Thursday, July 28, 2011

Even Now I Feel The Need

Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

No I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
... and I won't back down
(Lyrics and Music by Tom Petty)

There have been
Many times
When I have been
Asked to provide
When I did not feel
Especially brave
Or capable
But I went ahead
And jumped into the fight
I really should not
Engage in politics
Because I am not especially
Good at it
And I very seldom
If ever actually win
I do not have
A lot of backup
In either
Stamina or treasure
Yet like the old
Fire horse of legend
When I hear the alarm bell
I want to run to the fire
To do my part
But these days
The old grey mare
She ain’t what she
Used to be
And I find myself
Making too many commitments
That I cannot keep
Still there are moments
When I find that I have
Great clarity about
Some given situation
When staying silent
And standing on the
Side lines
Just won’t suffice
So I take the plunge
Once again
And I usually find
That I am in way over
My head
And that I will be lucky
To extricate myself
With my skin and pride
Still intact
Those who know me
Who claim to be
Closest to me
Are often the ones
That I confuse the most
They are also usually
The ones that I can
Least afford to alienate
My late sister Goldie
For instance
She could not understand
What ever it was
That drove me to
Visit Israel
After my divorce
From Meredith

Though Goldie was
Also raised Jewish
She felt no push and pull
Concerning the State of Israel
No need to go
And plant her flag
To repudiate
The holocaust at all costs
No need to get even
With Hitler
No need to vindicate
The six million
Jewish martyrs
Even while knowing
That they could just as easily
Have been us
Had circumstances been
Just slightly different

Not me
I felt compelled
To make Aliyah
To Israel
So I sold
All of my worldly possessions
And went off
To live
In the Promised Land
To go drain the swamps
And plow the land
To prove how brave I was
By joining the Israeli Army
And to die in battle
If need be
To defend the one and only
Jewish state
None of this was
The way things turned out

I did indeed
Abandon my home
And my family
And I arrived by taxi at
Kibbutz Shaare HaGolan
Located in the Golan Heights
Unannounced and
In the dead of night
Like a parachutist
On a commando raid
Truth be told
I was lucky
That some kibbutz guard
Did not shoot me on sight
Having mistaken me for
An Arab marauder
On some suicide
Bombing mission

However since
I did have a letter of
From a friend of a friend
Who knew some of the
Kibbutz big shots by name
I was allowed to stay
As a work volunteer
For a six month trial period

For six months
I lived my fantasy
Of harvesting bananas
And avocadoes
And working in the fields
I also worked
In the kibbutz
Plastic furniture factory
They even let me drive
The kibbutz truck to Tel Aviv
To deliver our finished products
For distribution

But I could not help
But feel like a fish
Out of water
I did not speak
The Hebrew language
I missed my girl friend in the states
And my daughter
And I missed being able to hold
A conversation in a language
That I actually understood
I missed being able to earn
Enough dollars
To buy a pair of shoes
Or a pair of jeans
Or even a tube of toothpaste
The five dollars a week
That I earned on the kibbutz
Was a fucking joke
To an American bred and born
So much for my love affair
With socialism
In short
I wanted badly to go back home

By hook or by crook
And with the generous financial
Help of my brother
I was able to return to
Though I was sick
And worn out
From my escape
From Stalag 17
As I had by then
Nicknamed the kibbutz

On my return to the USA
I landed at my sister Goldie’s
Apartment in Starret City Brooklyn
With its famous view
Of the Canarsie Land Fill Project

And my sister read me the riot act
She really tore into me
And for the first time
In our long standing relationship
She called me a failure
She understood nothing
About my actions
She could not relate to my need
To save Israel
To be a part of the great
Historic redemption
Of the Jewish people
She would have none of it
And I could not blame her
On so many levels
She was absolutely right

I had abandoned my family
And my daughter
And my financial independence
And I now had to rely
Like Blanche Dubois
On the charity of strangers
But on the other hand
She was dead wrong

Much as I loved my sister
Her simplistic world view
Was as much a result
Of her lack of education
And constricted upbringing
As was her fear of change
And of the very idea of
Ever trying something new
Something different
Her world was her kitchen
Her state job
And her family
And that was her entire universe
She could berate me
As much as she wanted
But I knew that
I was still going to
March to my own drummer
Regardless of the consequences

As I said in the beginning of
This piece
I really should not
Engage in politics
Mostly because
I am not a very good politician
And I often end up
On the balls of my ass

But when I look around me
And see all the cowards
Who are so hunkered down
In their petit bourgeois fox holes
Fearing their own shadows
Quaking in their own boots
Afraid to take a stand
On anything more controversial
Than which baseball team has
The best chance to win
This year’s World Series
I force myself
Back into motion

