Sunday, February 19, 2012

Magpie Tales: No Quarter

JESUS SAVES, is written
in black magic marker, block letters
on the bathroom stall door

above, for a good time call
and some number & i
                almost
                      do
                           but fear
if the pastor answers,
it might be all he has to offer

as if our happiness were the true measure
of a life
          well lived.


written in response to the picture prompt, which can be viewed at Magpie Tales.

94 comments:

zongrik said...

oh, and you mean your number was not written on the phone booth wall for a good time? how disappointing!

Mary said...

Never trust those numbers written on bathroom doors. They're a trap. LOL.

robkistner said...

love it Brian...

rob
Image & Verse

pink dogwood said...

Love it.

Anonymous said...

Happiness is attained through a positive attitude and is measured in laughter ... particularly at oneself. :)

This was great, Brian. Especially the title, making the whole issue a non-issue.

I think you make a good point about the juxtaposition of Jesus and whores, pure love and selfish lust. They are never far apart; a fall is only one step across that line to the left of your pinky toe. At all times, we stand so very close to Christ and also catastrophe.

~Shawna
rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Grace said...

You paint a story with a few terse words. In the end, it might be just the only measure of a well lived life ~

Happy sunday ~

Quirina said...

I like the way you portray the divine as kitsch. I suppose the person who does call for a 'good time' probably needs Jesus more than anybody to save them.

Karen said...

Call collect, happiness is often hard to come by. I like your take on this prompt Brian. Thanks for visiting my blog.

DJan said...

I'll have to go over and take a look at the picture. But knowing you, I will probably only get more confused. :-)

TALON said...

Those bathroom walls speak volumes, don't they? But they don't tell it all.

hedgewitch said...

I don't know what other measure works better--maybe other people's happiness we helped create? Interesting and twisty take, bri. Read it several times and still chewing it over.

ayala said...

This is great Brian...I remember having to call my parents and having to use the payphone ...there were no cell phone in those days :)

Cheryl said...

Terrific write, Brian.

Claudia said...

somehow this started a whole film in my head with all the people that i think have lived their life really well...and wondering what it is, they have in common..the measure... happiness isn't wrong though... i may should call this number..haha

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

A story written with few words. Awesome!

JJRod'z

Brian Miller said...

i guess my thought is, if our lives are ordered only by our happiness, what happens when we are unhappy...we do something to make ourselves happy...and is that always the wisest mark to go by...

Goofball said...

there's worse measures of our lives well lived beside happiness.

Caty said...

I am not always happy, sometimes the things that go on in my life and around me make me really sad...but that's mostly a good thing. If some things didn't bother me or make me sad, how shallow and uncaring would that make me? I don't measure my life's value on always being "happy" but on the terrific people that I'm surrounded with :)

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Pastor's wife is giggling. And yet, there is some thinking to be done here, about the life well-lived... this is great writing, Brian, and thanks. Peace, Amy
PS Your Magpie link led me back to your home page. Can you re-post that link? Thanks!
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/bobbis-mom-sunday-whirl/

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Ahhh.....dual title?
Intended?

In the pirate world, No Quarter means: No Mercy..........

Like it!

;)
~Mimi
Collage Pirate

Rae said...

We all gauge life and happiness in different ways.

Laurie Kolp said...

Very thought-provoking, Brian... love the ending.

The Silver Fox said...

"No quarter?" Does that mean that the Speaker was not using a pay toilet?

Lyn said...

Beautifully done..the true measure of our days/ part happiness and then all the rest...and does the pastor deliver?

Eva Gallant said...

Good one.

kaykuala said...

Somewhat witty comments sometimes. But would not bother them! Just sickos mostly!

Hank

pandamoniumcat said...

Maybe it is better to save the quarter... great poem, much enjoyed. Who wants to be happy all the time, we'd never appreciate the good times when they arrive.

Sue said...

So many counterfeits out there...

Secret Agent Woman said...

I sort of get the "for a good time" graffiti on bathroom walls, but what an odd place to proselytize.

Other Mary said...

'as if our happiness were the true measure
of a life
well lived.'

Oh, wise words Brian.

Syd said...

I suppose those "for a good time" notes are still on walls. I am not sure what kind of recommendation that would be. Maybe a Senator would answer. You never know.

Tara Miller said...

A good life comes with happiness and sadness alike. That's what helps us grow and shapes our good life....

Betsy said...

happiness is right in front of our noses most of the time and we just don't realize it or make the most of what is there. I think when we go out searching for it we usually are disappointed.

