Monday, July 30, 2012

We Were All Supposed To Be Friends

We were all
Supposed to be
The best of friends
Just one big
Happy family
The Markfields and the Weinsteins
Chums
Pals
Next door neighbors
And we were
(At least
For a bit)

Our fathers
(Mr. Bernard Weinstein
And my foster father/brother
Irwin Markfield)
Were business partners
And distant cousins by marriage
And together they built
a thriving CPA business

We even lived in
Identical ranch houses
With very large
Living room windows
(Known as
Picture windows
At the time)
And
All of us were
Jews and
Pioneers

Pioneers because
We were among
The first Jewish families
To colonize the
East End of Long Island
(Prior to that
(The East Enders of that era,
The old money types,
Were mortified that a flood
Of new money types from
You know where,
Were going to flood
This last citadel of
New England blue bloods
And turn the whole place into
Coney Hampton!)

Well the blue bloods were right!
What’s the world coming to
When the likes of us
Could show up
To (gasp!) shop on main street
And to (gasp!) buy homes that were
Formerly owned by
WASP’s only
(Thereby contaminating their
Lily white world)
They may not
Have put on white sheets with
Pointy hats to burn crosses on
Our front lawns
But I do distinctly remember
The No Coney Hampton signs
And the no Jews allowed
Restricted policies of the
Private country clubs
But I digress

I spent as much time
Playing and eating at
The Weinstein’s house
As I did at my own
We kids played
Ping Pong
Badmitton
Lawn croquet
Baseball
Football
Chess
Checkers
Chinese checkers
And especially
Monopoly!

(The board game of
Monopoly
Was a blood sport
The way we played it!)

And Mrs. Weinstein
Always put out
Plenty of treats
For us kids to eat
(Just something
To nosh on
As she would say)
(More treats than we
Ever had at home
Where extra helpings of
Sweets were always taboo)
(And they weren’t
Just any sweets
They were the Jewish kind
With sesame and halvah
And marzipan
And dried fruits
 Of all kinds)

However this idyllic
State of affairs
Was not destined to last
When the two senior
Partners in the firm
Had a falling out over
Who knows what
(We kids were never told
The reasons why
We were all supposed
To be kissin cousins one day
And the Hatfield’s
And the McCoy’s the next!).

I miss those early times
I miss the easy camaraderie
The proximity of good friends
The sharing of intimacies

The discoveries of adolescence
The silly crushes and feuds
The whispered secrets
The promises to be
Best buds forever

The senior partners
Never did reconcile
And alas
Neither did we
With the passage
Of enough time
We all eventually
Grew up
And we all went
Our separate ways

And the big
Weeping Willow
Tree that had stood for decades
In our backyard  is gone as well

That was
The big Weeping Willow
Where I carved
My initials and a big heart
With the initials of the
Weinstein’s oldest daughter
Elaine

Sure it hurts to remember
These things
And it does make me sad
That things turned out
The way that they did

Whenever I drive by
The old homestead these days
I can still hear the shouts
Of children playing
Badmitton
And ping pong
Lawn croquet
Baseball
And
Two hand touch
Football

Sadly
We’ve all just become
Merely ghostly shadows of
Our former selves

One of these days
I’m going to get
Out of my car
And knock on the
Weinstein’s front door

Hello Mrs. Weinstein
Do you think
It would be okay
If Elaine
Could come out
To play?

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012


l




Thursday, July 26, 2012

When To Start Worrying


Scientists tell us that
our sun will burn
itself out
three billion years
from now
give or take

When should
we begin
to start
to worry?

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blank Paper


Blank paper
Is like an unused
Ski slope
At some
Pocono resort
As it is being covered
With a new coating of
Freshly minted powder

Blank paper is
Virginal
It is as pure
As the driven snow
It is without blemish
It is virtuous
It is without sin
It is a symbol of
All that is good
It is full of valor
It is clean
It is noble
It is untrammeled
Undefiled
Unspoiled
Lacking in
Evil intention
It is funky
It is seductive
It is inviting
It is a tabla rasa

Blank paper is like
A new beginning
It is a fresh start
It is a second chance
It is a chance
For redemption
For new hope
For rebirth
For reincarnation
For a new explanation
For an opportunity to
Rectify past mistakes

