“The day that any one of you can touch any one of my family is over. The next time you try to injure one of us, this what is has now changed. I have grown up, I am no longer an infant or somebody’s kid. Nor am I that weak, helpless, fucking teenager. “
But that is not how it went down, that is not the way it could have gone down. That is the once living nightmare trying to reconcile itself across time, that is the now distant thought of revenge braying to my always present ego. That is an ethereal daydream and within it I am addressing a rabble of mocking violent phantoms or one solid crusty white trash jackass with a loaded gun, or that same bigoted drunk who is holding a running chainsaw. And he is locked into fore-ever while threatening to cut off the head of my own sweet dog. Or I am breaking another man’s wrist that I have just met while just shaking his hand.
That is the hopeless and lost portion of a dichotomy that can live deep inside even a lifelong pacifist. The circumstances change whenever it decides to retells itself to itself, when it decides on another could-have-been plausible ending. No. Never an ending. Maybe just a second act.
But it never happened that way, it could never have happened that way.
So last night I told him.
Last night I opened up.
Last night I let him know
the real deal between us.
Last night I said it right to him:
“There’s no real competition here.”
Last night he indeed got my side,
honestly. totally, openly,
Finally, Continue reading
Noted documentarian Ken Burn’s recently invited everyone to learn, recite and upload the Gettysburg address. My reaction was to improvise a song instead. And then I asked my niece, Amelia, if she was interested in making a film with me that included my singing. As Amelia was busy getting ready to apply to film schools that she planned to attend after her high school graduation, she was not only interested but she wanted to add the results to her portfolio. Continue reading
At the end of the industrial age, I stood between a chair and my office window , gazing at the Christmas shoppers fourteen stories below. I had just been asked a fairly technical question by my boss and mentor and so I was looking out the window to reflect. And I was preparing a response, or more accurately, a translation, that my boss could follow.
My Mother, with an Uncle and Aunt
Taken in the early 1950s
When, suddenly,…down there…among the crowds, I saw my grandfather. I recognized him because of his thin brimmed hat and the brown cardigan sweater barely covering his suspenders. His gait also confirmed his identity, still a bit stiff on the right side because of the stroke he had survived in 1959. And then, as she came through the glass door, I was able to make out that my mother was also with him, the key here being her silver hair and her soft plumpness covered by her raincoat, with the belt hanging unbuckled on each side. They had just left the Sibley’s department store through the Clinton Avenue doors and as they came to Main Street, together they turned in the opposite direction of my office and slowly walked out of my view. My impulse was to immediately bolt from the office, run to the stairwell and down all 14 floors to join the crowd and search for them.
Last night’s performance “Remembering Frederick Douglass” by the Rochester Chamber Orchestra conducted and programmed by Arild Remmereit was one of the most moving as well as motivating experiences that I have ever witnessed here in Rochester, New York.
When I found you your star,
Alphecca to the Arabs, but Gemma,
always from then to you and me,
The Alpha Diamond of Corona,
shining in the Crown of the North on
those summer evenings. The back patio.
To smell fresh cut alfalfa hay, the peepers
and the Fireflies, when the screen
door creaked to say that you
were coming out to the tranquil dark,
sometimes to ask “Show me my star!”
When your sister gave us the gift,
four places of Silver and that note,
A charming tale you both exchanged,
As each family outgrew more settings
that neither could afford. Later I smiled.
But then, momentarily left the wedding party,
with her words “once your mother’s”, for
the empty, tranquil dark yard to bawl in,
Standing with the massive western sky,
First the handle’s Arc to Arcturus and then
upward to Hercules and Corona,
always to hear: “Show me my star!”
When I met your grand-daughter,
her first 15 minutes, eyes intently
scanning a populated new world.
You know she’ll never stop honoring
those, her unknown generations’,
unfilled yearnings to share their love.
But did my sister know when
choosing just a middle name,
it would close a celestial circle?
That on an urban summer evening,
the coals now cooling and
we guests well fed and yes,
the Fireflies have come back.
When my niece, catching my
glances upward towards Corona,
sometimes to ask: “Show me my star!”