Thursday, December 29, 2011

Meshach, Shadrach And Abednego

Four friends
From Philadelphia
Whom you
May also know
Four friends
From Philly
Who ended up
In prison
After a very sad row

It was all because of
Jealousy and greed
And a few
Ounces of weed
That two of them
Are now sitting
In the shadow of
Death row

Yes Lord
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about

You see
Meshach was
Jealous of
For being the
Lover of
I said that Meshach
Was jealous of
For being the lover of
And now
They’re all in
Graterford Prison
But it’s still better
Than goin to Hell
Yes Lord
I said they all
Ended up in
Graterford Prison
But it’s still better
Than goin to

Yes Lord
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about

It seems that
Meshach paid Jezebel
To lure her man
To the parking lot that night
I said that
Meshach paid Jezebel
To lure young
To the parking lot that night
And then Abednego
Struck him down
With an axe handle
And he did it all
Just for spite
Yeah  Lord
He did it all
Just for spite

Yes Lord
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about

Meshach and Abednego
Are sleepin in
Graterford prison tonight
But that
Miserable hussy
She’s still
Livin large they say
And they say
She’s doin alright

You see
She turned
State’s witness
And they let her off
Her havin lured
Young Shadrach
To the parking lot
That  night

Young Shadrach
Never saw what hit him
He never even
Had a chance to fight
And I doubt he’d be
Much comforted
If he’d known
Who did the slight

Yes Lord
I’m talkin about
I’m talkin about
And I’m talkin about

There’s no moral
To this story
And it’s not that
Unusual you know
In the city where
Such things happen
In the city where
The two rivers flow

Four of them
Were friends
Two were lovers
And the one was
A murderous foe

In the city
Where the
Two rivers flow
There’s literally
Hundreds more
Just like them
Just like

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Laughing Fat Lady

If you were born and raised
In Coney Island
During the Fifties
You were sure
To encounter
The Laughing Fat Lady
In the fortune teller’s booth at the
Astroland Amusement Park
In the alleyway
Penny Arcade
The Cyclone and
The Thunderbolt
And no matter where
You might be standing
In Coney Island
Whether strolling on the
Boardwalk or if you were
Eating a hot dog at
Nathan's Famous or
Whether you were
Riding the magnificent and
Indeed wondrous
Wonder Wheel
You would always
Be within earshot of her
Raucous and hideous
Peels of laughter

This rotund mechanical
Bogus gypsy fortune teller
Was famous for being
Morbidly obese
Long before being
Morbidly obese
Became totally cool

All you had to do
Was to deposit
A big fat silver nickel
Into her slot
And the fat lady
Would instantly begin to
Laugh and laugh
And laugh and laugh
Until her whole voluptuous
Fat body began to
Rattle and
While the rolls of her fat belly
Would shake up and down
And she had to hold her sides
Because the belly laughing
Seemed to hurt her so much
Because she was laughing
So hard
(At you? At me?)

The fat gypsy lady
Would laugh so hard
That the whole damned
Mechanical booth
Would begin to dance and shake
And dance and shake
Some more
Until she either had you
Laughing as uncontrollably
As she was or else
You ended up
Hating her for being
So damned fat and
So damned obtuse
And for laughing
So hard and so much
Over absolutely nothing

(Or maybe she was laughing
So hard because
The joke was on you
The natural born sucker
Who got suckered into
Paying the fake fat lady
A silver nickel
Just to get a postage sized
Ticket with a phony fortune
Predicting this or that
About your future
Your love life
Or a hundred other
Nonsensical things
Such as can be found
In every Chinese
Fortune cookie
Except that this fat lady
Wasn’t handing out
Shrimp rolls or
Egg Drop Soup)

And all you ever got
In exchange
For your hard
To come by
Silver nickels
Was to hear
The fat lady
Laugh her stupid and
Yet ever so
While she jiggled
Her big fat belly
In your filthy
Sticky and
Candy apple smeared

I tell you
There were days
When I wanted to
Strangle that
Fat assed
Mechanical witch
So annoying
And mocking
And sinister
Had her
Deliciously evil
Yet bizarrely
Non stop laughing
Ultimately become

