28 August 2021

Episode 134 - Focus

I made the switch from Audacity to Garageband to record this week's episode ,and there's a little reverb in there I didn't catch until I was doing a final QA check on the mp3 file. So, for you dear listener, enjoy this week's episode as if it were coming to you from a 1970's recording studio, because damn they loved reverb back then!

This week from Regret & Opportunity is "Focus," a brief work about the transient nature of our existence.

Visit https://lefthandrob.net for more episodes, essays, and links to Social Justice Causes.

Visit https://www.amazon.com/author/murrayrobertc for my full catalog of books, including all 3 poetry books. They make wonderful gitfts - the recipient will think you're quite erudite, giving poetry. Priced to move, Priced to Love, Priced so that Amazon gets their cut I can still afford to run this podcast. Help me keep making these for you.

Left Hand Poetry: My Podcast of Poems

23 August 2021

Tom T. Hall: A Personal Remembrance

Legendary Country Music songwriter and performer Tom T. Hall passed away at the age of 85 on August 20, 2021. This is my remembrance of a man whom I never met, saw in concert once at a fire company carnival, but has always felt like a distant uncle to me – as much as it is a remembrance of a man I knew most of my life, my father. 

The first time I heard Tom T. Hall's music … I can't remember because it's always been there. The music your parents - or whomever raised you - listened to is as much a part of you as the crazy brightly colored shag-carpet remnant that lined the floor of the room where you first heard that music. For me that music was on the records my father played and sang along to, the turntable propped up on speaker cabinets he had built. 
There were plenty of performers of dad's era represented: Simon & Garfunkel, Peter & Gordon, The Chairman of the Board himself, even a little Roy Clark pickin' n grinnin' when I was young enough to still want to spend a Friday night with the old man. But the featured performer on for each of these nights was Tom T. himself. Most folks know Tom T. Hall from his penning of "Harper Valley PTA," or "I Love." Maybe you're familiar with "I Like Beer" (see below). Even though it was his most famous song, "Harper Valley" wasn't on the rotation for our weekly record concerts. 
 Remembering it now, it's likely my father was unwinding from a long week's work, adding his own rich baritone as he joined in the singing while spending some time with his boy, As often as not I remember poking at his desk calculator (If you punch in a number and hit the square root button enough times, it always resolves to 1!) or using up his scratch pads for I don’t remember what nonsense. I have a lot of memories from the almost 40 years I shared with my father, and these will always be some of the fondest. 
I like to think my father was also using the medium of those songs as life lessons. Rather than sitting me down, wise to the fact that kids rarely listen to what their parents try to tell them, he instead gave the floor to The Storyteller and let his catchy melodies and insightful lyrics impart an ethos. These lessons might not be directly applicable when you're 7, but nearly 40 years later, they apply. 
Stay with me as I remember some songs: 

  • From "A Week in a Country Jail" I learned to be wary of speeding and the potential caprice of local law enforcement - the former a lesson I'll admit it took me much longer and several hundred dollars more than it could have; the latter lesson is not one I, as a white man, need worry about beyond the possibility of maybe spending a few days in jail, as per the song. 
  • "The Ballad of 40 Dollars" and “Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs?” teach us that there's always a job to be done, even when those for whom you're doing the work are (literally) beyond their ability to repay you. 
  • "Salute to a Switchblade" is a 3-minute master class in international relations, post-WWII Army life, and what can go wrong when talking to a pretty woman in a bar - throw in an additional lesson on the evils of overindulgence in drink. 
  • In Counterpoint to "Salute", there's "I Like Beer" and "The Bar with No Beer," the former a fun tune about being honest with yourself, the latter a comic lament for those who go without. 
  • "Me and Jesus" taught me that my Faith is Mine, and no one else's business. We got our own thing goin'. 
  • "I Love" and "I Care" are two of the purest songs ever to exist and just thinking about them makes me well up because the human heart was never meant to hold this much love at one time. 
  • "Faster Horses" and "Hat Full of Feathers" show a young person the dangers and ridiculousness of braggadocio from differing perspectives. 
  • "That's How I Got to Memphis", "I Miss a Lot of Trains", and "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" speak of heartache, grief, and recovery; they give us the tools we need to move on when "I Love" and "I Care" just aren't enough. 

