Hymn against the Stupid God 198

Again, the acolytes of Stupid God
Think to take into their hands the rod
With which to beat down others to the sod
That they may think them tall and mighty folk,
Even as they bend beneath the yoke
To bear the Stupid God. They are a joke
Told to a sober audience that stands
And does not laugh at loud-voiced drunks’ demands
Which, being met, despoil common lands
And legacies that would to children go.
How doubtful, now, that children e’er will know
What could have been! Instead, they now will grow
To forms far less than promise once had said,
Forced to go where Stupid God has led.

Why look behind them when the charlatans do not use them to hide?
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There Is a Poem I Cannot Write

I feel myself becoming a bullfrog again
Or the namesake of one whose friends raid the wine cellars
Croaking madly disregarded in one of the many places where
Eagles fly
This one seated by a flinty river in a whitewashed limestone land

Clearly what I mean…
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The fait accompli is in place
The thing already done
And I know what is coming
Have seen the sadness that will follow
But I cannot say too much about it

Frogs are easily trodden underfoot
Though they know more of the crowding flies than most
And it is of small things whizzing through the air my croaking warns
And others’ croaking

I hope that I am wrong
I know that I am not
And there is no blessing to follow after this hope
The coming croaking gives the lie to Pope

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Hymn against the Stupid God 195

Now Zibethicus commands a horde,
Ondatran menace striking up discord
As raveners with citrus, growing bored,
Look for some new distraction from their pain.
Even so, they dance in the long train
That Stupid God still leads, without refrain,
And in which the Stupid God does still delight,
Stumbling through each day into each night
And back again. The everlasting plight
Afflicts us all, both those who do not dance
And those who after Stupid God will prance
And, ass-like, bray upon the merest chance.
That which those donkeys pull behind, abjure,
Along with Stupid God and all its spoor.

Surely this is the only thing that it could be. The only thing.
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I Miss a Ten-Minute Snooze

As the small snare drum sounds a tight roll again
Tiny xylophone or glockenspiel accompanying it
My hand reaches out to add a single percussive beat
And do a little better than John Cage
Though I have never been able to do the splits
And my sunglasses are kept in the car

Rarely, if ever, this late…
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There is never enough time to take the time
And I really ought not to interrupt the performance
Making it stop and start again is no good thing for the gigging
It is better for me if I simply leave off spectation
Having other things to do in plenty
And my own practice to which to attend

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Testing Time Is Coming; I Can Help You Get Ready!

The new year signals in many places the approach of standardized exams. Whether required by individual states or demanded by colleges for admission, such tests as the GRE, SAT, ACT, and STAAR, despite being decried by educators at great length and across many years, do much to determine the academic fates of students at many, if not most, levels of instruction. Consequently, doing well on such tests is a matter of some importance for students, parents, and schools. And I can help prepare students to do well on them.

I’ve worked to write tests not only for my own students, but as a contractor generating content for standardized exams and as a private tutor helping students get ready for their own exam experiences. I’ve talked about it before (here, here, here, and here), and it remains true: whether you’re an educator needing new content, a parent concerned for their child’s performance, or a student looking to get some additional practice in, I have materials for you.

The assessment example below comes out to 114 words at a ninth-grade reading level. As with the earlier examples noted above, formatting is adapted to suit the medium.

Read the following passage and use the information in it to identify the most accurate answer to each of the questions below.

1One area in which modern Arthuriana deviates from the traditional is in conflating the important swords of the text. 2That is, modern Arthuriana moves away from its sources in that it merge swords together in the narrative. 3The most prominent example is Excalibur. 4Modern tellings of the Arthurian legend equate it with the Sword in the Stone, the sword that Arthur draws out to confirm his kingship. 5In Malory, however, the Sword in the Stone is placed by Merlin as part of his plot to see Arthur enthroned. 6Excalibur, by contrast, is given Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. 7It is accompanied by a scabbard of greater value—but that is another story.

In sentence 1, “deviates” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

In sentence 1, “deviates” carries what meaning?
A. Moves against.
B. Moves away from.
C. Moves toward.
D. None of the above.

Sentence 2 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “deviates?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

In sentence 1, “conflating” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

In sentence 1, “conflating” carries what meaning?
A. Eating.
B. Gathering.
C. Mixing.
D. None of the above.