There were days
(And nights too!)
When I could hear
The fat lady’s
Incessant and
Murderous laughter
Drifting to my ears
On the warm
Summer breeze
That drifted
Through the
Open bedroom windows
Of my high rise
Brighton Beach apartment
Overlooking the boardwalk
And the world famous
Coney Island
Parachute Jump

I swear
I could always
Hear the
Hideous peels
Of her laughter
Even above
The cacophonic
Tumult of
All the hurley gurley
Mechanical music machines
Of all the Coney Island
As they
Spun and whirled
In all their
Mardi gras finery
Gaily and madly
Festooned and
Aglow and
Ablaze with all their
Gaudiest strings of
Multi colored and
Psychedelic neon lights
While the painted wooden
And lions
And tigers
Would rise and
And rise and fall
Over and over again
Faster and faster
Spinning like
Out of control
Flying saucers

Like all of the spinning
And bewitched
Pin wheel galaxies
That light up the
South Brooklyn
Summer skies
Like the Tuesday night
Summer fireworks
That sounded as if
The D-Day
Normandy Beach Invasion
Had suddenly
Come to Brighton Beach
Boom! Boom!
Over the endless
Peels of
Riotous yet
Meaningless laughter!

All of that
For the price
Of one single
Silver nickel
With enough
Pocket change
Left over
For a nedick’s
Orange soda
And a couple of
Nathan’s hot dogs
With a sack of
Perfectly salted
French fries
To go

So go ahead
Fat lady
And laugh
Your disgustingly seductive
And endlessly irritating
Fat lady laugh
Just like
In your own gum tree
(And merry
Merry queen
Of the bush
Will you be!)

So please
Miss fat lady
In your  fake mechanical
Fortune teller’s booth
Please do
Go ahead
Once more
As I slide my
Hard to come by
Single nickel
Through the slot
In your always
Open door

And laugh
Your fat lady laugh
Just one more time
(For old time’s sake
If for nothing more!)
And this time
(Miss fake gypsy fat lady
In your fake mechanical
Phony fortune teller’s booth!)
Could you please
This one last time
Do it!
Do it!

Can you finally
See me now?
You have finally
Brought me to my knees and
I am begging you now!
So please
Go ahead and do your thing!
But this one time only
Please do it just for me!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit

If it is true that
Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
That nothing comes from nothing
Then it must be equally true
That something must come
From something

String theory now predicts
That not only are
There multiple universes
But that these multiple universes
Have always existed
And always will
Continue to exist
Coming and going
In and out of existence
With each collision of
Dimensional membranes
Including the very special “brane”
That you and I call home

And if that which we term to be
The space time continuum is infinite
Then space time itself must be eternal
For only eternity
Can contain and expand enough
To accommodate infinity

And if we were to call the
Space time continuum by
Any other name
(Say for instance
Then we can begin to see
How God can be both
Infinite and eternal
Regardless of how many
Multi universes there are
And regardless of how many
Different dimensions there are
That may or may not exist

And if all of what
We now know to exist
Is called
“The Creation”
Then God’s presence
Must permeate it all
Because space time
Is both infinite and eternal

In conclusion therefore
We can say that
The universe is safe
And that all of creation is
Every where Kosher

In other words
Space Time is both
The chicken and
The egg of everything that
We see all around us

For as the Psalmist says
“For Thou art with me
Thy rod and Thy staff
Comforts me
And I shall dwell
In the house of the Lord

And let us say

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Angels With Dirty Faces

I am in my office now
Looking at the
Photo montage
Of my grandsons
(Peyton and Samuel)
That my daughter
 Recently sent to me
As a keepsake

She gave the
Photo montage
A title
“Eating Is Messy Business!”
And the pictures
Show the boys
With food smeared
All over their faces
They are
“My little angels
With dirty faces!”

To me
The pictures are funny
Because my two
Tow headed boys
Are looking like a pair
Of circus clowns
With strawberry jam
Smeared all over
Their smiling punims

During a recent visit
To Charlotte NC
I sat next to the boys
As they dined
On various foods
For breakfast and
Lunch and dinner

And at every meal
The food was
Flying off
In every direction
As if who could throw
The most food
Would be the winner!

