a bunch of poems

A COLLECTION OF POEMS AND MUSINGS POETRY

I’m writing a collection of my own stuff
Urban Guerilla Poetry
Tall buildings Poetry
Hot streets, cool crowds Poetry
Genteel ghettos, shelters for the poor Poetry
Poetry of love, poetry of protest
Poetry is my song, and I sing off-key
My own stuff in a cadence I just found
Kind of lying on the street, waiting to be picked up
 A poem to my dad
Years ago you took me there to play among the desks
Exalted in my own way, your only child, princess of peaceful  nations,
Running about the halls of world governance,
“They shall beat their swords into plow shares”,
Full of hope for a world that had so recently run amok–
as it would do so again in the pendulum swing of time–
And hope would swing back too,  kind of by the definition of a pendulum and the ways of the world
March 28, 2001


 

Here’s an interesting cautionary tale for you. It’s a story about how a well-developed ancient culture once blew itself up.
Once there was great global civilization. It had developed over many millions of years and reached a pinnacle of technological intelligence. The hominid animals who had achieved so much may have had their beginnings in ancient swamps as one celled beings.
Their history was 4 million years old, living in forests and savannahs as hunters and gathers, these people had developed into a very advanced civilization indeed. These beings learned to walk on two legs, developed physical and mental prowess. Many of them counted their years on earth from the death of a man they saw as a great prophet and perhaps even the son of God. So it was in their 21st century that this highly evolved group of beings that populated the entire planet on which it lived began plotting its own demise.
It developed annoying technologies that made communication but that also isolated one being from the other. You understand that most of these beings crowded into relatively small land masses so they lived in close proximity to each other.
They developed many advances which made it easier to get from one part of their globe to another faster. Many of their advances caused damage to the air they breathed. These were beings who depended on air for breath, for life, for their existence. They also needed water to survive and much of their advances seriously polluted their water supplies. But none of these idiotic choices and errors in judgment were fatal to the beings or event or their food supplies. They caused damage but there was still much hope for this world.
In the early 21st century this civilization, having “conquered” space earlier in the 20th century, decided to use this “last frontier” (as they called “space”) one more time.
By conquering space, the beings on this planet meant they had sent rocket ships to explore nearby planets and stars. They had even landed some sort of exploratory vehicle on a hostile planet in their own orbit. They called space “the last frontier” because exploration and adventure were part of their culture.
In the early 21st century, they decided that it would be wise to launch destructive weapons into space, into this “last frontier.”  They made this decision despite the fact that many of their technologies were often flawed. They knew this about their technologies. They had seen them go awry often. Their vehicles overturned on occasion, their computing machines jammed and were attached by destructive nihilists they referred to as “hackers.”
They experienced all these technological glitches in the course of their everyday lives.
Even some of their weapons of war were known to fail, or misfire or be misdirected.
Despite all of this, they decided to go ahead with a plan to put weapons of war into space, into the “last frontier.” They felt this was a way to protect themselves from other beings that peopled their planet.
So they shot weapons up into space hoping that nothing would go wrong.
At journey’s end they were met by his lover and their daughter
Eerily waiting while baggage is claimed and passports are checked
Was he so eager to see her, his lover, after a connubial trip away?
Or was she, the lover, so desperate, missing him, that she trod on,
Trespassed on sacred turf, insinuated herself into the family picture–
Acting the role of chauffeur, greeting him, welcoming his wife back,
driving their daughter to the airport?
At journey’s end they were met by his lover and their daughter
Eerily waiting while baggage is claimed and passports are checked
Having never planned…..
Because I never planned it this way or that for that matter
It seems to have turned out so much better than I ever expected
Life, like petals of words, falling where they might– landing on their feet
Happiness landing at my feet with more sunshine in my days
And more hope in my heart than I ever hoped to have
Having never planned it this way or that
He protested
They shackled him and beat him, the news announcer said
Yes, he refused to “go gentle into that dark night”, refused and
Protested his innocence, he and thousands more,
Protested his innocence right up to death’s door,
Protested and defiant, proud, not guilty of the crime
He protested. They cuffed him, and beat him,
Then stuck the needle in his arm. 
Still working at the flower shop
He was working there much longer than he’d expected to. It started as an after school   job for spending money in his junior year at Brownswell.  A high school gig, dragging flowerpots around the store, pushing the big urns filled with decorative flowers that were out on the sidewalk inside for the night.
He delivered roses to wives whose husbands wouldn’t be home till late, rang up sales on small beds of posies for terraces. Urban flower gardens for the rich. Now he’d finished high school and here he was, six years later, still in the shop. Now he dragged these urns out in the morning, too, and put them inside at night. There was the occasional temptation to leave them on the street and see what the city would do to them by the morning.
His schoolmates, some of them even people he called friends, had matriculated at various colleges; they had desk jobs as “associates” and “trainees.” He still consulted  over terrace gardens, sometimes at penthouses with room for a couple of trees and hedges on the property. The boy who worked part time in the afternoons, made most of the deliveries of the roses, now, while he managed the store.
He made up most of the bouquets for the boy to deliver. He was good at putting together the colors, fluffing the arrangements with greenery. The bouquets and rooftop gardens gave him pleasure. School had never been that kind of fun.
He worried that in another six years he’d still be making floral arrangements, handing them over to a boy half his age to deliver around the neighborhood. Then he worried that he wouldn’t.    
If I don’t write down the ideas
They vanish like smoke, hide from me
As if I were the enemy
Enemy to my thoughts….
I’m not saying I’m not,
But how do they know what my intentions are?
How do days like these appear to you?
How do days like these appear to you?
Can you share the vividness of your vision?
The clarity with which you greet the day?
Can you share it with me?
Will you?
May I share it with you?

