Friday, December 15, 2017

That liberal lady (from Politically Incorrect)

December 16, 2017

She crawls on her belly as if evolution
gave her no arms nor legs
so full of venom she speaks poison
with every breath,
a rattler in the desert
too old to slither her way to the top
so clings to the dark under rocks,
where she can hatch her plots
with self-deluded self-righteousness
too bitter and dried up even
to shed her skin, though still
manages to ooze out the blood
she sucks from those she hates,
poisoning herself in the dead of night
when she has nobody she can bite,
twisting self-delusion into what
she believes as truth,
turning noble causes into something ugly,
wringing out every drop of that sour fruit
to get drunk on,
until she can crawl to some other pool
of poisoned water where she can refresh
her hatred for anything she
disagrees with,
finding no solace in the lonely
and mistaken belief
she is always right.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Obama's Bay of Pigs (from Politically Incorrect)

I hear the cry of the Syrian refugees
as they flee the fire
Obama cast over them
in Clinton's call to overthrow
this need to seize from Russia
it's only ally in the Middle East,
full of lust for oil,
These poor Syrian foods
locked in long lines
that stream over borders
where nobody wants them,
carrying pictures of salvation
in their heads
chanting names like
not knowing these
are the very ones
who betrayed them,
who caused their misery,
a fool's hope that these
names might save them
from the becoming some
of the countless dead
littering the landscape
they flee,
prayers to heartless gods
who mock them
by pretending sympathy
while blaming people
other than themselves
for these people's misery,
I hear the cry
of the Syrian refugees
as they stream into
other places
where other people
hate tehm
like boat people
from Cuba,
after Kennedy's
Bay of Pigs
placing a fool's hope
on the very people
who caused the fire
the death
and hopelessness


Friday, December 8, 2017

Cosmetics Plus --- a remembrance

This is the tale of my time working at a company in Fairfield. The owner's son is currently a congressman and once served as President Bill Clinton's speech writer

Cosmetics Plus -- a remembrance

Monday, October 9, 2017

Christopher Columbus

He always came down the same hill on the same street from that blue color enclave overlooking the toughest parts Paterson, down through the Christopher Columbus projects where my mother dragged me for a time and the street gangs couldn’t get over the fact that a white boy could be poor and live in the projects, too, my friend – the son of a postal worker who had hoped his son would become a postal worker, too – making his way through the broken back of Paterson where the projects met the ruins of the old silk mill workers, na├»ve to a fault, believing because his father started out poor that he might be immune to those evil things that happen when white faces like his wander in places like this, the same street gang waiting half way down the hill for him to appear, his pale face, his funny looking World War I campaign hat, his bellbottom jeans, and the wads of singles he had stuffed in his front pocket so he could make a payment on the guitar he had put on layaway at the music store near Broadway and Main, desperate to own something he could hold in his hand and create art with his voice, and each time he came to pay, they waited, acting as the intermediary collection agency, taking even the loose change he kept in his other pocket for the bus ride home with his receipt, making the same trek until he came to realize he would need to take the bus both ways if he ever expected to avoid the post office and pursue a career in art, four tall towers of the projects looming over even that route, he protected by the thin glass of the bus, shattered in places from kids throwing rocks as the bus passed, these projects all named after questionable men with pale faces, once havens of hope, new shinny kitchens and snug bedrooms offered to the poorest of poor, turning into vertical slums even  old Paterson’s Italian thugs could not have survived – with Christopher Columbus projects the worst in the city, where poor preyed on poor as the police kept guard on the boundaries, keeping everything contained like a virus, with only a few fools like my friend failing to recognize the warning signs until too late, a reckless Columbus searching for new horizons that won’t trap in him a life time job in the post office the way his father was trapped, he willing to risk having his money stolen in a dream he was buying on the installment plan.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Taking a knee

Everybody’s taking a knee these days
During the National Anthem at sports games
A new fad similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge
Of a few years ago, when people dumped
Buckets of ice over their own heads 
For a good cause, or like streaking was
In the 1970s with naked people running 
Through public spaces for some ungodly reason,
Taking a knee says you’re somebody important
Someone with a conscience,
Someone who might otherwise burn a flag
If they could find a lighter in these days
When cigarette smoking is a mortal sin,
This being the latest scheme in a desperate
Anti-administration con game
From sports figures who have milked
The system, while brothers and sisters
Still starve in the ghetto,
A symbolic gesture without any dollars
To back it up in the age of free agency,
Defended by lunatics who hate god
And country after losing their vote
Who a few years ago were first to attack
A spokes figure who took a knee
To thank god for all he had and all he
Would do, win or lose,
Anti-God lunatics howling at the moon
Over this kneeling
When screaming now about the right
For this new breed of sports idiocy
As free speech,
The self righteous railing against
Anything they disagree with,
And so as to silence god or Nazis
While desperate to defend
Free speech they agree with,
Hypocritical lunatics
Blurring the lines between right and wrong,
Shaping anything they disagree with as
The fountain of all evil,
But do whatever it takes to abuse
Those who disagree with them,
He, we, all kneeling 
Pretending what we say when we kneel
That their speech is any less hateful
Than the speech they blame us for

Saturday, September 23, 2017


They come after Comey
Like a gander of geese,
Squawking about how
He ain’t one of them
Determined to drag down
A government
They did not vote to elect,
Attacking an FBI director
Who should be a hero
To them, but isn’t,
These geese taking to heart
The unstable ramblings
Of a pathetic witch
Who blames everybody
For denying her at place
As the first woman president,
Over educated ignoramuses
Attacking anyone and everyone
For any reason,
Who do know not friend from foe,
Hating Comey the way
The British hated Benedict Arnold,
Knowing that once a Judas
Always a Judas,
Who betrayed them once,
And then their enemy,
A snake in the grass
Who might bite them as well
As they president
They have come to hate,
Confused geese who have
Stopped knowing who 
Their friends are
Because like Comey, 
They don’t have any.

