Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Shared Bridge

This was "my" bridge for decades, 
a place where I would roam,
when things got too confusing, 
and I needed someplace to go. 

 Once a ship was tied up there, 
 (for many years it seems.) 
I used to sneak on her of night times 
and I'd sail her in all of my dreams. 

 This was the bridge that I rode across 
 on my bicycle built for one. 
On my way to the beach, or just fishing, 
this was my bridge alone! 

 Years had passed and I'd moved away
 yet still, this was the bridge that I'd see. 
Yes, this was the bridge that I'd lost until 
you came and gave it back to me!

 For Victoria Kanrek - long overdue. With affection and thanks! 
Photo by Victoria Kanrek

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Swan Lives

The swan swims, all alone,
in the pond he once called home.
His love has gone, he feared she might
be leaving all along.

Here, where they once swam, side by side
the pond now seems an ocean. Wide.
In a vacant gulf, filled with cries,
a sadness here presides.

And on he sadly paddles,
but his days alone feel wrong.
For as he swims he wonders how
long it takes to sing a swan's song.

Photo by Wendy Josephs

October 16, 2020


Monday, September 28, 2020

"The First Conspiracy" by Brad Meltzer with John Mensch (2018)


This is Brad Meltzer's first stab at non-fiction, and with the aid of co-author John Mensch, they have penned a truly riveting account of this overlooked chapter of the American Revolution. 

Long before Lincoln, Pinkerton and the Secret Service there was a group of soldiers assigned to guard General Washington 24 hours a day. They were literally called by the name "The Life Guards." They were armed, and stood close to the General wherever he was. Into every room he went, these men went with him. 

New York City, where the action in this book takes place, was a hotbed of espionage, skullduggery and counterfeiting during the Revolution. Governor Tryon, a Loyalist to the Crown, was forced to live aboard a British ship where no one could get to him. The Mayor, a noted Tory himself, was likewise in seclusion. But they were not idle.

Among the plots and sabotage emanating from Manhattan, were a band of counterfeiters from Long Island. They play a large part in this highly readable, well written book. Only out of their bungling does there emerge that there is a plot amongst a group of men who are members of Washington's own "Life Guards" to kidnap, and or kill, the General. The authors of this plot?  None other than the Governor and the Mayor!

This is a highly charged book which takes place on the eve of the Battle for New York City in June of 1776. The outcome is never in doubt. We won the war and Washington became President. The real story in this book is the beginning of espionage and counter espionage in America. It is a history that is still evolving over 200 years later, only now it continues en masse, and on a world wide stage and scale.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Rocks Stand

The rocks stand.
Attached, as if they've grown
to the boulders in the sand.
Always they've been known and seen
at this very lip of land.

The waves crash.
They land ferociously
and mark the anger of the sea.
Evermore they swell and break
as they have eternally.

The people come.
Attracted, as they are,
by the battle of this pair.
The rocks and ocean, locked in time.
Neither going anywhere.

August 26, 2020
Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard
Photo by Wendy Josephs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Moving Forward

Moving forward looking back
upstream to the past,
the boat moves slowly, downward bound,
while the current pulls you, fast.

Dreaming dreams of dreams that were,
idle thoughts lay ahead,
moving you forward while you're looking back
at a past you know is dead.

The memories draw you back upstream,
while  the future calls you down,
to a city where you'll live out your dreams
And your life will become your own.

August 22, 2020
Eduardo Cetner-Argentine painter
Photo by Debbie Cawdrey

Friday, July 10, 2020

"Long Time a Child" by Hartley Coleridge

If you were to ask me to name the one poem with which I identify the most, it would be this one. And it has been, for many, many years. Hartley was Samuel Taylor Coleridge eldest son, so he had much to live up to! For me, with this one alone, he scored his place as a poet. The breaks are mine. The poem has long been presented as one verse. I have taken the liberty to do this for the sake of clarity. It is a beautiful, though sad, sentiment expressed with great skill.

LONG TIME A CHILD by Hartley Coleridge

Long time a child, and still a child, when years
had painted manhood on my cheek, was I,—
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
a thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears,
no hope I needed, and I knew no fears.

But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep, and waking,
I waked to sleep no more, at once o’ertaking
the vanguard of my age, with all arrears
of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is grey.

For I have lost the race I never ran:
a rathe December blights my lagging May;
and still I am a child, tho’ I be old.
Time is my debtor for my years untold.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom's 91st birthday. I remember her voice very well, singing and playing the piano, which still stands in my living room/dining area. It was purchased in 1964 and has been with me since she passed in 1984 at the age of 55. I am now 10 years older than she was at the time. So, it's not easy to think of her as old.

She was ill for much of my childhood, often spending 6 months of the year, or more, hospitalized for all forms of digestive issues and cancers. Growing up was like an emotional yo-yo, which of course I didn't understand at the time.

She and my Dad met in February 1947, when he was just 17 and working at the Kingsway theater as an usher.

She had just graduated James Madison, the same school I would attend years later. She was taking voice lessons and auditioning for the chorus of Broadway shows, planning on a career in the theater.

My Dad, a year and a half younger, was still in Maritime High School aboard the SS John Brown, a Liberty Ship used by the Maritime Union to train Merchant Mariners. He was living in Manhattan at the time. My Grandmother had been forced to move from the house on 32nd off Kings Hwy after my Grandfather died. But, for whatever reason, he was still working in Brooklyn on Kings Hwy.  (The Brown currently resides in Baltimore, just near the submarine Torsk,  aboard which he also served in the Naval Reserve out of New London, Connectticutt.)

The whole courtship thing came to a head when my Mom was about to take a job in the chorus of "Oklahoma" in a road company, which would keep her away for months at a time.  Similarly, Dad was about to sign on as an Ordinary Seaman and ship out to ports unknown for months at a time. So they had a lot in common.... they were both leaving to begin their own lives.

But their hearts held sway, and love, not one to be ignored, won out. They were married in September of 1950 and together until her death 33 and a half years later in 1984.

Her last few years were spent in bed writing stories about her illness and also her childhood. Since I'd lived through the illnesses my favorite stories were her childhood ones. I hadn't been there at the time they occurred, so her stories were a window into another time, in the same neighborhood, with some of the same characters I was growing up with.  One of my favorites was the one about the "I cash clothes man", a few of whom still roamed the streets when I was about 4 or 5 years old.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you and the phone calls we shared, with me calling from foreign ports whenever I could. And you, always there on the other end.

Note: Photo cropped from my Mom's girlhood album. She is 13 years old and seated    on the roof of 3619 Bedford Avenue.