Even now
I can feel
The need

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Think I May Have Missed My True Calling

I think I may have
Missed my true calling
Though I’ll be darned
If I can think what
My true calling was
Supposed to be
Maybe I should have
Worked as a fisherman
On a lobster boat
Hauling in crates
Of lobster like the
Long liners who
Worked on the
Andrea Gail
I like boats
And I like
Rough seas
And I like the feel
Of ocean spray
In my face
Or I could have been
A charter boat captain
Hauling tourists
Down in the Florida Keys
Chasing after
And blue fish
And Marlin
Racing along with the dolphins
To see who can
Reach the finish line first
I would also like
To have been
A college professor of French
Explaining the finer points
Of French literature
To the eager minds
Of future generations
Of teachers
And used car salesmen
And I would be fond
Of wearing
Tweeds and sweaters
Scarves and gloves
And I would smoke a pipe
And cigarettes
And drink Irish whiskey
And I would regale my students
With stories of all the famous writers
That I have ever met
And I would go
To campus poetry readings
And offer my signature
At book signings
With my latest tome
Prominently displayed
In the college bookstore window
And I would be the toast
Of our little college town
Easily recognized from my
Many book jacket photos
Or perhaps I should have
Gone to law school
To Georgetown or
Harvard or
Where I would have
Hobnobbed with
Future titans of
And law
Or perhaps
I should have been
A bowery bum
Sleeping in the
Flop houses
Of skid row
And writing
Terse verse
That can only be
Understood by
Imbeciles and
And geniuses like me
Or perhaps I should
Have taken up
The paint brush
To be another
Jasper Johns
Franz Klein
Or my favorite
Jackson Pollock
Or perhaps
I should have been
A stand up comic
Like Jerry Seinfeld
Or Mort Sahl or
Lenny Bruce
Or perhaps
A Jazz musician
Like Louis Armstrong
Or Chet Baker
Or maybe not
Maybe I should
Have tried my hand
At acting
Like Richard Burton
Or Richard Dreyfuss
Or my favorite
Jeff Goldblum
Or perhaps I should have
Joined Che Guevara
In the Bolivian hills
Dodging the bullets
Of the federalistas
While Fidel safely
Smoked his cigars back
In Havana Cuba
Or maybe I should
Have been a bull fighter
Dressed in the costume of the
My swords poised
To deliver the
Coup de grace
To the valiant
And bleeding bull
Whose magnificent public death
Would serve
As an expiation
For all of humanity’s sins
Or perhaps
I should have been
A shop keeper
In Liverpool
Where some of my relatives
Hail from
Selling penny candy
To the runny nosed
Street urchins
Of the city
Who would rather
Eat twists of licorice
Than wear shoes
On their feet

Or maybe
I was always
Best suited
Just to be
The man that
I have actually become
A part time horse player
Petit bourgeois
Social worker clerk
Who dreams of
Winning the lottery
Without having to lose
Too much more of my

Philadelphia, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Taking The #3 Bus

Yeah, it is too hot
To walk
To think
To move
Sweating like a pig
Half stepping
To the bus stop
Trying to find
A smidgen of shade
To hide from
The searing sun
No water
No open stores
No loose change
In my pocket
Head throbbing
Tongue sticking
To the roof of my mouth
Armpits dripping
I can feel beads
Of sweat collecting
In my ass crack
Is that the bus coming
Or is it a mirage
People pass by
Without looking up
Eyes fixed on the pavement
I get out of their way
Yes I see a glint of light
Reflecting off of a windshield
My blurry eyes
Squint to focus
Is that a bus
Or a truck
Or a van
It’s the #3 bus
Shimmering in the heat
My ticket home
Just another block or two
And I will be aboard
I pray the bus
Is air conditioned
And not packed
With the sweaty bodies
Of the home bound commuters
That I share my
Work a day struggle with
I do see
A lot of familiar faces
Worn out with endless hours
Of mind numbing
And often back breaking
Jobs that barely
Cover the food bill
And the rent
Sure it’s a struggle
When was it ever easier
That’s when
I will be lucky
To find a seat
Or else I’ll have to stand
The whole trip
And my legs
Are burning up
With the heat

I board the bus
I recognize the driver
And his girl friend
Who is leaning
Up against him
As the bus makes
It way down the
Familiar streets
I was lucky to find
A seat
My whole body
Sinking into the molded
The floor sticky
With spilled soda pop
I recognize
My fellow passengers
Their rubbery faces
Deep lined
Like wax work masks
Some missing teeth
Some sporting tattoos
Lots of grey hair
Some young mothers
With two
Or three kids
In tow
One kid chewing
On a dipsy doodle
As if it were
Prime sirloin
Washing it down
With food dye colored
Sweet water
A meal with
No nutritional value
Another kid
Badly needs
A diaper change

