Tuesday, August 5, 2014



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”.


“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


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


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! 

Friday, May 30, 2014


Sometimes I go days without looking in the mirror.
I get a good look when I decide it’s time to shave.
In front of the sink, shake the can of Edge, lather up-
I wonder when the wrinkles start, been lucky so far.
My left eye, no- right eye is bloodshot again, stress?

Notice more white hairs than dark, there’s a blemish.
A few spots here and there, never had them before.
My wife insists I should go and get them checked out.
I look tired after a full night of sleep and why does hair
grow faster in my nose, ears, on the back of my neck?

Somewhere between the last razor stroke and splashing
on the cold water, I remember the friend from college
who always joked about having a Talking Heads moment
while shaving. All of a sudden you stop, stare at the mirror
and say “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”


spreading like a disease, with over 800,000 hits, still going
they’re fighting in the streets, kicking each other in the ribs,
dragging women by their hair, beating each other down in
school yards, restaurants, on city buses, put it on You Tube.
Bystanders, no longer stand by, they hold their phones up high.

Commenting on the action, laughing at the poundings, gasping
at the beatings, shocked by the blood flow, but still recording.
No one tries to break it up, avert the crisis, diffuse the conflict,
or call the cops, happy to push record,  glad the beating is not
on them, while others sit at home- clicking, watching, sharing.


Black jersey and a Phillies cap, we drove down
early in the morning with him belted in the backseat.
He read the directions printed out from the internet,
we found the Philadelphia zoo, I called him My Navigator.
I remember being amazed at how the Monkey House hadn't
changed since my kindergarten class field trip back in ’72.

Been a while, a long time since we've been back.

We rode on to Independence Mall and took photos
with the Liberty Bell, people in Colonial costumes and
stopped to hear songs played with a hammered dulcimer.
Dinner was Tony Luke’s, a small steel structure surrounded
by chain link fence, wedged under the Walt Whitman Bridge
Cheesesteaks with onions and wiz never tasted so good.
We kicked a soccer ball in the empty parking lot at the new
basketball stadium named after a bank, not the old Spectrum.

Been a while, a long time since we've been back.

In the game, the Sixers and Wizards dueled it out on the court.
It was April, both teams had no chance of seeing the playoffs.
We sat in the cheaper seats, marveling at the three pointers of
Arenas, gasping at Iverson’s crossover dribble magic, high fiving
strangers and the old black guy next to us who shouted loudly-
C’mon now AI don’t let Gilbert show you up, not in your house.

Been a while, a long time since we've been back.


Meet me in the living room, it’s almost nine.
You know where to find me, I’ll be in my chair

The weekend is over, but it’ll be fine.
Others think about Monday, but I don’t care.

Tony Soprano had to bump off his friends,
but we don’t know if he got it in the end.

Dick Winters, Nixon, Guarnere- Band of Brothers
greatest generation, braver than others.

Stringer Bell, cops couldn't get him on The Wire,
in the game until Omar opened fire.

Nucky gives orders, runs his Boardwalk Empire
greed, corruption, a professional liar.

Game of Thrones, poor Rob Stark, rotten King Joffrey
found out weddings are deadly places to be.


I was probably 3 or 4 when
she first encouraged me to
create art, always plenty of
markers, crayons, paper.
And I love her for that.

I was probably 5 or 6 when
she first taught me to
love plants, flowers like
forsythia, hyacinths, lilacs.
And I love her for that.

I was probably 7 or 8 when
she first pushed me to
read books, thick books on
history, animals, mythology.
And I love her for that.

I was probably 9 or 10 when
she said nothing as he turned
his anger on me, wish she’d
said “Stop”, that first time.

And I can’t forgive her for that.


Wish I had one more chance
for one more game with him.
The only time we ever went.
Should’ve asked a guy to take a
photograph of me with my father,
way up high in Neyland Stadium.

