Wednesday, October 31, 2012

FrankenStorm 2012

Call it a miracle or
simply call it luck
I was one
of the fortunate few
to escape the wrath of
relatively intact
none the worse for wear
my house is still standing
and I am still of
sound body and mind
ten fingers and ten toes
arms and legs
all where they should be
and although I have my share
of aches and pains
diabetes and other
ailments too numerous
to recite
I was able to rise up
out of my bed
this morning and
find my way to work
as though
had never come to town
and I was not alone
bus drivers
all went about their
daily routines
as if the second storm
of the century
(Katrina being the first)
had been nothing more
than just another
rainy windy day

(albeit with a lot
of collateral damage
to those to our north and south
who were not as fortunate as we)

Perhaps we have survivor’s guilt
why were we spared while
others were seemingly
so severely punished
and made to suffer
such terrible deprivations
there but for the
grace of G-d
go we all

I was sick
with the Flu the whole time
that Hurricane Sandy
aka FrankenStorm
was wrecking the city
that I have grown to love                                                                                        
and I was having
fits of
body shaking coughing spells
along with bouts of
fever and
my eyes were bleary
and my nose was stuffed
and it was hard to keep on
breathing regardless of
whether I was awake or asleep
and my back
would go into spasm
with every hacking cough
in addition
I have had a groin pull injury
for the past several weeks
that makes the usually
simple routine
of getting in and out
of an arm chair into
a pain filled ordeal
so piercing that
it can bring tears to my eyes
each and every time I try
getting up to stand
on my own two feet
this is a very humbling
state of affairs
for a man
who has always
considered himself
to be
rightly or wrongly
something of an athlete

I make this confession
not just for the benefit of my soul
but in order to
better understand why?


Is it because
I think that I have some
special mission in life
that requires that I
persevere against all odds?

Is it because
my jewish peasant
fish mongering
gypsy genes
demand survival
for survivals’ own sake
in spite of all the
vagaries of life?

In my career as a
human being
I have killed
many cockroaches
and many mosquitoes
and thousands of flies
and every one of them
wanted to live
struggled to live
to get away
to somehow find a way
to escape
my merciless vengeance
(mostly to no avail)
as I happily scattered their
useless guts
by stomping them to death
or by swatting them with
a folded newspaper or
other improvised implement of
insect destruction

When FrankenStorm came to town
I too instinctively hunkered down
(move over mr. cockroach
I found this spot first!)

I guess
when push finally
comes to shove
we are all just like
our fellow cockroaches
when it comes to
trying to save
our own skins!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Winterless Winter?

According to
the U.S. Weather Bureau
the coming winter of 2012
has been cancelled
until further notice
called on account of
global warming
by mother nature
(yes, another winterless winter!
just like the one we had last year!)

No amount of appeals to
pray for snow
will avail and
all of the
ski resorts and
bed and breakfast owners
who depend on
pristine blankets of
fresh fallen snow
to attract the
bushels of
winter tourist dollars
that keep hundreds
of service industry workers
off the unemployment
compensation rolls
had better find new
streams of income
(at least for what was
once known as
the usual winter season)
i.e. paintball firing ranges
mediation and yoga retreat centers
free range chicken farms?

Another winterless winter
means spring like temperatures
in mid- january and
mid february
cherry blossoms at yuletide
bears and other species
foraging in backyard trash cans
for sustenance
since hibernation cycles
will have been
prematurely aborted
flocks of duck and geese will forgo
their usual migratory flights
(why bother?)
purveyors of
snow shovels and snow blowers
and  winter outfitters
and winter clothing outlets
will see their
winter inventories
remain unsold
flies and scores of
other insects will
breed in record numbers
their life cycles
accelerated by
milder temperatures and
the rotting foliage
exposed by the melting
permafrost that doesn’t refreeze
cold and flu viruses
will flourish
with no cold weather to
check their spread
vacationers who usually
go south for the winter
will stay at home
glad to save money
on heating bills and
other seasonal expenses
(hey, I could get used to this
they will say)
while monsoons rage
in other less fortunate
parts of the world
as droughts and
forest fires and
crop failures
caused by the lack
of the usual winter runoff
will result in water shortages
and empty reservoirs
even as the melting ice caps
raise the ocean levels
swamping island nations
around the globe!

Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year!
(Honey, would you mind
switching on the AC?
It’s getting rather warm
in here!)

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Do We Love War So Much?

Why do we love war
as much as we do?

Why are mothers and fathers
so willing to sacrifice
their only begotten children
to the idols of war
in exchange for a
brown envelope
with a government seal
and a folded flag
and a grave in
Arlington cemetery
and a burial
with full military honors
perhaps even with
a six gun salute?

Is all that
a fair exchange
for the laughter of children
for all the hugs and kisses
and other signs of affection
that only children can provide?

