Monday, January 30, 2012

Blue Suede Shoes

You can do anything you want
But lay off of my blue suede shoes-
Elvis Presley

Yeah Mon
I can dig it
You finally get yourself
A brand new pair of
Blue suede shoes
(And I bet that cost you
A pretty penny too!)
Maybe a whole month’s paycheck
Maybe more
And you don’t want
Anyone stepping
All over them
With some muddy boots
Fresh with the mud
From the coal mines of
Butcher Holler
(Hillbilly for
Butcher Hollow)

I doubt that
The coalminer’s daughter
Loretta Lynn
Ever had a chance to meet
The King
In person
But what a fun
Meeting that would have been

I would have liked
To have been able to hear
Elvis and Loretta
Sing a duo together
Perhaps at a gig
At the Grand Ol Opry in
Nashville, Tennessee
(The capitol of country music)
They’d have been
A big hit for sure

Membership in the Opry
Is one of country music’s
Crowning achievements
Such country music legends as
Hank Williams
Patsy Cline
Ernest Tubb
And more recently
Dolly Parton
Garth Brooks
Reba McEntire and
The Dixie Chicks
All have performed there

It took a whole
Lot of doing and
Not a little bit of
Good old fashioned
Hard work and
Pure elbow grease
To be able to
Land a gig
In a hallowed hall
Like the
Grand Ole Opry House

Talk about
Pulling yourself up
By your own boot straps
Long before
You could ever
Even begin to dream
About those
Blue blue
Blue suede shoes

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Otzi The Ice Man

In the year 1991
A pair of German mountaineers
Accidentally stumbled upon his
Five thousand year old
Frozen mummified body
High up in the Italian Alps
This Copper Age man
Who was born
3300 years before Christ

His discoverers named him Otzi
(After the Otz mountain chain
Where his frozen body
Was found)
The scientists who examined him
Said that while he yet lived
He measured
Five feet five in height and
That he weighed about 110
And they guessed his age to be
Roughly about 45 years old

Everything that we now
Know about Otzi was
Gleaned from the forensic
Examination of his remains and
From the artifacts that he left behind

What we don’t know
About him
Could fill an encyclopedia

For instance
Could Otzi sing?
Could he carry a tune?
Could he make himself a fire
On some wintry night and
Hum himself to sleep?

Did he have time to tell
His loved ones goodbye before
Meeting his untimely demise?
What were his dreams and
Or was his highest and
Most noble thought
Focused merely on survival
And on putting food
Into his belly?
(Not that there’s anything
Wrong with that).

Otzi carried all of  his
Most prized
Worldly possessions
In his knapsack

All that Otzi possessed
When his body was found
Was the hand hewn clothing
That he had on his back and feet
(Made mostly of a mix of
Animal furs though the shoes
Showed the handiwork
Of a master cobbler)
And his copper blade axe
With a wooden handle
A flint knife
And a pouch with a few morsels
Of food consisting of
Deer meat
Some dried berries
And a loaf of bread

And one other thing
Otzi also had
An arrowhead lodged
In his shoulder

Who would
Want to kill Otzi?
Did a chance encounter
With a rival hunting party
Lead to a struggle over
Competition for the best
Hunting ground?
Or did some chance wanderers
Covet Otzi’s copper headed axe?
We may never be able to know
The solution to the riddle
Behind the life and death of
This glorious
Time traveler from the
Distant past who has become
Known to us moderns as
Otzi The Ice Man
(May he rest in peace
Now that we have finally
Put him to rest in a
Display case for mummies
In an Italian
Natural history museum-
South Tyrol Museum of Archeology
In Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy).

I would like to go and
Visit Otzi some day
And if I had the chance to
Ask him only one question
It would be this:
Lei, come si chiama?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

I Am Broke-Busted

My bills are all due and the baby needs shoes and I'm busted
Cotton is down to a quarter a pound, but I'm busted
I got a cow that went dry and a hen that won't lay
A big stack of bills that gets bigger each day
The county's gonna haul my belongings away cause I'm busted.
Ray Charles

When I woke up
This morning
I awoke
As in
I ain’t got
No mo money honey
The cupboard is dry
And there ain’t
No food in the frig neither

How did I get to be
So broke-busted
Just two days
Before pay day?
That’s easy baby
Cause I don
Spent all of my
Gambling at the
Racetrack and
Betting on the ponies
So sue me!

