Thursday, April 15, 2010


“Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets,
That's right
And it entertains visiting relatives.

It turns a sandwich into a banquet . . .”


You dig old stuffs? OK. Here’s another one of my poems. It’ll be 30 years old this November.


Like the soft blanket over a sleeping child
Night falls upon the city
And as shadows waver in the moonlight
Silence goes screaming down the street
The mad dog steps from a darkened corridor
His eyes shine white and burning in the black
For on this night the mad dog
Won’t be running with the pack

In the darkness he goes searching
For answers to questions often asked
And reaches for the many things
He has heard but never seen
His mind bursting from the inside
With thoughts of something precious and unknown
Crying in the evening mist
When the mad dog is alone

Ribs poking at his flesh
Like a washboard trying to bust through
Muscles pulling with the motion
Of a wild animal’s escape
Thriving when the moon appears
By gnawing on the night
In the coolness of the evening air
The mad dog readies for the fight

With hungry teeth of passion
He thrashes at his foes
With a face so tense and claws so sharp
The barriers shrink from sight
Victorious now, he licks his wounds
From where life’s liquid bled
And don’t you know the mad dog?
He’s alive and living in my head


When journalist Yoey O’Dogherty interviewed me recently for the online magazine WHAZIT2U?, he asked, “Who is your favorite writer?” to which I replied, “I’ll have to mention two: Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau. Twain makes me laugh and think. Thoreau makes me think and think.”

If you are not much familiar with Thoreau then you aren’t going to appreciate what follows. But if you do understand Thoreau’s world-view, you may find this as hysterically funny as I did.

Back in 2005, I came across a review at the website written by a high school student for the book ‘Walden And Other Writings’ by Henry David Thoreau. I sort of reviewed her review. Below is an abbreviated copy:

I have no intention of reviewing the writings of Thoreau. The way I figure it is this: If you don't "get it" (and the world around us clearly testifies that few do), I'm not about to explain it. Besides, several other reviewers here have already done a very admirable job of excavating and cataloging the rich treasures that constitute the thoughts of Concord's timeless, self-professed "mystic, Transcendentalist, and natural philosopher."

I happened upon the review by the young lady from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Back in the year 2000, she gave 'WALDEN AND OTHER WRITINGS' one Star; titled her review 'DUMB!'; stated that she "hated this book entirely"; and called for the start of an "anti-Thoreau campaign for students."

But it was her opening sentence that literally caused me to burst out laughing. Unquestionably and by a good margin, this is the funniest thing that I've ever encountered on the Amazon website. It provided me with the best laugh I have had in some time.

If you don't appreciate the writings of Henry David Thoreau, then surely you will not appreciate the irony of her statement, but for those of us whose lives have been enriched by the New England SAUNTERER and NONCONFORMIST, this is just too "delicious!" Our Wyoming friend began her diatribe on Thoreau with this classic sentence:

"I have to make this short since I will be going out with my boyfriend for a 4:00 date at McDonald's."

Ah-Ha!-Ha! Hokey-Smoke and Hoo-Wee! Think about it. Think about the things that Thoreau stood for. Then ask yourself, what would be the best modern symbol you could come up with to represent the antithesis of Thoreau’s philosophy? It has got to be McDonald’s: prefabricated, standardized plastic food served quickly to plastic people in a hurry! Everything Thoreau was fighting against! Ha! Is it any wonder “Wyomingirl” detested ‘Walden’?

At the conclusion of my review, I lampooned that world-famous passage in the second chapter of ‘Walden’, updating it for "Wyomingirl" and everyone else with Twenty-First Century sensibilities:

"I went to the fast food establishment because I wished to eat inexpensively, to acquire only the essential promotional toys of a Happy Meal, and see if I could not keep down what they had to serve, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not removed the plastic wrap... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of Chicken McNuggets... to forgo the hot dog in favor of a Quarter Pound of greasy, round-molded meat and to put to rout all that was not delivered in under 60 seconds."
~ Henry David Thoreau
'WALDEN' (21st Century edition); chapter II

In case you’re interested, here is a copy of “Wyomingirl’s” short, original review - unedited:

I have to make this short, sincee I will be going out with my boyfriend for a 4:00 date at McDonald's. Anyway, before my boyfriend drags me out of here, I will just say I hated this book entirely!!!! We should start an anti-Thoreau campaign for teh students, who are, unfortunately, being forced to read this thing for the finals. Ok, i gotta go, continue the struggle.

