Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Whole New Me

For some time now
I have been feeling
A very strong need
To reinvent myself

I need to get a whole new me

I need to go to the
Get A Whole New You Store
To see what they have to offer

It’s been a real long while
Since I shopped around for a
Whole new model of
Who I should/could be

Good afternoon sir
Welcome to the 
Get A Whole New You Store
Is there any particular model
That you were interested in seeing?
Something in a Yul Brynner perhaps? 
Or perhaps a John Wayne? 
We’re having something of a special
In our Wayne series
Perhaps I could interest you
In a slightly older version
Something in our
Rooster Cogburn line?
Or were you thinking
Of something 
More along the lines of a
Johnny Depp or of a 
Brad Pitt?
We have some lovely models in 
Depp and Pitt
Each of them still 
Very much in their
Youthful prime 

Actually I was thinking
More along the lines of
An accomplished
Alfred Hitchcock

Yes now that you mention it
I can see the resemblance
Especially in profile
Do you have much experience
As a film director?

No not really although
I do consider myself
To be something of a writer

Struggling or successful?


Do you see yourself more
As a still struggling author or
Do you see yourself as 
Having had some degree of success?


I see
Well then perhaps something
Along the lines of a
Charles Bukowski or
Edgar Allan Poe?

That’s a very wide spectrum indeed

Charles Dickens then? 

Can’t you narrow it down
A  tad more?

Kerouac and Ginsberg
Are still very popular
As are Hemingway and
F. Scott Fitzgerald or
Would you prefer
Something more 
Something more 
Early Americana
A Mark Twain or
O’ Henry perhaps? 

I feel so old and out of date
So out of step with the times

Well, sir,  fortunately
There’s no need to
Make a rash choice
Take your time
Try them all on
If you like
Time is irrelevant here at the
Get A Whole New You Store
The most important thing
Is that no matter what
Choice you ultimately make
That you leave here feeling
Comfortable in your own skin

We do however have a 
Thirty day return policy
Providing that you have 
Retained all of the original
Tags and receipts

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Radio Free America Calling

London calling!
Berlin calling!
St. Petersburg calling!
Tel Aviv calling!
USA calling!

This is the voice of
Radio Free America Calling!
From the crashing waves
Of the Pacific West Coast
From the Sierra Madre
Of the American Rocky Mountains
Across the Great Plains
Across the Great Divide
Beyond the Great Lakes
Down the Appalachian Trail
To the crashing waves of
The Eastern Seaboard
This is
Radio Free America Calling!

Make no mistake about it
Occupy America has come of age
Occupy America will rekindle
The spirit of the
Second American Revolution
We will resist
The rape and murder of our
American democracy by the
Right wing forces arrayed
Against us

Wake up America!
Come home America!
Radio Free America
Is calling you!

This is the voice of
Commandante Zero
Speaking to you from
Somewhere in the
Sierra Madre of the
Rocky Mountains
The Second American Revolution has begun!

We will inundate the enemy
With the unfettered creativity
Of our hearts and minds and souls
With our songs and poems
With our movies and novels
With our music and paintings
With a cultural revival
Such as the world
Has never before seen!

Companeros y compadres!
Foo fighters!
Militant Ninja Turtles!
Bat Man
Superman and
Green Lantern
War veterans!
Factory workers!
Farm workers!
Incredible Hulks!
Steel Mill workers
Automobile assembly line workers
White collar workers
Jedi warriors!
Knights of the Roundtable!
Now is the time to
Dust off our old battle fatigues!
Now is the time
To unfurl once again
Our banners and battle flags
In other times and
During other times of crisis
We the American people
Have been
Able to change
The course of human history before
And we can do it again!

The Second American Revolution has begun!
This is the voice of
Radio Free America Calling from
The heart of the Sierra Madre of
The American Rocky Mountains
And we are all of us
Commandante Zero!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another Opening Another Show

I really cannot stand
finding myself to be
in a constant state
of limbo

I literally feel as if
I am being
torn in half
neither fish nor fowl
neither formed nor unformed

I feel like the lumped clay
on a potter’s spinning wheel
going round and round
awaiting the creator’s
shaping hand
to turn me
into something more useful
where I can be
of some service
and less of a burden
on society
on my family
on myself

Whenever I find myself
in a state of limbo
unable to decide between
this choice or that
that decision or this
to go in this direction
or in no direction at all
to swim or walk
to walk or crawl
to speak or cry
to cry or laugh
to inhale or exhale
to shit
to piss
to fart
to get an erection
or to remain flaccid
to pay attention or
to pay no attention at all
I get totally exhausted
desperately needing to rest
yet unable to fall asleep
unable to dream
except for the
recurring nightmares
(PTSD I think they call it)

PTSD from what?

