of The American Scholar) wrote in Ex Libris of life chez the Fadimans: every menu proof-read, every day a series of challenges to identify literary quotes. On Sundays, the family gathered round the tv to best the contestants on G.E. College Bowl. The family adopted as their team name Fadiman U.

    I am now retiring, replete in having – just the once – Stumped Dave.

    1. I hate to disillusion you, Julia, but it’s really not that hard to stump me!

      We were slightly geeky as a family, yes. We didn’t have TV or close neighbors, so my brothers and I were bookworms pretty much by default. Geography trivia was a particular attraction, and to this day my dad and my brother Mark (a geography prof) like to trade fascinating factoids about obscure parts of the world. I do think though that the family focus on natural history, while still of course nerdy, made for a more well-balanced education than a lot of chldren of intellectuals get. Not to mention the hog butchering and the chicken slaughtering.

  6. What a great congeries of influences. Difficult to imagine circumstances more likely to develop both enduring curiosity and the abilities to satisfy same. Spot humans curiosity and metaphor, and the universe can repo the damned opposable thumb.

    Ok: curiosity, metaphor, and a steeper learning curve on the electric fence.

    Reading “geek” and “chicken slaughtering” in the same graph certainly triggered an odd mental picture of your technique.

    The feral cat admires your bloody past, and wonders anew why a few gnawed kittens grate. “Feral is as feral does,” was – I believe – her exact sentiment.

    1. Ok: curiosity, metaphor, and a steeper learning curve on the electric fence.
      The fence thing was a contest. And chance for competition that eliminated the advantages of age and strength was prized.

      I’m happy the feral cat’s kittens don’t survive, but I’d be even happier if she herself got recycled back into the food chain. It’s long overdue. The great-horned owls and coyotes are really slacking.

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