Florida derby

Once, I wanted to paint

but the canvas

wasn’t there

I found, instead

just an old bed sheet

that someone

had left out in the

early morning

Miami rain…

…poor visibility

and cataracts

cloud my



find comfort in

your arms when

the weather beats

against the shutters,

when the old

drunks clatter

down the street

at 4AM

when there is

a truck abandoned

at the end of the block

with its lights still on


a life is lost


a soul forgotten.

I think of

a shipwreck

twenty years ago

…I dream of youth

and riding the finest

horse in the world

across the finish line.

We’ve never lost have we?

short sale

don’t put it on the market
just tell the neighbors,
you are
for the next
…you don’t really need it…
do you?
you can still walk, can’t you?
you can still pretend
…when you have to
can’t you?
don’t spend all day
at the casino
you don’t need the grief
the dollar slots
they are
not the
plant your
beach chair in the sand
and wait for

tax time

and afraid?
Who, you?
Not a chance
dig your
pink painted toes
into the sand and
file the extension.

Then kiss me
like we have no
real chance
of going home.

It’s a two and
a half hour
flight to
Tegucigalpa, so
call up the relatives
and pretend
there’s a new investor
named Ferdinand
and he’s burning
cash like there
is no tomorrow.

Just kiss me
again and
say if there
is such a thing
as real love
you’ve found it here
on deadbeat beach.

In a week we will
be on the bus
to Choluteca
drinking warm beer
and laughing about
the last check we
left for the

The Upper Keys bagel poem

after all
the skiff is still upright
the shadows have
hastened away, and
you and I are upright
as well…
and waiting for the next
thing to happen
AS we wait for the
quiet of mid-morning
to slink in like some
old washed up
guitar player,
like some has-been
drugged out rock star
like some careless,
busted, fishing guide.

We wait until the traffic slows
on the OS Highway
so we can walk up to the
bagel shop where that
guy named Nigel says
he has the best damned
bagels south of Brooklyn
but you say he hasn’t got
a clue as to what goes
into a bagel
you tell me that he’s
too self-absorbed.
You tell me
there is not
a fucking
south of Cape May, New Jersey.

We eat our bagels
in peace – on the deck
of the best damned
Brooklyn Bagel dive
in the Upper Keys.

You wave to
some driver in
a furniture truck
south on US 1
you tell me, that
he’s driving too fast
and in the end
it’s all just another
accident waiting
to happen.


Summer/Palm Beach, FL

Summer nights in Palm Beach
you can almost wear
the heat around your neck
on a multi-colored lanyard
smell the night air drifting up from the
Boca ghetto 20 miles to the south
watch the bejeweled sky light up
like the gems in the shops on Worth Avenue
expect everything – you can afford it can’t you?
don’t drink the water
was it worth the hangover?
was it worth the Jacques Selosse?
that you’d ordered – spilled
for that special occasion
Don’t ask the waiter who couldn’t wait
to steal your Lana Marks bag,
don’t count on him,
he’s a traitor who’s fled West.

Keep up appearances
and don’t forget the dogs,
you’ll need them to keep you company
at the Breakers
after the politicians have left the room.

talk the talk and enjoy the ride.

It ends in West Palm at the dog track.
It ends in a seedy poker room
with half a dozen guys smoking cigars
and talking legalized pot.
It ends in a sunset you will never see.

Safety in numbers/surviving the inquisition

So there’s safety in numbers?

don’t believe any of it

don’t think that you’ll be that face in the crowd

the guy in the Macy’s parade wearing the hat

the guy in the bank line wearing patent leather shoes

don’t think that you are part of a movement

…there is no movement.

Don’t read the papers…they don’t exist

Don’t think you will survive the inquisition

they know where you are

they know you’ve worked in shipping

for the past seventeen years, and

they know you’re 63 years old and

you drink too much.

They know you…they can pull you out

of line whenever they want

and stick a cold, soup-line finger into your chin

ouch…it’s 1932 all over again

bite your lip. Stand up straight.

