Self Help Poems 35, 41 and 45
by Carl Nelson (May 2019)
Self Help Poem #35
How to Troubleshoot a Husqvarna 125B Leaf Blower
which ran fine
and then kind of a bah-blah, bah-blah, baah…blaaaah…
with no oomph at all. A real lame performance.
I’d figured it could be the plug,
but the best guess, after Googling,
was a bit of crap in the fuel filter or varnish in the carburetor.
A vendor over the phone said he couldn’t see
as running some cleaner through the carburetor
would work. “Mark, that’s not a brand we carry,” he stipulated.
“But to my knowledge (to fix it) they’ve had to replace
the fuel line inset valve.” “—Uhhh.” I sighed.
My brother-in-law said that if the percentage of oil to gas
I’d used was too high, I might have fouled the spark and recommended
a small appliance repair nearby.
But instead, I let it sit believing,
—as I’d told my wife on all too numerous,
—that mechanical, as well as
personal problems, need their space! That is,
their time alone to chill and sort things out.
So I reclined upon the sofa. And, bless me, I was right!
I scrubbed the plugs, then pulled like hell.
“Ba-blah, ba-blah, baaAHHHH BlaaahhhhHHHHHH!” It started!
Squirrels, twigs, leaves, walnuts and finally the spouse, all scattered.
There is no great lesson here about life,
or about the Husqvarna 125B leaf blower,
except to note that things well designed
and in good working arrangement, basically,
will still require some maintenance
from time to time. That’s how it is.
Job, Ber Mengels, 1965
Self-Help Poem #41
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People
“When Job challenged God,
God answered that He did
as He pleased. “
—Jimmy Dilmore, travelling preacher, 1883
A child runs out before an oncoming truck.
What makes more sense? That the child’s death
is part of the Immense Unknowable Plan of God?
Or that, the child hadn’t understood the danger
of darting out into traffic, heedless?
Now Job was a God fearing fellow, but
also an anthropomorphic moralizer—which
was entirely understandable!
(So don’t get defensive.)
We all have our pressing needs, which tend
to be both infantile and egocentric,
especially when it comes to bursting boils.
Nevertheless, it’s a practical and theological mistake
to moralize from our existence, repeating
the time worn mistake of presuming the sun
to orbit the earth.
assume a God, Who orbits their petty needs
like a hovering parent or a delegated angel.
But it simply isn’t so – as the Old Testament struggled to convey!
How could God—or life—make this more plain?
(Not recorded is Satan’s snarky comment, “Go figure?”)
The Greeks solved this mess by inventing
the Sin of Ignorance, teaching that bad things happened
to good people because they didn’t know better.
(Forehead slap!) How did we lose this wisdom?
Let me suggest it in one word: Sales.
Job’s feedback was evidence that God needed
a better pitch, a softer sell.
So He sent us Jesus, as his envoy
—an only child, by the way—
with a nurturing, soothing . . . less triggering, pitch.
Above the Human Condition, All is Right, Benjamin L.M., 2019
Self Help Poem #45
There is just a lot expected of our
reptilian nature, which is hard to train.
There are a lot of correct emotions a person
is expected to have and to display appropriately
on occasion. To wit, often newborns
are ugly as a dropped pie, but
“what a lovely baby” it is!
So it can be from this to that,
conducted at light speed,
for the poor pre-lapidarian emotion,
having, in evolutionary terms,
barely left the sea.
Sex is healthy, unless between people
of unacceptable age differences, or kinships,
at which point, it’s unthinkable!
And while it’s okay not to love your dog or cat,
if it must come to that—
there are some repellent people you must never snarl at,
who would have you for breakfast
and then belch out your hairball.
Generally people of a darker color
must be treated so properly and so gingerly that,
I would never write of them actually, or fictionally.
It would be like letting in the police without a warrant.
Why, they might be sure to find something or plant it.
So far, there is just not enough trust here, in the community.
Carl Nelson is relishing a smaller existence in a smaller town along the Ohio River after fifteen years in the theater world. As a playwright in pre-opening rehearsals once said, “I’d like to be a carrot in the ground.” Currently, he moseys about while working on The Poets’ Weight Loss Plan—an interlarding of plan and poems by which has lost 45 pounds. He also runs The Serenity Poetry Series in Vienna, West Virginia. His work is available at: https://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html.
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