Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lawyers and Attorneys

                                HonorĂ© Daumier, Les Avocats

Lawyers like him give attorneys a bad name,
blacken their souls like smokestacks the air,
stomp on the downtrodden, virtue defame,
and always, always get more than their share.
Their patron saint’s the devil, whose cleft foot
splits the fee between heaven and hades,
as judges divide the ill-gotten loot
between rich gents and their shady ladies.
Lawyers are a necessary evil,
like consumption and IRS taxes.
They are to cotton as the boll weevil
and to shade trees as sharpened axes.
Lawyers live on payoffs, attorneys on fees.
A lawyer pisses, an attorney pees.

                                   Robert Forrey

Monday, April 17, 2017


My unhappily married neighbor,
a man in his mid- to late sixties,
said to me on a recent afternoon 
in the side street between our houses—
he was already well under the influence:
“You know in a hundred years
it won’t mean nothing you and me
were once alive and kicking.”
Retired from the telephone company
where he had been a foreman
of a repair crew, the men who climbed
(in those days long before the cell phone)
telephone poles with those contraptions
strapped around their waist connecting
them securely to the poles, up and down
which they made their way cumbersomely
to keep us all in touch with each other.
He must have been a functioning 
alcoholic able to stay sober while
he was on the job, confining his drinking
to evenings, weekends, and holidays.
A doctor of philosophy, I wondered
when he had first had the insight
into the insignificance of the individual
in the grand cosmic scheme of things.
He went to church each Sunday,
so he was apparently a believer,
but just what he believed would 
be hard to say with any certainty.
A teetotaling atheist, an English professor,
I didn’t have anything to add to what he said.
I did, however, think of a stanza
from Shelley’s “To a Skylark,”
which I recalled from memory:
“We look before and after, 
And pine for what is not: 
Our sincerest laughter 
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

                                            Robert Forrey

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Little to Lose

Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of a Young Woman

“Resembling strong youth in his middle age,”
he was consumed by unbound vanity,
as if trappings were not mere equipage,
and vanity were not inanity.
If an aging woman is not aware
she’s not as young as she formerly was,
she represents the unanswered prayer
that children offer up to Santa Claus.
But a man who was never beautiful,
or likened to a blossoming flower,
was never captivating but dutiful
to masculinity’s dour golden hour.
While an aging man has not much to lose,
a gal’s a gallery with a Toulouse to lose.
                                 Robert Forrey

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