Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes, Always, Never

Sometimes, Always, Never

Repeat this to remember how
to decipher the buttons on a jacket:
sometimes, always, never.

Do up that middle button, quick,
and get your hands off the last one.
Didn’t you hear yourself.

Existence is mighty confusing.
The rules help. A bit. I before E,
we chant, except for the times

when I does not fall before E.
Rules electrify the exceptions,
the experiences that slip between

what we expect and what arises.
Man walking down the street
with a lady stands nearest to the road,

but what if there are two ladies,
or none. Two men. One man
and three ladies. And why, too,

what protection does this offer
women. Liquor before beer,
or the reverse. Red sky at night, then what,

the morning. Count the seconds
after the lightning. Listen as
your numbers call forth the thunder.


  1. This reaches deep, Hannah. "Rules electrify the exceptions" -- yes, the rules are important so that they can be transgressed -- expectation is essential because it enables surprise ....

  2. Another good one. You place "Rules electrify the exceptions" at just the right spot in the poem, and then follow it with that example, which makes me laugh, especially "what if there are two ladies", because so few people today observe that "rule" or even know how it came into being.

    Fiona Hepburn's work is a real find!

  3. In my experience "the experiences that slip between what we expect and what arises" are what happen more often than not.

    I also loved "rules electrify the exceptions."

  4. I love the exceptions ... we cannot handle to not make rules for them, we even have rules for the exceptions and even singular exceptions have to go to a category with the other singular ones...and I had to smile after reading counting the seconds after the lightning, I always do : )

    Happy Thanksgiving : )

  5. "Didn't you hear yourself"

    I love that, and where you put it, at the end of that marvelous opening.

  6. Yeah, obey, because such and such is ALWAYS true, except when it isn't. Or when the rule doesn't capture the whole. (As usual?) I esp. like the last stanza. Something about thunder and lightning expands the whole scope of the poem for me.


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