Does all the pomp and ceremony
make up for all of the many
missed bed time stories
the missed bed time baths
and snuggly PJs
the missed nightly prayers of
now I lay me down to sleep?

Do the pictures of our children
dressed in military uniform
(that now adorn so many
mantels and shelves in
now empty bedrooms)
somehow compensate
for the loss of youngsters
who will never be born
for all the lost grandchildren
who will never
know the joys of
asking for more
cookies and milk
for just one more
book to be read
for just one more
crayon drawing
to be finished?

Will the box filled
with ribbons and medals
and the walls decorated
with military citations
naming brave deeds performed
in so many different
foreign lands and
foreign battlefields
make up for the lost
sand lot baseball games
the skinned knees and
bruised elbows that
require a mother’s kisses
to help them heal?

Now who will run
to the door shouting
Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!
after a long day at the office
and a miserable home bound commute
through miles of stop and go traffic?

And what is to become of those
who return home
with broken bodies and
broken spirits
no longer the
healthy athletes
who marched off to war
with the blessings of
parents and teachers
ministers and priests
girl friends and boy friends
left behind
promising to write letters
every single day?

Wouldn’t it have been better
just for once
for all of us
to have been able to say
no to war?

Wouldn’t it have been better
To be able to say
just for once that
no you cannot have
my precious child
my precious flesh and blood
to send to the killing fields
of foreign lands
just to assure
the uninterrupted
flow of sweet crude oil
and the flow of war profits
into the coffers of some of
the most corrupt
corporations on earth?

Or does the sound of the bugle
and the drumbeat of the war drums
still stir our blood enough
to make us
pump out our chests
with national pride
and patriotic fervor
at enemies real or imagined
who need to be taught a lesson that
they (and we) shall never forget?

How many more villages
must we be willing to destroy
in order to save them?
And when we are done
who will be left
to save us
from ourselves?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012


I think of you as patchouli
and gardenia
and roses
and musk
and lilac
and gardenia again

philadelphia, pa. 2012

Personal FX

Prior to actual retirement
I’ve had to
go through
my own personal effects
to clean out my cubicle at work

I have found this task
although necessary
to be daunting
to say the least
and not at all
what I expected
it to be

The feelings
are difficult to describe
and to sort out
I have been describing
the feelings to friends
as being like
a near death experience
or at least
as close to one
as can be had
without actually
being at death’s door

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rave Review

The poems of Jack Markowitz are clear-eyed, witty and honest.
Their presence in my life has been uplifting.
Slowly with much effort I can still find the truth about the reality of the American Empire, sifting through mountains of propaganda and the vastness of trivia that permeates television, newspapers, magazines and the internet. So the occasional arrival of one of Jack's poems has the benefit of lightening my day and bringing a little joy into my life.
Thank you Jack, and congratulations on your fresh, wise voice.

Doug Wilson

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


After 30 plus years
As a front line social worker
in child protective services
my planned date of
formal retirement is
scheduled for the
29th of December, 2012

According to the ancient
Mayan calendar
the formal end of the world
is predicted to occur on the
21st of December, 2012

Just my luck!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

For Immediate Release

Poet, Wise Student of History, Creates Hope From Out Of History’s Pandora’s Box Jack Henry Markowitz, with wit, analytic depth, and filmic poetry has written an unforgettable version of the truth. 

PHILADELPHIA – With the publication of Pandora’s Box – New Collected Poems author Jack Henry Markowitz presents a collection of his more recently written poems. This new volume can be viewed as a book end to his prior collection Please Ask, Do Tell – The Collected Poems which represents a collection of some of his favorite poems that were written over a span of 40 years. Greatly influenced by the movies, the author often turns a satiric camera eye on the details of everyday life, in effect translating the film process into image or narrative within the confines of rhyme and meter. In this collection of poems treating harsh, heroic or epic events in American history and American life, Jack Markowitz puts this honed talent to good use – the details of history and commonplace realities come alive as in the harsh winter in Valley Forge or a school sock hop dance attended by prepubescent fifth graders, where everything is treated with a wiser and therefore more comic eye. (Men in combat or on the field often have recourse to gallows or raw humor to survive the harshest conditions; the school sock hop dance evokes memories of rashes on necks unaccustomed to buttoned up collars.) In addition, Markowitz treats his readers with unique visions of truth – using voices of characters real or fictitious, or even his own, to flesh out these visions into a sublime though cynical view of history as something that ordinary people must live through patiently (not only to survive it, but to understand it in the end, in the perspective of regret tempered by acceptance). This is Markowitz’s most deep and telling message throughout this collection. Heroes and famous men do not survive history, they become trapped in it. It is Eliot’s unimportant lord who influences events in a little way behind the scenes who is the most likely survivor of both tumultuous strife and the judgment of history. Jack Henry Markowitz survives both in flying colors before taps, in advance of the angels who will trumpet the Second Coming and let’s out everything from the Pandora’s Box of history’s rusted weaponry, dread vengeance, long-hidden poisons, dry dynamite – all negated by hope for the future for the dysfunctional but surviving American nation. For more information on this book, interested parties may log on to About the Author Jack Henry Markowitz, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in a magical time when Coney Island was still thought of as the entertainment capital of the world – a time when the Brooklyn Dodgers still played at Ebbets Field and millions of people came to visit the fabled beaches and boardwalk, Steeplechase Park, Parachute Jump, Cyclone Roller Coaster and Nathan’s Famous. The author resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he continues to work and write. Pandora's Box* by Jack Henry Markowitz New Collected Poems To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beach Ocean Horizon Sky


