Thursday, December 30, 2010


Carly is my niece
My great, great niece
To be precise
She is in the third grade
And she said that she really likes her teacher this year
For Christmas, I bought her
A fire engine red sweater
Two sizes too big
As it turned out
Much to my embarrassment
And chagrin
But much to her delight
For fire engine red is her color you see
Carly’s mother Claire called me
And put Carly on the phone
Claire is named for my mother Clara
Carly said that she wanted
To thank me for her gift
And to wish me a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
And the same to you honey I said
Thank you so much for calling me
It means so very much to me
To hear your voice and to hear you smile
That smile means everything to me you know
After such a long period of silence
Not since last Easter
Instantly our bonds were renewed
As our familial blood ties
Reasserted themselves
Blood is thicker than water they say
And they are right to say it
Today I purchased a lottery ticket
Hoping to hit the mega millions jackpot
A million to one shot to be sure
But that one phone call from Carly
Was worth a king’s ransom in gold
Can’t hardly wait to see you again Uncle Jack
She said handing the phone back to her mother
Me too I said and I really meant it
And I am pretty sure she did too
And that was good enough for me.

Jack H. Markowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter

Food, clothing and shelter
That’s all that’s needed to sustain life
Or so we are told and taught
As soon as we are deemed capable
Of absorbing other people’s ideas
In what is laughingly called
Free public school education

Food, clothing and shelter
That’s all that is needed to sustain life
Not love, not mercy, not joy, not sorrow,
Not war, not peace, not justice,
not poetry, nor romance,
nor dog, nor wife
Just food, clothing and shelter

Provide a man with food, clothing and shelter
And he’ll get up every morning and go to work,
He’ll marry and reproduce
He’ll buy property and expand the economy
He’ll soon want to drive a car
And take a vacation
And pursue higher education
And earn advanced degrees and awards
And excel at sports and hobbies of every kind

And then he’ll grow old
And begin to wither
And along the way
He’ll bury a few relatives
Though hopefully not his own children
Though he may see a child or two
Marching off to some god awful war
To some forlorn corner of the planet
Perhaps never to return

And he’ll learn to hurl accolades
At his leaders, whether elected or not,
Whether deserving or not,
And he’ll go to the movies to kill time
And maybe even write a book or two
In his spare time or when he cannot sleep any more

Or when he can no longer bear sleeping alone
And then he will begin to see in the mirror
The face of old age
Creeping up on him,
Incrementally robbing him of his strength,
His cunning, his hair and teeth
His muscle, his health,
his stamina, and finally,
The greatest theft of all,
robbing him finally of even his ability to breathe

At which point, food, clothing and shelter
Will no longer be needed
The flame of the candle
having burned itself out
The wick having turned cold and sooty to the touch
Never having needed so little to sustain it
Yet always wanting and always needing
So much.

Jack H. Markowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Night I Said Kaddish

Last night I said Kaddish for my father
Ohev v’ Shalom
On the Yarzheit anniversary of his death
But who will say Kaddish for me?

I was but ten months old
When my father died
A man whose face I do not remember
Nor his touch, nor his voice

Save for the one and only surviving photograph
That sits atop my RCA tv
Along with other assorted bric- a –bracs
I would have had no conception of his image

I was a going away present
A last gift for my mother from dad
A change of life baby
Or the tumor baby as I was called

The last thing that mother needed
Another clamoring mouth to feed
Always sickly, always neglected
Who will say Kaddish for me?

Now grown to manhood
Both parents reposing in their graves
So much history already forgotten
So who will say Kaddish for me?

Philadelphia, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homage to John Lennon

It was thirty years ago today
John Lennon’s death taught us all to pray

Though his career was going in and out of style
we always thought we’d have him ‘round for yet a while

But Mark David Chapman had set a trap
He had a gun was eager to take the rap
He never was able to just enjoy the show
He had his gun and he wanted to make it glow

And now he’s rotting in an upstate prison cell
Though we all wanted him to rot in hell
But he was set on murder and wanted to kill
He was certain it would be a thrill

To see John’s blood bright red in the snow
Mostly because he had no other place to go
Filled with envy and self hate
Sick and tired at being second rate
He would kill that which once he professed to love
Sure that fame would fall from above

He said he didn’t really want to stop the show
but killing John was all that he did know
So he aimed his gun and pulled the trigger
And John fell with a shiver

That cold grey afternoon in December
The one we will always remember
Seeing John’s blood spilled in the snow
Because he had no other place to go

As he made his way to the Dakota
He stopped to buy himself a soda
He just wanted to be a dad
Like the father that he never had

Never thinking that day would be his last day on earth
Had he known, what would that have been worth?

And now John’s killer wants to sing a song
and he wants us all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
the one and only Billy Shears
And Mark David Chapman’s
Lonely Hearts Club Band

Jack h. Markowitz
December 8. 2010