The revenge of the dweebs

They want to make football
So safe people can play it tutus
The perfect revenge of dweebs and geeks
And other uncool kids from high school
Who spent their lives pushing projectors
Down high school halls
While jocks pulled down their pants
The kids who always hid out
In the AV room till their skin got so white
They looked like vampires, 
Growing up into pathetic people
Like Jobs or Zuckerman
In a desperate attempt to get even
For all the slights they suffered as kids,
Turning the world’s population
Into zombies 
All too consumed by staring
Into tiny screens
To actually live in the real world,
High profile geeks and egg heads
Plotting the end of the culture of jocks
By making it as safe and remote
As the AV room that bred the geeks
Like mold,
Creating a world not to make football safe
But them safe from football.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Barack and Hillary show

Hillary and Barack
Need to put on more lipstick and eye gloss
And keep their speech making to Nevada
where prostitution is is legal,
and pigs can dress up like ordinary people
while selling their souls to Satan
for hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop.
Political whores are nothing new.
But these two take it all to a new level
High priced hookers
Who aren’t worth the experience
Since they both already screwed us, 
And now expect us to pay after the fact,
Making us suffer through speeches
Of how great one was in the White House
And other great the other might have been,
When we all know both were
And would be a national disaster
Making any hurricane look tame
How many times do we need to hear
How Hillary got caught with her fingers
In the cookie jar
And is looking to blame anybody
Everybody else for being uncovered,
Printing her national embarrassment
In a pathetic diatribe 
About how the Russians robbed her
Bernie robbed her,
The FBI robbed her
When we all know she robbed herself,
Her crimes exasperated by clowns like Colbert
Booking her act on late night TV
At least, if these two kept to Las Vegas
We could better recognize
What a side show they are,
And how they continue their con job
And get paid big bucks for it,
And we would know how much they would
Screw us in the future 
If either of them ever got the chance

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jimmy Kimmel: snake oil salesman

You would think that funny men
Who are not funny
Would have better things to do
Than pick the pockets of working people
Selling snake oil to laborers they secretly hate
The not so funny sons and daughters
Of working class who put on airs
Desperate to shape themselves
Into some sort of pseudo intellectuals
So they don’t have to admit
Where they came from
Ashamed of the grease stains
On their father’s coveralls
And the dirt under their father’s nails,
Funny men who stopped being funny
When they started to hobnob
With Nouveau riche like themselves
A private Liberal social club
To which working people are not invited
Selling snake oil so that their rich doctor
Friends can continue to drive Mercedes
And their insurance executives can
Continue to drink the blood of those
Of us who actually have to pay the bills,
Snobbish would be funny men
Thinking their shit doesn’t stink,
Oozing morality they can never possibly
Live up to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What now, Nancy Pelosi?

What will you do, Nancy Pelosi,
When your own kind turn on you,
Like the pack of wolves they are,
Bearing their fangs at you
Because you dare to do
Anything they do not like,
This spoiled breed of beat
We all created back in Kindergarten
When we gave them all awards
Because we did not wish for them to feel bad
When they did not have the right stuff
To complete and always lost,
They are still losers and we coddle them,
As if they are stiff infants
When they are really wolves
Dressed in infants’ clothing,
Ready to tear your throat out
When they don’t get what they want
Or what they think they deserve
We can’t blame their parents
For loving them to much
As to make them into the spoiled brats
They have become,
We must blame ourselves
For letting it get out of hand,
For not putting our foot down
When we still could,
Before the wolf cubs grew fangs
And a taste for blood
Even your blood, Nancy Pelosi,
Or anyone else’s
That gets in their way.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dreamers a little dream

They bring their children here to find salvation
Desperate souls from places
we’ve made into slave colonies
Where we tear down trees
so we can feed the cattle
That feeds us our McDonalds burgers
Or where they build dark factories
to make the sneakers we jog in
Or dig the raw materials
so we can have our I-Phones
Stitching shirts with logos
we wear while out at the cafes
With words like “peace” or “Love”
or “Not my president”
Meaningless words
we spew during our protests
Deliberately blind to the warlords and street gangs
That inspire these families
to drag their kids here,
Gangs that beat and exploit them
As much as we did at a distance,
Parents desperate to rain their kids in a place
Where there is less of this,
Unaware until too late that they bring the warlords
And street gangs with them,
And they in their misguided belief they do their children well
But dumping them on the door step on the evil people
Whose sneakers and i-pads, shirts and hamburgers
Created the living hell from which they flee
So their children might grow up to become the remote
Warlords like us,
wearing the same t-shirts, carrying the same i-pads
Eating the same hamburgers
that enslaved them in the first place,
Dreamers dreaming of a better life just like us

Love song of Steven Colbert

I would love to love you, Steven Colbert
But nobody can love you
As much as you already love yourself,
That self aggrandizement
That exudes from you like sweat,
A stench so raunchy we need no hound dog
To find you lost in the woods,
Their howl not lush from your scent
But a desperation to escape from it,
You that desperate drama queen locked in a media castle
Standing in front of your magic mirror
Asking who is the fairest in the land
And getting vindictive when it says it isn’t you,
You clinging to your watcher rating charts
As you sell yourself as a new Moses
Ready to lead your flock of melting snowflakes
As deluded about reality as you are
Each believing like you they are the fairest
In the land, when they like you, are simply spoiled,
I would love to love you, Steven Colbert,
A media hog, brimming over with self-loathing,
A dirty little mean queen collecting corporate cash
For each twisted little thing that drips out of
Your pathetic little mouth,
Seeing your true self in a distorted mirror,
a perverted little man with a exaggerated ego
And thinking of course it must be someone else