It is not recommended
To sit too close by
This pair if you
Are wearing your
Best clothes or
That cannot be
Dry cleaned

But if you can’t
Make a colossal mess
When you are aged
Two and four
When else will you
Get the chance
To act out your inner
Bruce Springsteen?

Whenever I need a lift
In my mood
As my energy levels
Wane and plummet
In the course of the
Work day
All I have to do
To lift my
Flagging spirits
Is to turn my head
To see the pictures
Of my two
Special  boys
In their hey day

Smiling and laughing
“My angels with dirty faces”
As they are going
Through their paces
And instantly I can feel
A smile
(My smile!)
As it slowly
Creeps across my
Puss’ crevices

I hope this will
Always be the case
(As the boys continue
To grow
And as they become
Cultured and
Civilized and
Learn to eat
Like the proper
Little gentlemen
That they are sure to be)

Because to
Tell the truth
It ain’t much fun
To be
All on my own
With no one else
To play
“Let’s be a barbarian!”
With me
Or without me!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Score One For The Home Team

Kurt Vonnegut is one
Of my all time
Favorite authors

I like all of his books
But I am particularly fond
Of Slaughter-House Five

I especially identify
With the main
Character in the book
Who is named
Billy Pilgrim

As all of us
Who are familiar
With the book
Already know that
Billy Pilgrim
Has a very
Special problem
As described by
Vonnegut his creator

From time to time
For reasons unknown
Billy can suddenly become
 “Unstuck in time”

In other words
He can become
A time traveler
And he can
Pretty much
Willy nilly
Revisit past moments
Of his entire life

He can even visit
His own future life
And by means of
A yogic technique known as
Astral travel
He can also travel
To very distant planets
To commune with other
Worldly civilizations
Especially the planet of

What Vonnegut
Did not realize
Is that this ability
To get “unstuck in time”
Can be contagious

Should an individual
Such as myself
(I suppose who just
happens to possess
A peculiar kind
Of  genetic defect
That might make one
Predisposed to contracting
Billy Pilgrim’s illness)
Happen to read a copy
Of  Slaughter-House Five
It is entirely possible
 That such an individual
Can in fact
 Actually contract
“Billy Pilgrim Disease”
Also known as
“Tralfamadorian Syndrome”

Truth be told
I am such a person and
I have contracted
Billy Pilgrim disease!
(After many readings and
Re-readings of
Slaughter-House Five!)

Just like Billy Pilgrim
I too have
“Tralfamadorian Syndrome”
And now
Again just like Billy Pilgrim
I too can become
“Unstuck in time”

I too can revisit
And relive
The past moments
Of my previous life
(And even  past moments
In previous lives
That I have lived and
That are still being lived
In alternative dimensions!
Move over Shirley MacClaine!)

Now ain’t that
A kick in the head?
(Stay tuned for
More such
Adventurous poems
To follow!)

Thank you
Kurt Vonnegut and
Thank you again
(I think)
For having had the genius
To have been able
To produce such
A masterpiece as
Slaughter House Five
In the first place!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hiking Alone In The Woods

While I was hiking
In the woods
On a snowy
Winter’s night
I just happened
To cross paths
With  a small
Brown eyed fawn
Paralyzed with

She had
Stopped dead
In her tracks
To stare at me
With baited breath
As if to determine
If I were a
Friend or foe or
Perhaps some
Harbinger of death

We stayed like that
Some minutes longer
Eyeing each other
From afar  
“I’ll just stay over here”
She seemed to be saying
“You just stay
Where you are!”

And then
In the bat of an eye
She was gone

So much for my
One brief encounter
With a fawn

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Today especially
But not just today
I am feeling
Like a proper
Wanker right now
Which is just
Another way
Of saying that
I am feeling
Very poorly

 I am fairly certain
It is my diabetes
Acting up on me
Diabetes and
A whole slew of
Other things too
A proper stew of
Miseries almost
Too numerous to mention

Though I somehow managed
To drag myself to work today
I keep wanting to
Fall off of my chair
And to just
Lay down on the ground
To just curl up
So that I can take a proper

I’ve already
Used up my supply of
And now I‘ve got to go out
And score some more

I am planning to do it
Today or tomorrow
As soon as I can cop
Some more money

I do not know
For certain
If insulin
Is addictive or not
But it sure does
Feel like it is

