im more than you would think
a flash in the pan a wink of the eye
well traveled soul (once upon a time)
and im gone
i talk to mountains taste cheese grow tomatoes
addicted to olives and stormy seas
like the feel of the sun on my face the wind on my back
i can paint you a sunset in a minuet
or a year
im a terrible driver good father
reflective possessive passionate carefree
i worry i hurry
take the “L” train to the games
my inner child is wild
he was formed from wet plaster
i could stand on my head like to jump on the bed
at chess im a non master
my poems, they dont rhyme
you see, I haven’t got time
splattered ink on the carpet
shadows from skyscrapers Fall trees in full bloom
i never really tasted death but addiction
is as close to hell as you ever wanna be
I WOKE UP today stretched out uncovered
in the middle of winters open window
full of overflowing filling spilling
Thanks mom for
for never fucking being there
and because of that
now, when i look at the cloudless night skies
i see things that others do not
think things that others will never cross
write verses from scorching emotions
deeper than the diamond laced blackness
Nobody misses Beverly. It’s all about Brenda. I just don’t understand it sometimes. Can you believe Bev is gone 13 years this August already. Maybe that’s why. It was so long ago. Pretty soon your existence on this planet becomes nothing. Unless you are a president or a celebrity. Unless you are leaving something important behind, like a legacy of inventions or books.
One hundred years ago our great grandfather struggled everyday with making ends meet for eleven children. He had hundreds of different relationships with family and friends. He walked down the streets of Jersey City to the German butcher to talk in his native language to the people that worked and hung out there. In his mind this world that he knew and loved would be here forever and in the back of his human thoughts maybe he would be here forever too. New technology to him was cars going down the street, photography, indoor plumbing and electricity. Now the entire family is dead. All their everyday worries, heartaches and triumphants don’t mean a blessed thing anymore. Think about how minuscule your deepest desires will be in one hundred years. Some freckle-faced little future cousin of ours will be looking at a photo of you posing with your large family from Carteret, New Jersey and thinking, “He’s dead now. I wonder what concerned him in 2013?”
Soon the breeze you feel pushing against your face as you walk down your sidewalk, surrounded by your own technology friends and family will make you smile at the simple joys of being alive. You carry a phone in your pocket and you have almost three hundred friends in your combined social networks. Your Great Grandfather had chickens in his yard and you buy your chicken already cooked at a place called KFC. Did you ever look at old photographs and wonder just WHO those people were? Are they still alive? What kind of life did they have? Was it happy?
What Number Am I Thinking Of?
I believe in ghosts, UFO’s, the after-life, angels and God. I used to believe in magic until my brother Gregory actually “became” a magician. He collected magic tricks and purchased them at a “Magic Store” I think in Westfield NJ. We got most of our cool stuff from downtown Westfield. He paid a lot of money for this magic because basically he was paying, not for the props but for the “secret” of how this magic trick worked. This is why I don’t believe in magic anymore. It’s not magic. They are all tricks and delusions. I was very disappointed when I saw all this in my closet that Greg and I shared.
This was the same closet where my brother collected Charlie McCarthy dolls. There were seven of these dolls “living” in our closet. I saw all the magic tricks and their secrets. The hidden doors and collapsable boxes.
For the record Greg had a few great moments as a magician. He may seem quiet and a little anti-social but once during one of Beverly’s three weddings (maybe it was the denim one with John Morgan the ex marine and steel worker) that Greg performed one of his best magic shows. It was magnificent. I remember people actually saying “oooooohhh” and “aaaahhhhhh” after one of his tricks. This was the last night that I ever believed in magic.
If You Believe In Ghosts…
…then Joan, Carol and Fred are sitting on the empty table next to you in the dimly lit bar. They are giving you Keno numbers written on Pep Boy match book covers. You wonder why the numbers aren’t all winners. You can’t see a ghost of course but sometimes if the light from a mirror bounces off a wall at the right angle… I do believe in the other dimension, the one right in front of you. The one defined by quantum physics. There is no present, past or future there. Smoking their fucking brains out and lining up cans of Bud and shots of Rock and Rye. The lushes they were, they will always be and hoping that this time in upside-down-land they might finally feel the buzz. Joanie as she is known here, would do anything to fall and break her leg (again) and feel the pain because you can’t feel anything in that ghost dimension. Who can forget Mom laying in the dark middle room in agonizing pain from her sciatica. Sciatica can be induced with pregnancy. My mother was very good at pregnancy. In a micro moment they are walking with Rebel down the property line of 2850 Pioneer 9th street.
“I just can’t fucking believe it.” Rebel says over and over again.
“I just can’t fucking believe it!” as he walks a straight line down the outskirts of his property. He looks down at this imaginary line and paces to the northwest corner. Stops. Turns left. Then continues down the invisible line.
“That fucking Butch. That god-damn son of bitch fucking no good Butch!”
“Where’s my property?? Son of a bitch!!”
There were moments when I fantasized living there. It was always sunny and there were cows and horses everywhere. A perfectly symmetrical cornfield. Chickens clucked during the long hot days and rooster woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. Kryha told me that the cows are a lot of hard work but they are worth it. The froth at the top of fresh warm milk in a bucket is supposed to splendid. Perhaps even containing secret ingredients to good health and a long life. (I’ve never had it) Technically I was the only homeless man that actually owned a home and property in the whole world. It was one of aunt Carols greatest last wish in this life here in the non-other-dimension that the property remain in the family. Greg tried. Then nothing. Truth is the place is better off with someone to take care of it. To give it the love and attention that it needs. Nethertheless I failed greatly. Carol doesn’t care much but Rebel has been trying to kick the shit out of me for the past month. He is stalking me with this southern rage. I find his beard hairs on the bathroom floor. I feel the whiplash of the breeze every time (six or seven times a day) he tries to punch me in the face. His ghost arm goes right thru me. So the ghosts of our heritage past watch over us, speak to us in German in our dreams, they toast to our upcoming deaths with Irish whiskey.
James Fredrick Gill our cousin keeps in touch with me since we rediscovered his and his sisters existence again on the cute social network FaceBook. Basically we text one-liners to each other during the football season and exchange cool emails. This has been a great find in my life. I am really grateful for the internet in this respect. His love and knowledge of sports is ferocious and he has turned out to be quite a great dad and person. Since our reunion he always stretches out his arms in invitation and tells me that there is a free room waiting for me and Kryha in Ohio. All we have to do is get there. This invitation has become relentless. In the beginning it was nice and then it started to piss me off. It made me crazy because as simple and sweet as the invitations were….I just couldn’t make it a date. I always had an excuse. Work, money or time. I never had any of them…..and THIS just pissed me the hell off. That if I can’t take advantage of this beautiful thing….then there is something deeply wrong with me. Life is too short as I have explained in detail this entire post and actually my entire blog.
My great grandfather died at age 55 and he had diabetes. Before he passed away he had his left leg amputated because of the disease. My grandfather also died of diabetes but he lived to be 71. He also had his left leg amputated before he passed away. My father died at age 38. He didn’t have diabetes but his death was very complicated.
Here is a page from his autopsy. Click Here.
This was so long ago and officially they say he died from a bleeding ulcer. It is so obvious here that we inherit so much from our past generations. Do you think it’s ironic that both my grandfather and great grandfather had their left legs amputated? It’s surely not a coincidence also that our sister Beverly also died from diabetes although drug usage and anorexia also played a part. Beverly had begun to slowly kill herself in her teens. I called her death a slow-motion-suicide because that’s what it was. Do we believe that alcoholism is inherited? Or any of the other addictions. Do I have my fathers nose or my great grandfathers penis? I am glad I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that he made his living as a printer. I am a printer.
So what is the lesson here? Should I have a doctor check out why two middle toes in my left foot are slightly numb?
I have already out-lived my father by fourteen years and in two my years I will have caught up to Charles Hartmann from Jersey City. What happened to my dad? There was something burning his insides out. They couldn’t figure it out. The doctors seemed to have did everything wrong. I was never one to go around suing everybody for every little thing but this was quite possibly an open and shut case of medical malpractice. I even remember hearing someone telling that to my mother shortly after Dads death. Just think how much more complicated and deadly our little family of ten would be with a couple million of dollars injected into the already chaotic state?
This is why so many people have become so interested in their heritage. Where did we come from? It is an amazing journey through time to catch a glimpse of your past. A photograph. An old letter. A lock of hair. I hope it is, that whatever my father died from, is NEVER inherited into the family. Hopefully it was just botched doctor work. For the record all his siblings were “sick” to some extent. His brother William (that is still alive) is a polio survivor. His sister had lupus and was told she wouldn’t be here long (but lived an very long life).
There are two sides to every heritage however. We have a father and a mother. We are the combination of both heritages. Mixed in a blender and spread out on a plate of surprise. Nobody knows what the heritage blender is gonna mix up as a person. Sometimes it even creates a new trait, feature or addiction for the next generation to handle.
For the most part I have succeeded in obtaining a huge chunk of the Hartman side of our family. Two years ago, I thought I would never see a photo of my great grandfather or his children. Not only do I now know what they look like but I have also obtained two huge documents they contain an oral history of the family. They are written by two of the eleven children. In my next post I hope to have them obtainable here in PDF form for downloading/printing and reading.
I have neglected the Gill side of our family. My mother Joan’s heritage for the most part is a complete mystery. The people that I would like to ask even the most basic questions to…are all ghosts now. That is very frustrating because I had my entire life to ask these questions to all of these people when they were alive and now when I need them they are in another dimension chain smoking Viceroys.
I always did have a curiosity for the past. My mother was a strong story teller and I loved when she would get into that story telling mode. Sometimes she would get TOO HONEST. A couple of “King of Beers” in the white can and a pack of smokes and she would sit at that kitchen table and tell us all about Grandpa Gill and May Gill. How they would get their children into the cinema for free during the depression just by saying that their dad was a policeman in town.
Somewhere, somebody named “Bernie” had or took what was called the “Gill Family Bible”
I do remember this thing being mentioned in one of my mothers rambling stories. Supposedly it contains names and layers of the Gill tree. Photos and other information too.
It is now the quest of cousin James and I to find that treasure.
For the Hartman explosion of heritage discovery it all began with a letter. Barb took the time to write to a nuns retirement home to ask about our great aunts who were nuns. The information we received back helped greatly in the discovery of our Jersey City New Jersey heritage. I am surprised that even the simplest facts of Gill family tree heritage is not even know. Grandpa Gill, the Westfield cop…did he have any brothers or sisters.
From what I remember he did have at least an uncle Frank but I wasn’t sure. I also remember my mother telling me the story of how Frank went to WWII as a sailor in the Navy and his submarine was lost at sea. Nothing or nobody was ever recovered from the water. How could a young boy like me who obsessed with combat movies ever forget that tale.
Here indeed is a letter verifying “Uncle Frankie” existence.
Here is what is inside the letter. HERE This beautifully scripted hand-written letter post marked almost exactly seventy-five years ago, a short but sweet introduction to a newborn is just classic. Real letters like this, from the heart are almost extinct now. FaceBook, twitter and emails are the new norm. There were probably hundreds if not thousands of letters delivered between all the members of the Gill/Hartman family and yet this one ended up saved. It survived I believe because it was written by a man that he would “see you soon” and maybe that never happened. Uncle Frank was lost at sea and never found.
Are there any more siblings of Fredrick Gill? Perhaps we think a sister Caroline? (according to ancestory.com…not confirmed.) Maybe this is who our aunt Carol is named after? Also with this letter we get a different address presumably the one they lived at before Austin street.
The lost art of letter writing and the US Post Ofice has announced that they will soon end Saturday deliveries! At one point in the beginning of the century, when our great grandparents were not ghosts, the mail was delivered seven days a week and two times a day!! Twice a day deliveries ended in 1950 and it’s been pretty much downhill from there.
Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?
Things Greg collected:
charlie McCarthy dolls
What happens when you say that you don’t believe in magic anymore? Your life can become a dull senseless voyage to nowhere. I have always been connected with the news. I waited by the door for the newspaper to be delivered when I was a kid. Three different times I worked for newspapers and I read every daily issue from from to back everyday. Now with the internet the news is at your fingertips everyday. There have been so many sad news stories lately that I keep telling myself that I am just going to stop reading the news. The Sandy Hook school tragedy affected everybody greatly. For me it was comparable to 9/11 which took me months to get over. Or do you even ever get over something like that? I haven’t. It changes you. It changes the world.
In my news musings I found this viral video of a little girl who was going to ride on a train for the first time. She was almost the same age as the children that were machine-gunned to death in Conneticut. The video is HERE.
When I first saw this I realized how magical life is when you are a child. Everything seems fresh and new and then what happens? There is magic, never lose faith. Even when you think you have seen all the hidden doors and collapsable boxes, you really haven’t. There is always another magical trick awaiting around the corner. It will surprise you when you least suspect it.
“There is magic, but you have to be the magician. You have to make the magic happen.”
SIDNEY SHELDON, Are You Afraid of the Dark?
When is the spaceship coming to pick me up?
Brother Glenn is in trouble again. Bonnie holds his hand in hospital as he struggles to hang on. Keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for going to see him Bonnie. We love you Glenn.
Dennis our cousin. Not many of us remember him nor does he probably not remember us. There was a time, though, when he sat soaking wet from the pool on a lawn chair in our backyard shivering under a towel.
My early memories of Dennis is that he was always internally and externally rebellious. I can still hear his mother’s high-pitched cry- “DENIIIIIIIIISE ” Because it seemed he was always crossing that discipline line that every parent draws for their kids. Although his brother Robert disagrees with me, Dennis WAS THE ONE in the driver seat when the brake was released in our driveway. The car was filled with all of us waiting for Aunt Gerry to come out and drive us away somewhere. The car rolled down the driveway in slow motion and for whatever reason we all decided that the best thing to do would be to bail out of the moving car.
The panic that ensued during the bail-out would have been a viral YouTube video had we taped it back then. Our sister Beverly got seriously hurt because when she jumped out of the car, she hit the white picket fence that surrounded Whitman street back then.
My other perfect memory of this “tragedy” was the aftermath. All of us, shocked and yelled at, hanging out in the open garage. The Doors were playing the condensed version of “Light My Fire” on the AM radio. Beverly was still in great pain and moaning in the corner. It was suggested that maybe her arm might be broken. This turned out to be false but the deep bruise that developed in the next few days was quite a colorful sight.
The last time I saw Dennis was the Summer of 1975 when Aunt Gerry had me shipped over to “watch” Dennis while she worked. As it turned out, Dennis who was several years younger than me, actually ended up WATCHING ME. We listened to Elton Johns Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy over and over again. In our boredom we had created some stupid baseball game that involved throwing dice. Dennis frequently wandered away and hung out with this gang that scared me. So our separation as friends and cousins was painless and quick.
I saw the first Jaws with Dennis in a movie theater in LA, went to the Ponderosa ranch, Disneyland and met uncle Bill in Long Beach. Somehow we ended up at Lake Tahoe and then the very long scenic drive back to California that seemed to take forever.
As the years rolled into decades, I’ve often wondered whatever happened to my cousin Dennis the Menace. Like all of us, he is a survivor. His inspiring story now known.
I don’t remember this day in the backyard when our uncle Jay Jones took little film clips of our family gathering with some of dads side of the family. This was around 1968 or 69 so I was nine years old and probably on the street playing baseball or football. This is movie still number one of several to come.
Gregory was my bunk mate for most of my years on Whitman street. Our home had more bunk beds then a Navy Submarine. It is because of Gregory that I know the words to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash songs. It is because of Gregory that I read more books today and my horizon in music constantly expands.
Gregory had a stroke several years ago and it, thank God, it didn’t kill him or totally destroy all his mental capacities. He can still bring back memories and bring a smile to our faces with his slick sense of humor.
But he isn’t the same. It’s not the Gregory I know and remember. It isn’t this little innocent kid in the movie still sorting pool towels.
Yeah sure he still listens to music and ironically drinks and smokes. He sleeps 18 hours a day and for a former work-alcoholic, this just isn’t the right Gregory. Gregory is part of whatever the hell is wrong. What went wrong with us? All of us. Broken kites hanging in trees. The dysfunctional family blues. Flapping helplessly from the branches. Why are we all slowly killing ourselves? And why do I feel like we are the only ones? Every other family in the world seems so happy and healthy. I know this is so far from the truth but I think that is what shame does. This kind of shit is avoidable if he he took care of himself.
I miss little Gregory-eggory. He is down in Florida and I haven’t seen him since he drank and smoked himself into this walking coma. I think I am just afraid to see him like he is now, just like it frightened me to go to Beverly, Brenda, Mom and Dads funeral.
I am very old school with bills. I still put a check in an envelope, lick it and stick it in a mailbox. Not only old school but stupid. I have been slowly converting to on-line bill paying and most recently, in order to avoid another late fee I logged into my dumb phone account on-line. Interesting little tid bit on the bottom of my page: “Album” So it was there I found some photos that have been sent to me and ones I have taken many years old. This one ‘Window and Sun” I remember taking this photo. It was many years ago. I usually carry a camera with me at all times but in this case I loved what I saw but had no camera and resorted to my dumb phone.
Now here it is, many years later, the memory fresh but I have no idea where it was and why I was there. Something inside of me says Jersey City but Im just not sure.
I am sharing this photo for two reasons. One is the age and complete mystery of it. The other reason is that for a dumb phone, this is a cool shot. I like grainy, blurry, miss-cropped photos. Sometimes I have to go to Photoshop to achieve these results with the clean digital crap that I get out of my point and shoot. My dumb phone takes bad pictures and does the Photoshop work for me.