Tuesday, August 30, 2011

All Of My Life

All of my life
Growing up in Brooklyn
I have always
Loved to promenade
Along the Ocean Parkway
Which stretches from
The Atlantic Ocean
To the Grand Army Plaza
This was my Athens
This was my gateway
To literature
To art
To natural beauty
Across the street
From the main branch
Of the Brooklyn Public Library
Was the entrance to
Prospect Park
Further down the street
Along Eastern Parkway
Could be found the
Brooklyn Art Museum
And the
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Here was where
I spent endless hours
Viewing the art exhibits
Strolling the wonders
Of the Botanic Gardens
Feeling safe and protected
From the vicissitudes of
Everyday life in the
Big city
I would go to the library
To study
To do my homework
And research assignments
And I would never fail
To be amazed at the number
Of books
And newspapers from all around
The world
And the number of magazines
And periodicals covering
Every interest and topic
Under the sun
I loved the lighting
And the way the sunlight
Would stream in
Through the floor to ceiling
My proudest possession was my
Library card
My gateway to the knowledge
Of the ages
The Brooklyn Museum of Art
Was my other great love and haunt
I reveled in the exhibits of exotic cultures
Of Eskimos and African tribesmen
Of pre Columbian works of art
And of the artifacts left behind
By primitive cultures from all
Around the world
I loved the great totem poles
The world famous collection
Of Egyptian artifacts and mummies
This was my own personal Shangri-La
I loved the gallery spaces
Almost as much as the exhibits
So majestical
So expansive
I was liberated from the narrow
Confines of city apartment building living
Here was space
And open expanse
Where great thoughts could find expression
In sculptures and paintings
By famous masters
How many future painters and sculptors
Found their inspiration in these halls
It was a place where one’s soul
Could take flight and sing
Where one could shake off the shabbiness
And dreariness
Or everyday mundane concerns
To find safety, peace, inspiration
And, yes, solitude
To be able to stop time
And revel in the moment
Of discovery
To be able to feel
One’s soul able to take flight
Before the inevitable return
To the grayness of the outside world
And to the dreary pursuits
Of everyday life
But I always managed to leave
These sacred and holy places
Feeling enriched
And touched by the nobility
Of the artists, painters, sculptors and writers
Who took the time
To dream
To create
To aspire to things noble and beautiful
Despite the brutes and savages
And the barbarian hordes
Waiting outside the gates
Who would
If they only could
Burn to the ground
All that is noble and good
All that is true and beautiful
Without ever
Knowing or realizing
The value of what it is
That they have destroyed
Until it is too late
I am no longer young
And I have all the fragilities
Of advancing old age
But I would give all that
I have left
To defend these things
That I have loved so well
Since childhood
By whatever means that I can
So long as I can summon up
The strength to do so
If all that is required
To satiate the demon gods
Is the broken body
Of a very tired
Yet ever so grateful
Old man
And though my body
May fall
It falls with a heart
That is full to the brim
With the knowledge
Gathered over many years
Spurred on
By the wanderings
Of a curious
And inquiring soul

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

All Things Considered

The day started out okay
But that was before
I opened my mail
And received
A strong dose of
From PGW
The local gas company
Letting me know
That they want
To place a lien
On my house
If I do not cough up
What I owe them
Within the next
Eleven days

To take my mind
Off of my financial troubles
I turned on my computer
And I surfed the web
I managed to Google
Some useful
About how to better
My type 2 diabetes

Seems I am
In good company
There must be millions
Of us type 2 diabetics
All over the earth
Some diagnosed
Some not
Some getting good treatment
Some not
Some getting no treatment
At all
Mores the pity

I was doing okay
Until my doctor
Laid the type 2
Diagnosis on me
Now I am on
Insulin and half a dozen
Other pills
High blood pressure
And high cholesterol

In addition to
All of the above
I also take
A daily vitamin pill
A daily fish oil supplement
And a daily aspirin regimen
In the hope of warding off
A heart attack
And/or stroke
Hope springs eternal

I am supposed to exercise
Every day
Every day?
Fat chance of that
Ever happening
I am supposed to eat
More fruits and vegetables
And high fiber foods
Too bad I live
In a food desert
And I buy most
Of my groceries
At the corner bodega
For twice the price
Of everything

And too bad I do not
Have an ACCESS card
Or food stamps
I earn too much cash
To be so poor
Only the poor
Are rich enough
To get the best welfare

No wonder the
Tea Party patriots
Hate the poor so much
Calling them
The moocher class
They call them