And now I have rent to pay
And a stomach to feed
And bills to pay
And I am down to counting
All the loose change
In my pants pockets and
In the loose change jar
That I keep for emergencies
But I must have
Already raided
The loose change jar
Because the jar is empty

So I have no food to eat
And I can’t go back to sleep
And I have to get up and
Get dressed and somehow
Get my ass to work
Whether or not
I happen to be
Broke-busted or not

No one wants
To hear my hard luck story
Even if I had
Someone to tell it to
Seems everyone these days
Has a hard luck story
Of their own

Every down on his luck bum
In my neighborhood
Seems to have me pegged
For a chump or
A soft touch
Hey mister
I am homeless
Can you help me get on the bus?
Hey mister
I am homeless
Can you help me get a bite to eat?
What do I look like
A frigging walking
Wells Fargo
ATM machine?

So I get fed up
With all the bums
And when I get fed up
I tend to get nasty
“If you’re homeless
What do you need
To get on the bus for?
It’s not like you have
Someplace to go!”

But now the proverbial shoe
Is on the other proverbial foot
And I’m the one who is
So who am I going to tap
For a soft loan
To tide me over
Until pay day?

I hate not having money
I hate being working class poor
I hate the daily struggle
Just to have to put
Food on the table and
To keep a roof
Over my head

But do I really want to join
The army of homeless bums
That shuffle along
All day long
From bum stop to bum stop
With no place to call home
Begging for handouts
Stinking of my own
Piss and shit?
Hell no!
Anything but that!

So I drag my butt
Out of bed
Throw on some
Old clothes and
Tell my complaining
Kit cat that
She has to wait until
Just like me
She doesn’t like it
And she lets me know it

Somehow I manage to
Find a loose token
That gets me a ride
On the 59 bus

All the seats are taken
(What else is new?)
I manage to find
A piece of bus
To hang on to
And I take a look around
At my fellow commuters
And I see all the other
Wage slaves
With their blank stares
And stony poker faces
And I know
That I am just like them
And that knowledge
Doesn’t make me
Feel any better
About myself or
About my situation

I get off the bus
At the terminal
Where I have to run
The usual gauntlet
Of the shiftless and
The homeless
All of them
With their hands out
“Not today, sorry.”
“I don’t have any change.”
“Piss off!”
“Get lost!”
“Eat shit and die.”
“Fuck you and the horse
You rode in on!”

Today’s newspaper headline reads
“Four Youths Held In Slaying
Of Pizza Delivery Man”
Yeah that about
Sums it up

I can just tell
It’s going to be
Another swell day
Here in the
City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Pre-Existing Condition

Ever since childhood
I have had a
Pre-existing condition

As an infant
(I was a change of life baby)
I had a pre-existing need
For parental love and affection
My father died when
I was ten months old
And my mother
Withdrew into her own world
Of self-pity and depression
It was said that
I was a willful
Baby who would
Bang his head against the wall
Until someone would pay attention
(For lack of attention
And nurturing
No doubt)

As a pre-adolescent
I had a pre-existing need
For a stable home
Medical care
(I suffered with asthma)
Dental care
(On a steady diet of
Candy and soda pop
My teeth were
All rotted out)
Nutritious meals
Adequate clothing
I was provided
With none of those things

My so-called family
Moved around
From pillar to post
Like a gypsy caravan
One step ahead of
The Sheriff
And all the Landlords
Who were always
Hot on our heels
Trying to collect
The last month’s rent
We always had to fear
The bill collector’s
Knock on the door
I went to seven
Different schools
Before reaching
The sixth grade

I have recently
My 65th birthday
(Who would have thunk it?)