Blank paper
Is an opportunity for
Reconciliation
For healing
For counseling
For therapy

Blank paper
Offers a way out of
Darkness and despair
It offers a chance
For salvation
For eternal life

Blank paper
Is an opportunity for
Inspiration
For creativity
For respite
For sanctuary
For restoration of the
Mind
Body and
Soul
For renewal

Blank paper
Does not talk back
Does not create
Or ferment
Dissention or
Mutiny
It does not
Back stab or
Double cross
It does not act
Deceitfully
It does not dissemble or
Equivocate
There is no
Pretense
No ego
No false posturing

Blank paper
Provides wiggle room
And room to maneuver
One last chance to
Score the game winning goal
It is an opportunity to
Try something new
To think outside the box

Blank paper
Is a sacred trust
An oath
The opportunity to
Do no harm
It is a freshly planted
Bed of roses

Blank paper
Is like a
Philadelphia cheese steak hoagie
With all the trimmings!

Battle stations!
Batter up!
All hands on deck!
Batten down the hatches!
Damn the torpedoes!
Full steam ahead!

The main course is
About to be served!

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monsieur Hamlin And Moi


Frank Hamlin
was my old French prof
the professor whom
I admired the most

We would often
walk together
side by side
either on the way to class
or afterwards
on the way
back home

He was my mentor
my teacher
my guiding light
my Rock of Gibraltar
at a time
when it seemed and felt
as if the whole world
was coming undone

He walked with a limp
either from birth or
because of advancing old age
though he never
seemed old to me
Rather, he seemed to be timeless
like father time himself
a permanent fixture of
the college environment
as indigenous as the ivy
on the dolomite dormitory walls

And as we walked
we would talk

We spoke about poetry
(French of course)
Baseball
and about philosophy and
about life in general
with a capital L

He was the father of five girls
who all loved and adored him
His wife was
an expat from Algeria
known in those days as a
Pied Noir
a pejorative term
for expats from
French Algeria
who were forced to
leave the country
of their birth
after Algeria
was granted independence
after a long
bloody and drawn out
civil war
that nearly tore
both countries apart

They first met in Paris
when Frank was
attending post grad studies
at the Sorbonne
and they were soon married

Frank had a missionary’s zeal
when it came to
the welfare of his students
He believed that the world
needed
required
well educated
men and women
if freedom and
democracy
were to survive and
flourish

He was determined
that I not waste
the opportunity
that I had been granted
to receive a top flight
Hamilton College education

I was expected to be a
Hamilton gentleman
in every sense of the word
clean in mind
body and
spirit

Though I was born a Jew
(and proud of it!)
Frank never tired
of discussing the
virtues of
Christianity
(the New England Protestant
brand of course!)
as we discussed
the various French writers
who espoused
the Christian
(mostly Catholic)
world view:
Paul Claudel
George Bernanos
Francois Mauriac
Julien Green
Blaise Pascal
Andre Malraux

Then one day
(as I neared graduation
and hence
the inevitable parting
of ways)
at the end of one of these
particularly memorable
marathon walking lectures
Frank turned to me and said:

And always remember Jacques
(my name in French)
Life is short
and the last act
is always 
bloody!

He continued:
Base your life
on Religion
Jacques
he said
“n’import
 quel religion!”

And as we
parted company
for what may
well have been
the very last time
I waved to him
as he waved back
from his front porch
before wiping his feet
on the well worn
welcome mat
before entering his home
and accepting
the warm embrace
of his wife of forty years

And in the distance
came the peeling
of church bells
calling the faithful
to evening prayers
while the scent
of burning
autumn leaves
hung heavily
in the still
night air

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012


Monday, July 23, 2012

Dali And Me


“Ye parent goods! Who rule the fate of Troy
Still dwells the Dardan spirit in the boy
When minds, like these, in striplings thus ye raise,
Yours in the godlike act, be yours the praise.”
Lord Byron

I was a young
whippersnapper
age twenty
clean shaven
sans barbe
when I first met
the eminent
surreal artist
Salvador Dali

At the time
I was working
as a retail
bookstore clerk
(my first paying job
after college graduation)
and my first real exposure
to the mundane
work a day world
of the petit bourgeoisie