I haven’t heard
Propaganda like that
Since the early sixties
When the wealthy
Were all in a knot
Over welfare queens
And poverty pimps

The Tea Party pimps
Are working on a
Grand manifesto
A final solution
If you will
To deal with the problem
Of the multitudinous poor
Who are breeding
Like rabbits
Breeding like cockroaches

Not to mention
Giving a free pass
To the millions
Of illegal immigrants
Who are taking away
All the good jobs
From real, decent
And above all else
Law abiding citizens

And please
Whatever you do
Don’t get them
Started talking
About the ongoing
Problem of how
To break the Jewish
Strangle hold
On the economy

Forget Joe DiMaggio!
The Tea Partiers
Are pining for the
Good old days of
David Duke!

Please save us
Jerry Farwell
A nation of lonely
Tea Partiers
Turn their lonely
Eyes to you!

So this is what
Depression era America
Circa 2008 - 2011
Looks, feels and smells like?

As W.C. Fields
Was alleged to
Have written
On his tombstone:

All things considered
I’d rather be in

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shaken Not Stirred

When the first shock waves of
The Great East Coast
Earthquake of 8/23/11
Arrived in Philadelphia, Pa.
Most people in my office
Claimed that they did not
Feel a thing
Others swore
That they could
See the entire building
Begin to sway
This way and
That way

Some thought the matter
Barely worth mentioning
While others described
In vivid detail
Every aspect of the event
As if they were on camera
Reporting for CNN

Fortunately for all of us
No real damage occurred
(With the exception
Of possible damage
To the National Cathedral
In Wash. DC and some
Reported damage
To the Washington Monument)

A few neighbors of mine
Also complained of cracks
Appearing on their walls and
Basement foundations
But nothing really major
Even so
By all first reports
The insurance companies
Have stated that they
Refuse to pay
Any claims for damages
On the grounds
That the earthquake
Was more or less
An Act of God
Can you believe that?

If it were up to me
I would take
All of the insurance companies
To court
And make them prove
That God actually exists

And all the rest of the
Insurance chiselers
Cannot prove
That God really exists
Beyond a reasonable doubt
Then I think
That they should all
Be forced
To pay all damages

The NEWS reported
That the quake was a 5.9
On the Richter scale
(Whatever that really means)
Perhaps they should have
A Sphincter scale instead?

It was reported that
The epicenter of the quake
Was located
In Northern Virginia
But that the shock waves
Could be felt
Hundreds of miles away

By and large
East Coast earthquakes
Are said to be rare birds
The last one was
Said to have occurred
More than100 years ago


I was sitting at my desk
(Where else?)
Minding my own business
When I felt a shimmy
Then my kishkas began to
At first I thought
I was having
An involuntary
Bowel movement
Was I now to become
A candidate
For Depends adult diapers
On top of all
My other infirmities?

But soon enough
I realized
Along with just about
Everyone else
That it was indeed
An earthquake
That was rattling
My cage
And shaking me
Out of my doldrums
And lethargy
If only for a brief
Moment in time

When the shaking
Finally stopped
Most everyone shuffled back
To their work stations
And went back to work
Behaving as if
Nothing much
Had happened at all

You might say
We were all a bit
But not really

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sorry But I Did Not Die In Vietnam

I was drafted
To serve in the US army
In the summer of 1969

When I showed up
For the required
Physical exam
They told me that
They did not want me
After all
They told me that
I was 4F

Truth be told
I didn’t want them either
I was anti-war

I do not know
Anyone personally
Who actually
Went to Vietnam

Most of my
College educated crowd
Were anti-war and

However I did have
One college professor
Who advised that I go
To Vietnam
So as not to miss out
On the predominant experience
Of my generation

I told him
No worries
I told him
I would take a
Rain check instead

And if they ever
Give a war
Blood and gore
Then I’ll be
The first to go
(Draft Dodger Blues)

The butcher’s bill
For the Vietnam War:
55,000 US soldiers killed
2 million Vietnamese dead

Philadelphia, Pa 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hey Buddy This Bud’s For You

McCurran’s is a sleazy
Neighborhood bar
Located on the corner of
Benner and Castor
In the Oxford Circle
Philadelphia neighborhood
Of the lower northeast
I just happen to live
Across the street

On this particular
Hot and humid
August afternoon
As I was making
My way home from
Work today
I decided against
My better judgment
To stop in
At McCurran's
To buy a pint
Of something
Cold and frosty
To congratulate myself
For having made it
Through another
Hot and disgusting
Day of meaningless work