(Not bad for a
Self made man with
Some very serious
Pre-existing conditions)

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

To Be A Poet

To be a poet
Means having to
Take on all comers
It means having to be
In the face of the enemy
It means having to eat
A ton of shit from
Society in general
It means getting absolutely
No respect
It means having to earn
Starvation wages

Being a poet often means
That one is unsuited to do
Any other kind of work
No matter how gifted or
Devoid of talent
One may be

To be a poet means
That one must learn to be
A devoted lover of
All that is
Good and
True and
Even in the face of all
The unmitigated
Ugliness that one
Is forced to encounter
(And overcome!)
On a daily basis

I did not become a poet by
On the contrary
I became a poet
Quite by accident
I am an accidental poet

Over the course
Of the years
I have tried mightily
To become
Something else
Something other
(And just when I thought
That I was getting out
They pulled me back in!
Al Pacino – The Godfather)

But no!
The fates always
Seem to conspire
Against me

Once I happened to
Mention this matter
To a Unitarian minister
As we were talking during
The much beloved coffee hour
After Sunday services
And his reply was to suggest
That I get a frontal lobotomy
As a cure for all that was
Ailing me

Needless to say
I declined to follow
His sage advice

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

My Alma Mater's 200Th Birthday

My Alma Mater
Hamilton College
Recently celebrated its
200th Anniversary
I have very mixed feelings
About my four year
College undergraduate

When asked
I would often
Describe Hamilton as
A small all male
(At that time)
Liberal arts college
In upstate New York
(Clinton, New York
To be exact).
Where’s that?
Just outside of Utica
Would come the usual reply
And the usual response?
Never heard of it!

I do not often brag
About being a
Hamilton grad
(Class of 1969)
My tenure at Hamilton
Was marked by
Several incidents
That have left a distinct
Bitter taste in my mouth

To begin with
I was one of ten or so
Token Jews
Who were granted admission
(And there were only
A handful of Blacks
All of them tokens as well)
The enrollment at Hamilton
At that time
Was overwhelmingly
Half of the class was
Pre-med and the other half
Was pre-law
I happened to major in French
Following my heart and my
Then love affair
With all things French
(I spent my Junior year in France
Studying at the Sorbonne and at
The University of Paris)
(At the time
I was sure that
I was going to be
The world’s next
Jean Paul Sartre or
Albert Camus or
Andre Malraux
At the very least)

During my Sophomore year
The school student governing body
Saw fit to invite
George Lincoln Rockwell
The notorious American Nazi
To speak on campus
And though I refused
To attend his speech
I heard the next day
That his blathering
And thoroughly
Anti-Semitic remarks
Were well received
By all those who
Did choose to attend
This all American
Hate fest

As if this insult
Was not sufficient
In and off itself
To make me sour about
My Hamilton experience
There was the time
(Around the same time
As Rockwell’s appearance)
That one of Hamilton’s finest
Decided to display
A giant
Nazi swastika flag
Outside the window
Of one of the school’s
Dormitory windows
To his credit
The dean of students
(Hadley DePuy)
Forced the flag’s removal
Saying that he
And his whole generation
Had gone to war
So that the Nazi flag
Would never fly proudly again

The only place that
I have ever seen
The Nazi emblem
Displayed with so much
Love and affection
Was at Hamilton College
And that image
Is emblazoned forever
In my mind’s eye

So Happy 200th Birthday
To you
Hamilton College!
All of your dirty little secrets
Are safe with me

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No Country For Old Men

Of late I have been told
That my view of the world
Has turned rather dark
And gloomy
Full of dread and
Foreboding for the
Future of the Human race
Now where would I have ever
Gotten such an idea from?

Could it be from the
Long blood stained
History of the Human race
Every since we began to
Crawl out of the caves of
Asia, Africa and Europe?

Or more recently from
The entire history of the
Twentieth century
The bloodiest century of them all?

