Rhyming and roofing

How would you all like to read an original poem by Old Corporal? Well, I don’t care — you’re going to read it anyway!

Seriously, poetry isn’t usually my cup of tea. I’m reminded of a letter that the poet and playwright Oscar Wilde received early in his career, from a friend who was also a literary man. The friend wrote of Wilde’s work to that time, “Why do you always write poetry? Why do you never write prose? Prose is so much more difficult.”

Well, for me, it’s been just the opposite. I can write prose all day long, if you give me a topic that I know something about. But poetry? Those rhymes are rough! And I don’t want to write blank verse — that’s too much like taking the easy way out. It is to me, anyway — no offense meant to my friends that DO write blank verse!

The Writers Forum that I attend always has a topic for the month. The topic for the August  meeting was “The Blues.”  Take that phrase any way you want to. Anyway, here is my first poem since my days in the Army.

“The Blues”

I don’t get the rainy blues — I’m more a grayish guy;

It’s a Southern thing, you see; but friends tell me

“Your color’s blue”; the eyes have it,

And the azure jacket in my closet blends right in.

The skies, they have the blues, and cornflowers,

And April showers — look real close, you’ll see

Bluish drops, sprinkling on the canopy.

Muddy Waters had the blues, and John Lee Hooker,

Sent on their way by Memphis’ Mr. Handy; but

Some believe the finest singer of the blues was

David “Snaker” Ray, a Minnesota boy with hair

As blond as wheat, and eyes as blue as

Those lyrics that he sang, so true.

Sometimes I get the blues — no reason I

Can fathom, except I feel that if I died tonight,

No one would know, or care, until my dead face

Was bluer than my mood.

Need some company; think I’ll get a dog.

And name him Old Blues.

Don’t applaud; just throw money.


Back to prose again: What in the world is county government waiting on with the courthouse roof? They’ve put that membrane in place, but it doesn’t seem to furnish any protection from the elements to either the third floor, or the top row of bricks in the outer walls.

You see, builders normally put the softest bricks in the middle of wall construction, with the harder bricks outside and inside. With the old, fire-wrecked roof having been removed already, rain and — eventually — snow, will fall on the bricks at the top of the walls. Those soft bricks soak up water like a sponge. Not a good prospect with all that interior open and unprotected. Seems to me the membrane should have been placed to cover the tops of the walls, as well as the area once sheltered by the roof.

Now, obviously I’m not a construction expert, and I’ve never served in government, either. So pardon me if you think I’m talking nonsense here. But in view of the fact that there is now no roof on our fire-damaged courthouse; and that precipitation has considerable access to the inside now, membrane or not; and that if a roof were put in place, as soon as possible, then work on the inside of the building could go forward in the winter weather to come, at least without rain and snow pouring in; doesn’t it seem that the first step would be to GET that roof into place, PDQ?

I’m told that county government is waiting to find out who is going to pay for the project. Folks, SOMEBODY will; the county’s got ample insurance, and there are lawsuits likely about whose fault it was that the fire erupted. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get our courthouse back under roof QUICKLY, and worry about who gets the bills later? We know the county officials have the best interests of Jefferson County at heart. With our county offices now scattered hither and yon due to the May 20 courthouse fire, I think this qualifies as an emergency — and it’s not a sin or an impeachable act for elected officers to expedite actions that normally would take longer, under these circumstances. Let’s get the courthouse roof replaced, ASAP!


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