From thirty plus years as
a child welfare social worker
trying to protect
abused and neglected children
from further abuse and neglect
usually at the hands of those
who are charged with
supposedly caring for them the most
and loving them the most

From years of climbing seemingly
endless flights of tenement stairs
searching for abandoned infants
in the most dangerous of crack houses
in the most dangerous city neighborhoods
usually located in the most
dangerous of urban slums
oftentimes going to places
where even the armed and uniformed
police and firefighters feared to go

I have another
twenty five weeks
of time to serve
on my current job
before I am paroled and
I am once again able to return
to something that more or less
resembles civilian life

Perhaps then
I will no longer be
in a state of limbo

Perhaps then
all the years of stored up
anger and frustration
of rage and confusion
of fear and anxiety
of both physical and psychic pain
will finally get resolved
and I will finally
have the chance
to feel like a normal human being
once again

Only twenty five more weeks to go

I’ll be lucky
if I can make it through
another ten

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not Alone

I know I am
Not the only one
Forced to take a
Vacation day
Off from work
Just in order
To be able to
Catch up on
Regular house chores
That I have long neglected
(I am famous for
My penchant for
It’s kind of a gift)

But this time
I was really behind
The eight ball

My front lawn
Had started to resemble
Jurassic Park
So overgrown were
The weeds and crab grass

My irises had already bloomed
(And they were magnificent!)
But by now their stems were
Broken and their flowers
Were all withered

I have a rogue
Boysenberry tree
(If there is such a thing)
And the berries are
All over the place
Being crushed by
Passersby and attracting
All sorts of crushed berry loving

The apple tree
In front of my front door
(Bad idea to plant trees
Right in front of your front door)
Now reaches
The roof of the house
(To the delight of a whole
Family of squirrels who
Get to take a first bite out
Of every apple before leaving
The now spoiled fruit to rot
On the ground)

Everything needed
Trimming and cutting back
And I was the only one who
Could do it
(I once hired help and they
Proceeded to hack my prized
Plants to pieces)

It took me the better
Part of the day to
Get most of the chores done
By that time
I was spent

I haven’t done that much
Hard physical work
Since the last time I had
To do hard physical work
And that was quite some time ago

When I was done
I surveyed my handiwork
With some sense
Of rudimentary satisfaction

At least the plot looked like
Someone had taken the time
To tidy things up a bit
So the old Markowitz place
Was not an abandoned
Lot after all
The old coot
(That would be me)
Must still be living there

I put my garden tools away
And I hauled my aching body
Upstairs for a nice hot shower
I took some Advil
(Along with a fist full
Of other prescribed medications
That I must now
Ingest on a daily basis)

I watched some TV
And then turned in
For an early night
(I still had to get up early
Next day to finish out
My real job work week)
Another twenty four weeks
Or so of this routine
And I will be officially retired
From the US labor force

Just the other day
I officially filed
(Via the internet)
For my Social Security benefits
The Boomer generation
Has had its day in the sun

I have very mixed feelings
About this whole
Retirement business
I have managed put the
Day of reckoning off
For as long as I could

Like the late great comedian
Woody Allen once said
(I know he ain’t dead yet!)
“It’s not that I am afraid of dying
It’s just that I don’t want to be there
When it happens”

One way or another
I know that retirement and death
(Though not necessarily
In that order)
Will one day catch up with me

But like Woody Allen
I’d just rather not be there
When they do

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012


I recently looked you up on
(Morbid curiosity?)
Looking for any new insights
Into your soul
That I might be able to
Garner from
Sifting through the debris of
Your wall postings and
Any other clues
That you may have
Allowed past the check points of
Your inner censor
(You pretend to be all revealing
Yet I know from experience
Just how guarded your many
Secrets are)

Apart from the usual and
More or less expected ravages of time
I must say
You look remarkably the same
(Hair dyed jet black
(Of course-
(No grey roots showing for you!)
 A few pounds heavier perhaps
(But then again
Who am I to talk?)
All in all
As I said
Very little about you appears
To have changed

You post your most recent
Attempts at creating works of art
(I call them glorified finger paintings)
You list your most
Recent achievements and awards
(Congrats but does anyone really care?)

