Archive | November 2021

WHO’S ASKING WHO?

I’d laugh until my sides hurt.

Hans was undoubtedly the smartest person I ever knew. He was also so funny, he’d have me laughing out loud until my sides hurt.


In going through my papers and throwing out thousands (honestly) I came across this poem of his and couldn’t resist sharing it with you.


Hans came from Vienna as a young adult, where he spoke German and another local dialect. He said other languages were easy because he’d studied Latin at school and Latin is the root of so many languages. But I think it was much more than that. I hope you enjoy this playful poem he wrote about English.

WHO’S ASKING WHO?

by Hans Muller

Hans could and did read several languages

All of us languish
with speech induced anguish
and parsing our sentences
gives rise to repentences.
Hence using the vernacular
looms as positively Dracular.

Much joy to many gives
The usage of genitives
and even a native
can have fun with a dative.
Then why do brains turn into sieves
when confronted with accusatives?

Hans on one of our ‘motor’ trips which we thoroughly enjoyed

Is it HE or HIM, is it ME or I,
WE or US, SHE or HER — and why?
Is REGARDLESS wrong, IRREGARDLESS right
or are they the same — no, not quite.
When I go to bed, do I LAY or LIE?
Did they LEARN me wrong
or should it be TEACH?
I’ve got doctorates in English and Speech.

Aren’t the schools rich
in certified rules which
prescribe things grammatical?
Do I seem fanatical
if I declare that I’m aghast
finding ignorance so deep, so vast.

English???

If the abusive
of mother-tongue usage
prevails incontestably
and quite indigestibly.
I’m asking with unceasing awe:
Ain’t lingocide against the law?

I get jittery and tlnglish
speaking so-called good English,
The King’s, the Queen’s or the Bard’s
For me that is not in the cards.
What the heck — WHOM or WHO,
why don’t I just do
what Tom and Dick and Harry can,
talking simple North American.

The Farming of Bones

I haven’t been to a city library since the pandemic started. For a long time, they were closed. However I’ve done very well sharing books with reading neighbours by using a little free street library a mere block away. I’ve learned they read some worthy books around here.


Stuff happens to me that never happens to other people. By sheer coincidence, after just finishing ‘The Feast of the Goat’ by Mario Vargas Llosa, a novel based on the Dominican Republic during dictator Trujillo’s era, what do you think falls into my hands?


A harrowing but fantastic can’t-put-down read by Edwidge Danticat called ‘The Farming of Bones’ about the destitute Haitians who crossed the border from Haiti into The Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s rule. Those who did struggled for survival doing the dirty and dangerous jobs no one else wanted, meanwhile suffering outright racism.


Danticat’s book didn’t end the way I wanted it to. A love story, the lovers don’t get to walk off into the sunset, get married and live happily after. If that’s what you want, it isn’t the book for you. It isn’t a pleasant story, but it reads true…

A Man and his Tear

Life isn’t fair: It isn’t fair that my children are funnier than I am. It isn’t fair that they’re cleverer than I am and it sure isn’t fair that they write so much better than I do — and they started doing so early.

I already shared an (ahem) unforgettable saga daughter Susan wrote when she was about six, ‘A Romance’ about the Pickle and the Stick. (See https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/?s=A+Love+Story…or just click on Oct/2021 on the right of the cover page.)

Rafi wrote one at about the same age, but if Susan’s was a saga, his called ‘How did she die?’ was a tome, much too long for this post. If you want to read it you will have to wait until it is published. (Chuckle.)

Instead I’ve chosen to share the following poem written during his early university years — in about 1991.

A MAN AND HIS TEAR

A YOUNGER RAFI

By Rafi Kauffmann

Looking into a sullen eye
A moment of realism slips through
A moment of evil and self-destruction
Yet of kindness and redemption,
A tear

Sold is the innocence of youth
For a rough tempered style,
Tattered is the skin
Worn beyond its years
But still, a tear

TATTERED IS THE SKIN

Glistening with emotion
It swells but won’t fall
The impression on others holds it back

A positive sign this tear
A breakthrough well needed
An escape well deserved

Honestly it sings of experience
A living history contained within its walls
What it knows he knows
What it is, he is

WHAT IT IS, HE IS

Feast of the Goat…

Trujillo

Right now I’m reading ‘The Feast of the Goat’, a novel which takes place in the Dominican Republic during the rule of the hated dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was called the goat. (Dominicans often made up nicknames for others.) Trujillo was assassinated in 1961.

The book is written by Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who among many other literary prizes earned a Nobel Prize for literature. Llosa wrote extensively and was born in Peru in 1936.

Mario Vargas Llosa

On page #205 of my copy, I found the following quote:

‘AN OPEN BOOK IS A MIND THAT SPEAKS; CLOSED, A FRIEND WHO WAITS; FORGOTTEN, A SOUL THAT FORGIVES; DESTROYED, A HEART THAT WEEPS.’ By Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore

Tagore was a Bengali poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter, and more. Obviously a brilliant guy. He lived from 1861-1941 when he died in Calcutta.

I love the quote…