Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Anger Mismanagement

                                                                                        
The walk from the car to our house
Should have been a piece of cake
But there were many times when this
Was a treacherous journey to make.

Jeremy, now 12, let his body go limp
For reasons he wasn’t telling.
I carried him, he dragged his feet and
The whole time he was yelling.

He just would not cooperate --- both of
His knees were buckling.
Three guys in their twenties walked by
All of them loudly chuckling.

Instead of just resorting to my
Getting really quiet act
I completely lost my temper and
Read these guys the riot act.

“Do you think this is funny? Yeah,
Autism’s just a crack up!”
(People several blocks away could
Hear I had my back up.)

“I’m not bothering you! Some days with
My son knock me to the floor!
Unless you three have other plans, do
You mind if I walk to my door?”

They mumbled and looked sheepish as
They skulked away from my yard.
My final punctuation was slamming my
Front door especially hard.

My wife was out, so I called Josh because
I knew he would care
That I’d stood up forcefully for Special Ed
Families everywhere.

“Did these guys point at Jeremy?” Josh
Asked somewhat abstractly.
I thought this over and replied, “Well,
The truth is … not exactly.”

“Did they call him some kind of name?”
My resolve was not so steely.
“Now that you put it that way … I would
Have to say … not really.”

Josh then concluded, “My thoughts on this
Are not entirely complete
But it sounds like for no reason you screamed
At three guys on the street.”

I’d seen this kind of dance from Josh and
I’d heard this kind of song
Which is why I felt so confident that he
Was totally … right.

*
 
If you lived near Melrose Avenue
Around 1993
And someone had a hissy fit who
Looks like me

This may seem rather long ago
To you like archeology
But if I yelled at you, please accept
My most belated apology.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Day I Met Ricky Jay


Around 1980, I was at a friend’s house
(I was around 26)
And Ricky was amazing all of us with
His incredible tricks.


During a lull, I picked up his deck and
Gave it a good perusing
As I was curious as to just what kind
Of cards Jay was using.

Loud gasps. I instantly realized that I had
Done something horribly improper
Like doodling on the original painting of
“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper.

He looked me in the eye, sighed and said,
“Tony, with regards
To magicians, you should never put your
Hands on their cards.

It takes months --- many, actually --- for us
To know each and every one
Which is why anybody touching them is a
Thing that should not be done.”

Jay paused and sensed he got through to me
And that his lesson would stick.
He smiled that wonderful smile and launched
Into another stunning trick.

Jay could have understandably ripped me a
New one and read me the riot act
But didn’t and handled my ghastly faux pas
With both ease and quiet tact.

I’m writing this on just hearing about his death:
In his sweet memory, I offer a cheer
To recall how his kindness and magic skills once
Made my embarrassment disappear.

 

Friday, November 23, 2018

55 Years Later


One day in a Pasadena bookstore, I accidentally
found Of Poetry and Power.

It came out in 1964 and features many of the best
poets in America pondering JFK’s death, including
Robert Frost, John Berryman and W.H. Auden.

“Bulletin” (just twelve lines) is my favorite poem
from this collection.

Here’s a Wikipedia link to the poet who died in
2017 and was only 23 when she wrote it.


Bulletin

by Chana Faerstein

Is dead. Is dead. How all
The radios sound the same.
That static is our seed.
Is dead. We heard. Again.

We peck at the words like bran
Strung on a string of air.
Is dead. Again. Is dead.
Too rhythmic for despair.

Our faces are all the same,
Learning to taste the word.
Lockjawed with awkwardness.
Is Dead. We know. We heard.

 

 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Of Republicans and Drunks


Bush Sr. thought his old pal
Was surely going to shine
As his Defense Secretary 
Way back in 1989.


But John Tower’s virtues Democrats
Were unable to extol
Because his alcoholism then was so
Clearly out of control.

However, the Texan senator changed
His way of thinking
And promised that if he got the gig
He would quit drinking.

One reason I love Republicans
Is 47 of them did agree
That a life-long boozer should
Be head of the DOD.

Tower didn’t get enough votes:
Those charges seemed to stick.
Unfortunately, the guy who did
Was that Cheney fellow, Dick.

Looking back on this years later
Will put Democrats in a funk ---
We’d all be much better off now
If they’d just supported that drunk.

 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ken Calvert


A woman named Denise follows me on Twitter.
She lives in California and recently posted her
hope that this Republican is voted out of office.
His name was familiar. After hunting around in
the semi-vast Peyser Poetry Archives, I found
something I wrote about him a while back.

*

Ken Calvert

Once in a car in his California district
A hooker had her head in Calvert’s lap.
He told a cop they were “just talking.”
(I would’ve said she was taking a nap.)

That same year, 1993, he was divorced
And accused of alimony he did not pay
And right at that particular point in time
Calvert had this amazing thing to say.

He noted all of these specific events then
That had been happening to him lately
Had “helped him become a better person”
And also enabled him “to mature greatly.”

Frequenting hookers & not paying alimony
I bet most sensible people would be loath
To regard as reliable paths to take when
One becomes focused on personal growth.

This sundae isn’t really in need of a cherry
But there is one that I would like to place:
From the House floor, he criticized Clinton
For his affair with Monica Whatsherface.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Julia Child


The famous chef was born in 1912 &
Arrived in the world’s arena
In a wealthy family. (No one called it
The mean streets of Pasadena.)


One looks back now & can easily say,
“Julia, very soon you’re
Going to be in the big leagues but now
Enjoy one that’s Junior.”

With Pasadena’s Junior League, the
Fundamental fact is
She worked on plays for children as
A writer & an actress.

The Junior League’s loss was our gain:
She was later keen for us to believe
In French cooking even if we couldn’t
Define or pronounce joie de vivre.

Because Julia was so unpretentious, she
Made culinary tips approachable
And even when recipes were complicated
She prevailed by being sociable.

Dashing about the kitchen, she had the energy
Of not one person but a dozen. It’s
Chaotic but fun, she was always larger than life:
Think Big Bird but with oven mitts.

 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Teaching Philip Larkin To Dance


This fell to Maeve Brennan, a fellow librarian
Whose life was arguably a bit dull
Until she later became one of the three women
Involved with the Don Juan of Hull.


At Oxford, Larkin loved jazz but didn’t dance
And back then had the view
That dancing --- without any question --- was
Something very difficult to do.

He even consulted dance instruction books
But concluded concretely
That black feet, white feet and dotted lines
Just baffled him completely.

One imagines Maeve wasn’t merely hoping
He would be ooh-ing and aah-ing
At her expert instruction in both the waltz
And all manner of cha-cha-cha-ing.

I guess her secret mission was to make Larkin
Not see it as a possible hex
To have physical contact with a woman that
Wasn’t actually part of sex.

Intimacy was something he grew up without
So it’s pretty easy to understand
That regarding aspects of love & romance, he
Was a stranger in a strange land.

Some of her lessons must’ve sunk in but I bet
His mind drifted off to mopeds
Being driven by young & flirtatious girls who
Were Hull undergraduate coeds.