ShareThis

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Wait

Ropes and stanchions keep the lines in order
as if the people are going out on a Friday night
to see the latest blockbuster at the Regal Cinema.
Women at the front desk sit in their little windows
like the workers at Motor Vehicles, only they smile,
speak in quiet, calm voices to ask if you need help.
Dozens of people fill the expertly arranged chairs
like an airport terminal but no one has baggage.
They wait patiently to hear their names called by
sweet voiced young women in pastel scrubs who
remind me of the hostesses down at Olive Garden.

In the back, the machines await, its 21st Century
medicine at its best- sonograms and mammograms,
CAT scans, MRIs, your basic x-rays machines too.
By this time next week, the waiting room people
will know if it’s a boy or a girl, if a lump is dangerous,
why they have frequent headaches and blurred vision,
what kind of operation will their knee require next,
or how bad is the blockage in the coronary arteries.
For now, all they know is that they must wait for
their names to be called, wait and fill out the forms,
wait for the technicians, wait some more, and worry.

Friday, April 3, 2015

SHE DIDN’T WRITE ABOUT

how pink smells like pretty flowers,
how it feels like butterfly wings or
that it tastes like cotton candy and
it doesn’t remind her of Barbie’s car.

Instead she writes hers about a ham.
It is pink, cooked with yummy pineapples,
honey and sugar stuck all over the top.
I tell her she kind of missed the point.

Later, as I collect papers from the class
she tells me why her poem is about ham.
No one ever made a meal that I asked for.
This Sunday, my grandmother is making
ham because I told her I like it so much.

I don’t see my mother much anymore.
My parents are really my grandparents.
The others all have moms and dads, so
I never told them. I tell her it was the same
for me growing up, but it was my father
who I never saw. Smiling now, she tells me-

“And I always thought I was the only one”.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Shake the Salt on When She’s Not Looking


to avoid her high blood pressure lecture.
If she sees his red eyes, she’ll say it’s a sign
of a health condition. She’ll insist on making
an appointment for him, he’ll say he’s fine-
Those doctors always find something wrong
and I’m not ready to hear bad news just yet.

He thinks they’d try to give him a prescription
and he’s afraid he’d have to go back every few
weeks to piss in a cup or get stuck by a needle.
Lately, he’s had tingling in his toes, now and then
there’s been those sharp jabs in his right side and
sometimes it’s like there’s a weight on his chest.

He’d agree to go in for a physical but knows
they’d tell him how he needs to lose weight.
Maybe he’ll go this summer, he’d consider it
if she makes sure the appointment is with the
big heavy doctor, you know the one who’s always
in the parking lot smoking cigarettes by his car.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

LESSONS LEARNED

(AT AN EARLY AGE WHILE LIVING IN LOW INCOME HOUSING, 1974)

Sometimes in life
it’s a good idea to hide in the corner behind a red naugahyde chair.
Sometimes in life
you have to pound on the steering wheel and shout, “you know I wanted ice cream”!
Sometimes life tastes like
Swanson pot pies, Campbell’s soup, Quisp cereal, a packet of Wyler’s juice

Sometimes life feels like
the shot gun blast that killed the old guy who was the apartment manager.
Sometimes it’s like
an across the hall neighbor out of her mind on acid running in with a butcher knife.
Sometimes in life
you have to push the furniture in front of the door before going to bed.

Sometimes life is about
lawyers in the living room and toys you’re forbidden to play with.
Sometimes it’s
your cat having kittens in the closet, but you can’t keep one of them.
Sometimes life
burns like shampoo in the eyes or it cuts like a broken water glass.

Sometimes it sounds like
a Carpenters album, a Gilligan’s Island laugh track, the Banana Splits theme song.
Sometimes in life
you want Mrs. Beasley with her polka dot dress, not the red heart shaped pillow.
Sometimes life is like
pulling GI Joe’s string and the only thing he ever says is, “I've got a tough assignment for you”.


OLD GUY WITH THE NICE POOL














“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor.
Do you know your next door neighbor?”- Mother Teresa

Red lights splashed into all of our back yards,
guessed it was the old guy with the nice pool,
but it was his wife, a loud lady I talked to once.
She suffered a heart attack and died. He’s been
alone for ten or twelve years now and for hours
he sits watching TV on the back porch, I’d hear
MASH, CNN, John Wayne westerns, war movies.

His pool always crystal clear, open Memorial Day,
closed on Labor Day, check the calendar and see
the trampoline-like green cover perfectly placed.
He moved slower, didn’t swim, watched more TV.
Had less pool parties with his family and last winter
a sign went up on his lawn, the house sold quick,
luckier than most who have been trying to leave.

Another neighbor says, “His kids got him to sell and
moved him to assisted living, on his first night there,
he got out of bed, tripped on the rug, broke his leg.
Doctors find he’s filled with cancer. Three weeks later
around Christmas, he’s gone. Dead. Jack was his name”.

Monday, August 4, 2014

JETTY GEORGE

hooked a bluefish, so did Tommy, his busboy.
Pop and I caught weakfish on the Fishin’ Fool.
Worth missing a day at the beach. I remember
how the Royal Flush party boat blasted by and
put us in a wake, rocked us, made us struggle to
bring in our catch of the day, but we reeled it in.
Two slabs under the broiler with lemon and butter,
and a Kodak moment above my desk for eternity.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

WE BOUGHT HOCKEY STICKS IN 1974


at Riley’s Sporting Goods on Laurel Street,
sawed them off if they seemed too long.
South Jersey side streets, makeshift games
whacking a plastic ball at the one boy with
a mask, pads, and goalie stick. He’d block
them all and kids chanted like fans at the
Spectrum- Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
We pretended to be Broad Street Bullies-
Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Dave Schultz.
In school, we drew pictures of them with
clenched fists, black eyes, teeth missing,
orange sweaters with the famous flying P.
Saturday nights we’d put on Channel 29
in the back room, a fire always burned and
Pop smoked El Productos in his easy chair.
Kate Smith’s God Bless America, the voice
of Gene Hart delivered play by play of battles
with Blackhawks, Redwings, and Canadians.
At Christmas, we asked for black and orange
coats, hats, everyone wanted to be a big fan.
Before bed we’d drink milk in glasses with the
unforgettable saying- Lord Stanley Lives in Philly!