Monday, June 25, 2012

Here's To Looking At You Kid

Hey kid
I’m looking at you
(yeah you!)
and my
don’t you look fine
stretched out in
the chez lounge
alongside the pool
sunlight from the water
bouncing off your long legs
while you turn
golden tan
sun reflector
under your chin
catching the last
summer rays
before the autumn
leaves begin to fall

And to think that
I practically had to drag
you out here
that I had to bribe you and
cajole you
to get you to leave your
beloved dull old Manhattan
practically deserted now
for the last big weekend of
the summer
everyone having
beaten a hasty retreat
to get away from
the steaming pavement
and the concrete heat
desperate now for a soft
ocean breeze
before buckling down to
the serious business of
figuring out how to survive
yet another cruel winter season
in the city that never sleeps

We took turns driving
the long distance to the
very end of the
island that they call long
with the top down
and the wind
blowing in our hair

It took several hours
but we finally made it
driving past all the
little towns and hamlets
of the east end
the south shore
past the quaint
gingerbread houses and
the windmills of
Watermill and
while I pointed out
the places that I had
frequented as a boy
the Candy Kitchen
ice cream shop that
still served the world’s best
banana splits and
the next door
penny candy store
with its cornucopia
of sweet caramel
and chocolate
covered treats

Soon enough
we were pulling
into the driveway of
my summer rental
the gravel growling
under the tires
announcing our arrival
to the denizens of the trees
and hedges
as a pair of grazing rabbits
hopped to get away
the honeysuckle still
dangling on the vine
the wild huckleberries
thick and ripe for the picking
we can have them for breakfast
in the morning
with some fresh hot coffee
and some heavy cream

The early night air
is surprisingly cool
and the fresh breeze that
blows in from the nearby ocean
carries with it
the taste of seaweed and brine
I ask if you are hungry
You say yes

How do lobster tails
and champagne sound
I ask
and you just laugh

Tuna fish sandwiches
will do just fine
you say
and this time
I know that
you really mean it
the miracle that I had
dreamed about forever
has actually come to be

We are finally
going to be
alone together

We have finally
found our way home

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Day I Cracked An Old Lady's Head Wide Open

As a child of say age four or five
growing up totally unsupervised in
North Miami Beach Florida
I was allowed/ permitted
to freely roam the back streets
and back alleys of
Larchmont Gardens
(the North Miami slum that
me and my gypsy loving
so-called family
had chosen to call home
if not by choice then by default)
as if I were a feral dog or cat
and like a feral dog or cat
I was left entirely
to my own devices
to scavenge for
entertainment and
wherever and however
I could manage to find them

I became rather good at this
feral way of life
I had learned to develop
all of my keen animal instincts
I developed the cunning of
a cornered animal that
had to fight everyday for survival
while the so-called adults in my life
(the ones who were supposed to be
looking out for my health and welfare)
were usually nowhere to be found
and I never had the slightest idea
as to where they were  or
what they were actually doing
at any given time
I just presumed that
they were off working
at this menial job or that
trying to scrape together a few dollars
to pay the motel rent and
buy us kids a few cans of pork and beans
to go with a package or two of
Armour franks
so that we could have
a real sit down meal
every once in a while

those times
were few and far between
and I mostly  survived on
the charity of neighbors who
took pity on us poor city kids
from way up north who
never seemed to have enough to eat
(we were given a lot of
American cheese sandwiches
Spam was my
favorite lunch meat but
it was too expensive
for our equally poor and
hard pressed neighbors to
hand out to feed
the likes of us
(the poor white trash
kids that they said we were)

Our empty and sometimes
bloated bellies
and our shabby clothes
(not to mention the fact that
most of the time we all
had to go shoeless)
fairly shouted that we
were being totally neglected
by whoever it was that was
supposed to be taking care of us
(namely my widowed mother and
my older sister and her
always broke ass
good for nothing
miserable excuse of a husband)

As I said
most of the time
(which meant practically
all of the time)
we kids were mostly
just left to our own devices.

