Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Point Blank

They're shooting
each other
here in Philadelphia
at the rate of
two or three or four per day
most of the guns
are illegally bought and sold
and traded
on the back streets
of every major city
in America

We are told that
there are
some 300 million guns
in private hands
one for every
man, woman and child
in the USA

And they are shooting
each other
almost every night
at point blank range
in the head
in the neck
in the back
in the face
in the groin
all the livelong day

Drugs and gangs
mental illness
poverty and despair
suicidal acting out
some wishing to die
at the hands of the police
(protect and serve)
or at the hands of
a drug king rival
contract hits
killings to silence witnesses
revenge shootings
domestic violence
you name it
we have them all

And given the fact that
Congress cannot
seem to muster the courage to
pass new gun control laws
(thanks in large part
to the incessant lobbying
of the NRA)
the national murder rate
continues to climb
and no one in America
is safe from
gun violence

So can I interest you
in a handy-dandy
saturday night special?
(for your own
self protection
of course)

Philadelphia, Pa. 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Enola Gay

Look up
cherry blossoms of
hot ash fall
burning the skin and
blinding the eye

We all saw
the flash
that left
human shadows
on the wall
and that was all
that was left of
family and friends

High above the city
the Enola Gay flies
like a moth drawn
to the flame

Philadelphia, Pa. 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Apple Green

I found the little town of
Apple Green
quite by accident
having taken
a side trek off of
the beaten path

I was riding on the
Toonerville Trolley
when I decided to
get off some
two stops
short of the
end of the line

I happened to
catch a glance
of a small hut
(a tiny house really)
out of the
corner of my eye
and I thought
to myself
this is a place
I have never seen before

I was delighted
that this little town had
a little town library
complete with
that rarest of species
a librarian
with owl-like glasses
comfy sweater
her hair swept up neatly
in an impeccable bun

I wandered next
into a nearby
coffee shop
the only one that
I could see
and I ordered
a large cafe latte
but all that I received
was a cup
of freshly brewed coffee
along with a very pleasant
and welcoming smile

Where exactly am I?
I asked the waitress

Don't you know?
she replied
You are in
the town of
Apple Green

Then she asked me
if I'd taken the
Toonerville Trolly
to get there

When I told her
that yes I had
she put down
her order pad and pencil
Then she leaned
towards me and
stared straight
into my eyes
over the brim
of her glasses

That's quite remarkable
she said
Why's that?
I asked

The Toonerville Trolley
she said
has not stopped in
the town of
Apple Green
for the past
forty years

Philadelphia, Pa. 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Jake In The Neighborhood

In the course of my life
(to put food
on the table and
to keep a roof
over my head)
I have had to be
a jack of all trades
(only later in life
did I earn a
MSW degree)

I have worked as
an insurance salesman
driving instructor
social worker
fund raiser
public relations guru
real estate sales
financial planner
gas station attendant
sous chef
taxi driver
state civil servant
city civil servant
book store clerk
bus boy
dish washer
bar tender
baby sitter
lawn mower helper
food store clerk
among other things
too numerous to mention
(and not necessarily
in the aforementioned order)

My work life
often took me
into neighborhoods
that were well outside
my comfort zone
but the nature
of the work
had me climbing stairs
in low income housing projects
and in areas of the city
where the police and firemen
feared to go

I have been in crack houses
looking for abandoned babies
rat infested tenements
slum housing of every
stripe and kind
I was one of those
intrepid warriors of the
working class
forced by necessity
to rush into circumstances
where angels have feared to tread
(I'm not bragging
just explaining)

Some how
(mostly by the
Grace of G-d)
I have managed
to survive it all
and to even have
been able
to have reached
the age of retirement
even though
I've had to go into
dangerous  neighborhoods
(mostly in NYC and
where no white man or
white jew
had ever gone before

In short
I was and still am
(in many ways)
the proverbial
Neighborhood Jake 
(a so-called Jake
is the street code word
for Jew)

Some of the neighborhood residents
would shout out the term
as a warning to their neighbors that a
Jake was in the area
either to sell them
things that they
didn't want or need
(at shy lock prices)
or as a representative of
the Man
come to enforce
some law or regulation
that could lead to
state supervision or to
the removal of their children
(into foster care)
or even to their arrest
and incarceration
on various and sundry
(and very often)
trumped up charges

Being the official
Neighborhood Jake
was a shitty job
(but as the proverb goes)
someone had to do it

Philadelphia, Pa. 2013