Second Poem—Urban Legend

Here is the second poem published yesterday by Anti-heroin Chic.

Urban Legend

Eddie told everyone
Benny lived in a fourth-floor walk up
on Watkins Avenue,
in one of those crummy tenements
that only had heat in the summer—
but he later admitted
he’d never been there.

Jenny said
her cousin Ray told her
Benny lived with his mom and dad
and that the mom
was old country,
spoke only Yiddish,
and took in sewing
to pay for luxuries—like rent.
“Desperately poor,”
She said
Ray said.

But, we all knew Ray
made up stories
and, when pressed,
he’d only say, “How would I know?”

Marty was sure that Benny’s dad
led a horse-drawn cart
around the cobbled streets
of Brownsville.
selling rags and tin pots
and sharpening knives—
“for future suicides,”
we’d joke,
and then remember Anna,
who had.

Looks just like him,
Marty insisted,
but the guy
was named Jesus
and came from San Juan,
and Benny was
as Jewish as Solomon.

Benny would come by midweek
dressed in what must have been
his dad’s cast-offs
and black high-top sneakers
that might have been new
twenty years ago.

He’d join us for basketball—
taking the court
with a winning smile,
though he dribbled
like he thought the ball
was radioactive
and he might—god forbid—
have to pick it up.

Other days,
Ricky assured us with great authority,
Benny ran a floating craps game
in a school yard
somewhere
in East New York.

But Ricky had no idea
why someone needed
to run a craps game.
And what did “floating”
mean anyway—
Hucklebenny on a raft
on the East River?

Benny could talk
you inside out
and seemed to know
all there was to know
about everything.
It was a bit of a challenge—
even for those of us
who went to class
hoping to learn what Thomas Jefferson
High School had to teach,
and Davy might say,
“Let’s see what he knows
about the Spanish Civil War,”
and just like that Benny
would take you to Barcelona
to the aroma of saffron and garlic
and the sound of the ocean
breaking the news
of the death of the Republic.

But what Benny knew best
was baseball.
ERAs and Batting Averages
and who would play who
two weeks from Wednesday—
and yes, he made a little book,
and yes, he made a little money—
but no one begrudged him that.

I pictured him
the next Mel Allen
but they drafted him
and sent him to Nam
with the rest of the kids
from Watkins and Thatford,
Chester and Bristol.
And some came back—
older and odder,
and as doomed as that Spanish Republic,
but Benny never did.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

New Poems

I had two poems published today by Anti-Heroin Chic. Here is the first:
Captain Jack

I almost passed him by–
so folded into himself
he looked more turtle
than seven year old boy.

I had wandered over cautiously–
fascinated by the
verbal fistfight
rattling his second story windows.

“Captain Jack is home,”
I thought.
It’s what we called
that tight little man

who sported
a pencil mustache
and a mermaid tattoo
on each arm.

He was Navy Shore Patrol,
and Mom told me
I was not to visit
when the Captain was home.

She did not issue many warnings.
It was, after all, Brooklyn
and she thought it best
I figure things out for myself.

My best friend, Joel,
did not want to talk just then.
He nursed the kind of wound
that would never really heal.

But, later that day
in the school yard
he told me his dad
the Captain

was teaching him to box.
And, assuming a Joe Louis stance,
he raised his boyish hands–
half-hiding his bludgeoned eye

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | Tagged | 2 Comments

New Poem in Pure Slush Anthology

Pleased to be part of the Pure Slush Beautifullest Anthology:

Here is the poem:

Isn’t She Lovely

Cousin Sarah
was plain as pine.
Every time she
walked by,
my friend Davy
would sing
“There she is
Miss America.”
He was 10–nearly 11
and his voice
would always break at “my ideal.”

If you did that today
I imagine someone
would call you on it—
tears, parents, sensitivity
training would follow.
But in Brooklyn, in 1954
bullying was only a big deal
if you happened to pick on
someone with an older brother.

