selections from Poems de Terre

On Poetry

Why do poems have to be about love?
yucky and mushy and give me a pain
all about flowers or the stars up above
same tired stuff again and again,
it's time to lose the rhyme.
Why can't they be about
internal combustion engines,
how when they get turned on
the old 10W30 starts flowin
and the old four barrel
starts huffin and blowin
while those big old pistons
go pumpin in and out
with sparks leapin the gap
until that thing is just a purrin
and a hummin along, so why
do poems have to be about love?*

*Nearly every poet has his "Ars Poetica" and Hatman is no exception. Unlike Archibald Macleish, who wrote explicitly of the moon in his "Ars," Hatman asks why the subject-matter of poetry cannot include the machine? Characteristically, he goes straight for the nuts and bolts of the question, despite the anachronistic reference to four-barrel carburetors.


The thing about civilization
Is how to define what it do,
I know that I be a most civilized type
But I sure have my doubts about you.

The Wealth of Nations

There once was an Adam named Smith
Who on economic ideas would linger,
He wrote in his book of th'invisible hand
But what of th'invisible finger?

Antoine Regards the House Next Door

The house is shuttered, not a sign
Of life at any window there
And all along the garden rows
Skiffs of early Winter snow--
Oh where are the neighbours of Antoine?

The dog barks not, nor mews the cat
No smoke curls from the chimney top
No laundry from the line does flap
No visitor at the door does tap--
Oh where are the neighbours of Antoine?

Perhaps in time they will return
He can only watch till then
As mail and papers overflow
The slot like tears when feeling low--
Oh where are the neighbours of Antoine?*

*Professor G. Ffoote-Powder sees "Antoine" as an evocation of the South of France, because Hatman had been known to send for brochures about that part of the world. Dr. B.D. O'Deur, on the other hand, situates the poem in the French quarter of Regina, where briefly in his youth Hatman had an attic room.

The Gorgeous Lulabelle

The gorgeous Lulabelle leaned o'er
The shining mahogany bar,
She looked out at the umbrellas
And the passing cars,
She had a dish-cloth in her hand
Her eyes were full of stars.

Her blouse undone three buttons down
Revealed the swellings there,
So firm and full withal so round
So negligently bare,
And lying thick upon her neck
A mass of golden hair.

Herseemed she scarce had been a month
One of Joe's waitresses,
Waiting tables and serving drinks
Afterward cleaning up messes,
(Although it seems to me it's longer
Five or six months is my guess.)

She waited for her prince to come
And carry her far away,
Tall and dark and dangerous
And filthy rich enough to pay
For clothes, jewels and automobiles
Beer and bags of Frito Lays.

"We two," she thought, "will head for Vegas
Where Wayne Newton sings,
Watch the shows and play the slots
Buy lots of expensive things,
And over dinner with champagne
I'll get my diamond ring."

(I saw her look.) But soon the joint
Was full of patrons wanting drink,
And Lulabelle was kept ahoppin'
Sometimes she would stop to think,
And then her eyes were full of tears
She'd nod, and smile and blink.*

*This sadly nostalgic piece is the epitome of Pre-Raphaelismotic imagery.
An earlier version suggested that Lulabelle may have had managerial aspirations
in speaking of her [wish to] "bossom," now corrected by textual scholars to "swellings."
It has also been suggested that managerial aspirations would be anachronistic
in a Victorian parody.

Matthew Arnold

Matt Arnold was nuts about culture
Which he promised would sort us all out,
But some cried "malarkey,
just give us an-ar-chy
and we'll do as we like never doubt!"


Bird Story

Once upon a time a Princess was walking in the forest. She entered a lovely glade and this is what she saw. On every branch of every bush and tree there were birds, large birds and small birds, brightly coloured birds and birds in ordinary bird business suits.
Yet here is the extraordinary thing. All these birds were sitting in silence with nary a tweet or a cheep. All except one. On the highest branch at the end of the glade was a big, black Crow who filled the silence with his incessant cawing. Caw-caw-caw-c'caw. When the eyes of one of the younger birds closed the Crow uttered a particularly angry caw to wake her up.

theories of education

The Princess was astonished at this and she beckoned a Robin to come perch on her finger. They moved away a little and she said "Excuse me, Mr. Robin, but this is very strange. Why are all the birds silent and only that ugly black Crow is making any noise?"
"Well, that is simple," answered the Robin. "You see, we have established an education system in the forest and Dr. Crow is the Professor."
"So it's Dr. Crow is it?" she said. "I don't see why the Crow should be your Professor?"
"Ah," said the Robin, "but he knows so much more than we do."
"Who told you that?" asked the Princess.
"Why, he did," said the Robin, as if the matter were obvious.
"I see," said the Princess. "But the Crow doesn't know how to talk like a Robin, or a Sparrow, or a Red-Winged Blackbird, or a Chick-a-dee. Don't you want to hear what those birds have to say?"
"Dr. Crow would be angry if anyone else talked in his class."
"But that's silly," responded the Princess, who had been to the University of Regina and had absorbed the most advanced educational ideas. "If only one bird is going to talk then there's really no need to have a meeting at all. Dr. Crow could put everything he has to say on the internest."



Air, air, wonderful air
It gives us all something to breathe,
If we had none, it would sure not be fun
To be sucking in space through our teethe.


Farmer's Lament

That cow's too smart
We're out of luck,
Can't go get her
She took the truck.*

* A Moocury.


The Class

from our places around the room
we project our voices to the centre
we make this circle in the air
which turns and becomes a ball

each one who speaks adds coastlines
of continents and borders of countries
each eloquent silence adds colours
to the slowly spinning globe--
this world we are making together.

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