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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I AM THE NEIGHBORHOOD


I am chain link fences, above ground pools, metal sheds from Sears.
I’m the place where homes don’t have garages or wide driveways
and where cars cut through to avoid the traffic out on Route 18.
You’ll see for sale signs on many lawns for well over a year.
It’s a buyer’s market, but no one want to buy these. They came here
decades ago from Newark and Jersey City, now they want to leave.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.

I’m where the magnolias grow and drop their blossoms too soon.
I’m where squirrels build nests in mighty oaks and gorge on acorns.
I’m a place where cats climb into yards and make themselves at home.
I’m where Statues of the Virgin Mary sit alongside Slomin’s Sheilds,
and where you find Smiley’s Laundromat next to the Halal Meat Shop.
In the cold winter air, smells from Hong Kong Express travel quickly.
At night the neighbors drag their green robo-trash cans to the street.
and sometimes you hear a train whistles up by Bordentown Avenue.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.

I am the old forgotten neighborhood in this suburban town.
Others are having curbs and sidewalks replaced, I never had them.
In the center of it all is Jersey Pride, a place where middle aged men
line up nightly with cash and a quarter to begin scratching off cards
labeled Double Down, Big Money, Diamond Spectacular, Win for Life.
Either you stay here a few years or you’ll never leave, is what they say.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.







CORNER STORE

coffee- light and sweet
cigarettes and scratch offs
today’s Star Ledger

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WAITING ON THE CLOSING


I didn't think it’d be possible to love this
little blue house in this old neighborhood.
Close together, so much alike, built in ’51.
Our first home, a good place to get started.
Then we’d move on to bigger and better.

In springtime we’d take rides to get a look.
We’d drive slowly, up and down the street,
catching a glimpse of the white picket fence,
bright yellow forsythias, tall and mighty oaks.
Never thinking about all the leaves we’d rake.

I think that’s a lilac bush, I remember saying.
An array of slate rocks served as a walkway,
grape hyacinths on the lawn, a hydrangea row
alongside the three car driveway- a good spot
to learn how to ride a bike or to play basketball.

With porch lights shining, inside the family
who sold the house, packed boxes, we hoped
they hadn't seen us, but wished we could've
gone in to measure windows, to see where we’d
place the sofa, once the lawyer closed the deal.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

THOUGHT I’D LIVE IN A HOUSE



in the country, surrounded by trees,
she speaks aloud on our Sunday drive.
Marveling at the wealthy homes she sees.
Waking to songs of birds, I’d feel so alive.
coffee on the deck to begin each day,
It’d feel like church, a perfect place to pray.
Set way back off the road, so much space.
Now I know we’ll never live in such a place.

Friday, April 19, 2013

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS



In the dead of winter, I get up early to
find my house too cold, the heater runs,
but it’s blowing cold air out of the vents.
The thermostat tells me it’s 63 degrees.
I think about what to do as I know the
serviceman won’t come out right away.

I’m bad at fixing things, I never know
how to start, I don’t have the right tools.
I go to You Tube and look for free advice,
and I know what that’s worth- nothing.
I type in- my heater is blowing cold air.
Each guy talks too much with their hands,
they all have mustaches, slight accents,
they wear khaki pants and polo shirts.
They look like they’re somebody’s Dad.

They say the same things, be sure to check
the thermostat’s batteries, the breakers,
the filter, change the filter and make sure
none of the vents are  blocked by furniture.
Look for flashing lights on the bottom, then
count the number of flashes, it’ll tell what’s
wrong with your unit, read the panel door.

Perhaps it’s the thermocoupler? It’s probably
dirty, they show me how to properly clean it.
Be careful as you could damage the sensors.
Be careful as you might get yourself electrocuted.
The last word of advice from them all is the same-
if you’re unsure, don’t attempt to repair it yourself,
consult the yellow pages, call a licensed professional.
And after an hour, that’s the advice I chose to follow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

JUST IN CASE


In case you didn't know, it’s not easy to get started-
no one said it’d take until age forty to get on my feet.

In case of emergency, there were people I counted on.
But they’re all gone now and I can finally handle it all.

In case of failure, you've got to realize there’s always
a second chance, but there isn't always a third one.

In case you missed it, I often sit and think of the past,
sometimes I get upset missing the ones who are gone.

In case you hadn't noticed, I love to be at home,
at the end of the day there’s no place I’d rather be.

In case you are wondering, my future plans include
waking up to sunshine, a sandy beach and the waves.

In case people should ask, and they probably won’t
I’m doing alright after all those years of struggling.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SUFFERING



















Don’t tell me
how you’re suffering,
we’re lucky.
Electric
is off, but we have water,
food, and gas to cook.

We’ve got books,
candles, flashlights, games.
Others lost
every piece
of clothes, furniture, photos,
cars,entire homes.

