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A Lesson From the Orphanage
By Bill Knott


If you beat up someone smaller than you
they won't (and histories prove this) tell:

look at those people on the opposite side
of the planet: they want to beat us up but

they're smaller so that's okay. Not okay is
that most of us will die in the war between

us and them, because small equals (and mice
prove this) sneaky: their spies could spirit all

our nuke aids away and we'd never know --
nick the rocket-satellite knockout Star Peace

Comcodes right out of our shrinking pockets,
even our doomsday (the FBI can prove this)

doodads, the ones we mean to use on them,
the rats: and so when they kill us will we

have killed enough of them to win, whose
fist figures bigger in the end? And what's it prove? --

In the Orphanage, hell, even if they do tell
on you there's no one for them to tell it to.

--------

From Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "Knott embodies what poet and critic Octavio Paz describes as modern poetry's 'heroic-burlesque remedy,' for in trying to marry the sublime to the ridiculous, he's attempting, perhaps futilely, to unite humor and love, life and art," writes Mary Karr. "In 'A Lesson From the Orphanage,' he uses the brutal social structure of foundlings to refute war...through pathological paranoia, Knott says, we create our own hell -- that final, capital-O Orphanage -- in which no celestial parent remains to hear our pious tattling." The poem was published in The Unsubscriber.

Yet again we had glorious, cloudless October weather, and since we had plans to go to the Melting Pot in the evening -- purely for reasons of reconaissance for Adam's Bar Mitzvah, of course, plus having a discount coupon we didn't want to waste -- we drove downtown after lunch to do a bit of sightseeing. We parked behind the Smithsonian, walked around the Washington Monument and went to the National World War II Memorial, which we've only seen once before, during the Cherry Blossom Festival a couple of years ago; it's a gorgeous monument with dozens of fountains, a wall of stars commemorating fallen soldiers, pillars representing the US states and territories and pavilions representing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war. From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool, which had several ducks and a turtle fighting to stand on the handful of rocks above the surface. The memorial itself was very crowded but the paths in the garden were not.

We walked back to the Smithsonian and went into the Museum of Natural History to see the Sant Ocean Hall, which just reopened on September 27th after a long renovation with the input of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Now there are big overhead viewscreens showing sea life, a permanent exhibit on changes in the oceans from prehistoric eras to the modern era, a display about life on the shores and in the shallows, a display about life at the poles (with penguins), a temporary exhibit about sea travel by humans and large central display in glass cases on animals that live in the ocean, with videos, preserved specimens (including a giant squid), and lots of photos.


A scalloped hammerhead in the exhibit on sharks in the Sant Ocean Hall.


Cetaceans past and present. The display on prehistoric oceans is off to the left beneath the bones.


An Adelie penguin in the exhibit on the North and South Poles.


This group of Uintacrinus socialis, a Cretaceous crinoid with arms that could reach a meter long, was found in Kansas.


Moray eels, in order from the top: a banded moray, a starry moray, a zebra moray, a guineafowl moray and a painted moray.


From the temporary exhibit on going to sea, an eight-day marine chronometer made in England in 1796.


A baby loggerhead turtle in the exhibit on threatened shores and shallows.


And a ceiling-mounted sea turtle in front of one of the room's many large viewscreens.


We left early to go to the restaurant, afraid we'd hit IMF traffic -- which we did, both unexpectedly closed roads and police everywhere, even though I thought the weekend meetings were over by 5 (and if there were protesters anywhere near the White House, they'd been dispersed by the time we got there) -- but the food was so, so worth it, Fiesta Cheese fondue, Caesar salads, Mojo style main course and chocolate fondue! We had "watched" the end of the Redskins game on my cell phone, auto-reloading espn.com every fifteen seconds, so we already knew the Washington had blown it, but as we walked back to the car, we passed several restaurants with equally unhappy Cowboys fans so that was some consolation.

I hope the Telegraph is right and all seven surviving Doctor Whos will really appear together in a charity TV special, that would be fantastic. I watched the latest SJA episode, "Day of the Clown, Part One" -- while I enjoyed the story, particularly Clyde's expanded role, I missed Maria as much as Luke did and don't think the girl playing Rani is as subtle or engaging an actress. I share Sarah Jane's dislike of clowns, but I wish she'd been a bit more open with Luke about coping with losing people; he's like a very young child in this regard, he's never experienced it before, he needs more hands-on parenting.
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