During my life time alone
My father returned from WWI
And he came home
As a permanently disabled war veteran
My brother and his generation served
Both in WWII and then again in Korea
I was drafted to serve
In the Viet Nam War
And although I graciously declined
Uncle Sam’s generous invitation
The war raged on without me
For ten more bloody years

Today as I approach
My retirement years
America has only just recently
Pulled out of Iraq after
Eight years of
Invasion and occupation

And as this poem is being written
The USA remains bogged down
In a seemingly
Never ending war in Afghanistan

Glory Hallelujah!

And I have no doubt that
As my two young grandsons
Reach their majority
That America
Will still be at war
And still in need of more
Cannon fodder to
Sacrifice to the gods of war

When that time comes
I can only hope
That my two grandsons
Will have inherited enough
Intestinal fortitude and courage
To be able to tell
The military industrial war mongers
To go straight to hell
And to be able to say
Hell No We Won’t Go!
When it becomes time
For their generation
To stand up and be counted

I have lived long enough
To be able to say that
I have reached old age
I see the future
As through a glass darkly
Like that great old seer
Of ancient lore
Dr. Jean Michel de Nostradamus
I end this refrain
With a quatrain
From the old master

By fire he will destroy their city
A cold and cruel heart
Blood will pour
Mercy to none

However you want to slice it
This is no country for
Old men

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012


Monday, January 16, 2012

Flotsam And Jetsam

Having a place to live
(A place that you can call
A home of your own)
is everything
but you must
never forget
where you live

If you cannot
where you live
you might as well
be homeless

Is this my house?
Is this where I live?
Are these my things in there?
Or do they belong
to someone else?
It all looks the same

Writing down the address
can be a big help
but then it is important
(imperative even) to
not lose the slip

(That's what happened
to my good friend
Brian Wilson
He forgot where he lived
and no one would tell him
So for many years
he was so lost
he that he could not
write music anymore
he's doing much
better now or
so we are told
I hope so)
I think I  know now
a little something of
what he must have been
feeling at the time

It feels so good
when you can
find your house again
after having been outside
trying to avoid
the rising waters!

When the riising
waters come
they flood everything
At the park next door
I see that
all of  the childrens game toys
have begun to float away.
There, over there, see?
The volley balls are all
floating away

Turn around and
you will see
a wall of water
a moving mountain of water
rushing straight towards you
(A tsunami!)
You are filled with a sense
of sudden panic and dread and
You run into the nearest
high- rise apartment building
to try to get away
seeking shelter
climbing higher and higher
as fast as you can go!

Finally you make it
to the very top
of the stairs
to the top most floor
And you can see
the angry rising water
as it begins to engulf
the entire city.
But are we safe yet?
Have we climbed high enough?

Up comes the water
spilling into the
hallways and stair ways
like tentacles
The tsunami is
trying to drown everyone
and everything in its path

Now it begins to feel safe again
where we have taken refuge and
there seem to be enough
candy bars in
the vending machines
So that maybe we can survive
for a little while even if
it is cold and dark and
we do not have blankets.
So we huddle together
to try to stay warm.
It seems to be working

after many
long hours
the freezing
ocean waters
begin to recede
and we can once again
go back down to
ground level
(to ground zero!)
as we wade past the
dead bodies
and all the
flotsam and jetsam
that the tsunami has
left behind

And we try to remember
where we live
but  we cannot recall.
I do manage to
Find a slip of paper
in my jacket pocket
with my address
written down in pencil.
I feel a wave of relief as
I finally find my way
to my house
I go inside and
I switch on the lights and
I look out the window at
the park next door
The park is drying out
and all of the
floating volley balls
have returned

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Have Seen Too Much

I have seen too much
And done too much
And said too much

I drink too much
And smoke too much
And eat too much
And talk too much
And swear too much
And I fuss too much
About just about

Do I annoy you?
Do I bore you to tears?
Do I make your flesh crawl?
Well we are even then!

I either like you too much or
I love you too much or
I hate you too much or
I couldn’t care less about you!

When I need you
I need you and
When I don’t
I don’t
But how are you
Supposed to know
The difference?