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Better left unsaid

Some things should never get said,
The stirring heart beat
The thought of what is possible, 
Not allowed
This life where things collide
At the wrong moment
We needing a time machine
To go back or ahead
To make things right
Or turn out as they ought
Still unable to still
These thoughts 
That should never get said
Or dwelled upon
Too tempting 
Too much a violation of
All those rules of civilized life
We take for granted
Even in a society
That slowly crumbles
As ours does now
Ideas tick tocking inside our heads
To which we cling like life preservers
On this sinking ship
When they only make us sink
All the faster,
Bearing the burden of unfulfilled
Desires was have no right to wish for
And no sense to keep
Silent about.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Super hero

Batman couldn’t drive as ruthlessly as she does,
An unrelenting rage against the unfair world,
Refusing to compromise an inch
As she weaves through a city filled
With idiots behind the wheels of beamers,
And other overrated ego-gratifying machines
In a cut throat race to get ahead.
She doesn’t let them get away with anything,
A personal rebellion in a world where
Being a rebel makes you a subject
For crucifixion,
And she, like Batman, puts on a mask
To protect her true identity,
A female Clark Kent that tolerates
The abuses of the daily time clock,
And the mad-hatter who inspires
Rage nobody dares express
Except on the expressway,
She gripping the steering wheel
As she weaves through these streets,
A true super hero
Teaching all these beamers
An appropriate lesson in manners.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Check mate

You move, then I move,
Then it shifts between us,
Then a dull pain inside us
We do not resist,
We rattle internally
Like chess pieces
With our bodies as the board
A dizzy dispute
Neither of us expects to win,
Both of us embracing
The mood of it
As we strive,
The up and down of it,
The in and out,
The around of it,
The more we move
The more I world sways,
We are drunken sailors
On a self created sea
These storms roared
From out of us,
Making us crave a closeness
We cannot get close enough
To achieve,
This ritual of pain
That is not pain,
The struggle rumbling
Within us,
As our limbs entwine,
Struggling not to think about it
Only to feel it,
Not an act of love so much
As a quest for something
We can’t possibly achieve
You move, then I move,
Making the piece rattle
As I take your queen and you take mine,
The point not to check mate the other,
But to make it so neither of us
Can lose.

The worst obsession

The more you touch it
The more it scalds
But you just can’t leave it alone
Wrapping your fingers around it
feeling its burn,
taking it into your mouth
and onto your tongue,
until it smolders down
deep inside you,
a volcanic reaction
that needs to explode
Love is not the only obsession
Just the worst
Stirring up nuclear temperatures
You can’t resist
Like a child
Attracted to the kettle on the stove
No matter how many times
Your mother warns you
Not to touch,
You always do,
Failing to learn the lesson
Of once burned
You’re never shy,
Gripping this thing in both hands,
Dipping it deep inside
So you can no longer tell
If it is burning or you are
Nor caring,
Unable to stop consuming it
Consuming yourself,
No matter what the ultimate
Outcome is.

Deserted Island

She’s not the woman you always dreamed
Of being stranded on a deserted island with
Or trapped in a frozen elevator between
The 12th and 13th floor,
Or floating in orbit in a capsule built for two,
Yet is the one you should be with,
All of her exposed only after you have
Rubbed off the tinge to find
The real treasure beneath,
Beautiful first and last, inside and out,
Yet with a rough edge that makes you work
To find out, leaving you just a little raw
From the experience, not enough to stop you,
Just to enough to know this isn’t a one night stand,
All or nothing and nothing just won’t do.
She knows who and what you are from the first glance
And so her eyes gleam with amusement
As you work to know anything about her at all,
She knowing you will never know it all
Or even enough, and will have to walk out
On a tight rope of trust to get her,
And even then you’ll always fear you might fall
Uncertain if she will catch you,
Praying every minute that she will.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Girl on the train

She plops down in the light rail seat
As if she owned it,
Blonde hair drooping over
The back of the seat
As she takes out her compact
To make up her face,
Every male in the train car
Trying desperately not to look at her
When it is clear that’s exactly
What she wants
As she progress to re-stain her lips,
Not red, she’s not that blatant,
A shade of pink that matches
Her fingernail polish
And her mascara thickly painted
On her eye lids,
Men stirred up and reluctant to leave
Even when the train reaches their stop
She waits, as patient as a Buddha
Until her stops arrives,
Popping up the way she’d plopped down
And in her super short supper tight shorts
Makes her way off the train
And down the platform,
A slow, steady, uncomplicated march
Which is witnessed by all,
Especially men, some in hard hats,
Turning completely around
As she and then cross the tracks
In opposite directions,
An awe she is perfectly aware of,
Yet does not acknowledge
A queen bee among the drones
Who feeds not on honey,
But their adoration,
Vanishing finally
Into the doorway of a coffee shop
She has also taken possession of.