One bright sunny
South Florida afternoon
I was playing with
one of the neighborhood’s
many latch key kids
and we were daring each other
to see who could throw
the biggest and
heaviest rocks and stones
over this old ugly
half falling down
cinder block wall
that stood
behind the motel
that we didn’t particularly care for
since it had a great big sign that read
post no bills and
no ball playing allowed

To make a long story short
(as my silver tongued
dear old Mum used to
like to say)
After we had tossed a
good dozen stone bombs apiece
over the top of the wall
this old lady comes
running around the corner
shouting and screaming at us
and raising all kinds of cain
for having
cracked her head wide open
with the rocks that we had thrown
(not knowing that the old lady lived there)

Truth be told
neither one of us had ever been
to see what was to be found
on the other side of that
hideous beast of a wall
and it never ever dawned on us
(precocious little geniuses
that we no doubt were)
that there might be someone
who actually lived there

This poor old woman
was running after us
screaming curses
while trying to stop the bleeding
that was running down her face
it was a terrifying sight to see
and all that I could think to do
was to run away
as hard and as fast
as I could
needless to say
I was terrified and petrified
at all of the mayhem that
I had accidentally caused
(I didn’t know for certain
that it was one of my rocks that
nearly killed the old woman
I just assumed it was me
but there was no way
to know for sure
and in the final analysis
it would not have made
any difference since
we were both guilty as hell
and we both knew it!)

All the rest of that day
I hid in the bushes
hiding from every
passing police car

(I was sure that the cops
were out looking for me
and that sooner or later
 I was going to be
arrested and thrown into jail
as I so richly
deserved to be)

I had nightmares about the old lady
for weeks after the accident
and in my dreams
I’d be running as
hard and as fast as I could
to get away as I’d done
in real life
but my legs would not move
I tried to scream but
no words or sounds would
come out of my mouth
even as the bloodied old woman
continued to chase after me
screaming at me
for blocks on end

And just before she could
reach out to grab me
with her blood covered hand
I’d suddenly wake up
in a cold sweat
with my heart pounding
like a drum so hard
that I thought it would
burst right out of my chest

I don’t know what ever
became of the old lady
and I really didn’t want to know
(I was too scared and too terrified
to ever want to show my face in that
part of town ever again)

Me and my partner in crime
were never arrested
and life resumed its
usual dull pattern
over the next few weeks
as if nothing out of the ordinary
had ever even happened

And I never did tell
any of the so-called adults
who were supposed to be
looking out for me
what had actually
happened that day
and none of them
ever even bothered to ask
though the rock attack
on the old lady was
the talk of the barrio
for a good long while

After a while
the nightmares
came to an end
and my gypsy family
moved back up north
in search of richer pickings
but no matter
how much time goes by or
how much water
flows under the bridge
I will never forget
that horrendously horrifying
day that I cracked open
that poor old
Florida lady’s head

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All That And A Bag Of Chips

Yeah girlfriend
these last few months
have been a trip and a half
with me having to fight off
half a dozen complications
of the Diabetes
with multiple trips to the
various doctors
who now populate my life
like some
Greek chorus
in the Orestes trilogy
along with the prescribed
injections of insulin and
with me popping
half a dozen of additional
prescribed meds
as if they were
for various aches and pains
trying to keep my blood sugar
and blood pressure
on the down low
(not complainin’
I’m just sayin’)

Then throw in
a recent bout
with the Shingles
add some
unholy weight gain
and toss in
a couch potato lifestyle
almost a total lack of
real physical activity
and well
you get the picture
(and admittedly
it ain’t pretty)

I just checked my
blood sugar level
with my Accu Check
and it reads 310
on the Richter scale
(and that’s too high
(only one hour after lunch)

So I just gave myself
another 60 units of
(I use the new flex pen
so this is a fairly
easy task to do)

I was always grateful
to the inventor of
artificial insulin
(Romanian born
Nicolae Paulescu
rabid anti-Semite that
he may very well have been)
even before
I developed
Type 2 Diabetes
and I am doubly grateful
to him today
(as well as to
Frederick Banting and
John Macleod
who were named
co-winners of the
1923 Nobel Prize
while Paulescu’s
were denied
though he was
equally deserving)

Chalk it all up
to the inevitable
consequences of
growing older
in the sure and
certain knowledge
that we are not alone
in our sufferings and travails
(thank you
Medicaid and Medicare!
and where would we
seniors and poor folk
be without them?)