When I want you
I want you
No questions asked
I don’t want any
Conversation or
Back talk or

I don’t care
What you are thinking
And I am not going to share
My thoughts or
My emotions or
My schemes or
My plans or
My hopes or
My dreams
None of that!

If you threaten to leave me
I will lie and say that
That works for me!
Though I will be
Desperately sad if you do
I could beg you to stay
But I won’t even try
Because when it really
Matters the most
Words fail me!
Just as I know that
I have failed you!
I plead guilty
Your honor and
I throw myself
On the mercy
Of the court!
When I know
Perfectly well
That there is
No mercy
To be had!

I know too much
And I think too much
And I worry too much
About this and that and
Such and such
All for naught!

I toss and turn
And wake up
In a sweat and
Dream bad dreams
That end in screams
That bust my seams
That rip out the stitches
Where it always itches
And itches
Sons of bitches!
So much for all the
Two faced snitches
That have burned
My britches
And who all like to
Laugh at all of
My outbursts
And twitches


Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Ain't Dead Yet

Yeah Mon
Reports of my recent demise
Are only slightly exaggerated

It would appear
That a recent poem of mine
Like A Candle In The Wind
Caused some concern
Among my circle of friends
That perhaps
The grim reaper
Was soon to make
An appearance
At my front door
Come to collect
His rightful due

Well thank you all
For your messages of
Condolences and concern
They are all
Greatly appreciated

Truth be told mon
I ain’t dead yet
And I do not expect
To kick the bucket
Any time soon
(But just as the
Wise man/woman
Once said
No one really knows
The hour or the day)

The recent poem
That caused all the fuss
Was prompted by the fact
That in the past year alone
I have experienced the loss
Of three close colleagues
(All three younger than age 60
Needless to say
I was greatly disturbed and

Not to sound
Overly dramatic
But in the wild
The old, old elephants
Do seem to know
When their time is coming
And they head off
To the old elephant bone yard
Where all the old elephants
Go to die
Like an old elephant
I am really feeling my age, chum.
Planned obsolescence
I think they call it

Funny, but reaching
The 65 year old milestone
Feels like hitting a wall
While going 100 mph
Not to mention
As a diabetic
How much
Having diabetes takes away
On a daily basis.
My hat is off to
All of you
(And you all know who you are)
Who have been
Battling the Big D
For years
Some since childhood
It has not been easy
And you all have the battle scars
To prove it

Like the poem says
I feel it in my bones mon
My family’s peasant genetics
Do not bode well
For my long term
Longevity prospects
In general my family
Is not long lived
Although there have been
A few exceptions

By nature
I am a quitter not a fighter
I am like a punch drunk old pugilist
Who is too dumb
To have enough sense
To just stay down
For the count
But who is unable
To land much of a punch
Through the fog of war
Even if I could see
Who is in the ring with me
(Hey, punchy
Throw in the towel why don't cha?)

Again I did not mean
To unnecessarily
Alarm and Frighten
Any of my friends
I just feel the need
(A very strong need)
To put my own house in order

I feel a
Very strong need
To get a lot of
Loose ends tied up
Without thinking that
I have the luxury of
Endless amounts of time
To procrastinate
(As is my usual way)

For instance
I have been trying
(Forever it seems)
To make prearrangement
Funeral plans
So that my final exit
Is orderly
And not chaotic
(As has been the normative
Life pattern
For most of my life)

I am obsessed
With having all of my
Funeral arrangement plans
In order
Prior to my demise
For a whole host of reasons
Too numerous
(And also too boring
And too mundane
To discuss in a short piece
Such as this)

Suffice it to say
It is a conundrum
That has been defeating me
(Despite all of my best efforts)
For a long, long time

Hopefully I will have
Figured it all out
Before the grim reaper
Really does come a knockin’
At my front door