Vampire killer

She puts garlic on my gravestone
Just in case the stake she drove
Through my back,
Missed my heart,
The wicked witch of the east
Painting herself as a vampire slayer
Determined to root out
All who refuse to accept her slanted
Version of truth as true,
A Brutus, a Judas,
Not even needing silver coins
As an excuse to drown out
Any voice she does not want to hear,
Any voice that raises questions
About her belief,
While she plots in the corner
Scratching out bits of propaganda
To make her enemies look foolish,
Hiding behind a mask like a bank robber,
Conducting her crusade in whispers
Because she’s too shamed or cowardly
To stand up for what she believes
Or perhaps because what she believes
Doesn’t stand up,
Sly, corrupt, dishonest
The way most true believers end up
Determined to silence my voice
To perhaps silence
The voice of guilt she hears inside
Her own pathetic head,
Placing garlic everywhere
To no affect.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


She said she had spoken with someone
Who had spoken to me
And I had said something to that someone
I never said,
Someone translated what I did say
Into something she wanted to hear,
And took back this perversion
To this woman, who blamed me
For something I never said,
But like that someone
Needed for me to have said it
So she can crack the whip across my back
And wash her hands
Before fitting my head
A crown of thorns
Before sending me up the hill
Bearing the weight of a cross
I never created,
Forcing me to decide
Which of the three I should be
The good thief, repenting
The bad thief, who won’t,
Or the one in the middle,
Bearing truth, righteousness
And justice
In silence.

Friday, August 25, 2017


She tells filthy lies
Behind people’s back
That work-place rat
you can't  trust
Whenever she gets scared,
Full of righteous self-righteousness
Accumulated over years of ignorance,
Needing a crowd to hold her up
As she clings to here protest signs
Like her Christian ancestors
Did torches and pitchforks,
A dark knight hidden in spotless armor,
The kind of which Phil Oachs
Used to sing about as being
Someone you don’t want at your back,
Living in a distorted self-created reality
That allows her to hold noble notions
Her experience cannot justify
A slant so self-perpetuating
That even she has come to believe it
As truth,
Imposing labels on anyone she disagrees with,
Her slogans imprinted on her retina
As if tattoos,
Too scared to stand for anything
Unless she has a mob at her side,
A true crusader determined to save the Holy Land
Even as she tears it down,
A vicious streak running side by side
Down her spine along with a yellow one,
Always scurrying for self-survival
The way any rat might
Abandoning any ideology
That is too inconvenient,
Or anything that conflicts
With her ignorant truths,
Gnawing on other people’s bones
In the shadows
When she has nothing else
On which to feed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Red noses for everybody

Everybody needs to wear a big red nose
So we all can recognize who they are,
And big toed shoes that flop when they walk,
And baggy red, white and blue pants.
Exposing once and for all
The truth about our taking ourselves
Way too seriously, full of outrage
And presumption of morality,
If we all had red noses and big toed shoes
Nobody could possibly take us
Seriously the way they mistakenly do now,
We wearing our true selves on our sleeves
For everybody to see, when we walk
When we walk, when we pretend 
We are something better than we are,
Red nose and wild green wigs,
And a old fashion bicycle horn
We squeeze to make some noise, 
The foolish sound coming out of the horn
Instead of our mouths.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One minute after six

You always remember where you are
And what you’re doing at moments like this,
Like I did for the Kennedy
When I saw him pass on
Main Street, Paterson,
And later in Catholic school
When the crying Mother Superior
Told us over the PA
That he was dead,
Only this is different,
JFK was Catholic
And Irish and white
This man is not catholic
Not Irish and not white
How does someone like me
Think someone like him
As a grandfather
When I look in the mirror
And seen a different colored face
Than his
All the preconceptions
Vanished with that gun fire
On that balcony
One minute after six
When the whole world
Changed for all of us.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Black and white

I roam these streets
In my dreams
Always in black and white,
A smeared snapshot
Of my mad mother
Holding my hand
Down main street
As awesome to me
As Times Square,
The center of my universe,
A world so completely flat
Nothing else existed for me
Other than what I could see
From the overlook
At Garret Mountain,
No nature so raw
As the tumbling polluted water
Of the Passaic River
Over the Great Falls
My footsteps always following
The same crooked path
To where I stand today.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Shoe shine man

Washington Street: Between Ellison and market

His face was a burnished and brown
As the shoes he shined,
That old man in the lobby
Of the office building
Across from City Hall,
Waiting on his three chairs
And the business men
Who came and went,
Hr dressed in suit like them
But never a tie,
Bent before them
With such dignity
I always paused at the door
To watch
After my mother brought me
A hot dog and Orange Julius
As we waited for the Number 3
Bus to go home
A man whose back was bent
From doing the same thing
For so long
He looked like the old tree
Next to my grandfather’s house
Body twisted, but not his mind,
As dedicated to this ritual
As a parish priest,
Serving not the men in the chair
Who took so little notice of him,
But to some ideal
I could sense but never see,
And he when seeing me,
Always smiled, and winked.


Market and Straight streets: Paterson

The old men shift sides on this long street
To the movement of the sun,
Sweaty faces glittering with the sharp light
Even in the shadows
Full of tall talk as the police sirens pass
Roaring to some unseen emergency
Too far down Market Street for them to see,
The siren song so frequent
It’s like white noise to them,
Even when they hear it they know
It almost always means death,
They shifting as the sun shift
In an endless almost pointless dance
They perform every day here
Tall talk of good and bad times
Remembered yet can’t get back,
Sipping cold brew to keep the heat off
As the sirens pass

Amiri Baraka remembered

Intelligent responses -- my blog from a decade ago about Amiri Baraka and McGreevey

Intelligent responses

For Amiri Baraka

My son throws a stone at an Israeli tank

Their bulldozers roll in to knock down my house

Settlements rise in its place, full of splashing swimming pools
While my family seeks water to drink,
I buy a knife, a gun, a bomb
Then set out to kill their sons in the market place
I kill their sons, they kill mine
For what? A stone? A house? A drink of water?

Bushwhacked at Waterloo
This article was re-written from the original partly because of new facts learned after its original posting.