Hey don’t look at me
I can stand it
If he can

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

As Soon As My Diabetic Leg BeginsTo Heal

As soon as my diabetic leg
Begins to heal
I plan to go
Running with the bulls
In Pamplona, Spain
As soon as my diabetic leg
Starts to get better
I want to go hiking
Once again
Along the Appalachian Trail
I want to run
And I want to jump and splash
Like a naked wildman
One more time
into the roiling blue flag surf
And monster waves
That break along the sea shore
At East Hampton
Main beach

As soon as the constant
Throbbing pain
In my leg
Gets better
I want to once again
Be able to climb
The flights of stairs
That leads to
La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur
Situee au sommet
De la butte Montmartre

I want to once again
Be able to amble through
The open farmer’s markets
Of the Rue Mouffetard
I want to go and sit
By the water fountain again
Dans le Jardin de Luxembourg
And watch the little
Float their model sail boats
I want to be able
To once again
Pick up the fallen
Autumn leaves
In the
Bois de Boulogne

And if I may
I would like to
Once again be able
To casually walk
The entire length
Of the Champs-Elysées
To gawk at all
The rich tourists
Who are spending
Buckets of fric
And oodles of euros
In order to buy
Piles and bushels of
The most shoddily made
Souvenirs and trinkets
Of junk
Like fake designer
Watches and
Faux jewelry
All of which is
Made in China
And Japan
I want to walk
Along the river Seine
To peruse the book stalls
Of the bouquinists
As I admire the glorious
Ageless beauty
Of L’Eglise de Notre Dame
I want to sit and read
Le Figaro
And drink some espresso
In the street cafes
Of le Quartier Latin
Where I can leisurely
Watch the parade of
The long legged
Beautiful ladies
From every nation
As they sashay
Their stuff
Leaving behind a trail
Of perfumed air
Full of Chanel no. 5

As soon as my diabetic leg heals
I would like to perhaps
Take in
A show at the famous
Moulin Rouge
In the Place Pigalle
Or catch a hot jazz
Jam session
At one of the many
Boites and
Night Clubs
That dot the
Entire length
Of the Boulevard St. Germaine

Then I would like
To see some movies
In all of the fabulous
And shoddy movie houses
The dot every nook and
Every alleyway
Of the City of Light
And then I want
To visit every one
Of the exquisite
Art Museums
Of Paris
Where I would like
To spend hours every day
Staring at some of the
Most magnificent
Collections of art and paintings
That the world has ever seen
I want to return again to
The Basque country
To the warm beaches
Of Biarritz
To once again
Here the beach vendors
Hawking their treats
Of ice cream and
Ice cold soda drinks
And the hometown specialty
Beignet abricots!
Beignet abricots!
I would like to do
All of these things
Before I forget
That I had ever been there
Before I forget
That I had ever been anywhere
But I must wait
I must wait
For my leg to heal
No matter how long
It might take
No matter how long
It might take
Even if it takes me
An eternity
To heal

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Some Jews Are In Desperate Need Of Jesus

The Kensington Brooklyn Monster
Levi Aron
A Mad as a Hatter Jew
Who took the life
Of an eight year old
Hasidic boy named
Leiby Kletsky on
A little boy
Who hailed from
Boro Park Brooklyn
Barely old enough
To walk himself home
From Cheder
Only to be accosted
By Levi Aron
A free lance
Run of the mill
Lunatic Jew
Who thought
It would be
A fine thing
To kill and dismember
This young fawn
Of a boy
And to then put
The martyred
Boy's feet In his refrigerator
A la another infamous
Serial killer
Jeffrey Dahmer
For what Satanic
Purpose only
Levi Aron would know

In this particular case
I would recommend
The Torah’s
Ancient remedy
Of stoning
The miserable bastard
To death
A fate that he
So richly deserves

And may
Leiby Kletzsky
Rest in peace
And may
His memory
Be a blessing
For all time

As for the fate
of Levi Aron
All that I can say
Is that he is
proof positive of
Why some Jews
Are in desperate need
of Jesus