Betsy said...

happiness is right in front of our noses most of the time and we just don't realize it or make the most of what is there. I think when we go out searching for it we usually are disappointed.

otin said...

I never know what you're talking about...lol.

Magpie said...

I agree that there needs to be more than one yard stick to measure our lives by...happiness can't be all we strive for. I don't think that would be a life well-lived.

Pat Hatt said...

LOL if you were afraid of long distance charges on your bill
You could have put "Dial me" then your number for a thrill

Reena Walkling said...

A well lived life cannot survive on happiness alone. Nice verse!

Lolamouse said...

Always did wonder about those numbers written on the walls! Did anyone who called them ever actually have a good time?

Charles Miller said...

Great irony in this, but I don't think I'd consider thatbthe Pastor would answer! lol But that you did certaonly speaks volumes about where Christianity sits these days. The ending here is so right on for the arc of irony thatbthe poem takes. To tell you the truth, I'm still pondering its meaning since it's directly linked to what the pastor might have to offer. I'm trying to think what it might be that is the measure of life well lived. But perhaps I don't understand the definition of happiness being put into play.

I like your poem a lot for several reasons. For one thing, the happenstance juxtaposition of two apparently irreconcilable statements creates a huge gulph to bridge. Rationally, it seems so contradictory that it forms the meat of comedy. On the other hand, you pkay it ironically; and for me irony is a threshold to religious understanding. That's because irony takes us out of our well worn reaction to words and steroetypical social thinking. It calls into question all values and their absolute claim to truth. This is what many philosophers have done since Socrates. That's what got him killed.

But Socrates was a deeply devout man, so it could be said that he used irony to prepare the soul for other truths. For him, these truths had to do with becoming a good person.

Okay this has gotten pretty long, so I'll stop. But let me just say that the second reason I like the poem is because it has a sense of wonder about it. A sense that you were somehow privy to not just a comedic accident, but to a poetic event. And your achievement is to have evoked that poetic moment in all its purity for us.

Pseudo said...

Ah, Brian, I have missed your poetry. I feel the base in my chest, sometimes, but not always. The lesson about happiness not equating to a life well lived is still one I am working on.

Charles Miller said...

On your clarification. Yeah, I never thought otherwise than that you actually saw those on the stall. that's what the end of my long remark says. I also get it now what ypu meant by happiness, and I agree totally. Been there, dealing with it a little now personally, so I think we are both on the same page.

Hey, I also left a reply to your comment on the crows poem. A story about my anthro professor which you might find an interesting read. It's in reference to what ypu said on how weird it was that the crows were gabbing along with Indian.

Tracey from ⓽ said...

It was so cool reading this and then guessing what the picture would be when I clicked over. Love it. I love how you can use so few words to convey a whole story.

Wander said...

This is a good poem, few words and a lot of meaning!

Wander

Brandee Shafer said...

This went over my head three times, and I still don't think I get it.

Manicddaily said...

Being a Lutheran by birth I definitely "get" this poem.

(One of my favorite overheard lines from NYC--"C'
mon, hurry! Life's too short to enjoy it!"

K.

Cloudia said...

thoughtful
direct
juxtaposition
good one!

Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Kutamun said...

I love it when people let a bit of darkness swarm in, to counteract all that light !.
Good one mate .

S.E. Ingraham said...

cool take on this prompt Brian ... very cool

janaki nagaraj said...

Never trust a number written in a bathroom....and who can measure 'our' happiness?...good one.

Myrna R. said...

I remember the telephone booths. Lots of interesting things written there.

This one seemed light, but then the ending is deep, deeper than most of us realize. Weather our life is measured (judged) or not, I hope we live a happy one.

LadyFi said...

Love it! Slightly ironic perhaps?

Leovi said...

Yes, interesting. A life well lived I think he deserves to live .... Greetings and happy week.

Anyes said...

Happiness and unhappiness are tightly woven together. With the one you can better appreciate the other. The are the two sides of the one coin you are given to play with...Just a theory... ;-)

Fred Rutherford said...

nice job here brian, great use of contrast here, really makes one pause and think. Thanks

Cinner said...

Wonderful Brian. and you do say a lot in a few words. you are gifted.

Valerie said...

You made me smile with this one, Brian. Thank you.

Dave King said...

Wonderful response. It never ceases to amaze me, seeing where these prompts can lead. This one's a beaut.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

LOL! Well done!

Brigid said...

