portrait of the poet at 55. (written Aug 25 2015) why else wouldn’t our country be depressed? the world doesn’t seem to be getting better. there is always a new terrorist group waiting in the wings. the shootings are getting closer together and louder. we all look around suspiciously even while waiting for our Starbucks®. Visions of Sandy Hook crime scene still haunt me. my imagination is a gore manufacturing machine influenced by the media and Hollywood CGI.
the tomato garden was exhausted so i reluctantly retired it early. our old neighborhood. they watched us carry our life in brown grocery boxes into waiting cars. the birds still chirp, the dogs barks echo and the ice cream truck still screams from down the street. no, sorry it wasn’t white flight. we loved you neighborhood, you are forever in our hearts.
I’m not selling any of my shoes at the garage sale like the women did. because I need all mine. I still have plenty of walking to do. In a micro-second at work, the server crashed and the back-up followed. So the horrible equivalent of my job’s building burning to the ground happened one hot Summer morning. the smart girl moved 288 miles north and my son waded into a diverse dormitory somewhere in middlesex county new jersey. my other boy stepped off a plane from United Arab Emirates with a red face blasted by sand and sun.
I was just getting into cooking when a grease fire wiped out my ambition and abilities. for me, cooking is all about timing. start the potatoes first and everything after that will be dandy. when the art students finally leave, the teacher takes off her pants to get comfortable. she slices the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers and makes a sandwich with her made-in-Passaic-ghetto-bread. she calls it “starter” bread because the dough is passed on from generations when it “started” . this is also called “poolish” (and old English word for Polish) or “mother bread”. Let it be known that there are some Mother Bread hundreds of years old. meanwhile in New Brunswick I heard my son say, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” but if you are only now choosing classes in for your first semester in college you better find that out quick. actually I’m still searching for that what I wanna be when I grow up and I’m bald with a prostate that is giving me fits.
if i didn’t announce my birthday it would have rolled into oblivion because everybody was too busy packing. packing to move to Boston. packing to move to New Brunswick, packing to move to a new place. packing. packing. packing. we have to go. we have to move. we have to pack. there’s nothing more sobering then being told you have to move. you have to move because the landlords son has a severe gambling problem and he needs the money to play poker. if i didn’t insist on a birthday present I would have got another heartless shirt or hat.
so here I am at 55 finally learning some important lessons. number one: speak up for yourself! hey it’s my birthday and I don’t want another dumb hat or shirt. thank you very freaking much. sheeeesh, people just don’t know nor care. ahhh, George is ok. leave the old man alone, throw him a Giants shirt. so I said something. buy the old man a blue iPod nano you unimaginative fools so he could listen to his weirdo music.
and I wish someone would have taught me lesson one from the very beginning. instead i was walking around my awkward adolescence like a dumb ass Billy Pilgrim just taking shit and more shit and then even more shit. people figured me out right after the initial introduction, oh this dude is a door mat. walk all over that. waking up on a bunk bed and facing each day with incredible amounts of FEAR. afraid to smile. afraid to talk.
I was a bundle of fear because my father was standing tall on my hero pedestal when he decided to take a quick detour into the silent abyss and my mother decided to punish me for the rest of my life for not accepting her sexual advances when I was 12. some people could shake off not having parents and actually use it to catapult higher in life. But I jumped on the springy diving board and it snapped like a fresh pea pod in half.
also this past summer of 2015 we attempted a vacation somewhere by the ocean. but nobody was really there. everybody’s mind was somewhere else. did you actually taste the ocean? did a wave slap you in the face? did we ever make it to the top of the lighthouse? the much anticipated dolphin watch turned out to be mechanical dolphins spinning around on the oceans surface.
although we had a high room with a good view everyone was looking at the future and worrying. our landlord put the phone on hold for three days to and when we finally answered it we got kicked out on the street. a mysterious detective from our home town called while we were “on vacation” and was asking questions about a missing person. one day on the beach the wind was so strong our chairs and umbrellas were just about ready to launch into outer space until we gave up and went inside.
my ode to Alcoholics Anonymous begins every morning with waking up crisp and clear like a young child’s first pair of glasses…
like a patch of blue sky on a black stormy day
like a pond, still but deep
like a happy dog with two tails
like wet cloths left on a cloths line for three days
like a brain freeze on a hot summer day in front of Krauzers 1974 holding a Frozen Coke®
like Jim McSherry sarcasm during a serious conversation
like feeling the back of your head after a crew cut
like eating my mothers potato salad on a wooden bench in our backyard on Whitman street
like taking an ice cold shower on the hottest day of the year when you have no pool
like taking LSD for the first time
like putting mayonnaise on your french fries
…somewhere by the ocean. but nobody was really there…