All of this preamble
is  just a prelude
to the final point
that I have been
trying to make
namely this

I have been trying
to give myself
a rare pat
on the back for
having persevered
and for having survived
all of my previously mentioned
multitudinous calamities
(yes a number of them
self-inflicted but
a fair number of them
quite beyond my control)
despite my usual
dyspeptic view of the world
(and that is saying something!)

my old familiar
expired and so
today I purchased
a brand new watch at
The Happy Jeweler
in the suburban train station

I am calling it
my graduation present
to myself!


Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do Over

If I had it all to do
All over again
(A do over
A second chance
At reliving my life
So to speak)
I would do
The whole thing
Pretty much as
I’ve already lived it
Except that this time
I would do it all
In reverse

Since the most salient
Event in our lives as
Human beings
Is the inevitability of
Our own mortality
The first major life events
That we ought to plan for
Are the two most
Final life events of all
Our own deaths and
Our own funerals
(The two most important
Life events that
Most Americans wish to avoid
Thinking about at all costs)

I doubt this suggestion
Comes as much of a revelation
To the more thoughtful
Among us
Least of all
For the undertaker profession where
Prearrangements of funerals
Has become
Big business and
One of the most important
Mainstays of the industry
(Indeed if ever there was
A recession proof industry
This is the one)

Prearranging ones own funeral
Can prove to be a
Very liberating experience
Most of all
It can provide
A degree of
Peace of mind
Knowing that one’s
Decaying carcass
Will not be a
Burden on family and
Loved ones left behind

On the contrary
I would think that the
Overwhelming feeling
Would be one of
Deep gratitude to the
Departed loved one
For having been so thoughtful

Knowing that one’s
Final internment plans
Have been settled and
Put in order
Can be a great
Source of comfort

It seems to me that
Having settled one’s
Final state of affairs that
One is then set free
To live life
In as daring a manner as
One might please

I am not sure that
I would wish to duplicate
The great Nik Wallenda’s
Recent feat of walking
A tightrope across
Niagara Falls
(And without a net!)

But I just might like
To try my hand
At landing a
Great leaping Marlin
(Just like Poppa Hemingway
Once did!)
Way down south in
The Florida Keys
(Before I am truly
Too old and too palsied
To do so!)

Care to join me?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ballin' The Jack

Spread your lovin’ arms way out in space 
You do the eagle rock with such style and grace 
You put your left foot out and then you bring it back
 That’s what I call ballin’ the jack -
 Lyrics by Danny Kaye

What’s that you say
That I’m still behind on the rent
and that my food budget
is already spent?

And  the phone company
wants to shut off my phone                                                                                                                              
and I still haven’t paid off
that friggin’ student loan?

Here’s what I should like
to be able to tell them all to do-
(Expletives Deleted!
I have to think
of my grand kids after all.
Someday one of them may
get hold of a book of my poems
and then what?)

I think
It’s high time
that I begin to
once again
relearn the fine art
of telling
off the rich and famous!

I remember
(as through a glass darkly)
how we all
used to march together
taking our protests
to the streets
(And back then there were
millions of us!)

Those were the days my friends
days of anger and
days of getting our rage on
and attempts were even
made by some
(led by Timothy Leary and
Abbie Hoffman)
to levitate the Pentagon!

And yes
we managed to
get ourselves arrested
and yes
we got our heads
beaten with batons
by the Chicago police
and others
but in the end
we were able
(all of us together!)
to put an end to war!

Let’s go back and
search through some of the
old boxes of books
where we may have stored away
in the corners of
all of our collective
basements and attics
such antiquities as
may yet be
useful to our cause

Remember the books
we used to own by
Mao and Che
Lenin and Fidel
Malcolm and Martin?