I was on fire
with ambition
eager to make my way
as a writer of fiction
in hot pursuit of the
honors and accolades
that were then
being lavishly accorded
to the great literary names
of the time
Saul Bellow
Bernard Malamud
Phillip Roth
Norman Mailer
Mario Puzo
just to name a few

I was convinced
(as all young men are)
that my literary
success was inevitable
and my head was constantly
spinning out characters
and plots
and story lines
for books that I had
yet to write

So preoccupied was I
with my book store chores
that I never heard
him approach
as he literally
snuck up behind me

The first thing that
caught my eye
(as I knelt to replace
books that were missing
on the lowest shelf
of the coffee table book
display rack)
was his gold tipped
walking cane
To the uninformed observer
it may well have
looked as if I might be
kneeling in obeisance
and respect to a member                                                                      
of the royal family or to
some high stationed
member of parliament

Startled out of my reverie
I spun around quickly
to find myself
staring up into the
world’s most famous
and fantastically outsized
and most heavily waxed
handle bar mustache
in the entire galaxy
(A mustache
that just happened to be
the great
unmistakable trademark
of the world’s
most preeminent
surreal artist
non other than
the one and the only
the eternally irreprepressible and
charismatically irresistible
Salvador Dali!)
(Born Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech
May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989)

Needless to say
I was utterly
flabergasted and amazed
thrilled and discombobulated
all at the same time!
Nonplussed
Dali looked down at me
and stared directly
into my saucer sized eyes
He then proceded to ask me a
simple and direct question:
Avez-vous
les Colonnes de Troi?
he asked
targeting me with
the twin spikes
of his infamous
waxed mustache

Les Colonnes de quoi?
I stammered
trying to catch my breath
while wrestling with the historic
significance of the moment
utterly astonished to be
having such a conversation at all
let alone with the great
Salvador Dali himself!

The Columns of Troy!
he repeated calmly
quite accustomed to seeing
people become
utterly unglued
in his presence
(the price of celebrity
one must suppose)                                        

Dali was referring to
a coffee table sized book
containing photos of
the legendary columns
that allegedly adorned the
Trojan Temple of Apollo
before the temple’s destruction
during the Trojan War
(as immortalized by
the Greek poet Homer
in his Iliad masterpiece)
(The beautifully
symmetrical columns
were supposed to have been
quarried and polished
without the aid of iron tools
at an unknown date
before 1200 B.C.)

Why Dali made such a request
I had not the foggiest idea
And yet that brief encounter
with such undisputed greatness
has left an
indelible impression on me
one that has endured
all these many years later
and will
no doubt
remain with me
until my dying day
(For time has held me
green and dying
though I sing
in my chains
like the sea-
D. Thomas)

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012






Monday, July 16, 2012

Rapa Nui Syndrome


Rapa Nui
Also known as
Easter Island
Is claimed to be
The most remote
Inhabited island
In the world
It is the home of
The Bird Man Cult and of
The giant sized
Man made sculptures
Known as
The Moai

Rapa Nui has been
Continuously occupied
By the Rapa Nuians
Since the earliest days
Of human history
(They rowed over
In their dug out canoes
From Chile
And they have since
Been officially
Annexed by Chile in 1888)
Rapa Nui is located
At the southeastern most point of
The Polynesian Triangle

Rapa Nui is most
Famous for its 887
Monumental statues
Called Moai
Representations of
The Ancient Ancestors
Thought to bring the
Islanders
Good luck and
Good fortune
If they were properly built
And were found to be
Pleasing to the
Polynesian gods
Though today
Rapa Nui has been declared
A World Heritage Site by
UNESCO
With much of the island protected
Within Rapa Nui National Park
In modern times
Rapa Nui
Has come to serve as a
Warning
Of the cultural and
Environmental
Dangers of
Overexploitation
Of the natural environment

In order to move the Moai
From the stone quarry
To the coast line
The Rapa Nuians
Chopped down
Every palm tree
On the island
(All 8 million of them!)
Thereby creating a
Colossal
Environmental catastrophe

Without the palm trees
The natives could not
Build their out rigger canoes
To go fishing
In the deep waters
Where the big fish swam
The island could no longer
Sustain the population
And the starving people
Turned to cannibalism

In a fit of rage and rebellion
The Rap Nuians
Overturned the now hated Moai
As symbols of the failed
Religious cult of ancestor worship

It does not require a
Great leap of imagination
To understand
That all of us humans
Who today share
The limited resources
Of this
Tiny blue green
Island world called
Planet Earth
Had better learn
The same lessons that the
Rapa Nuians
Had to learn the hard way
Before it is too late
For us all!
We are all
Rapa Nuians now!