So let them do it.

You’re a little punch drunk now.

In half an hour you’ll realize that

…none of it matters…

You’re Just a frazzled old beatnik at heart

Writing poems, and

telephoning friends before

looking around for a bus ride out of town.

a short poem about eternity

don’t talk eternity with me
until you’ve sailed out to the offing in a rental boat
and considered the molecules in the sea
and the sand on the shores of the Dry Tortugas

don’t remind me of the million year rain
or the damned great beasts,
just curl up behind me in the night
when the wind is high and the last new moon
of the year is about half a mile behind
(and remind me that the old traitor
is afraid of the dark)

It’s raining so kiss me
like there is never going to be
another geologic upheaval
don’t pretend that you and I
have not been smooching
like this for at least
ten thousand years.

Take off your clothes
and listen to the waves
slap up against her hull,
she’s been around for a while
but she will never sink,
not here
not tonight




toothache on Sunday


Don’t say it doesn’t hurt

just go down to the clinic on Fremont

where the 83 year old

dentist with the

rented drill hangs his hat.

Be there at 8AM and ask if he has

had a drink today.

He doesn’t care if you

pay today, so

ask if he can drill

a little carefully

(is he steady?).

Can he send you back

to the brick factory


Ask if he can pull the

offender out of line.

Make him press

the arrogant bastard up against the wall

and put a pistol to his head,

make him talk, and

threaten him like an aging

third world dictator

with a glass eye

and a case of syphilis.

Old dentist doesn’t take shit

from any offender

or so he says…

I say,

screw the orders

screw the old dentist

with his rented 1950’s drill

“give it a rest old man”

there’s no oil in that hole…

no gold in that mine

I’ll just kill the pain

with a stop at the Freeway Pub

I’ll tell them all

I have 97 more years left in me,

At least, so

they can’t stop me now…

…if it’s not one thing

it’s something else,

pain is good for the soul.



Remembering 2/26/1993

Sometime in late January, or early February, 1993, I sloshed my way through the streets of New York City’s Financial District, toward the World Trade Center. At the time, I was working as a consultant in the IT department of a Wall Street bank. The technical recruiter for my consulting company had invited me to have lunch with her at the Atrium Café, located in the Winter Garden, just outside of the Trade Center. My contract at the bank was winding down and she had a new opportunity that she wanted to discuss with me.

It was a bleak day, with a cold wind blowing in off of the freezing waters of the Hudson. I remember thinking I wished I had rescheduled this lunch as I trudged up Wall Street to Trinity Church, past the graveyard where Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton (and many other notables) are buried. I turned right and walked up Church Street for a bit before turning left to cut across to Liberty Plaza Park where I often lingered on pleasant summer days.

My favorite bench in Liberty Plaza Park featured a life sized, bronze sculpture of a man in a suit and tie, sitting on the bench, preparing for a meeting by checking his essential items in an open briefcase. The name of this popular piece of sculpture is “Double Check” by the famed artist, John Seward Johnson. On nice days, I enjoyed spending a bit of my lunch hour sitting beside my friend “D.C.” with a coffee and a book. But not on this day. I was frozen to the bone and my feet were soaked after stepping off a curb into a puddle of slush. Nevertheless, I nodded to D.C. as I hurried by ‘my bench’ resolving to return on a warmer day.

The Winter Garden was one of my favorite places in lower Manhattan. Situated at the end of a 400 foot pedestrian bridge that spanned West Street, connecting it to the World Trade Center, this atrium was a world apart from the often bleak, windswept, slushy streets of downtown New York. With its fully grown palm trees and tropical foliage, the spacious Winter Garden was a refuge for downtown office workers seeking an bright, cheerful place to lunch on days such as the one described here.

I don’t recall much about that lunch date, except I was in no hurry to rush back to work. I remember that we lingered for some time over coffee, watching the hundreds, if not thousands, of mid-day visitors to lower Manhattan pass by, hurrying away to a million destinations. I did not know it then, but this would be my final lunch in the Winter Garden.