So I take a seat
At the bar
And ask
The bargirl
For a draft
Of Coor's
And a bag
Of pretzels
And I hand
The half awake
Half asleep
Serving wench
A twenty dollar bill

I have no idea
Who this girl is
I have never seen
Her before
Just goes to show
How often I frequent
This piss hole of a bar

Bargirl comes back
With the brew
And the bag of pretzels
(I later found out
That her name was
Deirdre not that
I really cared)
And she gives me back
Enough change for
A ten dollar bill
And then she calmly
Walks away

I look at the cash
On the bar
And I look up
At Ms. Einstein
And I ask her
For the rest of
The change that's due me

I said to her
I gave you a twenty
And you only gave me
Change for a ten

No she said
You only gave me a ten

I felt my anger flash
But I kept it under control
No I said, I gave you a twenty
No she said, you only gave me a ten

I beg to differ my dear
But I gave you a twenty
No dear she insists
You only gave me a ten

By this time
I am getting
Very angry
So I tell
Ms. couldnotcareless
To please
Check the till again
If it wouldn't
Be too much trouble
So she could
Count how many twenties
She had
Because I knew without
A shadow of a doubt
That one of those twenties
Was mine

I did she said
Without a moment's hesitation
And she insisted again that
I only gave her a ten

Hey buddy
Says one of the
Regular customers
Who was listening
To the conversation
From the start
I know the girl
And I can vouch for her
She’s honest to a fault
I just looked at him and
Repeated my mantra
Listen pal
That's as may be
But all I know is
That I gave
Lady Gaga here
A twenty dollar bill

Lady Gaga
Purses her lips
And makes this face
That implies
She is trying to hatch
A plan

I know she finally says
Come back in the morning
And if the till is over by ten
You can have your money

This suggestion
Seemed half reasonable
So I reluctantly agreed
To the plan
But just to be sure
I made her write a note
To put in the till
Explaining what had happened
So I could settle up
The next day

I cooled down enough
To finally sit down to
Finish my pretzels and beer

I finished my drink
Ate my pretzels
And gathered up my things
And then I walked out the door
Without leaving a tip

After all she had
Already stolen her tip
By ripping me off
For the ten dollars
Worth of change

Tomorrow morning
I will go back and
Check with the manager
To see if I can get my
Ten dollars change back

Depending on how
The matter turns out
I will either be vindicated
Or made even more angry still
If Ms. Flimflam gets away with
Stealing my money

Part of me
Wants to return to the bar
With a can of gasoline
And a lighted match

Another part of me
Wants to return to the bar
With a fully loaded Uzi
So I can shoot up the place
And rob the till
Preferably without having
To shoot some
Innocent bystander
Into the bargain

But then I figured
I didn't leave the waitress a tip
So that is two bucks right there
The Coors draft only cost me
Two bucks
And any other place
Would have charged
Four or five
So now I figure
I'm only out of pocket
In real dollars
Adjusted for inflation
About three bucks max

Fuck it
It ain't worth it
To burn down McCurran's
And shoot up the place
Over a measly three bucks

So whatever happens
Win, lose or draw
I will most likely
Just let the matter slide

Given all that
Just happened to me
This afternoon
Over a two dollar draft of beer
I can better understand
Why one of my neighbors
Shot and killed
Another one of my neighbors
Last winter
For the crime of shoveling snow
In the wrong direction

Either I am beginning
To lose my mind
Or I am really
Beginning to feel
Like I am becoming
A genuine
Part of this town

So the next day
After work
I stopped off
At McCurran’s
To inquire
If counting the till
Had revealed
My missing
Ten buck’s
Worth of change

Much to my
Bless her heart
Admitted that she
Had made an
Honest mistake
And she apologized
To me
For having given
Me such a hard time
The day before

Apology accepted
I said
Gladly taking the
Ten bucks
That she owed me
From her
Hot little hand
My faith in humanity
Once again renewed

Good thing I had
Refrained from
My initial desire
To burn
McCurran’s to
The ground
I would definitely
Not have gotten my
Ten bucks back
If I had

As for the barmaid
Named Deirdre
We have patched
Things up
And have agreed
To let bygones
Be bygones

And I’ve
Also agreed
That from now on
In the spirit
Of good
Neighborly relations
To stop
Referring to
Deirdre the barmaid
The red haired
Bitch from hell

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Rise Of The Tea Party

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?
Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
(“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney- 1931)