Governor Jim McGreevey and the New Jersey Arts elite attacked poet Amiri Baraka for a passage of a poem he read at the Dodge Poetry Festival in September.
McGreevey -- who is hardly a freedom of speech advocate and who earlier in the year tried to clamp down on information journalists might have access to (making New Jersey the most restrictive state for public information in the country) -- demanded Baraka's resignation as New Jersey Poet Laureate.
McGreevey has been deluged by pro-Israel groups to remove Baraka after Baraka questioned whether or not Israel knew of before hand of the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and deliberately ordered its citizens to stay away from the buildings.
Baraka's information came via web sites that had previously been proven to contain misinformation concerning Iraeli communications with New York. Slate Magazine had investigated the accusations and found they were part of a campaign to tie the Israeli government to the attack on the World Trade Center (see link below).
Although Governor has no power to remove Baraka -- and Baraka has refused to leave the post -- McGreevey could eliminate the position for which Baraka receives $10,000 per year.
Baraka's remarks came in the middle of a poem several hundred lines long, part of a questioning process as to who knew what about the attack. He is not the only one. Internet webpages have cropped up over the last several months noting other irregularities about the events of Sept. 11.
McGreevey's spokespeople blasted Baraka with the assumption that the poet knew the information was false when he included in the poem.
Or even if Baraka's had exercised poetic license.
McGreevey's office and officers from the state's art's council accepted an anti-Semitic spin on the lines, although Baraka said he was questioning the Israeli government, not the Jewish people.
His lines run as follows: "who knew the World Trade Center / was gonna get bombed / Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at / the Twin Towers / to stay home that day?
Jewish writers in response a previous version of this article claim that these lines are anti-Jewish despite their lack of mention of Jews.
What makes the lie believable to many people is the history of Israeli relationships with the United States, in which information has been withheld and in fact, an agent of Israeli intelligence has been convicted of spying on the United States.
McGreevey, unfortunately, may be under pressure from numerous New Jersey political figures, who activive support of the Israeli government.
Charles "Shai" Goldstein, of the Anti Defamation League labeled Baraka's remarks "a pernicious anti-Semitic lie."
Baraka offered no apology, claiming that the U.S. Government was well aware of the attack before it happened. Baraka believes the United States and others are seeking to use the attack as an excuse to crack down on unfriendly governments in the Middle East. Similar theories were raised after Pearl Harbor, suggesting that then President Roosevelt had allowed the military base to be attacked so as to win public support for America's entry into World War Two. The big difference here, however, is the anti-Jewish spin that has been used against Baraka.
Jane Braillove Rutkoff, executive director for the New Jersey Council for the Humanities -- a person that should be protecting Baraka's freedom of speech, also came out against him, calling his statements counter to the mission of the council. This, of course, leads us to wonder, what mission the council is on, it not to promote an artist's right to create.
I have taken the position that firing Baraka is considered censorship, because he made a political statement. Numerous others disagree. I have included links to two New York Times stories as well as the definitive Slate article on the web hoax.

A divided state of being

Although poets jokingly called the Dodge Festival "Wordstock" to convey the feelings and magnitude the event had for them, this year's festival actually managed to live up to the level of myth-making. For the grand finale, the best of the best in American poetry took to the podium. While I am still not completely clear on the criteria for becoming a New Jersey or United State poet laureate, I do realize that talent plays an immense part. 

In New Jersey, of course, the selection process involves a clique of self-important purveyors of poetic powers, mostly academics -- who have hooked onto the government's coat tails, taking charge of issuing grants and such to particular groups of worthy people throughout the state. These funds often as not go to poets whose output would rarely be agreeable to the taxpayers forced to foot the bill -- the way taxpayers were forced to pay for what they considered offensive art on display at the Brooklyn Museum a few years ago.

At the awarding of her annual Ginsberg Poetry prizes, Maria Gillan, director of the Paterson Poetry Center in Passaic Community College, defended this pick-pocketing of taxpayers in order to provide poets with revenues -- failing to admit the awards often go to select groups around the state not to the most needy artists. Partly because of the unfairness in distribution of grants, I am opposed to governmental support of the arts. The Baraka censorship situation that emerged immediately after the Dodge is another reason. What the government gives, it can take away -- especially when the artist says something the government finds distasteful or distasteful to powerful lobbyists.

It is remarkable that this clutch of self-appointed dictators of culture managed to elect two of the state's better poets to serve as New Jersey Poet Laureates -- Gerald Stern and Amiri Baraka. And the performances of these two poets during the final afternoon of the Dodge pointed to the sharp division in the state's artist community as well as presented a significant contrast in poetic styles and politics.

In some ways, Stern and Baraka helped form the boundaries of the conflict that would transpire after the Dodge, when several reactionary Jewish groups attempted to have Baraka removed as the state's poet laureate for his allegedly anti-Semitic six lines of poetry.

Stern and Baraka seem to represent the divided nature of New Jersey, one shaped around urban and suburban themes. Stern represented the Jewish migration out of the cities and into the suburbs, his poetry recalling the vague memory of what life was in the city before that migration -- hardly representative of the turmoil and despair Baraka and the black community faced each day.

Stern's vision was often sentimental; a remembrance of survival that had lost its edge with the transition to new locations into wealthier, more luxurious life styles urban blacks could only envy. For Stern, places like Newark still thrived with street corner traditions, the candy store, the cleaners and the old people living in the backs of each. His poetry did not contemplate the vast wasteland that many cities like Paterson, Newark and Camden had become. His poems still saw buildings and people in spaces that had long since burned, and occupants evacuated.

Stern's verse danced with gentleness, a kind of study in that slow pace small towns used to imbibe. His poems were thick with dogs and personal experience, as if he saw the world while in a rocking chair on a house's front porch circa 1935. If he challenged authority, it came in the form of chastising, but always in that slow careful meter.

Baraka attacked.

He still lived in Newark, still saw the scars of the 1967 riots and felt the shards of racism behind the massive white flight from urban areas. His poetry portrayed the inner city as one large prison around which wealthy whites had put up walls. Those who survived the streets did so through their wits. He criticized every one of every other and every race, blasting all those he believed helped maintain unfair, unjust system of privilege -- especially those parties responsible for the building of this urban prison system, which refused to help those stuck inside it.

It is no mystery as to why Governor Jim McGreevey -- the former mayor of a mostly white middle class town -- should seek to silence Baraka.

Baraka attacked the roots of a system of justice into which McGreevey had put so much faith, and from which McGreevey has garnered much of his political power -- a system filled with well-meaning liberals who wish to help urban blacks, but also profit off their misery. Where as harsher Republicans would do away with the Welfare state, liberal Democrats have always relied upon it as a source of patronage, supplying their followers with jobs and funds funneled down from the federal government.

Yet liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans tend to send their own children to the same higher quality schools, leaving the decaying institutions of the ghetto to those unable to escape: blacks, Latinos and other ethnic groups.

Baraka's poetry must seem to this liberal artistic establishment like a stab in the back -- especially to the predominance of Jewish intellectuals who make up the heart of the state's art bureaucracy -- who must feel the truth and sting behind most of Baraka's claims.

Future perfect

Organizers of the Dodge, named the Saturday night ending ceremonies "Imagining a future: an evening of readings, reflection and music." The self-important craving of poets to sound like poets drives me crazy. They seek to envelop us in a bubble of effervescent bullshit the poetry must eventually struggle to live up to. In truth, poetry hardly conforms to themes. When it does it ceases being poetry and becomes propaganda.

Yet these hardworking master of craft gave it their best shot, conforming to rules set down about keeping their choices short and reading two poems -- one of which was not their own. Time for such created characters is always a challenge since they lacked the bureaucratic talents required in such events as these. These poets would do much worse on Sunday when confronting time constraints without theme or poem number limitations.

At no place did my vast ignorance of the poetry's range so reveal itself than during the Saturday evening festivities. Poets -- confronted with the single most important event in the poetic world -- strutted their stuff across this brief coil, brandishing their years of study as if clashing sabers. They did not just display their talents as poets, but also as translator and lovers of translations. I was adrift in a sea of names I could not pronounce, spell or attribute a nationality. In such cases I cling to a personal philosophy of poetry, I stick to the text.

Listening rather than reading the verse, I allowed the music to flow over my, my mind grasping at images the way a drowning sailor might drift wood in a particularly busy surf. As with listening to Pinsky's 9/11 poem the next day, it was impossible to squeeze meaning out of the recited language -- a curse to our culture that has traded away that capacity in exchange for sound bites and superficial repetition.  Virgil ruined us for Homer, providing us with an easy excuse to not pay proper attention by shaping poems to the page rather than the person.

In selecting their theme, organizers of the Dodge allowed poets the platform for a much more political presentation. Although lacking Baraka's talent for propaganda, they eased into the subject, selecting materials that painted a picture of the culture our national leaders seemed bent on destroying. With the war in Iraq so inevitable, these poets struggled to show the people and their feelings, not the video game-like images the military constructed for us. Some poets boldly issued antic war statements, but with the exception of Baraka, they did so outside the boundaries of their poems, asides that shaped the backdrop against which their poetry would play.

There was passion in their pleas for reason, and pain in their realizing that they preached to crowds already converted to their cause -- a crowd whose attention would soon become diverted by allegedly anti-Jewish lines in one of Baraka's poems. This division of the left has always been its curse, and has always been exploited  by a government which did not wish to have these voices or their opinions heard. Rather than having national newspapers printing lines from poems depicting the great wonders of the Middle East, the world would get six erroneous lines from Baraka's poem, hardly a fair representation of the Dodge's explosive word-power, or the great respect and love of human lives and cultural dignity these poets had for the people soon to become victims of our government's bombs.

The reality of art

After the long ride from Secaucus -- where we had breakfast  (and I had too many cups of coffee), I was more interested in peeing than in poetry when we arrived, leaving Sharon off at the Concert Tent to catch Robert Pinsky (her hero) lecture on putting his book, "Jersey Rain" to music.

We had arrived too late to catch most of what he said, and after my slow stroll back from the public toilet, I caught a pitance of Pinsky's talk, although Sharon glowed saying: "even listen to as little as that, I got something out of it."

More than once I had encouraged Sharon to take up literary courses at the local college, rather than poetry workshops in New York. The first -- if the professor was any good -- exposed you to the best of writers. The second exposed you to a select group's opinion of what is good, which might or might not be reliable.

While I distrusted colleges as a supportive institution for artists -- believing those who relied too heavily on degrees in arts and literature often looked upon creation as an academic exercise -- I believed people needed some exposure, the way they might to certain bacteria, in order to build up an immunity. John Gardner called institutionally depended writers affected. I agreed with him.

This inevitably leads to the question of what Art is all about.

I have an extreme dislike of art about art. I do not enjoy films about film-makers, plays about playwrights, poems about poets or creating poems, fiction about writing fiction.

Many people -- particularly those bound to an institution -- have informed me that all writing is about writing really.  I believe it should serve a more noble purpose. To me, art of any sort needs a subject based in the real world. In this, I am a throw back to the 19th century in believing I can change the world with my art.

Art must be about something real: a person, place or idea. For an artist to lock him or herself up in an ivory tower voids any chance of touching reality, depriving the artist of that vital connection to the real world.