 I could go on like this through the bulk of his discography, but I'll wrap up this reminiscence with "Sneaky Snake." There's no lesson here beyond maybe if you too want to get your young one into music (specifically Tom T. Hall, I guess?), play "Sneaky Snake" for them. This song was the funniest GD song to me when I was a little kid. It's fitting that it was written from an experience Mr. Hall had on his own property/refuge at Fox Hollow; because, as much as Tom T. Hall's music was full of lessons for me then and now, it has been and will always be a refuge for me as much as a memory of time well spent with my father - and that ridiculous (-ly awesome) yellow and orange shag carpet in his office.

21 August 2021

Episode 133: My new home

With all the new homes under construction in my development, it's hard not to look back through my poetry books and pluck out this little gem to share with you all this week. It's a silly little ode written when I moved into a house I'd bought many years ago, full of optimism as a homeowner after years of renting a place.

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Links to purchase all my books (poetry and otherwise, if you're so inclined) can be found at my site:


There's also a link there to some Social Justice causes that could use your money to keep doing their good work.

To my long-time listeners, thanks for sticking around! For all the new folks, welcome!

Left Hand Poetry: My Podcast of Poems

12 August 2021

Episode 132: My Neighbor the Rabbit

A brief, light ode this week to the fuzzy little bunny who lets me take their picture and eats the grass (and probably carrot tops) in my yard. It's a fuzzy little poem that could use a little more work, maybe, just like the little bunny who isn't as scared of me as they ought to be.

My dear fans of the podcast, here we are after 15 months together. I began this podcast for 2 reasons: 1. To make the opportunity to read out loud the poetry I'd been writing for all these years, and 2. To sell some poetry books. Goal 1 - accomplished! Goal 2 ... Folks, I'm not asking you to head over to Amazon and buy my poetry books apropos of nothing. They make great gifts. They look good while taking up not much space on your bookshelf. The proceeds from sustained sales of them would go a long way to making this podcast pay for itself. I've hinted, suggested, proposed that my books are out there, and maybe I'm just impatient, but it's been just the baker's dozen of us (there's 12 of you out there listening regularly, plus me!) along on this journey. As much as I appreciate an intimate venue, if it's not in your means to buy a book, then help spread the word about the podcast. Your friends care more about your recommendation than anything I could tweet or post about. Let's keep this little art project of ours going together. Let me feel your love.

You know who else needs love?

Black People, LGBTQ people, immigrants and refugees. 

Open up your bank accounts and give some money to the good organizations doing the work to make the world more equitable for everyone. Or your time, or whatever.

Sometimes I wonder if it's because I made the decision last year to begin sharing this message in every podcast episode and every podcast post like this that my audience has remained limited. But honestly I don't care. It would eat me up more inside if I DIDN'T say something in every episode, every time.

OH OH OH And get vaccinated if you haven't (or if you can, I know this podcast is available worldwide, unlike the vaccine) and keep wearing your mask!

So to recap: Go do some good! Get vaccinated and wear a mask! Tell people about the podcast and the companion books so I can keep doing this.

Left Hand Poetry: My Podcast of Poems

07 August 2021

Episode 131: House Band at a Casino

I've spent almost no time in casinos, and given my awareness of my luck at games of chance there's a good reason why. However, I have been a working musician on and off over the years and many of my friends are full-time working musicians (damn good too). So I respect the hustle and the need to pay rent and furthermore just to perform (hi, I have a poetry podcast, whatsup). So with all that in mind, I give you this week's debut of "House Band at a Casino."

OH - quick note that this week's poem has the theme music I created for the podcast playing underneath the poem itself. Seemed like a neat thing to do, a little experiment. If I had more time to devote to the podcast I'd figure out how to record something fresh to lay under the reading each week. But now I'm just rambling. 

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The poems will continue to flow, but so must the Justice.


House Band at a Casino

The dichotomy of the soul

That must exist for

the lounge singer

That unknown musician

on stage

at the casino,


the house band

in a house built

on a sketchy grasp of math

But the split

must run deep

For they ply their trade

Express their talent and

speak their vocation


But to a largely

disaffected audience

who are otherwise


By greed

or addiction

Rare is the soul

who just pops in

to hear the house band play

Thank you, house band.

Play on.

Left Hand Poetry: My Podcast of Poems