The so-called tea party
Claims to hate taxes
The so-called tea party
Claims to hate
The US government
And the so-called
Tea party
Just plain all out hates
President Obama because
Obama thinks he is so
Damn smart and
Besides he is not
An American citizen
And he is a closet
Communist and
And he is also a
Closet muslim
Not to mention
That he is also
African American
Meaning he is a
Black man
Who is now the
President of the United States
A black man who gets to live
In the white house
Rent free

The so-called tea party
Hopes that Obama
Will fail and
Their number one goal
Is to make sure
That Obama
Is a one term president
Their ultimate goal
Is the repeal of all
Entitlement programs
Social Security
Unemployment Insurance
And of course
They want to repeal
Obamacare at all costs

The so-called tea party
Has no plan or program
Other than to defeat
President Obama
By any means necessary
Even if their efforts
Result in the financial ruin
Of America’s middle class
And the reduction of the USA
To the status of a third world country

Because of the so-called
Tea party’s reckless policies
And because of their
Refusal to raise the
Nation’s debt ceiling
(something that has never happened
under any other previous
The USA almost
Had to default
On its ability to pay its debts
And was otherwise
Unable to pay its
Placing the full faith
And credit
Of the USA
At risk

As a result of
All of the above
the nation’s credit
Rating was lowered
To double A plus
Down from triple A
The Dow Jones stock market
Plunged and had its
Worst day since the crash of
And the other nations
Of the world
Soon followed suit

As President Obama said
On the occasion of his
Fiftieth birthday
This was a crisis
That was entirely
In Wash. DC
He said that
This was a crisis
That need not have
Happened at all
But for the unwillingness
Of the so-called
Tea party to
So much for the
Tea party’s
Birthday gift for
President Obama
And for the entire

According to CNN
And just about every other
Major media outlet
What we have here
(As the red neck sheriff
in Cool Hand Luke
Once said)
Is a failure to

Or as Woody Guthrie
Might well have said
I reckon so

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Like A Dog Returning To Its Own Vomit

Did you ever watch
A dog vomit
And did you ever watch again
As the very same dog
Returns the next day
To gobble down
The same regurgitated meal
That it left behind
The day before
I have

Did you ever watch
As the garbage workers
Come down the street
To pick up the trash
On trash pick up day
I have

I rather think
That they must hate
To do this kind of work
Unless they come to learn
To love the smell
Of rotting trash

Most times
The men manage
To get most of the
Garbage that has been
Put out on the curb
For collection

But sometimes
They get lazy
And some of the
Over stuffed
Trash bags
May burst
And all the spilled trash
Is left behind
Because it is too much
Work for the men
To have to go back
And sweep up
All of the detritus that has
Spilled all over the

I wonder if that is
The way it is with us
Just too much trouble
To go back and
Sweep up all of the
Rubbish that we
Left behind
When we dumped
And trashed each other
Do you remember that?
I do

It seems funny
To me now how
Watching a dog eat its own vomit
And watching garbage men
Collecting the trash
Should remind me of us
Of me and you

All these years later
I just have to wonder
Do you still love
The smell of
Dumpster juice
On a hot summer’s day
I have to confess
That I still do

And you once said that
We had nothing in common

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On The Madness Of Bees

I am awash in begonias
And honeysuckle rose
I am drunk on citrus
I am blind with the rhapsody
Of gardenia

Gardenia was her favorite flower
I had asked her
For her preference
And she said
That of all the flowers
In the world
That gardenia was her favorite
So I made sure to buy her some
For our first wedding anniversary
I was not familiar until then
With the scent of gardenia
Having had little exposure
To such pleasurable things
As scented flowers
Though I would often walk
Through the botanic garden
Like a tipsy Charlie Chaplin
Going from flower to flower
To discover their perfume
I knew how odd I looked
To those who watched my
Clumsy antics
But I did not care
I was doing research
I was in my laboratory
And I was intoxicated
With the wonders
Of the world
And after all
This was my garden
My very own portion
Of paradise
So it did not matter
How silly I may or may not
Have seemed
To those who may have had
More practical
Preoccupations in mind

To my delight and surprise
Gardenia was delicious
Like cold vanilla ice cream
On a hot summer’s day
Gardenia was sensual
As sensual as the
Love making
Of two wanton lovers
On a hot summer’s day
My love was a genius
To have picked
So magical a flower
As her heart’s very own
If only I could have known
I would have bought her
Her very own tropical island
Full of gardenia
And I would have
Understood her so much better
If only I could have known sooner
I would have been
So much more tender
So much more careful
I would have understood
So much better
How very special and precious
Was the gift of her love

If only I had been
Born a bee
Instead of just me

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011