Unlike many writers, I view writing as a means of communication with the artist seeking to convey something to an audience -- the more people a work is capable of reaching, the better.

For the most part, college campus writers seem to lack that human touch allowing them to reach out to "real" people, and to me such writers seem little better than a flock of bored housewives stuck around a kitchen table spreading in-group gossip to which no one from the outside is privy -- not the milk person, not the mail person, not even the gas and election reader.

The plot Baraka missed

I realized later after New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey called for Amiri Baraka to resign as the state's poet laureate that we had not heard the version of the poem that had incited so many Jewish groups to hate Baraka.

After being booed by poets whose distant relations once saw the Nazi burning books (as well as people), Baraka cut those six lines of apparently mistaken history surrounding the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 in later readings at the Dodge Festival.
This act was later interpreted by the Jewish rights groups as Baraka's admission of guilt.
In retrospect, I believe Baraka may have stumbled on some fundamental truth. There was indeed a Jewish conspiracy, one much more insidious than the wanton destruction of the twin towers. Jews didn't merely want to bring down our economy, but they wanted an even greater prize. They wanted to take over New Jersey's poetry scene.
Didn't Baraka notice all the Jewish names associated with the Dodge Foundation, people of great poetic power who hungered for even more poetic power -- determined to grab hold of it my any means possible? Did they not control the ticket counter and force us pathetic gentiles onto the longer lines, hoping that after our two or more hour ride to get there, we might give up if we had to wait ten extra minutes for entrance? The evil Jews even controlled the sign up sheets for the open readings. 
Is it true that 4,000 Jewish poets got placed higher in the reading list? And why did no Jewish poets even seem to take an interest in spending countless hours suffering through these diatribes?
Did Baraka fail to see all those Jewish-looking teachers peering intently at poets reading in the various tents, each bent upon stealing these poetic secrets to as to carry them back to Israel for that countries planned literary offensive on the world?
Why weren't the rest of us warned about all the bad poetry we would encounter at the Dodge, allowing us to avoid those horrendous pitfalls such as "Spoken poems and silent reading" (of which Baraka was apart)?
How dare the Jews play such a prominent role in preserving our books and cultures, taking on such money-grubbing professions as librarians and book sellers -- through which they could horde all the words of the world and issue these out to us Gentiles by requiring us to show a card?
Why didn't Baraka tell us? Was he blind?

additional links

Adversaries no more

Art for Art's sake

Saturday, August 19, 2017

They love me; they love me not

Good people don’t tear
Pedals from flowers for fun
This deep need to read
Our fortunes off the pain of others
Always puzzles me
This potency of poems
To evoke rage
When ordinary words don’t,
The power we breathe
Into what we create
Life out of nothing
We like gods
Shaping existence
Never before seen
As thunderous as a hurricane
Or as gentle as a leaf
We torturing all to squeeze
Life out of the lifeless
To make real out of unreal.
Good people do not do bad things
Without becoming bad,
Though sometimes bad people
Do good
In this insane existence
We must tread between
Conception and cremation
Each step filled with dread
We might cease to be the former
And fall into the latter,
This faulty concept of misconception,
Believing we are good
When we do bad,
Like Christian crusaders
Evoking Christ
In a crusade to seize trade
With the wealthy Far East,
We misconceive,
Get lost,
Along this trail to nowhere
Turning back
To retrace our steps
Without the bread crumbs
To lead us to where
We once were,
To that place where
We first erred,
This our desperate attempt
To become good again
When the best we can ever manage
Is to do good despite being bad.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I breathe water

I breathe water and drown
Because I cannot stop myself
From breathing,
Even down this deep
Where only the blind fish swim,
Eyesight is not a virtue
Nor is standing
Since there is no solid ground,
We float in this sordid limbo
Arms stretched wide
Living not with hope of salvation,
Just survival,
One polluted breath at a time,
Wary of the abyss
And those things we cannot see,
Touching each sticky thing
Expecting to be stung,
I breathe water because

It is better than not breathing at all.

Killing off elections (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

For once in their long history
Democrats have come up with a good idea
For saving tax payers money;
If you don’t like someone in office
To hell with an election,
Just kill them,
Burials or better cremations
Save a lot of cash
Wasted on campaigns,
And save candidates from the needless
Task of representing all the people
All of the time,
The only problem with all this
Is who do we kill first?

Save the statues for the pigeons (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

Where is PETA when we need it most?
Why aren’t they protesting the removal?
Of Rebel statues from our parks?
Where are the pigeons going to roost?
Or better shit, when they don’t have
Jefferson Davis’s face to shit on?
Do the pigeons not have a right to shit?
On General Lee?
Or do they have to hold in it,
Waiting to find a statue of Lincoln
Or Grant or Sherman to shit on?

Turning ghettos into Gettysburg (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

They shot another kid
In the hood today
While good people
With lynch ropes
Lynched another statue
In the park
Getting even with that
Dirty Johnny Reb
For what he did
So long ago
Because they are
Too hapless or hopeless
To halt the mass murders
They allow to go on
Day in and day out
Under their noses today
Good people with good hearts
Turning every ghetto
Into Gettysburg,
Only it’s really hard to tell
Just whose side they are on
As kids’ bodies piled up
And the statutes fall
Leaving them to take full
Credit for both.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Proud and Gray (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

They take down our statues
Because they don’t like
The president we voted for,
Needing to punish us for being bad,
These know-it-alls Lincoln called
The Know-Nothings,
Whose grand schemes we spoiled
When we voted against them,
They pretending they are offended
By statues that have stood
For more than a hundred and fifty years,
Their feelings hurt suddenly
After all that time,
Spoiled brats kicking down
Other kids’ sand castles
Because they are too lazy,
Or stupid or selfish to build their own
Hating us because we still revere
Long dead heroes who could
Still hold up their heads
Even in defeat,
These brats throwing ropes
Over their necks
Because they can’t bear the idea
Of losing just one election
When we still stand defiant
After having lost everything
Proud and gray.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The real racists (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