John was indecisive but very sure of himself

He was John, never Johnny, from the first. Not because his parents were formal. They had tested all the variations on him—Jack, Johnnie—and none seemed to stick. For some men the diminutive follows them into maturity. With John maturity struck  early.
Even as a child he was articulate and forceful without being the least bit sure of himself.  Some men develop a sense of humor about the world and themselves as they mature. For John, humor was not an option. There was little whimsy in him as a boy and less and less of it in him as a man. 
John grew up or at least older knowing he could command. He just never figured out why or what really gave him the right to make demands on other men, to tell them what to do, what he wanted done. He never really knew what gave him the say-so, and yet on his say-so, his house was cleaned, his car washed, his clothes pressed, deliveries made. He had enjoyed most of these rights all his life.
As a child, he had directed his nanny to a seat on the bus, engaged the attention of the other passengers, determined where and when he would have lunch, and what he would eat. At the end of his day—his days were long even when he was 5 or 6—he would let his parents know what he had done, where he had been. As he matured, and now, looking back, he didn’t remember the nanny’s name or much about her event though he had spent those many long days in her company.  His nanny was no more a companion to him than the vague shadow of his first wife.
She, his first wife, had accompanied him to dinners, parties, even to Paris once or twice. He remembered her name because it appeared on all those monthly   checks he signed for her. Her face and figure were gray to him.
(cont’d)
John was on his second marriage, as he liked  to put it, although mostly to himself. He never understood why Melody (that was the name of his present wife,  and she was always a  vivid image to him) –he did not understand why Melody found the expression, “on his second marriage”,  so objectionable. She’d been married before, brought two children into this marriage, for god’s sake.
Melody, despite the fanciful name, was a stolid woman. True, her voice was melodious, no lie to the name there. But she had little lilt and cadence to her, none in the way she conducted her life, their life together. She was serious and steady., forthright with John, direct with her children.
John thought her involvement with her children exceeded the norm. She was certainly more involved in the minutiae of their education, upbringing, socialization than had his experience growing up. He wondered, though seldom aloud, if she shouldn’t back off, let them ride the bus with the nanny, let the nanny take them to school and to lunch, to the circus or the ballet. 
Instead, he found himself either dragged to another Nutcracker or school play, or alone while Melody tended to these parental duties. Well, she called them parental duties; he could very well have done less of them. True, the children’s other parent, a studious fellow named Dale, often was seen at these events as well. John would go along just to catch a glimpse at his predecessor and see how he related to his children. “Relating” was not really an activity that John had much taste for. He wondered, again, not aloud, just what had drawn Melody to Dale, and then from Dale to him. What did they have in common? What did he have in common with the other man, other than his wife?
Could she have been drawn to John for his conviction, his authority? Dale always seemed to see the other side of everything. On the few
(cont’d)                                                                                                                                                                        occasions they had actually spoken, he would say absurd things like “let me play the devil’s advocate here.” What the hell did that mean? John was not given to walking a mile or even a few feet in anyone else’s shoes.
What purpose did it serve? John honestly could never hold more than one point of view, his own. He thought that perhaps he could be seen as self centered, but it gave him a clarity he felt types like Dale would never have.
Melody must have needed that. After all, she was a simple woman. She didn’t shop as much as the first Mrs. Weynemouth. Not even for the children. He admired that although much of the expense for the children was borne by their father.  Dale would faithfully tender a check for tuition or clothing every quarter,  and always without complaint.
John felt this lack of complaining was a symptom  of being able to see both sides of every situation. You can’t complain about child support, it’s for the children. Well, John could complain. If he were in Dale’s shoes, and it was hard for him to picture the possibility of being in Dale’s shoes, he would complain. John had plenty of money and was married to the children’s mother, why shouldn’t John  pay their tuition or buy their clothes? Certainly, John was able to complain about the alimony he paid to his first wife. He bemoaned the alimony checks though he never really missed the cash.
There was always plenty of cash. John was used to that as he was to being able to order the cook to fix supper early so he could get back to work in his study. Melody complained that he had early suppers served to him more and more frequently and  then disappeared into his study. John wondered if she was right.
(cont’d)
Truth be told, lately John had begun to feel that his command was slipping in various small ways. It worried him that he could not make easy decisions about which suit to wear. He wondered if he should wear the navy suit or the gray today—a decision that had never before caused him any concern. He consulted Melody about it now, which seemed to please her, but baffled him. It baffled him that he could not make the decision on his own, and it baffled him even more that Melody was so pleased to be consulted.
He had always been decisive, even when he was not the least bit sure of himself.
Loving you
You are always astonishing
Full of surprise and unexpected titillation
Exciting as new love
Fresh as the city at 6:15 in the morning
Loving you nourishes my heart
awakens my senses,
alerts me to possibilities
and makes me young with yearning
To my husband on Valentine’s Day 2002
Is it an organ of memory? Our love for each other,
Our lovemaking—remembered anew in all our senses?
The sensation of want, desire, fulfillment, complete each time and
Remembered anew in all our sense when we touch? Whenever we touch
Held in a place so deep it feels new and fresh every time
It feels like spring and  youth, ageless, tender
Is it an organ of memory reminding us to feel
Making us whole, giving us happiness?
Remembered anew in all our senses whenever we touch 
It was called the melting pot
It was called the melting years ago when we were young
Opportunity inviting all the hawkers of the world  to life
Their accented tones resonating from every pushcart and
newsstand
Umbrellahumbrellahumbrellah peddling shelter and comfort
outside the subway entrance
Sounds like the city, sounds like religious chants whispered
in rhythmic patter
Offering hope, a second change, a bright American future!
Wonders of the City
Have I told you of the wonders of the city?
On a wet day men with a lilt in their voices whisper, like the
patter of the rain, offering to shield us from the weather
umbrelumbrelumbrellaumbrella….
School girls meet and kiss in the morning sun, one black and
one wrapped from her eyeballs in a religion
so foreign it doesn’t allow for assimilation, yet they kiss in greeting
Men in black no less alien, unassimilated, living in a time long
passed — wearing the colors of their shtel,
making new-age gadgets and following to the  letter rituals from
 a heartily unenlightened era…
All infusing their odd and familiar energy,  each proclaiming
diversity,
Each a wonder of the city, each  alongside the older, the newer,
the many who have walked these streets 
(more) Wonders of the City
Have I told you of the wonders of the city?
On a wet day men with a lilt in their voices whisper, like the
tattle of the rain, offering to shield us with their gentle shelter
umbrelumbrelumbrellaumbrella….
School girls meet and kiss in the morning sun, one black and
one wrapped from her eyeballs in a religion
so foreign it doesn’t allow for assimilation, yet they kiss in greeting
Men in black no less alien, unassimilated, living in a time long
passed — wearing the colors of their shtel,
making new-age gadgets and following t0 the letter rituals from
 a heartily unenlightened era…
All infusing their odd and familiar energy,  each proclaiming
diversity,
Each a wonder of the city, each  alongside the older, the newer,
the many who have walked these streets 
Quiet and noisy, noisy with the hum of its people, quiet in the   gardens of peace built in the genteel ghettos
The genteel ghettos next to the shelters of the poor, each a wonder   of our city
Now he’s a New Yorker…
Young Irishman, farm-fresh work-hardy,
Now he’s a New Yorker, longing for home
WHY IS THERE NO INDIVIDUATION IN NYPD BLUE?
Everyone speaks the same cadences, generic cop talk, so that the characters sound alike.
Is this because Boccho has no ear for language, for speech or is this an artistic choice, giving the show a slang all its own?
NYPD Blue speaks “reaching out” in rhythms often that are only syncopated phrases. It brings you into its world and grips you. When one cops leaves the show, the rest still sound like him. Sure Sipowitz is a bit more “pissy” than Metavoy. Metavoy and his partner hammer entrapments at their suspects. The female cops are more feminine and the DA more businesslike and compassionate. All a little more than stereotypes. But they are all generic; they are types, not individuals.
None of them are particularly sympathetic or likeable either. In their staccato world, issues of justice, right and wrong, even criminality are lost in the rat-a-tat of “doing the job.” Browbeating is part of the job. Misrepresenting is part of the job. Ignoring due process and the right to representation is part of the job. 
All this is submerged in the language, which reflects the quick camera cuts that move the viewer through the scenes. The rhythm of the language is part of the hypnotic quality the show exerts. Lots of grit too—the NYPD stationhouse is in the middle of grimy streets, drug killings, petty crimes and lots of blood shed.
Wonders of the City (part 3)
The cop on the beat was big and friendly
“The policeman is my friend,”  you remember that
The policeman on the beat was friendly and
Then he drove around in his squad car,
windows closed to the streets.
He drove around in his squad car, 
Then he put Billy and Shaq in the back,
Cuffed them, they say he beat them too,
The cop on the beat was big and friendly,
You remember that.
Maybe all we want is to be 10 or 12 or 20 again
Memories flash teasingly before me in t he gloomy predawn:
That boy I had a crush on– what was his name?
Danny, Steve. No Richard. His name was Richard.
When I was 10 and he was 12.
Memories, like my life passing before me– why?
Certainly, I am not dying, just getting older on this
dismal September morning
Or, am I just savoring the moments that passed too quickly 
That passed uncelebrated, gone now and lingering like ghosts
Because I didn’t pay them enough attention when we were young
Recollection is bittersweet and callow
As naive as the youth it obeys in remembrance,
Reminiscences so demanding and so unconcerned with 
the needs of the rememberer
Maybe all we want when we reminisce is to be 10 or 12 or 20 again