Great title, would work well for a collection, Brian?
A thought provoking well-delivered piece:)

G-Man said...

Why do they never say...
For a good time call Jesus.

Sam!! said...

Nice One!!

Take care

Heather said...

you never know what you will see on a bathroom wall...

wolfsrosebud said...

...if only

Daniel said...

Missed this one yesterday. Well, it was just a relevant and important today! The picture was a good one to go with this piece.

izzy said...

On the bathroom- don't you remember all the etchings on the plexi ???!!
ah well, fear of the preacher would have been something if I had ever thought of it...:)

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I would love to hear some stories from people who have called those numbers!

ninotaziz said...

Dear Brian,

I am in a happy period, made sweeter by the unhappy moments of my life. So, I guess the good and bad is important. That way you feel the full spectrum of being human.

It is strange that throughout the world, the phone numbers on the bathroom door have escalated. Like a virus spreading, it says,
We are all in the same place, and some of us are lonely.

Ann Grenier said...

Like your take on this prompt Brian. Love all the comments here. Intrigued by Charles Miller's serious analysis, love it, and smiling (kindly of course). Thanks for your explanation, which still leaves the wonder nearly untouched.

happygirl said...

I gotta say, happiness is pretty darn important. I'd make the call. :)

Linda said...

I am with Ann,(comment before mine).. I am astounded by the comments, philosophies and introspection all concerning a phone number on a bathroom wall!.... er..and your poem about it. =D Brilliant!! It's a good thing there was NO QUARTER because, if you wrote about an answered call.... imagine the responses you may have received... a book's worth, perhaps. I love your staggered lines and reflections. Nice response, sir. Thanks for sharing.

Sh@s said...

How wonder how authentic those numbers are? Never tried them.

shewriting said...

deep thoughts by b. miller. nicely stated. I like it a lot.

Sheila

Little Nell said...

We all seem to be taking different things from your poem Brian, but why am troubled by thoughts of the pastor leading a double life?

JeannetteLS said...

Well, I'm sick and tired of having your poetry speak my mind better than I do, so cut it out.

As if happiness were the ONLY measure... That is so true. In the late seventies, there was a specious book called "Happy All the Time" that seemed to strike people as almost a credo. My circle went, "Huh?" We were also told that as long as we smiled, all good would follow.

As if how we slog through, leap over, or transform the truly rotten does not count?

So stop wandering into my brain please.

Anyway, at least now you have my phone number...

lifeisaroadtrip said...

"If the pastor answers" - it's enough to turn someone away from God.

Daydreamertoo said...

Lovely!

Carrie Burtt said...

What a cool take on the prompt Brian.....love this!!! :-)

RD said...

you have never shied away from taking liberties !!! ....I got a dime says you can call long distance and be right there the whole time


Peace

Helen said...

I've been here for what seems like hours digesting all the comments .. which were all over the place. Intelligent and perceptive.

You bring out the best in us, Brian.

Wayne Pitchko said...

neat take on the prompt Brian...thanks for sharing again

Jira said...

Great contemplative poem... happiness is a very individual thing and surprisingly many of us do not understand that fact. I'm one of those but I try to remember that not everyone likes what I like and not everything that makes me happy will make someone else happy.

Being happy seems to be the goal of most people but have you ever noticed that some individuals really enjoy being miserable... so is that their happiness?

Doctor FTSE said...

Yes, but the pursuit of happiness is written into the Constitution, so it must be. Thoughtful one, Brian.

rel said...

Ah the quips and limericks of phone booth stalls; more nostalgia lost.
The pastor? ;0
rel

A.Decker said...

Brought this to mind:

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

SueAnn said...

Well said! Many think that happiness is the measure....!!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Nimue said...

amazing thought .. i quite liked it :)

~T~ said...

What better measure is there? Still, a prayer is probably safer.

Helena said...

Great take, Brian.... while on the subject.....one of the worst things about watching my son's band play a gig is reading the little 'messages' on the toilet wall! I now know what some 'Sarah' has in for him if she ever gets him alone.....*ahem*

ps.....I now use the Gents.......!lol

Tigerbrite said...

I just love the irony of 'Jesus saves' written in black magic marker'.

lynnaima said...

"the solace of innocence" o! so true! lovely pics as well, thanks for the visit! :)

Tess Kincaid said...

I'll have to admit, I've never called one of those stall graffiti numbers...

Arian Tejano said...

so many truths are left in the bathroom :)

Steve Isaak said...

Love this! One of my favorite takes on this prompt!