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Trumpets and Strumpets

Many times
When I am
Home alone
Late at night
I can still
Hear the siren
Of the
Calling out
To me
I can still hear
The neighborhood
Strumpets and
Out to me
Come on out
And play
What have
You got to lose?
It is an old
Siren call
One that
I have listened to
And responded to
Many times
During my
When I was
Down on my
And down
On my luck
But then
Began to die
In droves
During the late
Seventies and
A disease
That had the rather
Silly name of
Acquired Immune
Caused by
A virus
People were
Dying from
That doctors
Had never
Seen before
And there
Were these
Purple blotches
Of cancer
Kaposi Sarcoma
That fairly
Screamed to the
That so and so
Had this modern
Day plague
And there was
No known treatment
And no known cure
And people were
Dying in droves
Needless to say
Put the brakes
On the so-called
Sexual revolution
That had spawned
Hook up joints
Like Plato’s Retreat
And in cities
All across the
In the gay community
The free and feckless
Open exchange of
Sexual favors
In the notorious
Bath houses of
Manhattan and
San Francisco
Also came to a
Screeching halt
As this unforgiving
Killer strode the land
Like a colossus
Were we heading
Back to the Dark Ages
When the Black Death
Ravaged Europe
And destroyed 50% of
Europe’s population?
There were many
In the scientific community
Who openly speculated
That such
An outcome
Could indeed
Very well be
The case

So much for listening
To the siren songs
Of Strumpets and
It was nothing
Short of a miracle
That any of us
Managed to survive
If you are one
Of the survivors
Of the epidemic
You already know
How lucky you are
To have dodged
The HIV bullet
As for me
Once I put down the
Loaded revolver
Of unprotected sex
I never tried
To play
Russian roulette
With HIV
Ever again

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Prefer To Be Black

It seems rather
Clear to me
That African Americans
Remain in the vanguard
Of the ongoing
American Revolution
And that is why
I am happy
To live among them
To be an integral
Part of the daily
Matrix of
What it is
That is happening now
And of
What it is
That is going to be
Whether we are talking
Symphonic Music
Rock n roll
Chess and
Cook outs
Family get-togethers
Neighborhood improvements
Hotel management
Surviving incarceration
Surviving Police harassment
Surviving slavery
Civil War
Poor living conditions
Fast food eateries
Liquor stores
Targeted Cigarette advertising campaigns
General lack of health resources
Drugs of every description and kind
Crack cocaine
Goof balls
Speed balls
prescription drug abuse
Deteriorating inner city schools
Last hired
First fired
Foster care
Court supervision
The death penalty
Life sentences
Rigged juries
Voting rights suppression
Denial of civil rights
Jim Crow
Sheriff Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor
Mississippi Red Necks
Night riders
The Ku Klux Klan
Fire hoses
Baton sticks
Cattle prods
You name it
And to still be able
To sing about
To preach about
To practice
Unconditional love
And to still be able
To believe in
The American dream
In the possibility of
A better future for all
Despite opposition
Manifest oppression
Baseless hatred
Racial discrimination
Racial profiling
Denial of capital
Having doors slammed
In your face
Opportunities denied
And being subjected
To every conceivable
Kind of insult
That hateful
Men and women
Can conjure up
Speaks volumes to me
Sheer guts
And the ability
To overcome
Insurmountable odds

And that is why
I prefer to be black
To remain
In the vanguard
Of the American Revolution
To be counted
Among the rank and file
If I am not privileged to be
The drum major
But still
I remain ever ready
To pick up the
Freedom Flag
The banner
The baton
If those in front
Who are leading
The grand parade
Should ever
Happen to
Stumble or fall

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Truncated Life

I have lived a
Truncated life
I have been a victim
Of truncation
I had an abbreviated
With my father
He died when
I was ten months old
I had an abbreviated
With my mother
She died when
I was seventeen
My so-called marriage
Only lasted ten years
I wrote a play
Two actually
One was produced
In Paris
And the other
At Hamilton in
My sophomore year
Both plays are
Forever lost to
A relative of mine
Consigned them
To the trash heap
I guess they were
Just taking up space
In the basement
Where all my
College books
And notes and
Creative materials
Were stored
I miss my early works
Like missing children
Something I also know about
But I digress

Nothing is worse
Than having arms
That are meant
To hug
With no one to hug
In sight
I have grand children
That I very seldom
Get to see
I have a fine
That I seldom
Get to use
I always wanted
To be a teacher
But I could not make
That happen
For reasons beyond
My control
When push comes
To shove
All that I ever
Aspired to be
Was to emulate
My high school
French teacher
Mademoiselle Fitzpatrick
So I ended up
With a job as
A civil servant
A desk job
A 9 to 5 daily grind
That is destroying
My health as well
As my mind
I have one more year
Until I may retire
With a small pension
If I do not fuck things up
That is a big if

Let’s see
Any other complaints?
Oh yeah
I wish my dick
Was at least
Three inches longer

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011