No mention of the common cold

October 3, 2011

During elementary school we were taught the Baltimore Catechism. Being Roman Catholic. By objective standards you’d call it propoganda. We called it religion. It was filled with questions. And their answers. I remember the first question. It was “Who made you?” And the answer, “God made me.” The questions and answers got more complicated after that. To get a perfect mark on a test you had to give exactly the wording of the text. Not the meaning. The wording. My father kept me up many hours grilling me on this text.

I wrote a book of poems called The Baltimore Catechism. It was almost published in the early 1970s. But then the publisher backed out. I put it away. I found it yesterday. And decided to expose it to the free world.

The preface is a quote from Hegel, a very important German philosopher. Who I based my master’s thesis on. He is a very difficult man to read. In English. I can’t imagine he is any easier in German.

Here is the preface:

“Consciousness knows and comprehends nothing but what falls within its experience; for what is found in experience is merely spiritual substance, and, moreover, object of its self.


Mind, however, becomes object, for it consists in the process of becoming an other to itself, ie. An object for its own self, and intranscending this otherness.


And experience is called this very process by which the element that is immediate, unexperienced, ie. Abstract – whether it be in the form of sense or of a bare thought – externalizes itself, and then comes back to itself from the state of estrangement, and by doing so is at length set forth in its concrete nature and real truth, and becomes too a possession of consciousness.”


G. W. F. Hegel

Preface to the Phenomenology of the Mind.

Fun reading, eh? I struggled through Hegel for 8 months. Learned some things. About human nature. Like pretentiousness. Which I was tainted with. I think I’m still a bit of a snob. (I like Starbuck’s coffee.)

The first poem is called Antemath. Its supposed to be some overriding opus on the condition of man. How his journey into consciousness was a mixture of madness and accident. No mention of the common cold.


 our sires were sitting around a fire

pokin’ the ashes

shufflin’ the flames

mumblin’ rumours

just passin’ the time of day

when one jumped to his feet

and as bold as life itself, he screamed.


The others cast their eyes on him

in a mixture of surprise and contempt.

One spoke as if for all,

‘with your words it is plain

your destiny is not with us.’


shoulders huddled around a head bowed

he slipped into the darkness

on the border of their sight.

‘oh father’ he cried

‘what shall i do?’

the dust picked up

and carried his scent

and the creations of the garden

picking up the message

turned their heads toward him in fear.


And through the tall grass

his steel thighs carried his body

his hand like a vice carried his spear

and pounding after a fleeing fawn

he lifted the ground to her ear.


And with the night

he carried a torch

guarding his children against

the game that the darkness

transfigured into beasts.


Not fearing the haze he rode

his metal ships

their coldness memorized muscle,

carried on through echelons of time

til the future was lost

and the past was warped

and the maps ran out of lines.


Tired and weary he spread his spew

colonizing solar systems

filling the emptiness

with the hum of his lonely vessels

prodding and feeling their way into oblivion.

Through the ages the thirst had been spent

the drive that carried him so far began to wain

and the liquor heat turned bitter and sour

in his mouth.

The wilderness, homeless, seeped inside.


The newspapers carried the story on the front page

there was a picture

of a wailing man

his face against the rains,

slinging his arms at the sky


black to white

with surprise and contempt

the caption seemed to say

“These are the forms I only lend

just doin’ my job.

It is not me that formed these words,

only the bungling of chance

and some mad man’s lungs.”


2 Responses to “No mention of the common cold”

  1. Very efficiently written post. It will be useful to anybody who employess it, as well as yours truly :). Keep up the good work – can’r wait to read more posts.

  2. I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to reach my goals. I certainly enjoy reading everything that is posted on your blog.Keep the stories coming. I liked it!

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