I’ve got to stop
Writing now because
I am feeling just
Too punk to

Some time later
Same day

(After I’ve washed my face
With cold water and
Tried to catch some sleep
At my desk)

These days
I make sure to
Write things down
On my shopping list
To remind myself to buy
Stuff that I really need
But that I  always
Seem to suddenly forget
By the time
I get myself to the store

This time
I need to make sure
To buy some Aleve
At the RiteAid
Today or tomorrow
To assuage the shooting pains
In my neuropathized (sp?) legs

And now that I
Come to think of it
I’m also really sick
And tired of having
To walk past
The HQ for the
Philadelphia Catholic Diocese
On my way to
Family Court
And being forced to see
Still hanging on his cross
After all of these years

He really doesn’t look
Very well at all
With his crown of thorns and
Lintel cloth covering his groin
His arms look so tired
Aching to be let loose
He looks like I feel

I am thinking that
He needs to be allowed
To get some sleep
He needs to be allowed
To get some rest
He needs to be allowed
To dream of better days
To come

Maybe one of these days
I will come back
With a hammer and chisel
And I will set him free

I am sure that
The newspapers would
Call such an act
An act of
Wanton vandalism

Not me
I would rather call it
A wanton an act of
I would rather call it
A wanton act of

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pandora's Box

I can smell it from here
The rarest of fragrances
The musk of it
The skunk of it
The patchouli of it
Hanging like
Dripping honey
In the spring time air

I believe they call it

The medical texts define
Pheromones as
An agent secreted
By an individual
That produces
A change
In the sexual or
Social behavior of
Another individual
Of the same species
A volatile hormone
That acts as a

I can see her now
Leaning over the railing
Of the Brooklyn Heights
As her flowing blond hair
Cascades down from the
Exposed nape of her
Gracefully arched neck
While the hem line of her
Loosely clinging skirt
Is gently lifted
By the invisible hand
Of a passing summer breeze
Revealing in a flash
The pink hewed flesh
Of her neck and thigh
The exposed battlefields
Where are fought
The many unending
Wars of desire

The sun is setting now
Between the gothic spires of
The Brooklyn Bridge
As the first lights of
Manhattan begin to blink on
Like a thousand diamond
Necklaces reflecting
In the sparkling
East River waters
The multi textured
Hews of the setting
Red sun

All around us
Mothers and fathers are
Proudly pushing baby prams
As they strut and
Preen their feathers
During one last leisurely walk
Before the need to hurry home
To fix dinners and
Bathe babies
Before tucking them
Into their beds

All around us
Buzzing like a thousand
Bumble bees
The pheromones
Carry their honey laden
Sticky dew drops
Of honey suckle
And pomegranate
Into the open pores
Of a thousand
Who will suddenly
Find themselves
An irresistible urge
To get closer
And closer still

As close as
They possibly can
To the ebony source
Of all known
Pleasure and pain

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gung Ho For Fung Shui

What gives with this
 Fung Shui anyway?

Fung Shui
Is understanding
The flow of Chi
The hidden life breath
That permeates
The environment

When energies are
In disarray
Rule the day

All of the energies in
Your personal space are
In a constant state of flux
Yin and Yang energies
Dance together
Striving for the balance
That brings harmony

Yin is coolness

Yang is hot
Full of life

Confucius says:
Keep Yin and Yang
In harmony
Within your home and
You will enjoy
Good luck

Some days
My Fung Shui
Is so out of whack
That it is all
That I can do
Just to get out
Of my own way

And then
There are days
When my Yin
Is barely on
Speaking terms
With my Yang

When this happens
I feel helpless
I feel blocked
Unable to navigate

I get stuck in time
Frozen in space
Stuck to the same place
For what seems like
Hours at a time
Unable to move

I feel like a pawn
Stuck on a chessboard
Unable to make a move
Until a force
Greater than myself
Can lift me up
And carry me
The barriers of
Electro Magnetism

You might say that
I am having a really bad
Hair day
And you would be correct

What gives with this Fung Shui

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On Top Of Old Smokey

On top of Old Smokey 
All covered with snow, 
I lost my true lover 
For a-courting too slow.