Le McQuotes Du Jour:
I never write "metropolis" for seven cents because I can get the same price for "city." I never write "policeman" because I can get the same money for "cop."
~ Missouri’s Immortal, MARK TWAIN

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority,
it is time to reform.
~ My Man, MARK (again)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
Doggtor of Semiliterate, Half-Naked Blogological Studies
Stream O’Consciousness University in Menachembeginville, Morocco

Letter Links:

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.



Loved the poem, very visual,It had excellent word content and I enjoyed it very much.
MacDonalds I'm not into, my grandchildren like going there but that's not mt style.
Well it will be "N" tomorrow getting there.
Take care.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Thanks, YVONNE! ~
Being a vegetarian, McDonald's gets almost none of my bread. I might buy some french fries once every three years or so and that pretty well covers my relationship with "McD's"

~ Stephen
"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11

Lisa said...

Enough of the poetry already! It was good, really. I like the picture of the snarling dog even better. But I am an animal lover.

I've boycotted McDonald's because of the treatment of the chickens they buy. What do they care if the chickens are being thrown alive into a vat of hot water? As long as they make a good chicken nugget, that's all that matters to them. It's just really sad.

The kid that didn't appreciate Thoreau was probably just that, a kid. Some of us are born old, so even as young teen, you were probably middle aged in your mind. I'm just sayin'. It's the poetry. :)

Thanks for the "not nice" comment on my recent post. It made me laugh, so it's stayin'.

Enjoy your evening!

Marjorie said...

I loved Mad Dog. I'm not a huge fan of McDonalds. You can practicaly see the grease dripping off.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

The poetry was "good" but enough of it already? Kinda sending mixed signals, ain'tcha?

Well, don't worry - I'm planning to post only one more poem. That will be tomorrow. Then no mas poetry readings here.

>>It made me laugh, so it's stayin'.<<

Ha! Well, THANKS! That's a relief. At least someone ain't gonna delete me.

Thanks!! Yeah, I too like mad dogs better than I like McDonald's!

~ "Mad Dogg" McMe

Lisa said...

Blame it on the poor punctuation, Stephen. :) And my lame attempt at a sense of humor. Ha!

mousiemarc said...

good stuffs.

arlee bird said...

Good-- What hath this challenge wrought? Stephen T McCarthy poet! Sensitive, cool, artsy fartsy with a beret, a beard, and shades, smoking a doobie in a cigarette holder. Pass me the bongos. I'm hip.
Actually another good poem. This might be your new calling. Take a cue from Yvonne and do the FFFF blog in verse.

Bad -- Well, in all fairness to Wyoming Girl and her boyfriend have you ever been to Rock Springs. I'm surprised they even have a McDonalds. And I doubt whether they have any ponds.


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I have a question. Are you ever tempted to edit your poems as you type them up on your blog? Or are they completely as they were?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Thanks, Buddy!

rLEE-b ~
I thank you, sir. But no doobie, Brother. ;o) Not only was this stuffs written without the aid of Mary Jane (I never did drugs), but I wasn't even drunk at the time. Frighteningly enough, it all came from a totally sober (if somewhat insane) mind.

Your comment about Rock Springs, Wyoming made me laugh. I was about to write that, no, I had never been to Rock Springs, but getting out my atlas where I have highlighted every road in this country I have traveled upon, I found that I had indeed gone through Rock Springs in 1986 while on my way to Devil's Tower National Monument. But since I didn't even remember having been there, you must be right about it.
Rock Springs = Forgettable.

AlliAllo ~
That's a very good question!
I think people who write are ALWAYS tempted to revise what they've written.

I remember an interview with John Steinbeck that I read about 30 years ago, and he said that when it came to rewriting, he knew he had done all he could with a story and that it was finished when he reached the point where he was going back through it and changing single words - a word here, a word there. He said that as long as he was rewriting whole paragraphs or sentences, there was still work to be done on the manuscript, but when he reached the single word stage, it was time to start a new story.

I once reworked a poem so many times that I eventually killed it. I kept thinking I could find better words, and in the end, I had sapped all of the life out of the thing and ruined the natural flow and spontaneity. When I finally got done messing with it, the words may have been better but the poem was just flat and lifeless. However, I had learned my lesson!

So, I am disinclined to perform major surgery on these old poems of mine. Especially since their chief value is as a sort of "poetic diary" showing where my mind was during my teens and very early twenties. It would be like finding a diary you kept in your teens and rewriting it now as an adult.

But still... there's that urge to improve it. So, I would say that in all of these old poems I have posted here on my Blog, I've probably changed a total of maybe 3 to 5 words. (Not 3 to 5 words in each poem, but all the poems combined.) For example, in the fourth stanza of "The Mad Dog", I changed my original word "slip" to "shrink" and "the wounds" to "his wounds". Otherwise, it's reproduced the way I wrote it in November, 1980.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe