Posted: October 29, 2014 in poetry
Tags: ,

The town has a well-groomed courthouse square
surrounded by uneven red brick streets.
Like most towns, 24 times a day,
the clock’s bell strikes the hour and old men check their watches,
As if they have places to go and appointments to keep.
But they sit on the green donated park benches
that have names engraved in brass.
They watch the fall leaves fall
and sit to feel the fall breeze against their faces.
Some whittle, some stuff their tobacco pipes
and some spit into throwaway cups.
And everyone knows the name of the town dog
that runs free, unchained but friendly,
That searches with wildly wagging tail,
sniffing at pant legs, pockets and shopping bags,
Everyone knows that in this town
only the Police Chief’s dogs are allowed to run free.
As the fall leaves burn and the smoke rises
And the old men only sit and whittle,
smoking their pipes and spitting into throwaway cups.
Nervously checking on appointments
that they have never made but they all will keep.


What I Hear

Posted: October 25, 2014 in poetry

I wrestled with words tonight,
pushed and shoved syllables and vowels,
handcuffed the lines and held them prisoner.
I heard what I wanted to hear after they confessed.
Made them admit they had no meaning,
only beautiful but bitter obscurity.


Uphill Walk

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Everyday Life, free verse

Walking the long path, passing unshaded windows and smoking chimneys,
Puffing frozen breath into the northern breeze
with mittenned hands tucked into my coat’s flannel pockets.
I turn neither left or right but look straight ahead not wasting a moment,
only counting the sidewalk cement seams and avoiding the thin icy patches.
Staying warm by not moving a muscle above my striding legs.
Sealing my coat collar with squeezed shoulders and arms
and a buttoned neck allowing no heat to escape.
I think of little more than keeping warm and moving forward,
Step by step, shortening the distance with each.
Not letting the barking dog or scampering  cat crossing my path divert me.
Passing frosted store fronts exclaiming two for a dollar
and buy one get one free that are of no interest
to my watering eyes and red stinging ears and cheeks.
I keep moving forward, cutting street corners
and smiling only at the winter faded keep off the grass sign.
Finally opening the brass handled doors,
I’m blasted by boiler heat and blinded by fogged glasses,
Hearing bells that signal the end of my winter uphill school walk.


Because He Can

Posted: October 22, 2014 in creative writing, Everyday Life

Here’s to Stan the common man
Stands alone because he can
The man who has the callused hands
Eats meat – potatoes and spam in can
He’s weekend’s biggest football fan
Rides to work in a mini-van
Purchased through the installment plan
Paid in cash, no stock purchase plan
Never heard of Kazakhstan
Not well-known for his attention span
Married first to old wife Diane
But caught in bed with Marianne
Told to load the moving van
Two big boxes and an electric frying pan
Here is to Stan the common man
The man alone just because he can.


Spell It

Posted: October 19, 2014 in creative writing, poetry
Tags: ,

Just stopped for a moment to write a short note
Please pay no attention to a thing I wrote
Half of my words will be spelled terribly wrong
Whether a note, a poem, verse or a song
So late tonight when I am snugly in bed
Not jumping sheep but words will be in my head
Not an i before e except after c
Not two vowels in a row the first will be
The poor words that I spell will all look so bad
My spell-checker will question what idea I had
Will suggest a few words as if any will do
Or will just answer back…..”please give me a clue”


Come Together

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Music, Sixties

What makes a good song?
I really can’t answer that, but I do think I can recognize a good one when I hear it. A good song is one that while you listen to it you are carried away in thought. So deeply in thought that even if you vow to listen to the lyrics and try to memorize them , you just can’t do it. Because while you listen, even intently, your mind is carried away by it and before you know it the music is over and you’ve been in la-la land imagining, visualizing or dreaming in another place. Listening to your favorite music technically to catch the lyrics is the worst thing to do, you will never hear it the same again.

An example, the Beatles “Come Together”. I loved that song and music. The first 15 years that I listened to it, I had no fricking idea what the lyrics were. It didn’t matter, I listened to it and I loved it without understanding what the hell they were talking about. It carried me away whenever I heard the beat, the rhythm and the blending of the words, the weaving word play. And then one day in 1985, my children had reached teenage hood. “Come Together ” was playing on my local oldies station.  Both of my kids were reading in the living-room with me and my daughter pipes up, “what do they mean by that?”

“What do they mean by what?”

“Those lyrics “Toe-jam football”, what the heck is he saying, am I hearing that right? What does that mean?”

I was trying to raise my kids right. I exposed them to “good music” every chance I got. The oldies station at home, cassette tapes in the car while traveling. I admit I was probably a “60’s music Nazi” when I had command of the radio or tape player. That’s what they called me under their breath and while they were alone in their rooms listening to that crappy 80’s shit. but by 1985 they had a little bit of an appreciation for CCR, the Stones, the Beatles and DC5. They were miles away from Pink Floyd, the Animals or Van Morrison. But they were developing an appreciation. That weekend, it was the Beatles and I was holding court.

You have to remember in 1985, there wasn’t much of an Internet. Lyrics weren’t at our fingertips like they are now. The closest thing to Wikipedia was 6 blocks away at the local library. Or 30 miles away at Walden’s Bookstore. It was hard to find information at that time. Even of the two sets of encyclopedias we had, one was going on 20 years old and the other was a cheap set my wife got at the grocery store with trading stamps. The lyrics to “Come Together” were not going to be found in either of them and probably not at the local library either. The only way to get lyrics would be at a music store if the song was popular or maybe on the back of  original vinyl album cover which I didn’t have, Abby Road, I think. But we did have a pirated tape with “Come Together” on it. So the only way we had to do it, we transcribed it with pencil and paper.

So, for their musical lesson for the day, we stuck in the tape and listened to “Come Together” together for a little while. Rewinding, listening, fast forwarding listening, writing down the words the best that we could understand them. About 30 minutes of that and the kids “got bored” and recessed to their rooms to listen to more of their 80’s shit. But my wife and I persisted and transcribed a pretty accurate copy of the lyrics.

When we were done, the kids noticed that the damn song wasn’t playing anymore and one by one emerged from their rooms. There on the dining room table was the full handwritten , scribbled musical transcript of  “Come Together”. And for a couple joyful hours we all sat together as a family and read, and laughed and memorized every word of  John Lennon’s screwed up but beautiful inter-imagination. I am very proud to say that to this day my two children, my wife and myself know ever word of “Come Together”. Well, my remembrance is sometimes a little foggy but give me a line and it comes right back to me.

But damn it! The song hasn’t been the same since. I know all the words. Everyone has a different idea of the meaning of the song. But even Lennon said it was gobbledygook just put together by him and later Paul while in the studio. It started out as a campaign song for Timothy Leary when he was running for governor of California against Ronald Reagan. But Lennon couldn’t get into the politics of it all and just sang what popped into his head. It didn’t matter, Leary went to prison for possession of marijuana and the campaign was forgotten. But this song meant a lot to Lennon. It was a “free write”, a song put together with no meaning and only words, proof that a writer can put together a melody and words and the listener will do the rest. They will be taken away in their own imagination and place their own meaning to what they hear.

Here’s the Beatles version. This sounded much better mono, on over the air AM radio. The cleaned up sterile versions on YouTube sounds nothing like they did over a mono car radio with only a front and back speaker or from it’s first release 45 record on your cheap mono record player with the subliminal scratches.

Here  is what I think is the best Lennon live version. This is the only Beatles song that he would sing solo after the break up of the band.



In those types of times

Posted: October 16, 2014 in poetry, politics, Sixties, war

To my children,

“your parents experienced the fear of possible world war with nuclear warheads during the Cuban missile crisis, their favorite president was assassinated, then his brother too, as well as Martin Luther King. They saw their friends and their brothers killed in Vietnam daily on the nightly news. They saw college students killed by their own National Guard, and civil rights protesters attacked with fire hoses and worse. The 60′s, art and music were people’s way of lifting their spirits in those types of times. “

We hid under school desks
slept to burning visions
Watched as dogs attacked
and hoses washed away the denied
But for every bad there was a good
a song, a film, a painted picture
For every bad man there was a good
a speech, a quote, an epitaph
Old men were called the greatest generation
We lived helpless through their rule
They called us Boomers
We wrote hopeful songs
and made the realistic movies
They call us Boomers,
Now, although old, is our time.
What happened to OUR time?