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mac And Me


So as I was sayin to my 
Good old buddy Mac
Just the other day
The main reason
That things are still
Mostly the same
Is that
It just beez that way
Sometimes
How do you mean?
Well like I was sayin
Back in the day
How far back are we talkin?
Back before Moses wore shorts
Okay?
That far back?
At least
If things could’ve been different
Then they would’ve been
But bein that they couldn’t
They wasn’t
You get my drift?
I think I do
What I’m tryin to say is
No matter how you cut it
The Man has it fixed
So that the more things change
The more things stay the same
You dig?
You mean to say that
the more things change
the more things stay
the same ol’
same ol’?
Now you feelin me Cuz!
So why you be
Pullin on my shirt
about all this now?
Because you still
Owe me fifteen bucks
Since last month
Dog
And I still ain’t seen
None of it
No how!

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012





Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Hand Clappin


Well I've got a friend
Way over town
Who’s no good to me oh yeah
I say I got a so-called friend
Way over town
Who’s no good to me oh yeah
He don’t give me money
When I’m in need
Yeah he’s the kind of friend
That I really don’t need

He writes his poems
Early in the mornin
So no one else can see oh yeah
I say he writes his poems
Early in the mornin
So no one else can see
He can write them poems so hard
Or he can write them  tenderly

(Sax Solo)

He reads my poems
That I send to him
Both day and night
He never grumbles
Or fusses
But he never tweets me right
Matter of fact
He never says nothin at all
And I say that just ain’t right

He’s like the sound of
One hand clappin
And you know
That drives me crazy
He’s like the sound of
One hand clappin
But that don’t mean he’s lazy

He just don’t waste no time
With no small talk or cryin
But he won’t even share
A glass of wine
Unless I say I’m buyin
He’s no good for me
So why do I keep on tryin?

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hitting The Wall


Not wanting to admit
to yourself that your marriage
of umpteen years
has reached a dead end
and that the woman
who you once thought was
the love of your life
can now no longer
bear the sight of you
is called
Hitting the wall

Not wanting to admit
to yourself that you have
reached retirement age and
that your working career
for all intents and purposes
is over
and that at your current age
you will
never again hold a
job that is worthy of
your talents or one
that will
compensate you
with enough income
to actually pay for
your living expenses
is called
Hitting the wall

Receiving a diagnosis informing you
that you have a chronic medical condition
that has no cure
forcing you to become a
pin cushion and
push- me pull-me toy
of the jaded and corrupt
so-called health care/
medical provider system
is called
Hitting the wall


Having to suffer the final
indignity of ending up
all alone
in a nursing home
(and that is if you are lucky
enough to find one that
will accept you)
and knowing that
you have begun
the final chapter in your life

Having to make all of
the pre-arrangements
for your own funeral
because you have
no significant other
who can be trusted enough
or who can be bothered enough
to do this for you

Having to watch helplessly as
your circle of friends
(and blood relatives)
becomes smaller
and smaller
with  each untimely death

Having to purchase
an electronic monitoring device
to summon aid
in case you fall and
can’t get up
because you live alone and
there is no one else around to
hear your cries for help

Having to decide between
buying food to eat or
paying for your medications
or having to pay for the rent

Having to give up
so many of the things
that you once loved to do
because you are no longer
physically able or
mentally capable
of doing them

All of these things
(and the list is far
from complete)
whether suffered
separately or
in combination
add up to
the existential phenomenon
known as
Hitting the wall

Which kind of
helps to explain
(in a perverse way)
why NASCAR
has become
America’s
number one
fastest growing
spectator sport!

jhmarkowitz
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
Unceremoniously
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!


jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Like A Pebble In My Shoe


I have a trumpet at home
That I call lulu bell
I’ve been a trumpet player
Ever since junior high school
And I am very proud
To say so

I love the voice that
Playing the trumpet
Gives to me
I like the high shrill notes
Like taking the loop
At the top
Of the rollercoaster
And I like to go fishing
For the low bass notes
That hide in the
Dark waters
Of the musical scale
(Bottom fishing
As I like to call it)
I play more than
One instrument
And I am always
Eager to pick up
Something new
That I never tried before

I have a hunger
For the bow fiddle
Blue grass style
New Orleans style
(Are You Washed
In the Blood of the Lamb?)