Don’t talk too loudly,
You must be a racist
The only people brave enough
To speak their minds
These days are racists,
Because they don’t care
What people call them,
The deluded do not
Know they are deluded
But always think
They are right
And so keep still
Or you might be called
A racist
Even when you’re not,
Preachers and politicians
Who ought to know better
Keep silent
Too fearful they might
Get scarred with a scarlet letter,
Not so obvious as the Nazi numbers
Yet indelible,
Once a racist always a racist
Or so the saying goes
With us or against us
There is no in-between,
No room for mild voices
Lost in the rail of radical rhetoric
In this civil war
That was not our civil war
But we get dragged down anyway
Like old soldiers’ statues
Because we refuse to stay silent
And speak out against racism
Nobody sees  as racism,
So those who would call it what it is
Stay silent, intimidated
By radicals that have no shame
Mirroring the Nazis they blame
Attacking anyone who would
Call them what they really are.

All the news that’s fit to print (from Confessions of a Racist)

They bleed us like pigs,
Ink dripping from their fingers
As they skew us with words
No poison letters,
Just vicious headlines
Corrupted over time,
And like zombies
They feed off our brains
Until we can’t think without them,
Inky fingers pulling strings
To make us react,
To inspire artificial outrage,
They are the perfect puppet master,
Proving how easily then can control us,
Ruling the world without obvious symbols,
They need no swastikas
To show us they are the master race,
Nor soviet sickle to slice away our history,
And yet, like an iron rod inside a silk sleeve
They violate us,
Stirring up the froth they have created
Inside our brains,
Telling us they give us all the news
That is fit to print,
And like the robots we have become
We believe them.

Making us racist (from Confessions of a Racist)

I do not feel the whip in my hand
Or the rub of rope
I never even imagined either,
Yet they tell me I must pay
For crimes I didn’t commit
On people I never met
Because those people
Have the same color skin as me,
They like me ache to make
Our own decisions,
Make our own mistakes
Good or bad; rich or poor,
Though most who died in that fight
Never owned a whip
Let alone a black back to use it on,
Fighting blue coats not to keep slavery
But to keep some arrogant know it all
From telling them how to live their lives
Telling them what is right and wrong
When they need to
Decide that for themselves,
Knowing that rich are the same
North or south, only the north rich
Learned to hide the whip better
And let other people swing the rope,
Or pay for some poor immigrant
To die in a war that was never meant
To free slaves but to make rich richer,
And now, all these years later
Some new know it all,
Deluded by some new rich guy
Tells us we have to pay the bill
Calling us racist for clinging
To those few shreds dignity
Carpet baggers didn’t get,
Pushing people into becoming racists
The way those know it alls
Pushed people into a war
Nobody wanted to wage,
Hating us then and now
For refusing to kowtow,
To feel shame,
To pine our lives away
For something we never did,
And most of our ancestors never did either,
Painting us into a corner
So that the only way to fight back
The only way to survive with dignity
Is to become what they say we are,
Which is probably what they wanted

All along.

Black lives don’t matter (from Confessions of a Racist)

Black lives don’t matter
No lives do
In this age where everything
Is disposable
Like diapers or razors
Mass produced education
Regurgitated through the hypocrisy
Of abortion clinics called health centers
Or the starvation of welfare checks
Capitalism democrats use to keep people poor,
Race set against race
By a rotten rich until we riot
And still point fingers at each other
As the filthy rich hide
Soros just another Koch Brother
Wearing batman wings as disguised
Just another wizard of oz
Hiding behind a curtain
As he manipulates the levers
That keep us all apart,
Keep us all deceived,
Telling us black lives matter
When only the voting booth does,
Selling us snake oil philosophies
About love which is really hate
About fairness that is unfair,
When all we are doing
Is pumping up their power,
Getting nothing for our investment
Except grief and pain,
Souls sold to his party of that
When they are all the same,
Walking over our backs
Like Egyptian pharaohs did,
All of us, still slaves
White or black or green or orange
Betraying ourselves
With unreal ideologies
that infect us with foolish notions
of justice
even they do not believe
telling us black lives matter
when no lives do,
once they are done with us.

Pickett's Charge (from Confessions of a Racist, a satire)

If you force me to pick a side
It won’t be your side I pick,
I won’t be part of any rat pack
Of bigots in black face
Deluded into waging a war
They have already won,
Tearing down every bit of history
The way Stalin did
Simply because it offends them
And in doing so, shape themselves
Into the very monsters  they
Perceive the rest of us to be
A mindless mob filled with questionable degrees
From institutions that teach them
How to hate; not think,
A mob that mistakenly deludes itself
Into thinking it has moral high ground
The way the Union Army did at Gettysburg,
Leaving the rest of us to pick a side
And live – as Faulkner claimed –
On the very edge of Pickett’s charge,
Knowing we can’t win against such rage,
Yet knowing we have to try.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sea of love

Friday, August 11, 2017

We sway,
Sailing an invisible sea
Rocking each other
To keep from falling overboard,
Yet aching to drown,
To breathe this which is not water
Or air,
Sea brine I fill you up with
So we might both survive,
Potent as a witch’s brew,
An intoxicating broth
We shake up, and feel rise
Rushing into us
As we rock on this sea
That is not a sea
Living like sailors
Stranded in each other’s arms
Hip to hip
Lip to live
Drinking in each other
As we drift on this
Sea of love