It is Friday afternoon and
I am hard at work in my
Two sizes too small
Day dreaming
About the upcoming

I took yesterday off
As a personal leave day
Because I was
Just too bone tired to
Drag my ass
Out of bed
On a wet and cold
Rainy December morning
The spirit was willing but
The flesh wanted desperately
To grab just
A few more hours
Of stolen sleep

At this stage of the game
If I am not now
Entitled to even
A tiny bit of self indulgence
Then when?

Rolling over to find
The sweet side
Of my pillow
I granted myself
My ever so
Self indulgent wish

After all I am due
To retire from work
In about a year’s
Time from now
And ain’t I a man?

Truth be told
I am completely
At a loss as to how
I am going to live
Post retirement
When every day will be a
Personal leave day
That is
If I should actually
Be so lucky
As to live long enough
To be able to actually retire

I have had
Three close friends
And coworkers of mine
Who all passed away
During the previous year
None of whom were retired

It is a sobering thought
To think
That life can be
So very fleeting
And short
And brutal

This coming Monday
I have a routine
Doctor’s appointment
To monitor my type 2 diabetes
And my too high blood pressure
And my  too high cholesterol

I expect to hear the usual
Admonitions from
My overly zealous
(to my way of thinking)
As he chews me out
For not taking better
Care of myself
(I suppose I should be
More grateful)

I will nod and smile
As he chatters on
Whilst writing
His cryptic notes
Into my medical chart
As he writes out the
Prescription renewals
For all of my hitherto
Enumerated ailments

He will take my blood pressure
While clucking his tongue and
Shaking his head in disapproval
And  he will tell me
To be more diligent
In monitoring my
A1C count
And he will make referrals for
For this expert and that
Just to be on the safe side
Or to see if there is
Cause for more concern
Or not
I will thank him
Whether I intend to
Following his suggestions
Or not

I acknowledge that I am
A difficult patient
(as all my doctors tell me)
But I am doing
The best that I can
Under the circumstances

I dislike not being fully fit
I dislike being overweight
(The medical term is morbidly obese!)
I dislike having to stick
Pins into my finger tips every day
In order to
Draw a few
Drops of blood
To measure my
Levels of glucose

And so I rebel
From time to time
And if that makes me into
A difficult patient
I heartily concur!

After all it is
My fingers that feel
Like pin cushions
Not theirs!
And if I am reluctant
To keep sticking them
For more blood samples
In order to get back into
Their good graces
Then so be it!

All of which
Brings us to
Last Monday when
During my usual
Home bound commute
I crossed paths with an angel
A woman of such
Startling beauty and
Statuesque bearing
That she literally
Took my breath away

As is my usual custom
My eyes drank in her profile and
Her long torso and  long legs
As my mind’s eye lovingly
Glided over the lines
Of her shapely silhouette and
The graceful flutterings
Of her hands and arms
As she pushed back her hair
And as she pursed her lips
In her hand held pocket mirror
And as she glanced back at me
As she smiled her
Madonna -like smile

Before you could say
Jackie Robinson or
Grand Central Station
I was hooked

I had fallen like the
Proverbial ton of bricks
(As I almost always
Usually do
If I fall at all)

I could feel
My desire for her
Surging through my veins
Until I could feel
My heart pounding
In my chest
And I could
Hear the blood
Sloshing in my ears
Like the wind blown surf

My heart was beating
Like the drum section
On the rolling stones
Hit tune
I’m So Hot For Her

(I’m so hot for her
I’m so hot for her
I’m so hot for her
And she’s so cold!)

I could tell that
She was aware of
My staring as
She tossed
Come hither look
In my direction
As she smiled
That tight little smile
That all women
Seem to know
How to smile
From birth
(Or was it just
Wishful thinking
On my part
Or was it
Just my over active
Running away with me
Yet once again
One more time?)

Why is it that
All women seem to
Have this amazing ability
To know when
They are being ogled by men
Yet they act
So non chalant
Appearing to be completely
Distracted by their own
Musings and thoughts
All the while
Smiling that tight little smile
That seems to say
Yes, perhaps I am available
But, on the other hand
No, perhaps not

It is enough
To drive us men wild
(And it usually does!)