When I first got divorced
One of the first things my ex did
Was to sell my trumpet
(Along with my golf clubs
And anything else of mine
That she could lay her hands on)

What she did has always
Stuck in my craw
And it has always
Bothered me
(Even now
All these years later
Like a pebble in my shoe)

But I am older and
Hopefully wiser now
(What’s that they say
Once bitten twice shy?)
I can sure vouch for that

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

How To Win By Default


After one’s planned
Life trajectory
Has been thrown
All out of kilter
By circumstances
Entirely out of
One’s control
What is one to do?

How does one
Go about
Regaining some
Semblance of
Control over
One’s own destiny?
(Assuming that
We all do have
Some kind of
Planned destiny
To begin with)

Looking back
(With all of
The benefit
Of hindsight)
I should say
That it was
My planned destiny
To follow in the
Footsteps of
My seventh
Eighth and ninth grade
French teachers
To become
In the fullness of time
A junior high school
Teacher of French
In my own right
(Bonjour la classe
My name is
Monsieur Millet
Mademoiselle Fitzpatrick
Monsieur Martin
Monsieur Hamlin
Monsieur Moraud
My French teachers and mentors
From grades six through
College senior year
Not to mention
A one year stint
At the
University of Paris
And the legendary
And deservedly famous
Sorbonne)

But no!
T’was not meant to be!
Try as I might
To crash the doors of
Academia
One obstacle after another
Appeared to
Dash my ambitions

Not one to cry
In my milk
I looked elsewhere
For job options
That ultimately
Took me down a
Very different
(And totally unexpected)
Path to fame and fortune

I had found a way
To win by default

Speaking of
Winning by default
About a year ago
I was down south
Visiting some of
my relatives
Two grandsons
Down south in
CharlotteNorth Carolina
My relations
 Thought it would be nice
To spend a sunny late summer
Afternoon at what passed
For the local zoo

The place was privately run
(And truth be told
It did not seem to be as
Well kept up as
One might hope and expect
It to be
In fact it all seemed
To be a bit seedy to me)

For the most part
The wide variety of animals
(Including one very
affectionate giraffe!)
Did seem to be properly cared for
Until we came to the
Monkey cage
That looked more or less
Like a POW camp
For primates

The cage held
Only one occupant
A rather old
Mangy looking
Chimpanzee

He was too far from the walkway
For visitors to interact with him
(Deliberately so?)
And my heart immediately
Went out to him
So lonely and miserable
Did he appear to be

Visitors were not allowed to feed him
All that we could do
Was to stare back at each other
Across the no man’s land
That had been created
To keep people away
(For his protection or ours?) 

He did not appear to be dangerous
But there was a great sadness and
Desperation in his eyes
That just broke my heart to see

We watched him watching us
As he paced back and forth
And back and forth
And back and forth
In his caged compound
Like a condemned prisoner
Serving out his sentence

I found the scene
To be depressing
And I was glad
As we began to move along
When suddenly
The chimp began to scream
As if begging us not leave him

We stopped and turned around
As the monkey
Threw himself on the ground
And began caressing the grass
As he might do if he were
Clinging to his mother’s breast
And perhaps in his mind he was

He was trying to duplicate
The hugging contact that all
Chimps in the wild need and crave

All he wanted
Was to be held and hugged
Much as we humans all crave
To be hugged and touched
And I would have
Liked to have been able
To give him a hug
(If only I could)

Best we be heading on home
Said my cousin
Pulling her two boys by their arms
How about some hot dogs and
Hamburgers for dinner?
She said knowing the boys would
Be appreciative

I looked back at the chimp
As we all piled back
Into the minivan
for the trip back home