crashing waves
bubbles in the sand
piper birds
dodging in and out
along the shore line
looking for
and finding
horseshoe crab eggs

setting sun

one day’s over
another's just begun

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

These Days

These days
I am drowning
in unwritten
movie dialogue

These days
my life has become
a silent film
like a still life
etched on a
fading copper plate

My arms are aching
for grand children
left unhugged

Today is
Sam’s third birthday
and I am not there

I send presents
but that is no
for scooping him
up in my arms
and hugging him tight
smelling the scent
of his hair
holding him close
to my chest
grandfather and

All I get are

Pictures of missed birthdays
Pictures of missed family outings
Pictures sans moi

Pictures are nice
but they are not enough
not by a long shot

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Like A Bad Dream

Last night
I dared to dream
about your father

I conjured him up
from the depths of
my little boy soul
from memories
of childhood
run amok
a recall
long suppressed

I saw him
as he once was
in all his glory
muscles rippling
golden haired
blue eyed
more than angry

His blood
was boiling over
the steam pouring
out of his nostrils
like some ancient
greek god of yore
and he was taking out
his anger
his rage
on all of us
on you and me and
your mother
but mostly
and most brutally
on you!

We who saw
We who knew
We who were witnesses
could only
stand by the wayside
helpless and afraid
afraid and helpless
as he began to
decimate his car
having taken umbrage
at some casual remark or
poorly timed jest
or just because
he was pissed off
at the whole world for
a hundred different
reasons of his own

We stood by
and watched
mute witnesses
as he literally
ripped apart
the car
piece by piece
with his bare hands
bloodied though they were
and we who saw
were afraid
(as he wanted us to be)
afraid of what he might yet do
afraid of what might yet happen

He had no right
to do what he did
to you
He had no right
to wreck havoc on
his own baby girl
his own child
his own flesh and blood
He had no right
While the rest of us
could only stand by
like deaf dumb mutes
lest he turn his anger
against us
(as he so often did)
though it was
our sorry fate
to have to love him
for all his failings
(and they were many)

But he had no right
to do what he did to you
in the fullness of your innocence
in the flowering of
your early womanhood
in the hope and splendor
of your youth

And though in my dream
it was the car that
received the brunt of his rage
I somehow knew
that the car
in the dream
was really you
(and all of us)
and all we could do
was to watch and wait
and to bear witness
until the storm
eventually ran its course
and we could once
again be ourselves
knowing full well that
his terrible secrets
had now become
our terrible secrets
adding new bones to
the rattling skeletons
in our already full
collective family closet

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flies Suck

Flies may have
great agility
but they are
utterly lacking in
I grant that they
may possess
an advantage
in mobility
but that
does not offset
their total lack of

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Of Revolutions And Trees

Revolutions are made
by fools like me
but only
can make
a tree

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

The Home Keys

I learned to touch type
as a student at
Mark Twain Junior High
in Coney Island
New Yawk

We learned to touch type
through rote memory
of the typewriter keys
and through
constant repetition
of rote typing lessons and
mindless exercises

As a gutter snipe
from the low income
housing projects
I resisted my teacher’s
best efforts to teach me
this invaluable skill

At the time
I thought that
learning to type
was a sissy thing to do
a girly thing to do
not a manly thing to do

What earthly good
would learning
to touch type
do for me?
I was never
going to be an
office secretary
not that I had much
of an idea as to what
I could actually
aspire to
given my background  
given my lack of
No need to worry about
getting into college
(couldn’t pay for it
even if I was accepted)
or to some community college
or other
by some fluke

Against my better judgment
and despite being
passive aggressive with my teacher
and being chastised almost daily
for my malfeasance
I actually did manage to learn
the invaluable sissy skill
of touch typing

I pretty much owe
everything I am and
everything I ever hope to be
to my ability to
touch type

I have been touch typing now
for more than fifty years
first on the big clanky
and cumbersome
(check the Smithsonian museum
to see what these ancient
contraptions once looked like)
Then my first electric marvel and
all the way to
the IBM electric
(the Rolls Royce of its day)
and then eventually
even to computers!

I have even used
touch typing to
write this poem
Thank you Mrs. Lewis!
Will wonders never cease?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012