In mystery there is beauty too powerful to describe

Dark green swirls to hide the mystery of its depth
In mystery there is beauty too powerful to describe
Beauty embraced by flecks of white foam
The wake of ships large and boats small, trudging
There in the waters, waters surrounded by a cityscape
So traditional as to be mundane
Beauty so overwhelming that I know how lucky I am
Only the Poet
What’s so hard to understand
Getting old, getting older
Why is it hard to understand
Only the poet dares speak of death
Yes, maybe the priest, too
The layman chooses not to understand
To see mystery in so ordinary a thing
Tragedy where only the cycle of life should be
The poet sees mystery only in living and in life
And dares speak of death as inevitable as reality
August 2001
My mother’s stories
No one will ever hear my mother’s stories again,
Fearless tales, tales of courage in war, in life ,locked in my memory with the cadences of her voice,
Although they are always with me, I cannot repeat their spirit
I cannot tell them as she did, cannot mimic the tone, the inflection,
I cannot recreate the music of her life, though my heart hears her telling.
I cannot recite events once vivid and fresh on her lips, lively,
I lack the animation, though my heart hears her telling.
No one else will hear my mother’s stories again,
Though my heart hears,  vivid, animated, fearless tales,
Full of her spirit and her heart, full of the music of her life
I cannot mimic the inflection though my heart hears her telling
                                          Mother’s Day 1998
We give too much credence to the insane
Crazed rapper boy singing murder
Psychopathic pitcher throwing mere strikes
and making foul pronouncements
We trust them with our attention
Give them a forum to bask in the glory of the sun
They talk and rant and
We wallow in their mud and
We are sullied by their philosophies of rage and hate
The Hip Hop Summit
I wouldn’t trust community leaders and politicians who joined with David Duke, for instance, at a conference on the future of some aspect of the pop music industry. Why should I trust the ones who went to a “summit” for hip hop, leaving aside how silly a “summit for hip hop” seems, at which the keynote was given by Louis Farrakhan.
Why is white racism bad and black racism treated with respect?
When black community leaders and the media and their constituents act as if Farrakhan is a leader and not a racist, my trust in their judgment is eroded. Wouldn’t you just call me a racist if I reported on speeches David Duke made? 
The media would not report on an where someone like David Duke spoke with no comment and a blandness as if Louis Farrakhan or David Duke is just another “community leader.”
The truth is
The truth I, she shouted, in the darkness, in dread
The truth is we die, we all die–That’s the truth
There is no other certainty… Death is the certainty
But if we die, she said aloud, with a snort of involuntary recognition,
To die, we all have to live first. First we are alive, that’s the truth
The truth is we all live, we all live before we die, she laughed, giggled really
The truth is we’re alive and the fear is of dying of death
Dying young, dying old, Dying before we are ready, before our time
The truth is we live first and fear the last, and sometimes  Just sometimes, the truth is we only see the end and don’t live at all
Life is for living, that’s the truth, death will come on its own and soon enough
You know how time passes quickly, minutes ticking by, when you’re
engrossed  in something, busy with the details, the minutiae?
And then, how time crawls so very slowly when you are waiting for
an event, for something to happen?
Well, that’s how life is… it’s spatial and temporal… moving in space like a rocket when you’re not paying attention to its passing, when you’re distracted from it
Then it roars to a standstill when you notice its details and watch it up close, when you get personal and really really pay attention to all  the details, all the little things
Let life screech to a halt sometimes so you can savor the days, and stretch out, basking in the small  wonders, holding all the minutes in the sunshine of time and space
You know how the minutes pass and the days fade and time flickers in the dusk, let the days slow you down, watch them as they pass 
That’s life. That’s how it goes….
Wonders of the City—Some may disappear, you know…
They’re tearing it down, you know
Changing its face
Challenging our memory of it:
Remember what was here?
we’ll say
Remember that place we used to go to?
Changing how it looks at every turn
Making history of our history
Tearing down the sites that we knew
Giving our city a look we don’t recognize
Changing its face at every turn, on every corner
The weeks after September 11th
Sirens keening a nation’s woes,
Tragedy wailing in the air,
Sadness on every poster on the telephone poles,
Looks normal, we try to put a normal face on it
And cry with the sirens keening tragically everywhere
Is this our resolve after tragedy…?
New Yorkers look more beautiful today,
Handsomer, stronger, more serious
Tragedy, no resolve, will make us better,
Will help us heal the hurt,
Will let us overcome the grim reality,
Stronger, handsomer, more serious, resolute
Kandehara, Kabhul, places with romantic names and a desperate landscape
Peopled by groups who see destiny as destruction and
Life not in the present but in a hereafter of glory and death
September 12, 2001
Out of a crisp blue sky,
The jolt so sudden, so startling,
A thunderclap or sudden soaking storm,
Bursting from clouds on a seemingly quiet day
Is mild punishment after the devastation of those planes.
Now a clear crisp sky reminds me of the shock of that beautiful crisp morning,
and echoes with the shock from that beautiful horrible morning…
Blue sky II
Out of a crisp blue sky
The jolt so sudden, so startling
The world gasped, at least most of it,
And held its breath,
Then exhaled slowly
As the bright sky turned dark, murky like politics,
Dust covered the streets and smoke filled the air
Where proud buildings once hosted thousands
Going about their business in peace
Under blue clear skies, startled by smoke and flames
Unexpected undeclared war and destruction
How long can we live with terror and fear,
Cower under the unnamed threats,
Lose our sense of freedom, of justice,
In the flames that engulfed our friends
People are born not only to countries or villages, but also to languages and customs. They are born into ways of seeing the world, into understandings.
Sometimes in a country like ours where are so many people from such different backgrounds they are born into the culture and language of their ancestry. They are born into Chinese or Spanish or Urdu, French, Swedish or Italian, Korean, Yiddish or Russian.
They are born into their beliefs and the belief systems of their parents and grandparents.
But they are also born into the ways of their neighbors and friends. Cultures meld and clash and emerge as hybrids, clones of diversity.
Globalization takes away the individual identity not just of countries far from our shores, but of our own communities as well.
Foreign countries see the global economy as one in which some companies take over their landscape. An economy which is global only in the sense that certain American and other (mostly Western) companies and industry are given global reach to infiltrate the world—planting the Golden Arches on their soil.
But here at home, the same national chains undermine our local economies, industries and businesses. The local movie theater on Main Street has long been replaced by the Cineplex and the Mall. Home town grocers can’t compete with National chain stores.
Regional brands have been ousted from the shelves by nationally recognized products. Every town looks the same, selling, fast food and name brand clothes on its  sheets and nearby malls.
In some towns, the streets barely survive as commercial thoroughfares.
Light dancing on the water
Light dancing on the water,
Is that a cliché
It should be
Everybody should be so glorious
that light rejoices and water laughs

