Walk into the Night

Walking around the college campus
For health and fresh air,
Away from the welfare lines
Contemplating the soul of a billionaire

Past the waste reclamation plant,
Tumbleweeds roll past a dying tree,
Leonard Cohen whispers in my ear
About the nature of American democracy.

The Bitter sweet aroma of fresh hops
Waft over from the local brewery,
In the alleys huddled masses know the fear
Shared by nineteen-thirties European Jewry,

Gypsies, Homosexuals and trade unionists,
Soon to be murdered and in ovens burned.
After all that happened back then,
You’d think somebody would have learned.

Walking back toward the office,
Bread-lines coming into sight,
Trying to think of reasons not to
Disappear Tom Joad into the night.

11/25-11/28/16

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Tanka Inspired by an Anne Frank quote

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Despite everything,
Though my ideals have been strained,
I won’t give them up,
The world grows dark; all seems lost,
I believe they have good hearts.

11/11/15

Image from www.AnneFrank.org

Inspired by this quote from Anne’s diary:

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them!” (15 July 1944)

 

 

Portrait of the Poet

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New York, Long Island, East Rockaway lived,
Oceanside born.
Oregon Trail traveled for opportunity, better education and family,
Through Baker City and over the Cascades, past the volcanoes,
Willamette Valley, Albany raised,
Liberty, Sunrise; Waverly Elementary, North and West Albany educated.
Army joined at 18 because no Circus in town.
Missouri, Indiana trained; Geissen, Germany assigned.
San Antonio, Alamo transferred; Honorably, Army Commendation Medal discharged.

Tampa, South Florida studies in religion (synagogue and university),
Hurricanes, hanging chads, holocaust museums and heartbreak,
Flew the coupe, Pennsylvania delayed, mistakes were made,
New York, Morningside Heights seminary studies,
Torah, Talmud, ukuleles and self reflection,
Roaming rambling, Exodus ending,
Old friends Albany, old traps escaping,
’round the bend in Redmond married, fatherhood purpose,
Poet voice searching, Notebook scribbles filling,
Keyboard keys editing, computer blog posting,
Audience friends finding, crazy head calming,
Poem now ending.

11/8/16

Dust to Dust (for Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005 )

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Caught in the sacrificial flames
That licked the heavens,
Burned but not burnt

Your brothers’ and sisters’ blood
Cries out to you from the ashes:
“Where is God,” they ask,
“Where is justice?”

The Lord answered:
Tempered in flame
a voice cried out from the wild,
“I am my brother’s keeper!”
Bearing the shield of righteousness;
wielding the sword of truth,
“Justice! Justice I shall pursue!”

A voice for the silenced.
A memory for the forgotten.
A promise to the wicked:
Judgment Day is at hand.

The Persistence of Memory

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I haven’t forgotten you
How could I even try?
Haunting my waking dreams,
Your eyes plead to me
From emaciated faces,
Crying out for justice.

I hear laughter
As you’re herded like cattle
From the boxcars
To the gas chambers
They so cleverly disguised
As showers.

I can hear babies crying
As they’re torn from their mothers’ arms,
Thrown against walls,
Or dissected like animals
By trained doctors.

I smell the smoke,
It stings my eyes,
Pouring from the chimneys
Of the crematoriums
Where they’re burning your bodies.
I pray for your souls
As they reduce your bodies to ashes
To use as fertilizer in their garden.

I hear laughter.
I hear them laughing,
Laughing because they think
That they’ve won.