I was trying
With all of my might
To summon up
Enough courage
To ask her
For her telephone digits
When the train door
Suddenly opened
And in the blink
Of an eye
She was gone

In a Philadelphia second
My goddess had become
A shadowy figure
Into the foggy
Moonlit night

And just as quickly
All of my heretofore
All consuming
Surge of lust had
Just as suddenly
As rapidly
As it had at
First appeared
And I was back to normal
Which is to say
That I was
Back to being
My usual boring and
Humdrum self

And if all of that
Wasn’t discouraging enough
I also felt very
Foolish and
And spent
Like the foolish old man
That I have become

A foolish old man
Who still lusts
From time to time
After all of  the
Young and beautiful
Ladies of Frankford
And Kensington
Whom I just
Happen to  have
The good fortune
To encounter nightly
During my
Homebound commute

As I catch a fleeting glance
Of my own reflection
In the pane glass of
My passenger side window
I can see that
I have become
Something of a parody of the
Dirty old man of
Laugh-in fame
Who would chase eagerly after
All of the younger girls
In his path
Whilst moving
Ever so slowly
With outstretched hands
At full stutter step
As unable to catch up
With his loping prey
As a chipmunk might be
In pursuit of a fleeing gazelle

And just what then
Would the chipmunk do
If he ever did manage
To catch-up with
The object
Of his affection?

Have I really become
All that
Laughable and
(Don’t look now Batman
But I have the whim wams
All over!)

On top of Old Smokey
All covered with snow,
I lost my true lover
For a- courting too slow.

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And Her Name Is Gloria!

And her name is Glor-ia!
And her name is Glor-ia!
And her name is Glor-ia!
Lyrics by
Van Morrison

Gloria is the name of my
Now deceased sister
She was always my older sister
And the oldest of four children

Everything that I have become today
I owe to her
She was always my big sister
Some twenty years my senior
(It’s a long story
Details to follow)
She was my protector
My nanny and
My role model of
What the
The ideal woman
Should be like

We all called her Goldie
And that is what she was
Pure gold!
She was always
The gold standard
By which we measured
Our own lives
And she always expected
The rest of us slackers
To reach for the gold ring
At all times
No excuses
No backsliding
No quitting allowed!

And there was
Never any quit
In her
She was smart
And eminently
At all times

She was our Betty Crocker
And our very own
Our Miss Brooks
All rolled up into one

Had she been born
Into a wealthier family
She could have been
A doctor or
A lawyer or
Secretary of State
But fate had dealt her a
Cruel hand
And she was born
Into the same poverty stricken family
That made getting ahead
An uphill climb
Of Mount Everest proportions
For all of us

When Goldie married
She married for love

She was a war time bride
Her husband
(Let’s just call him Larry for now)
Was an expat from England
Who had just gone AWOL
From the English navy
The very night that
He and my sister
First met

Larry had impulsively jumped ship
After his Frigate had
Pulled into the
Brooklyn Navy Yard
For emergency repairs
(After having been
Torpedoed by Nazi u-boats
While escorting convoys
Across the Atlantic)

Prior to his dangerous escapade
Larry had made a solemn vow
That if he were ever lucky enough
To make it to land again
(After all the narrow escapes
That he had been through)
That he would jump ship
And quit the goddamn war
Once and for all

He was very well aware
That he was breaking the law
But he figured
That it was better for him
To live the life of a fugitive
Constantly on the run
And forced to keep
Looking over his shoulder
For the long arm of the law and
The British admiralty
Than to become a dead hero
Sent to a watery grave
Like so many of
His erstwhile comrades
Who were buried at sea
At the ripe old age of twenty one

Larry figured that
He had already done his share
For the allied war effort

He figured
That he had already
Paid his dues
For God and Country
Hadn’t he been torpedoed
On three different ships and
Only narrowly escaped drowning
After each attack
By the skin of his teeth?