URBAN DOG DRAG

Stains on sidewalks that won’t wash off
          I love my dog
Passersby startled when he licks their hands                
         
          I love my dog
Romping pups block the street         
I love my dog                     
            Frightened ladies move aside when he lounges their way
I love my dog           
Neighbors complain when he growls then barks as they unlock their doors
          I love my dog
It’s not just architecture
It’s not just architecture.
Buildings are our history, our memories of childhood, our homes.
The structures we build house our offices, embrace our sense of style, our sense of ourselves.
If they tower over the streets in defiance of gravity, they express our feats of science and engineering as well as our aspirations and hopes.
Our city is filled with tributes to our past, the buildings that uphold our traditions, challenge us. It’s not just architecture, not just concrete and steel, mortar and bricks.

January 19, 2002

As the flakes start falling, the squirrels scurry across the fields of Central Park.
They burrow through fallen leaves, rooting for food. They check trees for shelter, chattering madly as they run.
It’s lovely. Snow is falling, not sticking to much, but a few awnings, and the tires on top of the Fox 5 vans I pass on 67thStreet.
Earlier as snow began to fall, squirrels scurried across the fields in Central Park, rooting in dry leaves for food, checking tress for shelter and all the while chattering nervously and loudly.

January 20, 2002

It fell harder and some of it stuck. Now it is mostly on the bushes and car tops. The streets have been cleared. There is ice on some sidewalks where it wasn’t cleared, as the day turned colder and melting snow froze harder.
The day has turned into one of those dry cold clear blue skies days that follow a stormy grey day. It is beautiful and the white caps all around add a touch of color to it. Sunshine makes it a friendly day—one you really enjoy being out in despite the icy patches and the cold.
January 30th
January 19th I was recording snow fall and monitoring the park’s wild life in their responses to the enveloping white. Today I am over heated in my jacket, open to the 60  air. Life like weather is unpredictable.

No I just got here…

No, I only just got here, you lie
Lubricating the moment
Keeping it friendly like the greeting, the hug.
It is the oil of human kindness that maintains your friendships
Eases the exchanges of intimacies and confidences.
No, I just got here a moment ago myself
How do days like these appear to you?
How do days like these appear to you?
Can you share the vividness of your vision?
The clarity with which you greet the day?
Can you share it with me?
Will you?
May I share it with you?
March 30, 2002

My dad calls; we are cheerful but
We talk of those we know who are dying
With overeager doctors wrongly but zealously ministering to their bodies
We are cheerful but we talk of those
We don’t know who have died wrongly at the hands of disinterested zealots
Who destroy themselves with their cause
We are cheerful but we talk of death and hatred, religion and fear
We are cheerful but we talk of memory and loss
The body is a tough shell
The body, a tough shell holding us together,
Fragile, delicate, even tender,
Subject to bruising and injury
Torments and iniquities
Is this the irony we associate with divinity?
Paradoxes like love and hate, laughter, tears and sorrow
That wrack our bones and torture our souls?
Whistling in the wind
Wringing your hands is melodrama

Whistling in the wind is too

Tragicomic gestures, suggesting wrenching tragedy,
Intrepid spunk,
Holding the wisdom of the ages—Is it wise? Is it sage?
Clichés suggesting a time tested, time tried knowledge,
Like holding the philosophers’ stone with keys to the kingdom
Knowledge, knowing, wisdom, sagacity,
Where are they when you are fearful
Where are they when you hurt
When you wonder what it is 
What has betrayed you,
Upset all equanimity, disturbed your peace
And ripped the center of all your knowing

Others shirk their responsibilities

Others shirk their responsibilities,
Wander aimlessly through life,
Fail to think, are event thoughtless
Am I connected to all of that
To the many, the multitude,
Carelessly ambling through their lives, through mine
Are we all one?
Like an actor.
Can I borrow another’s life? Like an actor,
Play a role, walk in your shoes? Or yours?
Can I know you inside and out? Like an actor.
Embody a stranger,
Mimic your gestures? Or yours?
What do lovers share?
What do lovers share that strangers don’t?
What does love allow that acquaintance lacks?
Do we meet on a bus when we sit and stare?
Do we remain strangers, even though we share the time and place?
Buses are places where I write        
Buses are places I write
My café, my library,
With cell phones and babies crying
Earnest conversations, nanny reprimands,
Brief exchanges between the driver and his flock
I take these slow lugubrious trips as inspiration for my pen
Inspiration is a big word
Long, many syllabeld, deep meaning
Does the ride inspire or the company of strangers
Strangers whose tales I do not tell
Whose lives I fail to touch
Strangers who do not reach me
Whom I never meet or greet
Is this inspiration or just passing of time?
Filling a note book with mere observance and day dreams?  

If I fear the small things

If I fear the small things, the dogs
Or the rabid squirrels who may not be rabid just scurrying
The falling branches and
Cars turning too quickly but easily avoided and seen
Will I escape the big things, the fears that haunt us
From the moment we are born,
From the moment we expect to die
I have begun to emulate Blake in my scribblings
With no clear idea of what that means,
No sense of original sin or even unoriginal sin,
Except the ways in which men and women behave
Hurting each other, allowing their terrors to frighten the children
Not facing life responsibly                    
With joy and gladness for every day
But letting the things that haunt their dreams
Destroy their waking                                              
EASY LIES
Easy lies wreck the lives of complicated folk who simply can’t tell the truth
Truth telling drives rifts between liars and the lied to
Lying changes the color of reality                      
Repentant and  six years sober
Her child, cute and angel light, bounces down the street,
His feet and arms move non-stop, even when he sits
She, sober now, her prenatal care was a needle in her arm
Six years sober watching her boy wracked by movement
Fidgety and unable to concentrate, he breaks the serenity of her  repentance
Let’s say we repent of our sins
Ask forgiveness of our loved ones
Request understanding from all those who know us and event those who don’t
Beg pardon for all we’ve done and even for what we have not done,
Sins of omission, sins of commission
Let’s say we do all that does that take back the darkness in our souls?
Can we find peace and the quiet place that
Drugs and booze never filled just fakes
Being drunk or drugged out belied the turmoil
Let’s say we repent and step all the way through our programs and reform
Does our repentance belie the turmoil, does it give us peace and that quiet place  
Do you understand the politics of hate?
The undercurrents that assure one group it is under the thumb of an establishment. The determination that convinces the “establishment it is being undermined by that same group that feels oppressed. Oppression and aggression being the yin and yang of this kind of politics and it always gets worse. There is always more rhetoric on both sides about good and bad, sacred and evil. Oppression, aggression, inflamed opinions.
  