It may sound like an old chestnut
but the meaning behind their words
nonetheless still remains true:

Workers of the world unite!
We have nothing to lose
but our chains!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Happens When The Fascists Win

Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye toilers of the earth
For reason thunders new creation
`Tis a better world in birth.
Never more traditions' chains shall bind us
Arise ye toilers no more in thrall
The earth shall rise on new foundations
We are naught but we shall be all.
Then comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale
Unites the human race.
(Lyrics from The Internationale)

1936- 1939
The Spanish Civil War
The war began after a pronunciamiento
By a group of generals
Under the leadership of Jose Sanjurjo
Against the elected government of the
Second Spanish Republic
At the time under the leadership
Of President Manuel Azana
This amounted to a coup d’etat

On the right
The Spanish Confederation of the Autonomous Right
Monarchists and the
Fascist Falange
The uprising was authoritarian and
Anti-Basque and

Following the coup
Spain was left
Militarily and politically divided
Generalissimo Francisco Franco
Began a protracted
War of attrition
Against the established government
For the control of the country

The rebel forces received the support of
Nazi Germany and
The Kingdom of Italy
As well as neighboring Portugal
While the
Soviet Union and Mexico
Intervened in support of the
Republican government and
The loyalist side

American volunteers
Got into the fight by
Forming the
Abe Lincoln Brigades
To help the Spanish people
In their struggle to save their liberty

Bloody purges occurred
In territory conquered from
The republic to consolidate
Franco’s future regime
Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides
Were killed for their political or religious views
And after the war’s conclusion in 1939
Those associated with the losing Republicans
Were persecuted by the
Victorious Nationalists

The war ended with the victory
Of the Nationalists
The overthrow of the
Democratically elected government
And the exile of thousands of
Left leaning Spaniards
Many of whom
Fled to refugee camps
In Southern France with the
Establishment of dictatorship
By Generalissimo Francisco Franco

American novelist
Ernest Hemingway
Wrote a novel about his
Experiences fighting on the side of the
Republican forces titled
For Whom The Bell Tolls
He describes
How it felt for him
To lay in ambush
Waiting to kill
Franco’s fascist soldiers
While he rested on a bed of
Pine needles

He said that was
The happiest time of his life

Not to worry folks
Before this bloody century
Plays itself out
The best of us
Will all have our chance
To do the very same!

Viva la Causa!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fear And Loathing In The Age Of Obama

It doesn’t take a genius
to understand why
they hate him so
this destiny child president
who floats like a butterfly
yet who can sting like a bee
when the situation requires such

Like Ali before him
Obama is the master of the
political version of
The Rope A Dope
technique of tying up
his opponents
until they’ve spent
all of their reserves
of political strength
and then with
quick hands and
even quicker feet
he can dance all
around them
like a mythological jinn
throwing perfectly timed
punches and counterpunches
until he finishes them off
with a quick upper cut to the jaw

Make no mistake about it
In America circa 2012
Politics is a blood sport

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Self Inflicted Wounds

When I find myself
In times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom 
Let it be – 
Lyrics by the Beatles

And in my hour of deepest darkness
Mother Mary also came to me
Saying let it go until tomorrow
And let yourself go free

Half a bottle of scotch already gone
Alcohol poisoning starting to settle in
All the world covered in darkness
As the room begins to spin

When Mickey finally
Comes back to open
Our shared dorm room door
He finds me passed out
Barely breathing
On the cold living room floor

When I was once again able to
Open up my eyes
My head was hanging in the loo
And my arms were
Wrapped around the toilet’s thighs
My face several different
Shades of blue

I was vomiting green bile
By the time most of the convulsions
Finally stopped
Mickey had somehow managed
To get me out of my stinking clothes
And the floors he’d already mopped

He stood me up naked
And forced me to stand
In the cold shower rain
And then he
Threw me into my bed
And left me to my pain

I probably owe Mickey my life
But I don’t think those words
Were ever actually said
I mumbled that he’d make
Some lucky man
A pretty good wife
He just ignored me
As he placed a pillow
Under my head

When I finally came to
(Several hours later)
I hardly felt human
(More like an alligator)

It was the worst hang over
That I had ever known
And all I could do was
To hang my head and moan

That settles it then
Said Mickey
Shaking his head
And clucking his tongue
In his best pre-med
Bedside manner

You’ve been warned!
You’ve been cut off!

No more Sartre or Camus for you
He said
You low down miserable sinner!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012