Poor chimp I thought to myself
I guess that hugging
The ground like he did
Was the best that he could do
Given the circumstances he was in

I guess it was his way of coping
With a bad situation
I guess it was his way of
Winning by default

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012




Big Time Pissed Off


So I take it that
(After all
Of these long years)
That Delores is still
Pissed off at me
Big-time
(I really can’t
Imagine why)

Maybe she still
Harbors a grudge
Against me
For leaving her
That time
When I thought
I was going to
Make Aliyah
To Israel
(I dropped the lease
On my Brooklyn
Apartment
Packed up all of my things
And shipped the whole
Shebang off to
A remote kibbutz
In Israel named
Shaare HaGolan)

Not surprising
(For me and my
Half baked notions)
The Aliyah experiment failed
And I was back
In the states
After only six weeks
No apartment
No job
No girl friend and
No prospects
Maybe that’s why
Delores still hates me

Could be
(You never really know)
What the fork
Was I thinking?

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Last Night I Dreamed


Last night I dreamed that 
my penis fell off!
No shit
It just broke off
right in my hand!
A clean break
at the stem
Needless to say
it really freaked me out
There I was
holding the
remains of my penis
in the palm of my hand!

My first thought was that
maybe I could glue it back on
you know
with crazy glue
Ridiculous!
What about infection?

Then I thought that
Maybe it could be
surgically reattached
(I heard it costs
$60,000 to reattach a thumb
A penis reattachment
must be at least
twice as expensive!)
Should I try to preserve
my broken member
in a bucket of ice
just as a precaution?

And how to explain this to
my primary care physician
I can just hear him saying
Not a problem
No biggie
Happens all the time
Tell me
Have you been under
a lot of stress lately?

Doc
this isn’t the same thing
as my hair falling out
or getting a rash!
We are talking about
my penis!

Fortunately
I was still able to pee
(but more like a woman pees
though I did not
find it necessary
to have to squat down)
Not that I will be writing
my name in the snow
anytime soon either!
Still what was left
was better than nothing
I can just imagine
the field day
that Sigmund Freud
might have
analyzing such a dream
not that I could ever afford
a shrink of his high caliber

Needless to say
I have been under
a great deal of stress
as of late
Job related stress
Relationship related stress
Lack of sex related stress
Financial stress
All kinds of stress
I have all the symptoms
of suffering from
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

America has only 4 percent
of the world’s population
and yet Americans consume
60 percent of the world’s
illegal drugs
Why?
Stress!
At the time that
I dreamed all this
was going on
I was actually
in the middle
of another dream
about being fired
from a non-existent job!

When I awoke
in the morning after
tossing and turning all night
I was relieved
to find that my penis
was still intact
I had to hustle out of bed
to hurry to my
actual job
where I was behind
in researching
the most recent
assignment
that I had been given.

We had just survived
a heat wave of
ten consecutive days of
90 degree heat
(Some days were
even hotter!)
More stress!

Never mind the heat!
Never mind the pressures of my job!
Never mind my subconscious
fears of confronting retirement!

I still have my penis and balls!
Until death do us part!

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stranger Than Friction


All of my writings
whether falling into
the categories of
either
poetry or prose
are strictly
works of
Friction
a genre of writing that
I claim to have invented
which is a combination of
the ficticious with
the real
And as such
any resemblance of
the people that
I write about
to actual persons
living or dead
is strictly
coincidental

Well
anyway
that’s my story and
I am sticking to it

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Biarritz Bay


There we were
just the two of us
Me and my
French professor
Herrison LaRoche
one old fool and
one young fool
both of us
poets
dreamers
schemers
hopeless romantics
in Biarritz
sitting on a bench
along the promenade
a cool ocean breeze
blowing in off the water
pen and paper in hand
scratching out some verse
the apprentice and
the master
discussing each
and every precious
line of each and every
precious poem
my first attempts at
writing verse
in French
the language of
my reveries
and of
my dreams

I barely remember them now
those first poems in French
except that they were all mostly
about little children at play
in their playgrounds
at the shore
under the prideful and
watchful
supervision of their
loving and doting parents