Sometimes

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing
It is hard to be still, to keep still,
It is hard to wait, watch,
Not meddle nor mend
Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing
Even if everything deteriorates and falls apart
Separates at the seams like a cheaply made dress
Sometimes it is hard to wait, watch, not meddle
Sometimes it is hard to wait, not meddle nor mend

 I’m writing a collection of my own stuff
Urban Guerilla Poetry
Tall buildings Poetry
Hot streets, cool crowds Poetry
Genteel ghettos, shelters for the poor Poetry
Poetry of love, poetry of protest
Poetry is my song, and I sing off-key
My own stuff in a cadence I just found
Kind of lying on the street, waiting to be picked up
 A poem to my dad
Years ago you took me there to play among the desks
Exalted in my own way, your only child, princess of peaceful  nations,
Running about the halls of world governance,
“They shall beat their swords into plow shares”,
Full of hope for a world that had so recently run amok–
as it would do so again in the pendulum swing of time–
And hope would swing back too,  kind of by the definition of a pendulum and the ways of the world
March 28, 2001


 

Here’s an interesting cautionary tale for you. It’s a story about how a well-developed ancient culture once blew itself up.
Once there was great global civilization. It had developed over many millions of years and reached a pinnacle of technological intelligence. The hominid animals who had achieved so much may have had their beginnings in ancient swamps as one celled beings.
Their history was 4 million years old, living in forests and savannahs as hunters and gathers, these people had developed into a very advanced civilization indeed. These beings learned to walk on two legs, developed physical and mental prowess. Many of them counted their years on earth from the death of a man they saw as a great prophet and perhaps even the son of God. So it was in their 21st century that this highly evolved group of beings that populated the entire planet on which it lived began plotting its own demise.
It developed annoying technologies that made communication but that also isolated one being from the other. You understand that most of these beings crowded into relatively small land masses so they lived in close proximity to each other.
They developed many advances which made it easier to get from one part of their globe to another faster. Many of their advances caused damage to the air they breathed. These were beings who depended on air for breath, for life, for their existence. They also needed water to survive and much of their advances seriously polluted their water supplies. But none of these idiotic choices and errors in judgment were fatal to the beings or event or their food supplies. They caused damage but there was still much hope for this world.
In the early 21st century this civilization, having “conquered” space earlier in the 20th century, decided to use this “last frontier” (as they called “space”) one more time.
By conquering space, the beings on this planet meant they had sent rocket ships to explore nearby planets and stars. They had even landed some sort of exploratory vehicle on a hostile planet in their own orbit. They called space “the last frontier” because exploration and adventure were part of their culture.
In the early 21st century, they decided that it would be wise to launch destructive weapons into space, into this “last frontier.”  They made this decision despite the fact that many of their technologies were often flawed. They knew this about their technologies. They had seen them go awry often. Their vehicles overturned on occasion, their computing machines jammed and were attached by destructive nihilists they referred to as “hackers.”
They experienced all these technological glitches in the course of their everyday lives.
Even some of their weapons of war were known to fail, or misfire or be misdirected.
Despite all of this, they decided to go ahead with a plan to put weapons of war into space, into the “last frontier.” They felt this was a way to protect themselves from other beings that peopled their planet.
So they shot weapons up into space hoping that nothing would go wrong.
At journey’s end they were met by his lover and their daughter
Eerily waiting while baggage is claimed and passports are checked
Was he so eager to see her, his lover, after a connubial trip away?
Or was she, the lover, so desperate, missing him, that she trod on,
Trespassed on sacred turf, insinuated herself into the family picture–
Acting the role of chauffeur, greeting him, welcoming his wife back,
driving their daughter to the airport?
At journey’s end they were met by his lover and their daughter
Eerily waiting while baggage is claimed and passports are checked
Having never planned…..
Because I never planned it this way or that for that matter
It seems to have turned out so much better than I ever expected
Life, like petals of words, falling where they might– landing on their feet
Happiness landing at my feet with more sunshine in my days
And more hope in my heart than I ever hoped to have
Having never planned it this way or that
He protested
They shackled him and beat him, the news announcer said
Yes, he refused to “go gentle into that dark night”, refused and
Protested his innocence, he and thousands more,
Protested his innocence right up to death’s door,
Protested and defiant, proud, not guilty of the crime
He protested. They cuffed him, and beat him,
Then stuck the needle in his arm. 
Still working at the flower shop
He was working there much longer than he’d expected to. It started as an after school   job for spending money in his junior year at Brownswell.  A high school gig, dragging flowerpots around the store, pushing the big urns filled with decorative flowers that were out on the sidewalk inside for the night.
He delivered roses to wives whose husbands wouldn’t be home till late, rang up sales on small beds of posies for terraces. Urban flower gardens for the rich. Now he’d finished high school and here he was, six years later, still in the shop. Now he dragged these urns out in the morning, too, and put them inside at night. There was the occasional temptation to leave them on the street and see what the city would do to them by the morning.
His schoolmates, some of them even people he called friends, had matriculated at various colleges; they had desk jobs as “associates” and “trainees.” He still consulted  over terrace gardens, sometimes at penthouses with room for a couple of trees and hedges on the property. The boy who worked part time in the afternoons, made most of the deliveries of the roses, now, while he managed the store.
He made up most of the bouquets for the boy to deliver. He was good at putting together the colors, fluffing the arrangements with greenery. The bouquets and rooftop gardens gave him pleasure. School had never been that kind of fun.
He worried that in another six years he’d still be making floral arrangements, handing them over to a boy half his age to deliver around the neighborhood. Then he worried that he wouldn’t.    
If I don’t write down the ideas
They vanish like smoke, hide from me
As if I were the enemy
Enemy to my thoughts….
I’m not saying I’m not,
But how do they know what my intentions are?
How do days like these appear to you?
How do days like these appear to you?
Can you share the vividness of your vision?
The clarity with which you greet the day?
Can you share it with me?
Will you?
May I share it with you?

