Monday, February 6, 2012

Your Mama

Your mama may have
Your papa may have
But God bless the child
That’s got his own –
Billie Holiday

My mama didn’t have and
My papa didn’t have
But thank you Jesus
I may just end up
Being the child
Who ends up
Actually having something
To call his own
(Contrary to all
Previous predictions and
Contrary to all
Previous standards
And in spite
Of my epic efforts
At self sabotage)
After all is said and done
After the last shot is fired
And the fog of the battlefield
Finally begins to lift
Despite my many
Self inflicted and
Battle garnered wounds
When the final tally
Is taken
I may actually end up
Being the child who
Finally does have something
That he can call his own

All of my life
Has been a search for
Stability and security
Having been raised by a
Cadre of vagabond gypsies
Who never had
Anything in their lives that
Could in any way
Be said to even
Remotely resemble
The so-called
American dream

We lived
From pillar to post and
Hand to mouth
Always one step ahead
Of the sheriff or
The law or
The last landlord
Hounding my family
To collect
The last month’s rent
Before we had high tailed
It out of wherever it was
That we were last living
(Usually in the middle of the night
As was the custom in those
Hard scrabble days)

So more than anything else
I yearned for a place
To call home
A place
That really was a home
And not just another
Temporary shelter
Before we had to
High tail it out
To the next hovel
(Usually another in a
Seemingly never ending chain of
Broken down apartments
In some broken down
Multi-family tenement building
Where the absentee
Slum landlord
Didn’t ask too many questions
With the understanding that
He wasn’t about to be making
Any repairs or
Make any attempt to get rid
Of the vermin that were often
The only really permanent residents)

(By the time
I was ten
I was an expert on
The life cycle and feeding habits of
Every species of urban cockroach
That has ever lived in the greater
New York metropolitan area)
When finally
(By hook and by crook)
In the year of our lord 1999
I had finally managed to purchase
A fifty year old row house
In a rundown section of
Urban Philadelphia
I immediately
Felt like a king

Before you could say
Jackie Robinson
I had run out
To the nearest
Hardware store and
I purchased
A lawn sign that read
”Done Moving!”
And I proudly planted it
In plain sight in
My new front yard
And I really meant
Every single word of it!

Some ten years later
And despite multiple attempts
During the intervening years
By banks, bunko artists
Various city authorities
And a whole assortment of
Schemers and scammers and
Financial cut throats and
Predatory lenders and
Con artists
Of every ilk and stripe
I have managed to
Thus far
(Knock on wood!)
Frustrate and  foil
All of  their
Foul attempts
To foreclose
(One of the ugliest
And cruelest words in the
English language)

And despite their
Many other nefarious ruses
(And dubiously legal)
attempts to steal my house
And otherwise
Cheat me
Out my home
I have managed to
Defeat them
And I pray
That it may
Always be so

As another famous
American patriot once said
“Give me Liberty
Or give me death!”
(And as Charlton Heston
Once said
“I’ll give you my gun
When you can pry it
From my cold dead hands!”)

Hey, Wells Fargo!
Just you try and
Occupy this!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

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