Poetry and Polanski

Old Corporal is in his poetic mode again tonight, so hang onto your hats!

Here we go:


Grass is green and clean and keen,
But when I had to mow it, in
My salad days, that brought
An angry, mean look to my face.
I hated mowing grass. Bumble
Bees hid in it, sharpening
Their stingers for my humble,
Unshod little feet. They got me twice.
Pain isn’t nice. It hurts. Damn bees.
Damn grass. Dry up and blow
Away with this hot season.

Grass was different later; a
Much more pleasant feeling.
Puff your woes away; it
Often sent me reeling.
Puff the Magic Dragon.
Peter, Paul and Mary blew
That smoke in our collective face.
No bees hid in this grass; but
Other, stranger things did.
Mary Jane messed up my mind
When I was but a foolish kid.
–Wayne Engle

Now for a little change of pace:

“The Cat’s Meouw”


“Kitty Jump-A-Rope”


Dear cat, gentle cat, purrfect lap sitter;
Hep cat, black cat, bad to clean after.
Tom cat, alley cat, pussy cat, litter;
Fraidy cat, drop your hat, runs in and under.
Krazy kitty, likes to play, catnipped my finger.
Scat, cat! Chase a rat! Don’t you dare linger!
–Wayne Engle (with apologies to Robert Browning)
The guys on Fox News are all hot and bothered this week: Roman Polanski has been captured! Bring his 76-year-old carcass back here and lock it up forever!
What’s all this, you might ask? Is this Polanski a mass murderer? A close second to Bernie Madoff in stealing other people’s money? One of Obama’s no-pay-taxes Cabinet members?
No, gentle reader. He is a world-famous film director, whose best known  movies are probably “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown.” He’s a native of France, of Polish parentage, but lived in the U.S. for a number of years. His first wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson gang in its infamous 1969 crime spree. She was pregnant with their baby at the time.
In 1977, he took photographs of a 13-year-old girl (with her parents’ permission), then “plied her” with liquor (isn’t that the phrase they always use when a female gets drunk, has sex, then is stricken with second thoughts after?), then semi-coerced her into having sex with him. OK, the girl was only 13; but you see the point I’m trying to make.
But anyway, the girl apparently told her parents, who called the police, and Polanski was duly arrested and charged with several sex-related crimes, mainly that of having sexual relations with a minor.
After some of the usual legal back-and-forth, Polanski agreed to plead guilty to that one charge, with the others being dropped by the state. Part of the plea deal was that Polanski would serve 42 days in a prison facility for psychiatric examination. He was then presumably to be placed on probation.
Enter the prosecutor, who managed to convince the presiding judge that Polanski was being “cavalier” in his attitude about his crime, and showed the jurist a photo of Polanski at a party in Europe, with both arms around young women who the attorney assured the judge were “underage.”
The judge appeared ready to reneg on the plea bargain agreement, so Polanski fled the country, and has lived in France ever since 1978. France has a very liberal extradition policy, and has refused to give him up. But last week Polanski made a big mistake — he went to Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film organization, and was promptly arrested by Swiss police, apparently after some arm-twisting by American authorities. Now they’re seeking his extradition to face the music for his 32-year-old, one-time offense in which no one was killed, robbed, or, apparently, injured. Not physically, anyway.
Polanski’s alleged victim, who is now a 45-year-old woman, reached a monetary settlement with him some time ago and said she doesn’t really want him imprisoned. I agree. I remain, in principle and especially in this case, opposed to hauling elderly people into court to face charges that are many decades old. Polanski has pleaded guilty to a charge, and served the 42 days that the plea agreement called for. The attorney’s one-on-one lobbying of the judge was, if it occurred as news reports indicate, an ex parte communication. That’s a legal term that means a judge and an attorney for one side in a case, communicated about that case without the knowledge or participation of counsel for the other side. It’s illegal. It should nullify any possibility of that judge participating further in the case. And besides, the judge has already died. After all, it was 31 years ago that he heard the case.
What Polanski did — if his alleged victim is telling the truth — was obviously not admirable — was in fact a crime. As he has no other criminal record that I’ve heard of, I’d say that under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs, he made a terrible mistake. The Fox News self-righteous moralizers said he had lived “in luxury” in France all this time without paying anything for his crime. But did he really?
I’d say that any time he heard someone approaching behind, he feared it was the police. He was probably looking over his shoulder, either figuratively or literally, for 31 years. He couldn’t travel to most countries in Europe or elsewhere for fear of arrest. He paid a large amount of money to his alleged victim as an out-of-court settlement.
Not all prisons have bars. Roman Polanski’s been in one, an invisible one only he could see, for 31 years. That’s long enough. Release this old man and let him go home.

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