John was indecisive but very sure of himself

He was John, never Johnny, from the first. Not because his parents were formal. They had tested all the variations on him—Jack, Johnnie—and none seemed to stick. For some men the diminutive follows them into maturity. With John maturity struck  early.
Even as a child he was articulate and forceful without being the least bit sure of himself.  Some men develop a sense of humor about the world and themselves as they mature. For John, humor was not an option. There was little whimsy in him as a boy and less and less of it in him as a man. 
John grew up or at least older knowing he could command. He just never figured out why or what really gave him the right to make demands on other men, to tell them what to do, what he wanted done. He never really knew what gave him the say-so, and yet on his say-so, his house was cleaned, his car washed, his clothes pressed, deliveries made. He had enjoyed most of these rights all his life.
As a child, he had directed his nanny to a seat on the bus, engaged the attention of the other passengers, determined where and when he would have lunch, and what he would eat. At the end of his day—his days were long even when he was 5 or 6—he would let his parents know what he had done, where he had been. As he matured, and now, looking back, he didn’t remember the nanny’s name or much about her event though he had spent those many long days in her company.  His nanny was no more a companion to him than the vague shadow of his first wife.
She, his first wife, had accompanied him to dinners, parties, even to Paris once or twice. He remembered her name because it appeared on all those monthly   checks he signed for her. Her face and figure were gray to him.
(cont’d)
John was on his second marriage, as he liked  to put it, although mostly to himself. He never understood why Melody (that was the name of his present wife,  and she was always a  vivid image to him) –he did not understand why Melody found the expression, “on his second marriage”,  so objectionable. She’d been married before, brought two children into this marriage, for god’s sake.
Melody, despite the fanciful name, was a stolid woman. True, her voice was melodious, no lie to the name there. But she had little lilt and cadence to her, none in the way she conducted her life, their life together. She was serious and steady., forthright with John, direct with her children.
John thought her involvement with her children exceeded the norm. She was certainly more involved in the minutiae of their education, upbringing, socialization than had his experience growing up. He wondered, though seldom aloud, if she shouldn’t back off, let them ride the bus with the nanny, let the nanny take them to school and to lunch, to the circus or the ballet. 
Instead, he found himself either dragged to another Nutcracker or school play, or alone while Melody tended to these parental duties. Well, she called them parental duties; he could very well have done less of them. True, the children’s other parent, a studious fellow named Dale, often was seen at these events as well. John would go along just to catch a glimpse at his predecessor and see how he related to his children. “Relating” was not really an activity that John had much taste for. He wondered, again, not aloud, just what had drawn Melody to Dale, and then from Dale to him. What did they have in common? What did he have in common with the other man, other than his wife?
Could she have been drawn to John for his conviction, his authority? Dale always seemed to see the other side of everything. On the few
(cont’d)                                                                                                                                                                        occasions they had actually spoken, he would say absurd things like “let me play the devil’s advocate here.” What the hell did that mean? John was not given to walking a mile or even a few feet in anyone else’s shoes.
What purpose did it serve? John honestly could never hold more than one point of view, his own. He thought that perhaps he could be seen as self centered, but it gave him a clarity he felt types like Dale would never have.
Melody must have needed that. After all, she was a simple woman. She didn’t shop as much as the first Mrs. Weynemouth. Not even for the children. He admired that although much of the expense for the children was borne by their father.  Dale would faithfully tender a check for tuition or clothing every quarter,  and always without complaint.
John felt this lack of complaining was a symptom  of being able to see both sides of every situation. You can’t complain about child support, it’s for the children. Well, John could complain. If he were in Dale’s shoes, and it was hard for him to picture the possibility of being in Dale’s shoes, he would complain. John had plenty of money and was married to the children’s mother, why shouldn’t John  pay their tuition or buy their clothes? Certainly, John was able to complain about the alimony he paid to his first wife. He bemoaned the alimony checks though he never really missed the cash.
There was always plenty of cash. John was used to that as he was to being able to order the cook to fix supper early so he could get back to work in his study. Melody complained that he had early suppers served to him more and more frequently and  then disappeared into his study. John wondered if she was right.
(cont’d)
Truth be told, lately John had begun to feel that his command was slipping in various small ways. It worried him that he could not make easy decisions about which suit to wear. He wondered if he should wear the navy suit or the gray today—a decision that had never before caused him any concern. He consulted Melody about it now, which seemed to please her, but baffled him. It baffled him that he could not make the decision on his own, and it baffled him even more that Melody was so pleased to be consulted.
He had always been decisive, even when he was not the least bit sure of himself.
Loving you
You are always astonishing
Full of surprise and unexpected titillation
Exciting as new love
Fresh as the city at 6:15 in the morning
Loving you nourishes my heart
awakens my senses,
alerts me to possibilities
and makes me young with yearning
To my husband on Valentine’s Day 2002
Is it an organ of memory? Our love for each other,
Our lovemaking—remembered anew in all our senses?
The sensation of want, desire, fulfillment, complete each time and
Remembered anew in all our sense when we touch? Whenever we touch
Held in a place so deep it feels new and fresh every time
It feels like spring and  youth, ageless, tender
Is it an organ of memory reminding us to feel
Making us whole, giving us happiness?
Remembered anew in all our senses whenever we touch 
It was called the melting pot
It was called the melting years ago when we were young
Opportunity inviting all the hawkers of the world  to life
Their accented tones resonating from every pushcart and
newsstand
Umbrellahumbrellahumbrellah peddling shelter and comfort
outside the subway entrance
Sounds like the city, sounds like religious chants whispered
in rhythmic patter
Offering hope, a second change, a bright American future!
Wonders of the City
Have I told you of the wonders of the city?
On a wet day men with a lilt in their voices whisper, like the
patter of the rain, offering to shield us from the weather
umbrelumbrelumbrellaumbrella….
School girls meet and kiss in the morning sun, one black and
one wrapped from her eyeballs in a religion
so foreign it doesn’t allow for assimilation, yet they kiss in greeting
Men in black no less alien, unassimilated, living in a time long
passed — wearing the colors of their shtel,
making new-age gadgets and following to the  letter rituals from
 a heartily unenlightened era…
All infusing their odd and familiar energy,  each proclaiming
diversity,
Each a wonder of the city, each  alongside the older, the newer,
the many who have walked these streets 
(more) Wonders of the City
Have I told you of the wonders of the city?
On a wet day men with a lilt in their voices whisper, like the
tattle of the rain, offering to shield us with their gentle shelter
umbrelumbrelumbrellaumbrella….
School girls meet and kiss in the morning sun, one black and
one wrapped from her eyeballs in a religion
so foreign it doesn’t allow for assimilation, yet they kiss in greeting
Men in black no less alien, unassimilated, living in a time long
passed — wearing the colors of their shtel,
making new-age gadgets and following t0 the letter rituals from
 a heartily unenlightened era…
All infusing their odd and familiar energy,  each proclaiming
diversity,
Each a wonder of the city, each  alongside the older, the newer,
the many who have walked these streets 
Quiet and noisy, noisy with the hum of its people, quiet in the   gardens of peace built in the genteel ghettos
The genteel ghettos next to the shelters of the poor, each a wonder   of our city
Now he’s a New Yorker…
Young Irishman, farm-fresh work-hardy,
Now he’s a New Yorker, longing for home
WHY IS THERE NO INDIVIDUATION IN NYPD BLUE?
Everyone speaks the same cadences, generic cop talk, so that the characters sound alike.
Is this because Boccho has no ear for language, for speech or is this an artistic choice, giving the show a slang all its own?
NYPD Blue speaks “reaching out” in rhythms often that are only syncopated phrases. It brings you into its world and grips you. When one cops leaves the show, the rest still sound like him. Sure Sipowitz is a bit more “pissy” than Metavoy. Metavoy and his partner hammer entrapments at their suspects. The female cops are more feminine and the DA more businesslike and compassionate. All a little more than stereotypes. But they are all generic; they are types, not individuals.
None of them are particularly sympathetic or likeable either. In their staccato world, issues of justice, right and wrong, even criminality are lost in the rat-a-tat of “doing the job.” Browbeating is part of the job. Misrepresenting is part of the job. Ignoring due process and the right to representation is part of the job. 
All this is submerged in the language, which reflects the quick camera cuts that move the viewer through the scenes. The rhythm of the language is part of the hypnotic quality the show exerts. Lots of grit too—the NYPD stationhouse is in the middle of grimy streets, drug killings, petty crimes and lots of blood shed.
Wonders of the City (part 3)
The cop on the beat was big and friendly
“The policeman is my friend,”  you remember that
The policeman on the beat was friendly and
Then he drove around in his squad car,
windows closed to the streets.
He drove around in his squad car, 
Then he put Billy and Shaq in the back,
Cuffed them, they say he beat them too,
The cop on the beat was big and friendly,
You remember that.
Maybe all we want is to be 10 or 12 or 20 again
Memories flash teasingly before me in t he gloomy predawn:
That boy I had a crush on– what was his name?
Danny, Steve. No Richard. His name was Richard.
When I was 10 and he was 12.
Memories, like my life passing before me– why?
Certainly, I am not dying, just getting older on this
dismal September morning
Or, am I just savoring the moments that passed too quickly 
That passed uncelebrated, gone now and lingering like ghosts
Because I didn’t pay them enough attention when we were young
Recollection is bittersweet and callow
As naive as the youth it obeys in remembrance,
Reminiscences so demanding and so unconcerned with 
the needs of the rememberer
Maybe all we want when we reminisce is to be 10 or 12 or 20 again

