Monday, May 2, 2022

Every night I listen to the rain,
Sometimes it falls gently on my rooftop
Other times it presses hard against my window
I sleep easily to the sound of rain
like the rumble of a downtown train,
drops roll down in narrow streams
like waving dreams under umbrella trees
African elephants
Crying whales
Who awaits this reverie?
I sleep easily under the sound of rain,
and see drowning men as heart broke sailors on a downtown train,
and their forgotten women like wavy dreams...they take shelter from a crying shame




Monday, April 4, 2022

Thin Ice
I sit by a creekside and watch autumn leaves skate away,
sliding atop a Canadian stream
barren trees
as golden and yellow ships race aside rock and fallen branches
The sun is at my back-- casts a shadow over the encroaching ice
As a writer I need my solitude, a walk in a forest tires me quickly
I am as old as a memory
Time to move along, a stop along a creekside is short, the air is cold, 
I want more time alone; but a dampness breaks through my wool clothes
When I was I young, I would not take this rest at all--nor walk along this path
Then I was not a writer, I saw no beauty in solitude 
Thick as a Brick
Skating Away
Life is not the same,
I hear the change of aging music in solo winds
A walk down the path will take me to my writer's home 
There I will set a fire in a black stove,
and burn new words--not a verse from an old song


Monday, March 7, 2022

Where he goes....
Down in the alley, between blood shot eyes and bent fingers, a man rumbles through a blue bin of brown bottles and cans made wet by a short spring rain. 
Each night he searches for gold topped beer cans behind the Easy Bend Bar. Not that the they are worth more than any other cans, but he imagines his small street earnings to be otherwise. He packs the nickel a pop empties into a giant construction bag--the great tool of his trade, along with an old shopping cart with half-rusted wheels he uses to haul his night's earnings to be redeemed at the corner store.

Last night he got beat up in the same alley. His eyes bloodied. His hands swollen by the only two punches he landed on the instigator's head. He got beat up by the same man he knew during his days on Wall Street, who now fought him over the same empty treasures.
He didn't go down...not that night, but years ago...
Once they were young brokers and rivals. Never quite trusting each other, their friendliness masking their common competitiveness to stake out the same territory of finance and success--make the most money, drive the flashiest cars, buy the crystal and glass condos, catch the same expensive women. Eternally lucid in their seductive dreams of more and more.

In the days of oil barons and gold mines they would have lit conspicuous cigars with hundred dollar bills. In days of Wall St. they would snort coke through rolled up Benjamin's, and drink too much Cognac out of a stoner call girl's high price shoes.
Maybe all of that is what takes them down. Or maybe it's the compounding, gnawing truth they are expendable. Or maybe it's just a singular something in their heads--within the high dollar universe of stars and meteors that collapse their minds. 
They crash through Wall St windows, slip off Manhattan ledges and land on park benches and fall into the scrabbled livelihoods of men and women who redeem bottles and cans, one nickel at a time.

As with the homeless Vietnam Vet--his PTSD haunting him every second of every relived, fearful thought..
As with the math professor, whose days of numbers and decimals drove her to madness...
As with the Japanese computer scientist, who just ceased thinking...
As with the Honduran mother who cleaned houses during the day and collected bottles at night, so her kids could have a better they could escape the hollow madness of poverty
They are called 'canners'. They live at night, collecting and fighting for redeemable bottles and cans against the emptiness in their bellies, against the demon voices in their heads. 

In one perfected motion the man uses his alley strength to hoist the construction bag over his shoulders and drops it into the shopping cart. He turns his squeaky cart around and noisily rushes out the alley and moves hurriedly along the street. 

A police car drives up along him. An officer mockingly says: "Hey, when r' going to oil those wheels? You're waking up half of Manhattan. What's with you grabbin' only gold beer cans?"

In a panic he quickly pushes his cart in an s-curve. The cops laugh as they drive away. The man holds his cart to a stop, scared and out of breath.

From where he stands on the Upper West Side he can't see Wall St. It's gleaming towers, it's bustle of men and women...and commerce...and stocks exchanged and sold...and businesses opened and closed...and dollar demon voices...and shuddered lives, collapsed and crushed like haunted, hollow aluminum.

He stops at the corner store and drops his empties into the vending machine that coughs out his night earnings. Just $15. Each night's collection gives out less and less. He thinks maybe his old friend steals from him, arrives early and takes his golden dreams. He worries what's next, but he also knows there are no more windows to crash through, or ledges to slip from. No more benches in homeless parks where they can land. Just that he knows no where to go is where he is...just another life, another short spring rain falling on brown bottles and empty cans.

                                                                 __ __

Story based on HBO Documentary "Redemption" about Canners of New York

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Roy's Guitar
I walk into an alley of madmen and midnight messiahs.
Under a crazy moon they preach and jangle on overturned milk crates.
7 messiahs. They cry in disharmony. In dissonant voices. Made up words. Indecipherable verse.
Ragged newspapers as holy books like their ragged hospital clothes
They preach
The madmen listen
They sit in a half circle on thin cold snow. Some pass the bottle. Some mutter. Some yelp at the 7 messiahs.
I listen
I listen 
I listen...
To the alley music that separates the church and the bar
A choir sings, the organ plays Handel
Their voices carry to the crazy moon
From the One Lucky come electric waves of Roy's guitar
The chorus of drunkenness meets Handel's holy loneliness
The jangle of noise
The jangle of noise
The jangle of noise 
Crazy...Crazy...Crazy moon
The madmen rise and shuffle under the mania of streetlights 
The 7 messiahs leave the milk crates behind
Tomorrow I know they will come again. Where there are always alley cries of madness and music under a midnight moon.



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Peace and Rising
Weightless in a night,
I float like a cloud
Like a paper lantern released by a gentle breeze
Beneath me, a country road marked by lights,
Trees swaying along a mountain silhouette 
My arms spread like bible wings
Is this my death? I ask my weightless self
I feel peaceful
No mortal stress,
Only a solace, a reverence...
As a Romeo meets his Juliette
My soul like a cloud in the night
Is this my mortal death?
Or my new love rising?
As a Romeo meets his Juliette
As a Romeo meets his Juliette 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bone Chill
The alley men lit up cigarettes,
one dressed in brown lit up an old cigar
They all exhaled clouds of smoke
Inside the mortal night, inside the winter stillness
the billows of burning tobacco lingered
Second hand smoke, like alley lives never went far
Billy lost his mind,
Johnny drank too much,
and old Ralph had a little bit of both 
Some men died in stillness and silence, blue veins and needles
A final euphoria before a lone death took them home
The alley men snuffed their cigarettes on the tar below
The one in brown snuffed his cigar against the cinder wall
and Old Ralph
Never played a song
Never sang harmony
They couldn't whistle either,
Not when there was a chill in their bones
They circled a barrel stuffed with smoking cardboard and waited for a warmth by fire, like a saxophone



Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Half Chewed Aspirin and Nina
You idiot, you could of had a family.
You run through half-awake dreams,
Through the river garden of naked madness,
Your youth adds up to middle age
The total of one night stands
Year after year of your self-awakening in rumpled sheets;
The echo of empty beer bottles, half chewed aspirins; 
bitter unswallowed remnants behind your brown teeth
--wake up to what's her name?
You know they all have families now,
You checked online
The women who once loved you...but you used them, dumped them,
You idiot, you could of had a family
Taken the sons to baseball practice
Walked your daughter down the aisle
The one night stands are getting older and older,
they don't come to you so often
The echo of empty beer bottles 
There's no angel,
There's no angel
Just a sinnerman