Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Father Died

My father died
when I was only
ten months old
and I have missed
his presence in my life
ever since
in more ways than one
As part of the
baby boomer generation
I cut my teeth on
daytime TV
as did so many of
my peers
Those were the days
when TV programming
was still in its
toddler years
We watched
the antics of
Buffalo Bob and of
Clarabell the clown
on the
Howdy Doody Show
We followed the
animated adventures of
Mickey Mouse and
Daffy Duck and
Porky Pig and
Bugs Bunny
with a devotion
usually reserved for
movie stars and
hero athletes
And we also grew up with
TV commercials and
advertising jingles that soon
became as familiar and as
memorable as the shows
that ran the ads
One such commercial
was especially
meaningful for me
This was the one
where a cute boy bellhop
(who was only a year or two
older than I was at the time)
would walk through a
posh hotel lobby
calling for the name of
a fictitious person by
the name of
Phillip Morris

My dead father’s name
was also Phillip although
our family name is
Markowitz and not Morris
It took me a while
(years actually)
to figure out
why this particular
cigarette commercial
had become one of
my most memorable
Every time the bellhop
would stop and
make his famous pitch
“Call for Phillip Morris…”
my ears would perk up
and I would feel
a funny
combined twinge of
nostalgia and regret
And then
it dawned on me!
That cute kid
in the
Curious George
monkey suit and
pill box hat was
really me
(or rather a cartoon
character version of me)
It was me
calling out for my
long dead father
from the deepest
recesses of my soul

Call for Phillip Morris!
Call for Phillip Morris!
Where are you?
I miss you Daddy!
Call for Phillip Markowitz!

Daddy won’t you please
come home?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

On Being Alone

They say that
it is better
to be
single and alone
than married and alone

I have been both

I’d just rather
not be alone

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Life Is A Game Of Inches

Like football
life is a game of inches
first and goal
third down
to pass or
to run
only six inches to go
between failure
and success
between happiness
and grief

When you were small
you used to take my hand
whenever we had to cross
the street
such a tiny hand
such a busy
and dangerous street
and when we’d cross
you would skip and jump
the entire way
as if just walking
were not fun enough
sometimes I would join in
not caring how silly
it might look

It didn’t take much
to make us both
feel happy
back then
a visit to the zoo
the circus
a swing
a see-saw
jumping into a pile
of fallen autumn leaves
and making them scatter
to kingdom come

And if your nose ran
I’d find a hankie
and if your knee
was scraped
I’d find a band aid

Then you grew up
and moved away
and we hardly ever
see each other
any more
you have your own
kids now
and it is your hand
that reaches out to them
to provide for all
of their needs
small hands
small feet
small shoes
small hats and coats

It is the small things
in life
that matter the most

Philadelphia, Pa 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Catherine Petite

Catherine Petite
met en fuite
q’un jour
sans peur
je te verrai

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012


Alexis Kornfeld
was my make believe
when I was
a teenager in love
and living
in the coney island
low income
housing projects

Alexis was a blond haired
blue eyed beauty
who lived in the building
down the block on
seaview avenue and
she made the whole
neighborhood look good

Guys from
other neighborhoods
would pull up
in their fancy
shiny new cars
(the ones with
all the chrome
and fancy fins)
and they would cruise
the boulevard
trying to pick up
the easy fun loving
girls from the projects
for a saturday night
of finger fucking fun

It was easy pickings
for these chicken hawks
who had only to flash
a little cash
and the promise
of a good time
and a night out
on the town
for the girls
in the angora sweaters
and skin tight
pedal pushers
to freshen up their
ruby red lipsticks
and perfumed
before jumping
into the plush
leather seats of these
rolling casonavas
with their
slicked back hair
and oily hairy chests
festooned with
glittering gold
and muscle T shirts
and tattoos to cover
some real scars
earned in
gangland rumbles
that would provide the
fodder for
broadway musicals
for the uptown
fancy dandies
who liked to fantasize
about the romantic
escapades of the
lower classes
this being the
uptight fifties
when sex was still
officially taboo but
on the minds of
every red blooded
American boy and gal
all the same
fueled by hot
rock and roll music
and cheap booze
thunderbird wine
designed to get
the girls drunk fast
to prepare them for the
quick feels
wet hickies and hot
back seat sex
that made the
teen jive jumpin
back seat humpin
world of teenage
rebel rousers seem
dangerous and intoxicating

And Alexis Kornfeld
was the queen of
seaview boulevard
all the boys wanted her
(me included!
I knew that
I  had about as much chance
of hooking up with the likes of her
as I was likely to have
angels fly out of my ass!)
I died a little inside
every time
Alexis would
jump in beside
one of these slick
muscle bound
Italian boys from
bay 50th street

So I invented a story
that Alexis and I were
actually dating
and to prove it
I wrote pathetic
love letters to myself
and pretended
that they came from her

I flashed the letters
all over the neighborhood
and my friends
would swoon over the
perfume drenched
ersatz missives
jealous and envious
while being
jaundiced and skeptical
at the same time.
they all believed
because they
wanted to believe
that one of their own
actually had a chance
with the likes of her
so for a while there
I was riding high
on my own supply
until the day of reckoning
inevitably came

That was the day that
Alexis ran off and married
one of her many suitors
and made her move
to parts unknown
(most likely
Staten Island or
New Jersey).

I was heartbroken
but what could I do
after all
she wasn’t really my girl friend
and I sincerely doubt
that she ever even knew

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Mina The Schnozz

Her name was Mina
she was tall and slim
and smart as a whip

Her nickname
among the slum rats of
the housing project was
Mina the Shnozz
because she had
a big fat
middle eastern nose
from her
east european
immigrant parents
and she paid dearly
for this egregious
facial flaw
by being teased
constantly by
the gutter snipes that
inhabited the neighborhood
such as it was
and this inexcusable
bullying behavior
went on for years
all through
junior high school

As a graduation present
and as a gift for her
sweet sixteen
Mina’s parents
scraped together
enough money to
provide her with
the gift of
plastic surgery
to make her
nose more proportionate
to her face

The transformation
was remarkable
and immediate and
Mina was instantly transformed
into one of the most
beautiful girls
ever to enter
the freshman class
of Abraham Lincoln High

And though she continued
to reside in the projects
she resolved to have
nothing to do with
any of her previous tormentors
and who could blame her

Mina sailed through
high school as the
reigning beauty queen and
upon graduation
she launched a
very successful
modeling and
fashion design career

The gutter snipes
of coney island
learned an important
life lesson about
never judging a book
by its cover

I liked her fine
when she was still
known as
Mina the Shnozz
either way
she never took
any special notice of me

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Life On The Edge

Like so many microbes
who have set up shop
on a quivering piece
of decaying leaf
we all live life
on the razor’s edge
on the sharpest part
the cutting blade

All that is required
to extinguish all
life as we know it here
on planet earth
is for our planet
to take a direct hit
from a gamma ray burst
from some
nearby dying star
and all life
as we know it
here on earth
will be put
out of business
Let me know
if you wish to leave
a forwarding address

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Last Night I Saw A Wookie

I had all but forgotten
that last night was
all hallows eve
until I saw
a rather large Wookie
with a hob goblin
on his sleeve
and further down the line
tooting their horns
sat two festive clowns
both as happy
as you please

then along came some ghosts
and an Indian princess or two
then a pair of
twins Siamese
and then
an entire pirate crew

some were shouting
trick or treat!
others a mere howdy do!
I nodded back
politely in return
and a happy
all hallows eve to
every one of you!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012