Wish I had one more chance
to snap a photo of the 106,000 fans
in orange, singing Rocky Top as the
Pride of the Southland Band forms
a big T for the team to run through,
led by everyone’s hero,Johnny Majors.

Wish I had one more chance
to get a picture of Carl Pickens,
star wide receiver, stretching out in
the famous checkerboard end zone.
I still hear the call of “Give him 6!”

and the howl of the blue tick hound.


Welcome to Jersey
if you don’t like the weather-
don’t worry, it changes.
Last year we were off
a week for the hurricane
this year it was snow.

Winter is done now,
ice dams haunted us
no need for more salt.
He never liked spring,
because it doesn't know
what it wants to be.

Four seasons this week
eighty degrees, a snow storm
cool, windy, and rainy.
In spring and fall
you save cash on utilities
no AC or heat.

Ready for summer?
window units will run hard
if it hits ninety.
Hey, it’s better than
dealing with single digits,

please remember that.


Television before cable, 13 channels if you count the UHF,
did it even work, remember antennas on all the rooftops?
When the set was busted, we’d say Oh no, better call Ono!
Mr. Ono, a TV repair guy knew how to get it working again.
Now we put them on the curb, head on down to Best Buy.

Creature Double Feature on 48, Dr. Shock on channel 17 
from Philly, same time, Saturday afternoons, the Seventies.
Mighty Joe Young always on Channel 9, not sure about 5,
maybe that’s where Abbott and Costello met the monsters?
Now we laugh, can’t believe we watched in black and white.

When it was a little chilly and rainy on a Saturday, she’d say
Be a good day for a nap on the sofa and a Godzilla movie.
How come they don’t have any scary movies on TV anymore?
Only people our age would know what she meant by this.

Now it’s easy, she grabs the remote and finds one on Netflix.


I didn't find it in the help wanted pages,
a friend who’d worked there gave me a tip.
Call them up, they need workers for a crew,
hired on, ready to work, we started in June.

Painting tables and poles in the hot sun,
3.35 an hour, I remember the first check.
At 18, I was strong, never wanted to quit,
saving for college, tuition was due soon.

We loaded trucks with tents, chairs and stages
hit the road with the men on my very first run.
Excited to be in Delaware, Philadelphia, A.C.
long hours, time and a half made it opportune.

The education it gave me was one for the ages,
don’t stop, you’re finished when the work is done.


you in the living room singing songs of praise
Go Tell It on the Mountain in pajamas,
then dancing to your mother’s techno music.
You’d ask me, what hat should I wear to play catch?
You’d talk about snakes and herpetology,
Athlon Sports rankings, pretend game announcing.
You told us your thoughts and shared your ideas.
Now, it’s quiet with ear buds, iPhone, Twitter.
Driving down the road, not much said by anyone.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


ladies start the week leafing through
King James Bibles, talking about Jesus
at the dirty tables of a Dunkin’ Donuts.
With an arsenal of scriptures and pink
highlighters, they’ll study the sermon.

Down the street, the Reformed Church’s
5 story spire glows in the floodlights and
flags whip in the cool winds of early spring,
Worries are a terrible substitute for prayer
and A Call to Worship fill up the sign board.

But I don’t go to church, I just sit here on
Monday nights with a butternut doughnut
and a coffee, absorbing the enthusiasm for
John 3:16, their newly found insights into
the apostle Paul and the Book of Revelations.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I hear paws clicking across the linoleum floor,
she continues to sweep crumbs from the table,
our son still thinks he has to put the gate up.
She swore she heard barking in the back yard
and yelled, Can somebody please let him in?

Opening the door each afternoon, she expects
him there, waiting to welcome us home again.
Today I went down the Pet Food aisle, reached
for a bag of the healthy food, a habit for years

Even Cat knows he’s gone, he stares at the
corner where the little round bed used to be
He’s not stupid, you say to us, but we all know
he’ll never care to learn how to respond to life’s
most important words- biscuit, bed, outside, food.