In mystery there is beauty too powerful to describe

Dark green swirls to hide the mystery of its depth
In mystery there is beauty too powerful to describe
Beauty embraced by flecks of white foam
The wake of ships large and boats small, trudging
There in the waters, waters surrounded by a cityscape
So traditional as to be mundane
Beauty so overwhelming that I know how lucky I am
Only the Poet
What’s so hard to understand
Getting old, getting older
Why is it hard to understand
Only the poet dares speak of death
Yes, maybe the priest, too
The layman chooses not to understand
To see mystery in so ordinary a thing
Tragedy where only the cycle of life should be
The poet sees mystery only in living and in life
And dares speak of death as inevitable as reality
August 2001
My mother’s stories
No one will ever hear my mother’s stories again,
Fearless tales, tales of courage in war, in life ,locked in my memory with the cadences of her voice,
Although they are always with me, I cannot repeat their spirit
I cannot tell them as she did, cannot mimic the tone, the inflection,
I cannot recreate the music of her life, though my heart hears her telling.
I cannot recite events once vivid and fresh on her lips, lively,
I lack the animation, though my heart hears her telling.
No one else will hear my mother’s stories again,
Though my heart hears,  vivid, animated, fearless tales,
Full of her spirit and her heart, full of the music of her life
I cannot mimic the inflection though my heart hears her telling
                                          Mother’s Day 1998
We give too much credence to the insane
Crazed rapper boy singing murder
Psychopathic pitcher throwing mere strikes
and making foul pronouncements
We trust them with our attention
Give them a forum to bask in the glory of the sun
They talk and rant and
We wallow in their mud and
We are sullied by their philosophies of rage and hate
The Hip Hop Summit
I wouldn’t trust community leaders and politicians who joined with David Duke, for instance, at a conference on the future of some aspect of the pop music industry. Why should I trust the ones who went to a “summit” for hip hop, leaving aside how silly a “summit for hip hop” seems, at which the keynote was given by Louis Farrakhan.
Why is white racism bad and black racism treated with respect?
When black community leaders and the media and their constituents act as if Farrakhan is a leader and not a racist, my trust in their judgment is eroded. Wouldn’t you just call me a racist if I reported on speeches David Duke made? 
The media would not report on an where someone like David Duke spoke with no comment and a blandness as if Louis Farrakhan or David Duke is just another “community leader.”
The truth is
The truth I, she shouted, in the darkness, in dread
The truth is we die, we all die–That’s the truth
There is no other certainty… Death is the certainty
But if we die, she said aloud, with a snort of involuntary recognition,
To die, we all have to live first. First we are alive, that’s the truth
The truth is we all live, we all live before we die, she laughed, giggled really
The truth is we’re alive and the fear is of dying of death
Dying young, dying old, Dying before we are ready, before our time
The truth is we live first and fear the last, and sometimes  Just sometimes, the truth is we only see the end and don’t live at all
Life is for living, that’s the truth, death will come on its own and soon enough
You know how time passes quickly, minutes ticking by, when you’re
engrossed  in something, busy with the details, the minutiae?
And then, how time crawls so very slowly when you are waiting for
an event, for something to happen?
Well, that’s how life is… it’s spatial and temporal… moving in space like a rocket when you’re not paying attention to its passing, when you’re distracted from it
Then it roars to a standstill when you notice its details and watch it up close, when you get personal and really really pay attention to all  the details, all the little things
Let life screech to a halt sometimes so you can savor the days, and stretch out, basking in the small  wonders, holding all the minutes in the sunshine of time and space
You know how the minutes pass and the days fade and time flickers in the dusk, let the days slow you down, watch them as they pass 
That’s life. That’s how it goes….
Wonders of the City—Some may disappear, you know…
They’re tearing it down, you know
Changing its face
Challenging our memory of it:
Remember what was here?
we’ll say
Remember that place we used to go to?
Changing how it looks at every turn
Making history of our history
Tearing down the sites that we knew
Giving our city a look we don’t recognize
Changing its face at every turn, on every corner
The weeks after September 11th
Sirens keening a nation’s woes,
Tragedy wailing in the air,
Sadness on every poster on the telephone poles,
Looks normal, we try to put a normal face on it
And cry with the sirens keening tragically everywhere
Is this our resolve after tragedy…?
New Yorkers look more beautiful today,
Handsomer, stronger, more serious
Tragedy, no resolve, will make us better,
Will help us heal the hurt,
Will let us overcome the grim reality,
Stronger, handsomer, more serious, resolute
Kandehara, Kabhul, places with romantic names and a desperate landscape
Peopled by groups who see destiny as destruction and
Life not in the present but in a hereafter of glory and death
September 12, 2001
Out of a crisp blue sky,
The jolt so sudden, so startling,
A thunderclap or sudden soaking storm,
Bursting from clouds on a seemingly quiet day
Is mild punishment after the devastation of those planes.
Now a clear crisp sky reminds me of the shock of that beautiful crisp morning,
and echoes with the shock from that beautiful horrible morning…
Blue sky II
Out of a crisp blue sky
The jolt so sudden, so startling
The world gasped, at least most of it,
And held its breath,
Then exhaled slowly
As the bright sky turned dark, murky like politics,
Dust covered the streets and smoke filled the air
Where proud buildings once hosted thousands
Going about their business in peace
Under blue clear skies, startled by smoke and flames
Unexpected undeclared war and destruction
How long can we live with terror and fear,
Cower under the unnamed threats,
Lose our sense of freedom, of justice,
In the flames that engulfed our friends
People are born not only to countries or villages, but also to languages and customs. They are born into ways of seeing the world, into understandings.
Sometimes in a country like ours where are so many people from such different backgrounds they are born into the culture and language of their ancestry. They are born into Chinese or Spanish or Urdu, French, Swedish or Italian, Korean, Yiddish or Russian.
They are born into their beliefs and the belief systems of their parents and grandparents.
But they are also born into the ways of their neighbors and friends. Cultures meld and clash and emerge as hybrids, clones of diversity.
Globalization takes away the individual identity not just of countries far from our shores, but of our own communities as well.
Foreign countries see the global economy as one in which some companies take over their landscape. An economy which is global only in the sense that certain American and other (mostly Western) companies and industry are given global reach to infiltrate the world—planting the Golden Arches on their soil.
But here at home, the same national chains undermine our local economies, industries and businesses. The local movie theater on Main Street has long been replaced by the Cineplex and the Mall. Home town grocers can’t compete with National chain stores.
Regional brands have been ousted from the shelves by nationally recognized products. Every town looks the same, selling, fast food and name brand clothes on its  sheets and nearby malls.
In some towns, the streets barely survive as commercial thoroughfares.
Light dancing on the water
Light dancing on the water,
Is that a cliché
It should be
Everybody should be so glorious
that light rejoices and water laughs