After a week,
our lights came back on.
Others died,
don’t complain
about your iphone’s charge
or gas ration lines.

HOUSE HUNTER















It was the third week in February.
I remember it was President’s Day.
In Jersey it’s usually cold and gray,
we had sunshine and warm weather.
It was a buyer’s market, they said.

A realtor showed me houses here
and there, only ones I could afford
with my minimum down payment.
When we drove up to this one, I knew
it was what they called a starter home.

I didn’t care if it was small or very old.
I wanted a yard for my son to play and
a place for flowers and tomato plants.
I wanted him to have a decent school
and a safe neighborhood to grow up in.

I worried about taxes and a mortgage.
but when I saw the color, I wanted it.
Earlier, before I left, I’d asked my son-
What kind do you want? and he said,
I want a blue one, get us a blue house.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

AMERICAN DREAM



they always said how you need to buy a house,
a big deduction, it’ll never lose its value, besides
paying rent is just like throwing your money away.

high mortgage, a home not worth what we paid,
property taxes go up every year, too many repairs
just keep taking all the money that we both make.

Now we look forward to the apartment we’ll rent.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

VINTAGE LETTERS



mail was valuable way back then
in the days of grandfather’s youth
letters were the way to send friends
messages, money, and kind words.

his mother wrote him at college,
mail was valuable way back then.
words of encouragement arrived,
fine crafted letters full of love

weather updates, daily routines
anecdotes from a place called home.
mail was valuable way back then,
she assured him Father was proud.

in the basement, letters kept for
a lifetime, unshared memories.
I read them now, decades later-
mail was valuable way back then.

PRICE PLUS



Did you find everything you were looking for?
Are there any items on the bottom of your cart?
Do you have any coupons or a Price Plus card?

The 3 questions cashiers always ask at this store,
they must train them to say it before they start.
Did you find everything you were looking for?

Shopping for groceries shouldn’t be this hard,
displays and selfish customers block the aisles.
Are there any items on the bottom of your cart?

I spent $200 without a single package of meat,
the lady with food stamps buys T-bone steaks.
Do you have any coupons or a Price Plus card?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

HOLD ON, SUMMER'S COMING



Mornings I shuffle to the thermostat
to bump it up a few degrees and think
I’ll be opening windows in a few weeks.
I’ll be soaking up rays of sunshine as
I rake leftover leaves from fall and sow
grass seed in an attempt to have a lawn.

We’ll put begonias in the flower boxes
with orange marigolds, blue ageratums,
and get excited buying tomato plants.
We’ll straighten the rocks around the
bed where the perennials come up and
we’ll pull weeds from the patio’s cracks.

I’ll cook hot dogs and burgers on the grill,
drink a few beers after cutting the grass.
I’ll listen to a baseball game on the radio,
sit in a plastic Adirondack chair,look up
at the stars in the sky and be thankful for
all I have and glad that winter is long gone.

TWO YEARS PASSED



before I called an electrician.
Tired of fumbling with keys,
trying fit it into the door knob.
Tired of eating in the dark and
hearing too many complaints.

I put it off as long as I could,
no one likes spending money.
Now lights shine brightly by
both doors, a ceiling fan hangs
above the dining room table.

The outlet in my son’s room
is updated for 3 prong plugs.
No more tape over his switch.
They spent all afternoon here,
two men working on the list.

With more money, it would've
been longer, 60 year old homes
always need something fixed.
In a few years, I might call them
to come back to finish the list.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

POWERLESS



The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees
lost lives, streets flood, cars wash away, homes burn.
Darkness across the state, downed wires, fallen trees.
The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees.
No choice as waves rise, the entire neighborhood flees
It’s dangerous living near water, a hard lesson to learn.
The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees
lost lives, streets flood, cars wash away, homes burn.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

GET THE MAIL



Sometimes we stack it up all week long.
Catalogues piled on the table every day,
businesses we ordered from years ago-
Hanes Her Way, L.L. Bean, Gaelsong.
Refinancing from mortgage companies,
always in some official looking envelopes
presorted postage, labeled with labels like
to our friends, Open at once, time sensitive.

Offers from Discover and American Express,
Alumni Associations begging for more money
join stacks of special life insurance policies.
Local Shopper’s Guides, Money Mailers with
offers and coupons to places we’ll never go.
My wife’s Smithsonian magazine, she doesn’t
have time to read it. And every quarter we get
a water/sewer bill on a small white post card.

Saturday mornings, I sit with a cup of coffee
to tear open envelopes, rip them to pieces,
drop them into the kitchen trash can and think
about how there are no handwritten letters on
floral stationery sent in colorful pastel envelopes.
Gone are those who used to send them to us and
soon, says the News, the Post Office will be too.
I wonder who’ll bring all this junk mail to us then.