Not that Davy was anything
to look at
resembling on his good days
a boxer pup.
He sang and sang
and over the years
a careful listener
could hear the meaning change.

In 1968, when Sarah married Davy
on the basketball court,
the ushers were all stoned,
and of course we sang
“Miss America”
when Davy took his place—
resplendent in his high top Keds,
under the netless hoop.

One Sunday a month,
I meet them
at the Atlantis Diner
in Canarsie.
Over 50 years,
they’ve produced
enough kids and grandkids
to fill a small theater—
and wouldn’t you know it,
they’re all stunning.

And every time Sarah
walks from the ladies room
to the table
Davy, god bless him, still hums it—
celebrating his many years
of living with her loveliness.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 5 Comments

Message in a Bottle

I had a new poem published today on MacQueen’s Quinterly. And here it is.

Message in a Bottle

I was hoping
you might read this.
Come upon it
unexpectedly

in that journal
with the intriguing name
you often fan through
but never buy

in that famed bookshop
on the avenue
in the city
you now call home.

Or in a dog-eared
and stained anthology
broken by age
on a crowded shelf

between Ammons
and Auden
in the library
just down the block

from the garden
apartment
you share
with your sister.

Or hear it read
on YouTube
accompanied
by viola and cello

by that old poet
whose once sonorous voice
is fading faster
than his face

as you wait for dinner
in that care facility
overlooking
the once scenic lake.

And you might
have the urge
to reach me
one last time

before the meter expires
on the lives
we have borrowed.
But, better perhaps if not.

And, anyway, how?
Still, I hope
you’re reading
this now.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 4 Comments

Poem from an alternate universe

My Poem, Endgame,was published yesterday by 8 poems. Here is the poem:

Endgame

That last year
Dad lost his
taste for food

and drink,
even for the
Cuban cigar

he once carried
everywhere
like an extra

digit. He
took to napping
in daylight,

something
he could
never

abide, and
staring through
the picture

window overlooking
the small mountain
lake in

the cabin
I had helped
him

build. Once
we fished
that lake

for crappies
and small-mouth
bass.

Butter fried
over an
open fire, they

were perfect
with beer
cooled

in that ice cold
lake. Today
the wind

hints of winter
as I pack
his tools

and grandfather’s
rocker and take
the gravel road

down.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 6 Comments

Silver Birch Press—Front Door Series

I have a poem on Silver Birch today. They are doing a “front door” series. I believe submissions are open until the end of April.

Peanut Butter

“She recognizes you,”
Trish said.
My twin sister was always
the optimist.
The half full half
from the day we were born.

But, I could see
the empty behind mom’s eyes.
No amount of optimism
Would free her.
That door was shut
for good.

My mom’s door was
always open,
the coffee pot
always on,
and cinnamon-raisin babka
so often on the table
it was as if it appeared
by magic.
Our house a beehive
of aunts and uncles,
neighbors and cousins,
and the occasional someone
no one recognized.
Where had it gone?

Trish and I took
a last spin around
the apartment.
The place so small
it was hard to believe
it housed so much
commotion.

Then I closed
and locked
the old blue door
one last time.
“Remember when we
smeared peanut butter
all over the doorknob?”
Trish asked.
I laughed
and remembered
the spanking
we never received
since Mom
was laughing too hard.

Posted in gang gang dance, Humor, poetry | Tagged | 2 Comments

At Ten/ Heartland

I’ve two poems published by Hamilton Stone Review today. Here they are:

At 10

When
it’s very clear

and very cold
my mind makes room

for recollection.
Images

hidden for fifty
years crisp

as that first step
on snow

flash-sealed
by an unearthly freeze.

I’m ten
and my dad and I

have stepped into
the silence

of an iced-in
avenue.

The sycamore limbs
mummified

in sheathes of clear
crystal.

Just for today
I am

the only son
and even

that first stab
of arctic air

is reason
to rejoice.

