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Oil & Steel
By Henri Cole


My father lived in a dirty-dish mausoleum,
watching a portable black-and-white television,
reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
which he preferred to Modern Fiction.
One by one, his schnauzers died of liver disease,
except the one that guarded his corpse
found holding a tumbler of Bushmills.
"Dead is dead," he would say, an anti-preacher.
I took a plaid shirt from the bedroom closet
and some motor oil -- my inheritance.
Once, I saw him weep in a courtroom --
neglected, needing nursing -- this man who never showed
me much affection but gave me a knack
for solitude, which has been mostly useful.

--------

"This poem confirms that strong emotions are mixed emotions. Poetry can express, with precision, forever unresolved feelings like these," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in Sunday's The Washington Post Book World. "'Oil & Steel' has 14 lines, like a sonnet. Instead of end rhyme, its lines often conclude with slight, polysyllabic echoes of consonant or vowel: 'mausoleum,' 'television,' 'fiction,' for example. A similar muffled similarity associates the sounds of 'Bushmills,' 'courtroom,' 'useful.' In relation to ambivalence, sonnets traditionally turn after the eighth line, taking a new, sometimes contradictory direction in the final six. 'Oil & Steel' does that subtly when, after the father's 'Dead is dead,' the poem takes a somewhat softer, memorial turn with 'I took a plaid shirt from the bedroom closet.'"

I was planning to get up and drive the hour and a half to Hunt Valley for the last day of the Shore Leave convention, but a late start, disorganization in terms of meetings/interviews and [livejournal.com profile] apaulled deciding to make a big breakfast for the kids -- combined with younger son calling my parents and negotiating to go see Harry Potter again -- ended up keeping me local. Which was fine, because we all went together to Order of the Phoenix and I was very happy to see it again so soon...we had said maybe we'd go to the IMAX near Dulles Airport next Sunday afternoon if we'd finished the book by then, but that seems like a long time away and I wanted to make sure I saw it again before the Deathly Hallows paradigm shift.

My reactions were much the same as on Wednesday: the things I really liked last time, I loved this time, like the Dumbledore's Army scenes, the battle in the Department of Mysteries and every word that came out of Snape's mouth particularly during Occlumency lessons, while the things that had annoyed me a bit now really annoy me, like how Ginny's role is alternately gloating that ha ha, she's the best DADA student, and pouting that boo hoo, Harry likes Cho better, and meanwhile Hermione gets neither to defend Kreacher nor to force Rita Skeeter to defend Harry in the Quibbler. One thing that I didn't notice last time is that Sirius says, "Good one, James!" not only during the battle in the Ministry but in Snape's memory while James is torturing young Severus. I know we're supposed to be all sad over Sirius, and I really do try to love him as much as Harry does, but I loathe James Potter (the parallels between him and both Dudley and Draco seem very deliberate in this film, thankfully) and it's hard to root for someone who's so obsessed with his snotty dead best friend that he can't even love the best friend's son on his own terms.

I didn't read the Book Seven alleged spoilers, and in fact I would probably not have known about the alleged spoilers had there not been an explosion of outraged reactions to the alleged spoilers which will certainly do more to spread the alleged spoilers far and wide -- just as the troll who posted them undoubtedly wants. I am really difficult to spoil, as I have never had a book or movie ruined for me merely through the fact of knowing what was going to happen (this includes The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense, etc.), but I usually end up as irritated at the people screaming about the wank in any wankfest as I do at the wank itself, so I believe I shall go into lockdown mode early. Expect photos, movie blather and absolutely no snarking or expectations about Deathly Hallows here for a week! Here, have some plot bunnies instead.


Here are some more photos of the rabbits that live in my in-laws' backyard in Hanover.


They are quite unafraid of people and come very near the houses.


Sometimes when I look through binoculars or a telephoto lens at one bunny, I discover another nearby in the grass.


And, like cats, they get demon eyes in photos at this time of night:



We ended up ordering pizza at my parents' since the movie let out around dinnertime, came back here on the late side and I finished neither laundry nor the third of my TrekToday articles -- I did get Hidden Frontier and the Captain's Log DVD set covered, at least. Monday the kids will be in camp and I can catch up on things then!
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