And of course
There is no mention of us!
No hint of the us
That used to be!

And then a familiar feeling hits me
As if I need to suddenly gasp for breath
That old familiar feeling
That would suddenly sneak up on me
Whenever I had to spend
More than five minutes
In your exalted presence
The feeling that all the air
In the room had suddenly been
Sucked out of the window

You always did consume
All of the available air
Leaving none for anyone else
Everything had to be about you!
As if the entire universe
Revolved around you and
Your inflated opinion of yourself
You always had to be
The center of attention
The brightest star in the
Firmament of your own creation!

I understand it better now
Why our relationship foundered
And why it took me
All these years
 To finally figure it out!

You think that you are
The second coming of
Lucille Ball!
The zany TV show red head of
I Love Lucy fame!

Like you
Lucy also thought
That the whole world
Revolved around her!

And me?
I was supposed to be your
Desi Arnaz!
The foolish foil for any
Bizarre scheme or idea
That might enter your head

You sure ain’t no Lucille Ball and
I sure ain’t no Desi Arnaz!

Considering all of the
Collateral damage
That we caused
I think that both of us
May have a lot of
‘splain’ in’ to do!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Morning Becomes Electra

Shun Lee was the preeminent
Bully of the neighborhood
And he ruled his empire
With an iron fist

He most enjoyed
Catching his prey unawares
The younger and more vulnerable
The better

It was only a matter of time
Before Shun Lee
Managed to catch up with me

I was walking in the project
With my good friend Saul
We were probably heading for
The hand ball courts before
We encountered the warlord
And a few of his henchmen

Seems like we caught ourselves
A couple of fish
This morning boys
He said to his entourage
Who all looked as though
They were only too eager
To spill some blood

My courage drained out of my body
Along with whatever reserves
Of strength that I might have been
Able to muster
I was in full
Fight or flight reactive mode
With the flight side winning
By a considerable margin

Saul on the other hand
Loved a good brawl
And truth be told
Saul was as strong as a bull
He loved to work out
With barbells
And he had the
Bulging biceps
To testify to his prowess

Ready when you are
Saul said to Shun Lee
Staring the wanna-be gangster
Right in the eye

Uh, not really, Saul
I stammered
(My yellow streak
Showing a mile wide)
What say we all
Just call it a day
And agree to go
Our separate ways?

But neither Saul nor Shun Lee
Was in a compromising mood
Before you could say
Jackie Robinson
Fists and belts were flying
And bodies were tumbling
In every direction

With all of the confusion
It was hard to tell
Just who was hitting whom

I was watching the brawl
From a safe distance
Across the street

I had managed to sneak away
While Shun Lee and his boys
Were concentrating on beating
The daylights out of Saul

Paralyzed by my fear
I could neither run away
Nor summon up enough courage
To come to the aid of my friend
(If he was still my friend after all of this)

When Shun Lee et al
Had spent their fury and anger
On poor Saul
They withdrew from the battlefield
No doubt in search of
More easy prey

Saul picked himself up
And brushed himself off

Cut and bleeding
His face now sported
Black eyes and purple blotches
He looked like he’d been
Run over by a truck

Where the hell were you
He asked accusingly
Wiping the blood from his nose
With his shredded shirt sleeve
I could have used a little help

You should have known better
Than to mix it up with Shun Lee
I told him
(Though I was thoroughly ashamed
Of my cowardice in the face of the enemy)
You’re lucky they didn’t kill you!

Screw Shun Lee!
Said Saul
Spitting out some of the blood
From the cut lip
He’d received in the scuffle
Screw the lot of them!

What should we do now
I asked him
I was feeling smaller and smaller
With each passing minute

We came to play handball didn’t we?
That was the plan I replied
You still game?
I am if you are I said
So let’s go and play
Some fucking handball then!

Lead on MacDuff I said
And damned be the man
Who cries
Hold! Enough!

Are you mocking me?
He asked
Heck no I said
That’s just my way
Of singing your praises!