In late February I travelled to Atlanta for a conference. The weather in Atlanta was not much of an improvement over the weather in New York. It was cold and wet. On day two of the conference, a freezing rain fell on the city covering everything in a layer of treacherous ice. By Friday, February 26, I was ready to go home, and I was grateful that the conference ended at noon. Another storm was approaching the Atlanta area and I wanted to get out of town before it arrived. I breathed a sigh of relief when my early afternoon flight home lifted off right on time. Two hours later when I got off of the plane at Newark’s Liberty airport, it was apparent that something had happened while I was airborne. Something big. Heavily armed police were everywhere, many with dogs. There was tension in the air. None of my fellow passengers had any idea of what was going on.

I know it’s hard to believe in this day of smart phones, in-flight wi-fi, tweets and newsfeeds, but I made it all the way to baggage claim before I actually found someone who knew what was happening.

“Didn’t you hear,” said a lady beside me at the baggage carrousel, “they’ve blown up the World Trade Center.”

Shocked, I rushed to the nearest pay phone to call my wife to find out what was going on. (Remember – this is 1993 and cell phones were more or less a luxury item. I would not own one for another three years.) My wife explained to me that while the World Trade Center was not ‘blown up’, a powerful bomb had gone off doing extensive damage. Lower Manhattan was totally sealed off with all bridges and tunnels closed as authorities feared other acts of terrorism.

All in all, six people lost their lives that day, including 36 year old Monica Rodriguez Smith who was seven months pregnant. Ms. Smith was doing mundane office chores in her basement office when the bomb exploded. In addition to the six deaths, over 1000 were injured.

Because of the magnitude of the tragedy eight years later on September 11, 2001, the events of the 2/26 World Trade Center bombing are sometimes overlooked. Today, however, I am remembering the day and the victims of that first attack, a day that shook the world for so many of us.


On December 31, 1994, my wife and I celebrated the approaching New Year in an Italian restaurant in New York’s Little Italy neighborhood. For that night we’d booked a room in the recently reopened Marriott Hotel in the north tower of the World Trade Center. Once known as the Vista hotel, the new Marriott occupied the first 22 stories of the north tower and had been closed for a year and a half for reconstruction after the terrorist attack of 1993.

The next day we strolled the deserted streets of lower Manhattan, walking between the World Trade Center and South Street Seaport. I took my wife to all of my old haunts. In Liberty Plaza Park I found my friend “Double Check” and we paused for a picture. That was my last visit to the Park and the last time I sat beside D.C. on the granite bench. The next time I would see a picture of D.C. would be in photos taken of the aftermath of 9/11.

Liberty Plaza Park sustained heavy damage in the 9/11 attacks, as did my friend D.C. The park would later be rebuilt and in 2006, it was renamed, Zuccotti Park. My friend D.C. sustained damage in the attacks but he was refurbished by Johnson, and now, renamed “Makeshift Memorial”, he has been returned to the park.

I am glad he is home.

me and dc

With my pal Double Check (D.C.) in New York City, January 1, 1995

don’t change a thing

don’t change a thing
don’t move
the McCoy pottery vase
that has stood
on the cherry wood table
in the front room
for the past 16 years,
leave it where it is…

leave the paper roses
where you found them
on the porch swing,
crumpled and soaked
in port wine,
leave the keys to the
’75 Chrysler New Yorker on the
Grand Hotel Key Rack
beside the basement
it’s all in the details,
so don’t move anything
if you don’t have to

it’s morning again
So just – roll over,
it’s only 8 am
sleep for another hour
after all, the trains
don’t run on Sunday
later on
we’ll take the dogs out and
let them run
along the shore of the lake
just don’t change a thing
I’ll turn my hat around
and wear it backwards
I will offer you a clove cigarette
and a cup of black coffee
we’ll walk to
the railroad bridge
and we will put our back
to the summer wind
but we won’t change
a damned thing
ever, if we know
what’s good for us.