Heartland

I

Some soft
summer mornings

we’d take
our little lane

west, on what
our parents

once called
a Sunday drive.

Roads here
were built

for horse
and carriage

and meander
like streams

searching for
a lost river.

When at times
the early fog

takes
possession

of the earth,
we drive

more from
memory

than vision—
secure

in our
obscurity.

II.

This morning
the fog

is thick
as Burma-Shave

and I imagine
an invading

army
padding silently

over the ridge
on elephants

and camels
to await

the blooding
of the sun.

But here
in the heartland,

we’ve little
left

to defend.
The young

and the able
long for more

than mastering
the s-curves

down Shawnee Ridge
and $7.50 an hour

at Burger
Den downtown.

They seem to know
from birth

that all our roads
lead only

to somewhere
else.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 4 Comments

Front Door Denizens by Sarah Russell (MY FRONT DOOR Series)

a good one for spring from my friend Sarah

Silver Birch Press

Russell - front doorFront Door Denizens
by Sarah Russell

The door itself is nondescript, a faded forest green, like others in the complex. Yesterday I hung our cherry blossom wreath on its hook, dancing pink blossoms against the dark panel. The remnants of our finches’ old nest⸺intricate grass lace and a bit of mud for glue⸺hide in the silk flowers. The finches come back every spring, and this morning, there they were, flitting from porch to maple tree, warbling a love song, as if they’d been waiting for their wreath, our door. While they’re in residence, we’ll put a note on the post asking folks to come round to the back.

old nest with new life
open mouths searching, peeping
daffodils in bloom

Russell, finch nestNOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Haibun form seemed perfect for telling about the finch family who leases our front door and wreath every year. The above photo is of their…

View original post 75 more words

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Front Door Denizens by Sarah Russell (MY FRONT DOOR Series)

a good one for spring from my friend Sarah

Silver Birch Press

Russell - front doorFront Door Denizens
by Sarah Russell

The door itself is nondescript, a faded forest green, like others in the complex. Yesterday I hung our cherry blossom wreath on its hook, dancing pink blossoms against the dark panel. The remnants of our finches’ old nest⸺intricate grass lace and a bit of mud for glue⸺hide in the silk flowers. The finches come back every spring, and this morning, there they were, flitting from porch to maple tree, warbling a love song, as if they’d been waiting for their wreath, our door. While they’re in residence, we’ll put a note on the post asking folks to come round to the back.

old nest with new life
open mouths searching, peeping
daffodils in bloom

Russell, finch nestNOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Haibun form seemed perfect for telling about the finch family who leases our front door and wreath every year. The above photo is of their…

View original post 75 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More Shortages

It can’t happen here update

The Trump administration is coming under increasing pressure from Fox News and Mayors and Governors across the nation because of the long lines at Euthanasia Centers.

“Seniors should not be forced to wait in hours long lines to die,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Brit Hume of Fox News was forced to agree. “We don’t want to criticize the President in this time of crisis, but these long waits are a National embarrassment.”

Not only is there a critical of shortage of crematoria and incinerators, the three drug cocktail used for the execution is also in short supply. That, coupled with the shortage of urns for ashes and a terrible lack of the commemorative t-shirts that the elders are supposed to receive a week before their execution, has caused widespread consternation—particularly among the Trump base. As you probably recall, the commemorative t-shirts read, “I’m willing to die to save the street.”

In response, the President said that the critical shortage of facilities was being met by a growing number of industrial giants. “It’s a really good response, he said. The best response in the entire world.

Trump said that the shortage of crematoriums was a result of Obama’s horrible regulations. “We inherited pollution requirements and all sorts of garbage regulations,” he said.

Vice-President Pence, head of the Federal Death Panel, said “some of these problems are easily overcome. We can use a sledge hammer instead of the drug cocktail for the executions—it’s quicker anyway.”

“And why can’t those t-shirts be made at home?” he added. “That’s one reason we should require that women take Home Economics in our schools.”

Posted in Humor, parody | 3 Comments