Stevieslaw: New Feature—Ask Smokey Diamond

Stevieslaw: New Feature—Ask Smokey Diamond

Dear Smokey,

I am an 88 year old retired firefighter with emphysema and two bad knees. I live in on the sixth floor of a rent-controlled apartment in Queens. Jared Kushner’s Corporation has just bought the apartment building and I am hearing alarming rumors*. My pension doesn’t go very far any more, so if I am forced to move from this apartment, I will have to move in without my crazy cousin Thelma who hasn’t cleaned her place in Canarsie in more than a decade. Oh, she has 35 cats.


Sincerely, Puffy.

Dear Puffy,


If you stay, there will be some changes. Living rent-controlled in a Kushner Corp building has been likened to living in a suburb of Damascus after the Russians have finished with it. You might expect that the elevator will stop working and the stairway to the sixth floor will be missing several steps. Power and water outages will be frequent or continuous.

Construction on the lucrative apartments will begin immediately. Generally, construction hours will be from 1:30 AM until 8 AM. Noise will compete with the fumes for your attention. During the non-construction hours, Kushner will load and unload huge trucks—not necessarily associated with the construction, right under your window—the one someone keeps breaking with a brick. For some reason, rats seem to thrive during Kushner constructions, so you might want to borrow a cat or two from Thelma.

You might think all of this is illegal, and you would be right. Kushner Corp has the unique reputation of never having filed a single document that was truthful. You can of course complain to the Housing Authority. Budget cuts have reduced the staff to someone named Harry, who is as old as you are and has a case backload of 17 years. Filing a false permit document is punishable by a fine of up to $50.

Acme Movers, Inc up on Steinway Street has a fine reputation. Move quickly while you still can. Kushner Corp’s connection to the Russian mob has never been proven—but then, who would want to try. I hope you are not too allergic to cats.


• See the article in the CDT (3/19/18) by Bernard Condon of the Associated Press.

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Stevieslaw: Buyer’s Remorse

Stevieslaw: Buyer’s Remorse

The consumer watchdog group, “It has Gotta Go,” reported today that a careful examination of Donald Trump’s balding head as he boards Air Force One shows the stamp “discard after 03/12/18. They argue that he has expired and, if he has not already started to smell, he will soon.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, said when questioned on the issue, “This is simple, throw him out.”

While partisan groups like Fox News argue that the president might be preserved in the White House deep freeze, all agree that decomposing and reeking President would send a terrible message to the country and to the world.

Rachel Maddow, of MSNBC, said simply “Landfill,” while cooler heads have suggested his image might be preserved in a lone panel on the U.S.-Mexican border with his hand up in the Universal Symbol of Halt!

Congress is meeting in special session today to decide what to do. “This is unprecedented,”said Speaker Paul Ryan, “But the prevailing is wind from the White House to the Capitol, so we will certainly move quickly on this.”

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Stevieslaw: March Happiness

Stevieslaw: March Happiness.

Here is Central Pennsylvania, just after the start of Daylight Savings Time, we can count on 12 hours of night and 12 hours of gloom. The temperature profile for the next few weeks is simple—high of 28, low of 19. We can also count on flurries—not snow exactly—just a few particles of snow made fierce by the biting wind. And no, the roads here are no better than they were last year. After the usual winter damage of our already poor roads, driving is like a Mogul Skiing event. On a good day, you do not shake off any critical parts of your car. So we link happiness to small things—fifteen minutes of actual sunlight, an early songbird’s hopeful song, and today, for me, Conor Lamb’s win over Republican Rick Saccone in a Western Pennsylvania District so gerrymandered that Democrats didn’t even contest the House Seat in several recent elections.

The Republicans threw everything they had at this election, including a 90 minute appearance by Agent Orange in his role as nutjob in chief. Rumor has it that other House Republicans are writing to the White House to say, “No need for Trump to visit my district—I have this.”

So on this March 14th, with the temperature hovering at just below freezing, snow flakes peppering the sky, the sun in hiding, and the songbirds huddling under rocks, I can still be happy. It feels like spring is on the way.

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I didn't have my glasses on....

the 3-year olds know what’s going on. 