I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none-
Macbeth, Scene VII, the castle

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Back In The Day

Back in the day
It was sheer pandemonium
Those few
Deliciously delirious
Years at Hamilton

Back then
Hamilton was a monastery
An all male study environment
With no female distractions
(What were they/we thinking?)

We were
(and many of us still are)
The original no where men
Going no where
With no where in particular
To go
Save for Vietnam
And that was not
Any kind of an acceptable
Option for the majority of us
(There may have been a few
Who confused patriotism with
Compliance with the Draft
But they were a distinct minority)

The winter snows
came early and often
Blizzard conditions
prevailed for ten months
of the academic year
Nam wasn’t the only country
with body counts
While our front line troops
were numbing themselves with
cheap Asian drugs from
heroin to morphine
Americans were numbing themselves
with an entire pharmacy of
uppers and downers

The troops in Nam
had access to the best
selection of prostitutes
throughout the war zones
of southeast Asia
never mind that half of them
carried exotic STD’s or that
the other half served as
VC combatants
the boys on the Hill
had access to the local
high school girls
(we called them townies)
and we partied and drank and
did drugs of all sorts
night and day
all the week long
and especially on
house party weekends
and in between
we went to class
and studied for exams
and wrote term papers
when there wasn’t anything
better to do

We wanted to numb ourselves
from the hurt and pain of
the real world that
we all knew would grab us
sooner or later
by the scruff of our necks
no matter how hard we
tried to postpone the inevitable
and then we would be no different
from our parents
slaves to the work week and
to the bi-weekly or monthly paycheck
trying to climb up mortgage hill
in fevered pursuit
of  the so-called
American dream

We watched on TV
as wave after wave
of B-52s dropped
ton after ton of
deadly ordinance
on the thatched roof hooches
of Vietnamese peasants
who had no idea
when the daily hellish
existence of their lives would
finally come to an end

The anti-personnel weapons
the napalm
the unrestricted use of
Agent orange to defoliate
the Vietnam rain forests
all took their toll
and we who watched via TV
felt helpless
to stop the killing
(although some of us
to our everlasting credit
did try to protest -
even if we knew
how futile such
protests had become)

The war machine
raged on and on
lives like a deranged
monster on some bad
LSD trip

Back home
Safely tucked away
in our mountaintop monastery
We privileged college men
would roll some more joints
and play our Beatle records
and make love
over and over again
With the willing and eager townies
And we could keep on doing
these things until the cows came home
but none of it really mattered
None of it could kill the pain
of knowing that we were guilty
As Americans
of perpetrating
an illegal and immoral war
all in the name of
showing the commies
that we really meant business

We boomers had been born
into the most brutal and
bloodiest century
of them all
and all the king’s horses
and all the king’s men
would never in a million years
ever be able to put
our generation of lost
humpty dumptys
back together again

Not for all the tea in china
Not for all the oil in the middle east

Roll over Beethoven and
make room for the
rhythm and blues!-
Chuck Berry

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Raging Bulls

We were just a couple of
Neighborhood kids
Me and Saul
Like two throwaway
Pairs of sneakers or
Discarded baggage
Too heavy and too costly
For our impoverished families
To take real notice
Of anything that we did or
Didn’t do

Like the time we found
Ourselves with a lot of time
On our hands
One hot summer afternoon
Bored out of our minds
Without two nickels
To rub together between us

In the Gravesend Bay area
Where we lived
Large barges were often parked
Tied up to pier moorings
That ran the entire length of
Gravesend Park
Where we kids would
Get together for
Pick up games of
Stick ball and basketball

On this particular afternoon
Saul suggested that we
Take a little cruise

What are you talking about?
If you think I’m going
To go along with
Stealing another car
You can think again
That last gambit you pulled
Nearly ended our careers
Before we ever even got started

I didn’t steal the damn thing
He protested
I merely borrowed it
From my cousin Vinny
(In our hood
Everyone had a cousin Vinny)
He said that I could drive it
Whenever I wanted

Yeah, that’s a good one
I countered
Even the judge got a good laugh
Out of that one

Forget you!
You talk and act
Like a little girl
Why don’t you grow a pair
And try them on for size for once?

Okay hot shot
What do you have in mind?