After being fished out of the sea
For the third time
He had decided that
Enough is enough!
Come hell or high water
He was determined
To make a new life for himself
In the USA
Rather than shipping back
To England
To once again have to
Run the gauntlet
Of  Nazi u-boats
Who were always
Laying in wait
Prowling the Atlantic
In so-called wolf packs
In search of convoys to sink

And they were succeeding too
Locked in a deadly race
To sink as many of the so-called
Allied Liberty ships as they could
Faster than the American ship yards
Could build them

Larry was determined
That one way or another
He was going to find a way
To survive the war

When he finally
Got his chance
He was as good as his word
Jumping ship as soon
As his wounded boat
Had limped into port

Not knowing
Where else to go
He ended up at a USO club
For service men on shore leave
In Coney Island
And there he met my sister Goldie
Who was working as a volunteer

After a few dances
And a few more beers
Larry confessed to her his plight
Recounting his now legendary tale
Of how he had jumped overboard
The first chance he got
And how he
Was now facing a court martial
Or worse
If he ever returned
To his ship

Theirs was a romance
Right out of war time Hollywood

The upshot of this
Whirlwind drama was that
Gloria ended up bringing
Her new found beau home
To meet her
Suitably stunned
Mom and dad
Who evidently
Were suckers
For a hard luck case
Because they allowed
AWOL Larry
To stay with them
In their six room
Tenement flat

They could see that Gloria
Was ga ga for her new friend
And it didn’t hurt that
Larry was a handsome devil
Who looked like he came
Right out of Hollywood’s
Central casting
With wavy blond hair and
Sparkling baby blue eyes
(And did I mention that he also
Happened to be Jewish?)

I suppose
That mom and dad figured
Que sera sera
(A favorite family motto)
What was one more mouth to feed
Under such war time circumstances?

After all
Life was hard everywhere
Especially in shanty towns like
Coney Island
Like I said
They must have been suckers for a
Hard luck case
(Not surprising since
They were hard luck cases themselves
I suppose it takes one
To know one)

To make a long story short
Larry and Goldie got married
And had two bouncing
Baby girls
(My younger and older nieces)

The law
Never did catch up with Larry
(Though not for lack of trying)
Many was the time
The family had to quickly
Pull up stakes
And head for places unknown
To keep one step ahead of the
Various law enforcement agencies
That were more or less
Always hot on our heels

But as luck would have it
Larry and Goldie always managed
To get away
Just in the nick of time

And that
As we Feldman’s
Like to say
Is our family’s
Very own version
Of the story of
Bonnie and Clyde

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I Envied Them

How I envied them
Those men
Those conquering heroes
Who came home
With their minds
And bodies
Still intact

They came home
To a hero’s welcome
To parades down main street
To hugs and kisses
From loved ones
Left behind
When the sirens
Of war
Were sounding
And the greatest generation
Answered the call

They came home
(The lucky ones)
With all of their
Moxie and swagger
Still intact

They showed up at
Still in uniform
Duffle bags on their shoulders
With their battle ribbons
Across their chests

For the most part
They seemed to be the same
At first glance
Hardly changed at all
And yet
They were somehow different
More battle hardened
More battle scarred
Sadder and wiser
At the same time
With the sound of
Bursting bombs
And machine gun fire
Still ringing in their ears

Any sudden loud noise
Could make them
Suddenly flinch
As if by instinct

A firecracker
Thrown in celebration
At one of the many
Welcome home parades
Or a jalopy’s backfire
Could make them
Suddenly skittish
And jumpy

The sound of footsteps
Approaching them
From behind
Would instinctively
Make them flinch
And tighten up
As if they were
Suddenly transported
Back to the combat zones
From which they had
Just departed
Back into the Jap
And malaria infested jungles
Of the south pacific or
Back into the frozen fox holes at
The battle of the bulge

They had defeated
Hitler and Tojo
But not before
They had seen
The bodies of
Some of their best buddies
Blown apart
Right before their eyes

They had served on
Bombers and in
Submarines and
On battleships and
Aircraft carriers and
They had faced the enemy
In tanks
And in the trenches
Of battlefields in
Every corner of the world
And they had
Defeated their enemies

And now
The soldiers and sailors and
Airmen had come home
(The lucky ones)
And their war was over
And now the challenge
Was to make a life
For themselves
And for their families
In a peace time America
That was rich and powerful
And poised for greater
Achievements yet to come

Their victory
Though glorious
Had come
At a terrible cost
In human life
As thousands of
America’s fallen
Had to be left behind
Buried in a hundred different
Foreign battlefields
With crosses and stars of david
Stretching as far as the eye
Can see
This was the price
That had to be paid
The butcher’s bill
The price of victory

Philadelphia, pa. 2011