URBAN DOG DRAG

Stains on sidewalks that won’t wash off
          I love my dog
Passersby startled when he licks their hands                
         
          I love my dog
Romping pups block the street         
I love my dog                     
            Frightened ladies move aside when he lounges their way
I love my dog           
Neighbors complain when he growls then barks as they unlock their doors
          I love my dog
It’s not just architecture
It’s not just architecture.
Buildings are our history, our memories of childhood, our homes.
The structures we build house our offices, embrace our sense of style, our sense of ourselves.
If they tower over the streets in defiance of gravity, they express our feats of science and engineering as well as our aspirations and hopes.
Our city is filled with tributes to our past, the buildings that uphold our traditions, challenge us. It’s not just architecture, not just concrete and steel, mortar and bricks.

January 19, 2002

As the flakes start falling, the squirrels scurry across the fields of Central Park.
They burrow through fallen leaves, rooting for food. They check trees for shelter, chattering madly as they run.
It’s lovely. Snow is falling, not sticking to much, but a few awnings, and the tires on top of the Fox 5 vans I pass on 67thStreet.
Earlier as snow began to fall, squirrels scurried across the fields in Central Park, rooting in dry leaves for food, checking tress for shelter and all the while chattering nervously and loudly.

January 20, 2002

It fell harder and some of it stuck. Now it is mostly on the bushes and car tops. The streets have been cleared. There is ice on some sidewalks where it wasn’t cleared, as the day turned colder and melting snow froze harder.
The day has turned into one of those dry cold clear blue skies days that follow a stormy grey day. It is beautiful and the white caps all around add a touch of color to it. Sunshine makes it a friendly day—one you really enjoy being out in despite the icy patches and the cold.
January 30th
January 19th I was recording snow fall and monitoring the park’s wild life in their responses to the enveloping white. Today I am over heated in my jacket, open to the 60  air. Life like weather is unpredictable.

No I just got here…

No, I only just got here, you lie
Lubricating the moment
Keeping it friendly like the greeting, the hug.
It is the oil of human kindness that maintains your friendships
Eases the exchanges of intimacies and confidences.
No, I just got here a moment ago myself
How do days like these appear to you?
How do days like these appear to you?
Can you share the vividness of your vision?
The clarity with which you greet the day?
Can you share it with me?
Will you?
May I share it with you?
March 30, 2002

My dad calls; we are cheerful but
We talk of those we know who are dying
With overeager doctors wrongly but zealously ministering to their bodies
We are cheerful but we talk of those
We don’t know who have died wrongly at the hands of disinterested zealots
Who destroy themselves with their cause
We are cheerful but we talk of death and hatred, religion and fear
We are cheerful but we talk of memory and loss
The body is a tough shell
The body, a tough shell holding us together,
Fragile, delicate, even tender,
Subject to bruising and injury
Torments and iniquities
Is this the irony we associate with divinity?
Paradoxes like love and hate, laughter, tears and sorrow
That wrack our bones and torture our souls?
Whistling in the wind
Wringing your hands is melodrama

Whistling in the wind is too

Tragicomic gestures, suggesting wrenching tragedy,
Intrepid spunk,
Holding the wisdom of the ages—Is it wise? Is it sage?
Clichés suggesting a time tested, time tried knowledge,
Like holding the philosophers’ stone with keys to the kingdom
Knowledge, knowing, wisdom, sagacity,
Where are they when you are fearful
Where are they when you hurt
When you wonder what it is 
What has betrayed you,
Upset all equanimity, disturbed your peace
And ripped the center of all your knowing

Others shirk their responsibilities

Others shirk their responsibilities,
Wander aimlessly through life,
Fail to think, are event thoughtless
Am I connected to all of that
To the many, the multitude,
Carelessly ambling through their lives, through mine
Are we all one?
Like an actor.
Can I borrow another’s life? Like an actor,
Play a role, walk in your shoes? Or yours?
Can I know you inside and out? Like an actor.
Embody a stranger,
Mimic your gestures? Or yours?
What do lovers share?
What do lovers share that strangers don’t?
What does love allow that acquaintance lacks?
Do we meet on a bus when we sit and stare?
Do we remain strangers, even though we share the time and place?
Buses are places where I write        
Buses are places I write
My café, my library,
With cell phones and babies crying
Earnest conversations, nanny reprimands,
Brief exchanges between the driver and his flock
I take these slow lugubrious trips as inspiration for my pen
Inspiration is a big word
Long, many syllabeld, deep meaning
Does the ride inspire or the company of strangers
Strangers whose tales I do not tell
Whose lives I fail to touch
Strangers who do not reach me
Whom I never meet or greet
Is this inspiration or just passing of time?
Filling a note book with mere observance and day dreams?  

If I fear the small things

If I fear the small things, the dogs
Or the rabid squirrels who may not be rabid just scurrying
The falling branches and
Cars turning too quickly but easily avoided and seen
Will I escape the big things, the fears that haunt us
From the moment we are born,
From the moment we expect to die
I have begun to emulate Blake in my scribblings
With no clear idea of what that means,
No sense of original sin or even unoriginal sin,
Except the ways in which men and women behave
Hurting each other, allowing their terrors to frighten the children
Not facing life responsibly                    
With joy and gladness for every day
But letting the things that haunt their dreams
Destroy their waking                                              
EASY LIES
Easy lies wreck the lives of complicated folk who simply can’t tell the truth
Truth telling drives rifts between liars and the lied to
Lying changes the color of reality                      
Repentant and  six years sober
Her child, cute and angel light, bounces down the street,
His feet and arms move non-stop, even when he sits
She, sober now, her prenatal care was a needle in her arm
Six years sober watching her boy wracked by movement
Fidgety and unable to concentrate, he breaks the serenity of her  repentance
Let’s say we repent of our sins
Ask forgiveness of our loved ones
Request understanding from all those who know us and event those who don’t
Beg pardon for all we’ve done and even for what we have not done,
Sins of omission, sins of commission
Let’s say we do all that does that take back the darkness in our souls?
Can we find peace and the quiet place that
Drugs and booze never filled just fakes
Being drunk or drugged out belied the turmoil
Let’s say we repent and step all the way through our programs and reform
Does our repentance belie the turmoil, does it give us peace and that quiet place  
Do you understand the politics of hate?
The undercurrents that assure one group it is under the thumb of an establishment. The determination that convinces the “establishment it is being undermined by that same group that feels oppressed. Oppression and aggression being the yin and yang of this kind of politics and it always gets worse. There is always more rhetoric on both sides about good and bad, sacred and evil. Oppression, aggression, inflamed opinions.
  

Sometimes

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing
It is hard to be still, to keep still,
It is hard to wait, watch,
Not meddle nor mend
Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing
Even if everything deteriorates and falls apart
Separates at the seams like a cheaply made dress
Sometimes it is hard to wait, watch, not meddle
Sometimes it is hard to wait, not meddle nor mend
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