Herrison remarked on this
choice of subject matter
Encore les enfants
he noted
Toujours les enfants
Rien que les enfants
Ca ce voit comme
Vous aimez beaucoup
les petites
les innocents

Oui cest vrai
Mon cher prof
I am touched by
their innocence
I am touched
by their seeming
immortality
by their utter joy
in the most simple
of discoveries
a butterfly here
a crawling bug there
the sheer joy
of having made a
 new found friend

I also wrote about
their fathers and brothers
the fishermen
their boats and
their fishing lines
clearly visible
from the shore
as they plied the
placid waters
off of Biarritz
earning their livings
by plying their
simple and ancient trade
in their simple boats with
their brightly colored hulls and
pristine white sails
as they drifted
with the currents
parting the blue
crystal clear waters
where their fathers
and their grandfathers
before them
had made their livings
in the same exact way
while their children
could be seen
on the not so distant shore
enjoying their games and play
in their playgrounds
by the bay

Until by the late afternoon
arriving with the setting sun
the men returned to port
stinking of fresh caught fish
bringing the catch of the day
to the instant markets
that would spring up
along the quays
fresh fish!
fresh fish
for dinner today!

Today I have become
the old fool
and it has become
my turn
to show the
new young poets
how to find
their way
just as
Herrison had shown me
back in a more
innocent time
on a warm summer’s day
sitting on a bench
along the promenade
in Biarritz Bay

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012





Monday, July 2, 2012

One More River To Cross


Oh, the good old chariot passing by
One more river to cross
She jarred the earth an’ shook the sky
One more river to cross
The good old chariot passing by
One more river to cross
I pray, good Lord, shall I be one?
One more river to cross
Gospel Hymn –
One More River To Cross

My co-workers like to tease
me at work
the closer I get to
actual retirement
the more I hear comments like
guess that’s the last annual report
you will have to work on
I usually stammer something
equally inane I reply
yeah, roger that or
yep, that’s a big 10-4
I am quickly racking up
a whole list of
last time experiences

It’s the last time
I will have to attend
a mandatory training
the last time that
I will see a regular
bi-weekly paycheck
the last time
I will be greeted
by the lady security guards
at the security desk
It’s a little like
I’ve booked passage
on an ocean cruise to
the Bahamas
(not a bad idea actually)
and all of my familiar moorings
have been cast away
It’s been a long time
since I’ve last ventured
so far out
of my comfort zone
will the natives be friendly?
will I be treated with respect?
will I still be able to
come and go
as I please?

All my bags are
almost packed
and I’m ready to leave
this time there
really is no
turning back
no time to grieve

At this stage of life
I now know more
people who have
gone on before me
and I can see them
standing on deck
leaning over the rails
waving at me
urging me to join them
for the voyage of a
life time
I look up at them
and I recognize their
shiny faces
I wave back at them
and I slowly
move step by step
Inching my way up
slowly along
the gangway
taking my place in line
with my fellow travelers
as the ship’s
steam whistle blows
a warning to all
the other ships
and tugboats
in the harbor

It’s a clear and
starry night
and the seagulls are
out in force

I am ready for the voyage
come what may
I have been a
landlubber
for far too long

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

We Are So Not The People That We Hoped We Would Be


It’s really too bad
kind of a shame
if you ask me
hard to figure out
why it had to be
but honey
it is plain to see
that we are just
not the people
that we had hoped
we would be

Who am I talking about?
well if the shoe fits
(ain’t that the usual way?)
But when it comes to our family
it’s one size fits all
and that’s all
I’ve got to say

I’ve tried hard
to pretend
that it was all just
in my mind and
that all of our
insults and slurs
were just a figment
of the times
but honey
I was so wrong
(all that bullshit
all that trash talk
came from us
all along!)

Trust me
I feel real bad
about it
(and I’m sure
there’s enough
blame to go around)
But like the proverbial tree
that falls to the ground
if there are no witnesses
to hear it
did the tree
make a sound?

All I ever wanted for you
was to wish you the very best
(No need to pick up the remote
this won’t be on the test)

Now all I can say is
when they tell me that
the apple doesn’t fall
far from the tree
is that it is so
plain to see
that we are so
not the people
that we had hoped
we would be

jhmarkowitz
Philadelphia, Pa. 2012