Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been (1941-2019)

I’m sure many people later on
Were so jealous he
In 1962 at Stanford was given
Free doses of LSD.
This guy’s sugar cube sugar daddy
I need right here to say
Was this research project that was
Sponsored by the CIA.
Did volunteering in this program
Ruin him? Make him stressful?
Hard to say but his solo attempt
At singing was unsuccessful.
Did he wind up a Sixties casualty and
Fall tragically by the wayside?
A forgotten musical B-side who never
Managed to have an A-side?
Actually, his songwriting took off:
He became a true sensation
As many of the songs he penned
Helped defined his generation.
I know that you know some of them
(This is all on the level)
Like “Uncle John’s Band,” “Truckin’”
And “Friend of the Devil.”
The CIA made him psychedelic. I know
They have conflicted loyalties
But are they maybe entitled to some of
His songwriting royalties?
That’s for others to debate and decide
And all that now needs to be said
About Robert Hunter, the main writer
Of lyrics for The Grateful Dead.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Cure For Autism


It may sound a bit absurd
This info that you’ve never heard
All comes down to just one word:
Acceptance.


For this child, you had dreamed
In your eyes, his future gleamed
Who cares if he’s not mainstreamed?
Acceptance.

Embrace each and every shortcoming
Even with repetition numbing
Even if he wreaks havoc with your plumbing
Acceptance.

Be a bright light full of praise
Especially on the darkest days
Despite knowing it’s not just a phase
Acceptance.

If you can’t acknowledge his worth
You’re just taking up space on earth
Have you been without flaws since birth?
Acceptance.

Be his loud and biggest supporter
Be the pestle to his mortar
Don’t give his doubters any quarter
Acceptance.

Don’t hide the fact of his condition
Speaking up is your major mission
Make it a new family tradition
Acceptance.

Your patience daily you learn to ration
Some days your chips you want to cash in
Remember these kids teach us compassion
Acceptance.

Write the future not in ink but chalk
At science breakthroughs do not balk
But until we find our Jonas Salk
Acceptance.

Swimming with dolphins is a lure
Or some soy-based diet, sure,
Do your best but don’t obscure
Acceptance now is the only cure.

 

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Cutoff Point

 
While he was asleep, Lorena Bobbitt
Sliced off her husband’s penis, went
For a drive and then tossed it out the
Window like it was a flyer that she’d
Found under her windshield wiper
For teeth whitening or rug cleaning.

In court, Lorena claimed John Wayne
Bobbitt persistently denied her any
Orgasms. I’d hoped the fallout would
Be husbands with unsatisfied wives
Would overnight become the most
Attentive lovers. No such luck.

*

“The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” was on
Then. I sensed that Robert MacNeil hated
This story and desperately wanted no part
Of it. But the following year, 1993, when
The verdict in this case was finally going
To be announced, MacNeil had to mention

This because the Bobbits had found a way
To become legitimately newsworthy. He
Did the wrap-up on world events and then
Brought up the end of this controversial
Trial. I wondered exactly how he would
Convey the various sordid details. The wall


Behind MacNeil now was suddenly like this
Enormous dam with multiple visible cracks
And water beginning to leak out. Still, he
Single-handedly attempted to keep it in
Place and prevent the coarsening of the
Culture and harm to all things decent and 


Proper. “Lorena Bobbitt was found not
Guilty of ‘malicious wounding’ against
Her husband for severing his … payniss.”
MacNeil elected to mispronounce the
Offending word to make it seem genteel.
But the dam broke anyway as cable TV

And talk radio and O.J and Fox News and
The internet would soon wash away all of
The decorum that PBS and their flagship
News show had fondly cherished. Looking
Back, it was inevitable but I now can see
MacNeil bravely attempting to stop the tide

Like some Canuck King Canute and despite
All of my mockery back then, I now salute
Him for giving it the old college try.

 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sneaky Devil (Part Two)

      
“Your teacher said you misbehaved we
Read in your notebook today.”
Jeremy nodded that this was indeed true
And he knew it wasn’t okay.


Regarding how he’d acted in school, we
Didn’t want to excessively nag.
(The notebook in question, by the way,
Was put everyday in his bag.)

We explained that if this behavior kept up
Certain things would be forbidden.
The next day as we got him ready for school,
Jeremy’s notebook had been hidden.

He knew that if this notebook was around
It was going to inhibit a
Way for him to have any fun at school, so
He got rid of Exhibit A.

 

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.