Saul jumped to his feet
Just follow me he said
Taking off for the place
Where several empty
City garbage scows were
Tied up to the pier

Before I knew it
Saul had vaulted the fence
He looked back at me
Smiling that crooked
Half crazed smile of his
Before jumping into the barge
That was the object of his affection

I hesitated at first
Then quickly followed suit

Throw off the lines
Yelled Saul
Sounding like a veteran sailor
Aye, aye captain
(Might as well have fun with it
I thought
Besides what was the worst
That could happen?)

We grabbed some seats
And let the tide take us
Wherever it wanted

Some hours later
We had to be rescued
By Coast Guard helicopter
Before we sailed
Half-way to England

We were escorted
Back to Gravesend Park
In grand style

It had all been
An innocent mistake
Your Honor
Don’t you know

Just a couple of slum kids
On a hot summer afternoon
With nothing much to do

(We even made the six o’clock news!)

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Once Upon A Time In Brooklyn

Once upon a time
In a borough called Brooklyn
I was a young man
Who was about to turn thirteen
(Thirteen being that magical
Mystical age when
Jewish boys are
Magically and mysteriously
Turned into
Jewish men via being
Bar mitzvahed -
Usually a synagogue based
Ceremony of
Incantations and blessings
On the Torah)

I was studying
Night and day
With varying degrees of success
Trying to learn how to chant
My allotted torah portion and
The series of blessing that are
Recited both before and after
One is called to the bima to
Read from the Torah

I was young and beautiful
And time held me
Green and dying
Like the poet
Dylan Thomas said
Though I too
Sang in my chains
Like the sea

On this particular
November afternoon
My usual study routine was
Interrupted by
A gentle tap
Tap tapping at
My front door

I wasn’t very happy about it
Because I really didn’t
Want to be disturbed

I opened the door

Standing in front of me
Was Miss Mina D.
One of the
Neighborhood floozies that
I had mistakenly
Taken to the movies
Once or twice
In search of what
Then passed for
Adolescent sex
(Heavy petting
It was called –
I will spare you
The gory details)

Though we had managed
To fondle each other and
Kiss a few times
During the obligatory
Make out scenes
(Usually when
Tuesday Weld
Was also kissing
Frankie Avalon
On screen)
I was more concerned
With not spilling my
Soda pop and
Sack of hot buttered popcorn
All over my one
Good pair of corduroy pants

Miss Mina D. had
Mistaken this traditional
Teenage rite of passage
To mean that
She and I were now
Some kind of hot item
Which evidently gave
Her the right
To come to my
3rd floor walk up
(The urine smelling elevator
Was almost always broken)
And at any time that
She got it into her head
To do so

You know Mina
I said to her
Just because
You and I
Finger fucked a few times
In the balcony of the
Mermaid theatre
During Beach Blanket Bingo
Doesn’t give you the right
To hassle me at home
When I have important stuff
That I have to get done

Oh yeah
She said
Ignoring my every word
As she pushed past me
Heading straight
For my bedroom
While brushing
Her ample body
Hard against me
As she cracked her
Bazooka bubble gum
In my face

We’ll just see about that!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pussy Is The Black Hole Of The Universe

Pussy is the black hole
at the center of the universe
Pussy is the black hole
at the center of every
pinwheel galaxy

Penis is the great inertia
at the very fringes of the cosmos
Penis lives where there is
no sunlight
Penis lives in the
furthermost frozen recesses of
deepest space

Penis can neither rise nor fall
Penis can neither inflate nor deflate
This is what is meant by

Penis cannot overcome
the power of pussy
pussy power is all powerful
pussy power is all controlling
pussy power is all conniving

Penis is powerless
when confronted with the
overwhelming power of pussy
the surrender of penis is total
the surrender of penis is abject
the surrender of penis is humiliating

Penis cannot initiate
penis cannot engage
penis cannot engorge
penis cannot erect

Pussy is lifeless and motionless
pussy is listless and unresponsive
pussy is without rhyme or reason
pussy is without time or season

penis is a vestige of spent power
penis is persona non grata
penis has no passport
penis cannot travel
penis has been refused entry
penis has no port of call
penis has no friends or relations

pussy is an orphan
pussy has no credit
pussy must call collect
pussy has no mail box
pussy has no address
pussy just wants to be left alone

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012