(As always
I am open to all
Of your suggestions and

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Post Partum Holiday Blues

I have
The mean ol’
Mean ol’
Mean ol’
Post partum
Holiday blues

I have
The mean ol’
Mean ol’
Mean ol’
Post holiday
Partum blues

So whatever you do
Please don’t step on
My blue suede
Holiday shoes

The mean ol’
Mean ol’
Mean ol’
Post holiday
Partum blues
Ain’t never somethin’
That I would ordinarily
It just keeps on
Remindin’ me, Lord
Of all that
I stand to lose

Lord, I am countin’ down the days
‘til I don’t have to work no more
Lord, I am countin’ down the days
‘til I don’t have to work no more
Then I’m gonna
Buy myself a brand new
Store bought suit, Lord
From the new suit corner store
Then I’m gonna
Buy myself a brand new suit, Lord
From the new suit corner store

Yeah Lord
I surely do have
The mean ol’
Mean ol’
Mean ol’
Post partum
Holiday blues
And I need to take
The greyhound bus
To New Orleans
To show off
My brand new
Store bought suit
And my brand new
Blue suede
Holiday shoes

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Like A Candle In The Wind

And it seems to me
That you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain came in-
Elton John

I know now that
I have been living on
Borrowed time
For quite
Some time now

How do I know?
I know because
I can feel it in my bones
The endless and ruthless
Ticking of the clock

Do you know who
Is the true inventor of
Planned obsolescence?
God, that’s who

Who was it that ordained
That there be only
Two titties per person
To suckle the millions of
Hungry mouths
Who are being born
Into this tired
And miserly world
Every hour
Of every day?

I am tired
All of the time now
And yet
I cannot fall asleep
I have spent years
Trying to make the
Prearrangements for
My own funeral
Without success
And the price tag just
Keeps on climbing

Oh well
I guess that
Poor planning is
Better than
No planning at all

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

These Days

These days
It takes a lot of effort
To break through all of
The bullshit and all of
The claptrap
That pours out of our
TV sets and I pads and I pods
And every other
Make and model
Of electronic gizmo
Under the sun
That pollutes our
Eyes and ears and
To the point of
Total distraction

It’s a wonder
That we can still even
Think for ourselves

After having been forced
To watch more than
100 million car commercials
And having had to listen to the
Commercials of
Thousands of lawyers
And pitch men of every
Stripe and ilk
Trawling for clients
In order to sue
Every fat cat
Insurance company
For every ill advised pill
And prescribed medication
That has ever been foisted
On the allegedly
American public

And after having
Been forced
To helplessly
Stand by and watch
As the jackals of
American industry
Recently brought
The whole world’s economy
To its knees
To usher in
The great recession of
2008 to the detriment of
Millions of families the
Whole world over

It’s a wonder
That we can still
Even think for ourselves

Sometimes it’s called
Mind control or
Programming or
Brainwashing or
Coercive persuasion or
Mind abuse or
Thought control
Bottom line
It is the mass use of
Manipulative methods
To force its victims to
Conform to the
Wishes of the manipulator
To the detriment
Of the victims
Who are being

A chill runs down my spine
When I think of the
Hordes of Nazi soldiers
Marching in lock step
Goose stepping
Across the European landscape
Crushing nation after nation
Under the heels of their
Hobnail boots
Leaving nothing but
A trail of death and destruction
In their wake
I can still
Hear the shrill
Barking voices
Of Hitler and
Goebbels and
Spewing out their hatreds
Over the radios
And loudspeakers
And newspapers
In unison
In total control
Of all media outlets
It is no wonder
That things went from
Bad to worse
And the whole world
Went to hell
In a hand basket

We moderns
Are similarly
Being subjected
To an endless
Stream of propaganda
Urging us to
To spend and
To consume!
And we heed the voice
Of our masters and
We rush out to
The shopping malls and
To the internet
And we rack up
Piles and piles of debt
Becoming wage slaves
To the big banks and
Credit card companies
And before we know it
These same banks and
Credit card companies are
Foreclosing on our homes
And repossessing our cars
And we end up drowning
In a sea of red ink and

And then we try
To pick ourselves up
To start
All over again

One definition of madness
Is doing the same thing
Over and over again
And then
Expecting a different

Philadelphia, 2012