Sentence 2 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “conflating?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

In sentence 5, “enthroned” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

In sentence 5, “enthroned” carries what meaning?
A. Put into a box.
B. Put into clothing.
C. Put into power.
D. None of the above.

Sentence 4 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “enthroned?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 2 relate to sentence 1?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 3 relate to sentence 2?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 4 relate to sentence 3?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 5 relate to sentence 4?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 6 relate to sentence 5?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

How does sentence 7 relate to sentence 6?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

The main idea of the paragraph is in which sentence?
A. 2.
B. 4.
C. 6.
D. None of the above.

There is an error in sentence 2. At which word does it appear?
A. Merge.
B. Narrative.
C. Sources.
D. Swords.

Answers: 1, D; 2, B; 3, C; 4, D; 5, C; 6, C; 7, D; 8, C; 9, C; 10, C; 11, C; 12, A; 13, B; 14, B; 15, A; 16, A; 17, A

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And That’s It

Today is not the day
Of course
There’s another coming
And even if it were the day
So much would be true

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It isn’t for all
Of course
Because some are at their ends
Today and every day
But there are yet others
Who will
And must
Go on

Retrospection is in season
Of course
Little endings prompting looking back
And thoughts of how to do better moving forward
But most of us will simply
Go on as we have been
Regretting doing so a little
Until we forget that we were doing that

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It Is the Calm and Quiet Mornings

Sitting with cups of coffee ready to hand
While the birds have barely begun their chorus
And other creatures stalk near-silent
Through the lifting darkness
I read
I write
Neither as much as I might like
Both as much smiling as remains in me

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I am a thief
And prodigal
Taking more such moments for me than is likely my due
Spending them frivolously and to no good end
But I have asked no inheritance
Even if I might have to herd swine
And I am the elder brother, anyway

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Well, That Was Nice

The break was good
With lots of food
And friendly company
But there’s a price
It won’t be nice
To pay, I expect to see

Paperwork is never-ending.
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The work goes on
When I will don
My holiday attire
And piles rise
Before my eyes
Atop my desk yet higher

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Again, Addressing Writing Prompts

I imagine they thought they were being helpful
Those programmers
Putting in the new features that
Suggest ideas from which to write
Because writer’s block is a thing
And it does beset all of us who
Fix words in order

So I’m sentimental about some things…
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And there is always a but
And there is almost always a butt
And sometimes it is what voices the
Things you hear
I wonder who they think
Those programmers
Their target audience is
Who they think will use this platform
And to what end
Who will be different from them
Because we all know
That the only worthwhile knowledges are
How to code
How to get their money
Anyone who does anything else
Really can’t be that smart

All this is to say
Having a spur is useful
But sometimes
You’re not riding a horse

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On the Winter Solstice, 2022

As this post emerges into the world, it is the moment of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, or close enough as matters to very few. Concomitantly, today is the shortest daylight of the year here; it’s uphill for a while, until the summer solstice comes, and then the downhill slide resumes. It is Sisyphean, really, although I am not aware of the myth-makers connecting things in such a way. Perhaps they did. Perhaps I do because I have far more time to think about such things–about things, generally–than is good for me to have.

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Living when I do and where I do, the seasonal cycle matters less to me than might be thought. Central Texas does not have the “typical” progression. Our plants put on their prettiest in the spring rather than in the fall; the colors that come out for autumn are of football teams and marching bands, and brilliant though they may be, they are as nothing against the wildflower fields that stretch to the sky. No, for the most part, the colors of the fall now gone are brown from where the summer drought remains and green from the touches of rain that have fallen. And the colors of the winter now begun are not as often white as, well, brown and green. We freeze sometimes–the Hill Country, I am told, is in for a sharp snap of it this week, Jack cracking a bullwhip to announce his coming and assert his dominion where Aestas more commonly holds sway–and sometimes see the snow, but more often, it is a chilly rain that marks out winter weather than a soft snowfall.

Perhaps that is why so many decry “snowflakes” here, that they have such limited experience of them as they do. But as someone who has had more of snow than many in the Hill Country, I think I like it less. Shoveling it tends to remove the romance.

Still, the night will roll back, little by little, now, and the light increase its hold. I am sure there is some symbolic statement I could make about it, but I am also sure it would be badly clichéd. I get to deal with that kind of thing enough without having to add to it, and there is still more than enough work for me to do, whatever the season, however the weather may be.

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