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Stevieslaw: My poem, Susurrus, is up on The Drabble



It is 3 AM
and I am done with sleep.
The snow, illuminated
by a single street lamp,
falls with a grace
pure and poignant.
It coats the silent landscape
so slowly, its accumulation
seems like sorcery.
I ache with the chill
borne through the leadened windows
and the ethereal beauty
of the street scene.

My ramshackle home
has housed more than eight generations.
I close my weary eyes
and listen for the slight
sighings and murmurings
that may only be heard
in the depth of the night
when even the dead
are done with sleep.

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Stevieslaw: New York City, 1968

My poem, NYC-1968 just appeared in issue 23 of Misfit Magazine.  Here is the poem:

New York City, 1968

When last we met
we sat on a stone bench
in Central Park.
Frost had put paid to summer
and the big trees shivered
in the tepid sun.
We fed a squirrel
the remains of your lunch.
You said the draftees
had left
from Grand Central Station
that morning–
your fallen face
the color of the gunmetal sky.
That winter the water main
broke on the avenue
that ran along the park.
For months, we had to take
the long way home.

When last we met
we were in an apartment
in the East Village–
above the shop
that advertised “Fresh Produce.”
You said the Weathermen
had blown out all the windows.
We sat on the floor
in the hellish heat
and the stench of overripe melon.
A cloud of fruit flies
thickened the air.
You said you no longer cared
to brush them away–
your face
the color of ripe honeydew
your lips and eyes
covered in black dots
like a painting by Seurat.

When last we met
we sat in a coffee shop
on 96th street by the Y.
It was an hour past curfew
and we wondered how we would find
a way home through the mobs
and the frightened children
posing as soldiers.
Harlem was burning.
You said your family
had a dry-cleaning store there
and that hopelessness
was ingrained in the air and water.
Your dad kept a German Shepherd
as insurance on your livelihood,
but someone had poisoned it
with mock kindness and raw hamburger.
As we left,
they were pulling the iron grating
over the windows.
You went uptown
I went down.

When last we met
we stood in a sodden graveyard
perched on a rise in Queens,
that overlooked the skyline of the city.
The newly turned soil
screamed everlasting life.
You said your brother
would have been twenty-two tomorrow
were it not for the sniper’s bullet
that hollowed his left eye
and blew away the back of his head.
I recited a meaningless prayer
in a language I had never bothered to learn.
We shared a cab back to town.
I got out on Sixth street,
on the seedy side of The Village.
The steady drizzle
left room for only a meager sunset.

When last me met
we stood at the bar
in Sonny’s Place on Jay Street,
half hidden in the shadow
of the Myrtle Avenue El.
Sawdust coated the old oak floor,
the air heavy with smoke and sweat.
Sirhan Sirhan had just shot
Bobby Kennedy, his bloodied body
shown again and again
on the muted screen,
as if in one last replay
he might stand, shake his head, and smile.
Our beer staled in a silence
that might have gone on forever
had you not turned and left,
the door slamming shut behind you.

And, here is the link to the issue. Issue No. 23, Spring 2018

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Stevieslaw: Republican Courage

Stevieslaw: Republican Courage

Led by a forward thinking Marco Rubio, Republicans will act on gun control in the next Congressional Session, whether or not the NRA is willing to go along.

Said Rubio spokesperson, Onth Taek, “The Senator believes he can find enough support in both the House and the Senate to raise the age at which you can buy a military grade assault weapon from 18 years old to 18 and 4 hours. A companion bill to force manufacturers to paint bump stocks a dayglow orange—to provide police marksmen with a better target, and to limit the amount of ammunition you can buy in a single visit to no more than you can carry out in a very large backpack, also has a reasonable chance of becoming law.”

“Of course the NRA is bound to object to such dramatic changes,” said Mr. Taek, “But, Republicans are willing to take them on in order to protect the citizens of this great nation.”

When questioned about the Republican plan to arm teachers and “harden” the schools, Onth said, “Marco feels this is a good start, but does not go far enough. He would also like to arm “very mature” 6th through 9th graders, as they are most likely to have initial contact with a heavily armed maniac.”

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