Friday, July 29, 2011


the city knew my name
'cause i put my mark on it
not in museums or ball parks
or places of culture or industry...
but in taverns and theaters
with twenty-five cent matinees
i sat with painted ladies who
wore too much perfume and
hobbled on cobblestones
in worn-out high heels

the city knew my name 'cause
i left my mark on walls in subway stations
urinals, and bar tops
i used knives or ballpoint pens
so someone might read the date
and somehow know my name

the vanderbilts and carnegies
and all the power brokers of the world...
did it much in the same way
only, they wielded bigger knives
and had their names set in stone
on large edifices
and on philanthropic proclamations
so someone might read the date
and somehow know their names

so, as i contemplate these things
the winds blow sand
'gainst the great pyramids of egypt
and the statue of liberty erodes
and the berlin wall is but a long lost memory
and men compete for power
to be remembered
in cities that soon will forget
because nothing is very important
like a whore in a cheap hotel room
in the end it all gets disheveled
like last nights bed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I went to my local Border's Book Store, today. All the advertistments I saw, said: "40% off". These were ads I observed in the Chicago Tribune, and in emailings to me from Borders. I wanted to purchase, "Chicago--City on the Make", by the great Nelson Algren. He's a gritty/urban, cigarette smoking Chicago writer who wrote great verse about hillbillies, prostitutes, bums, and all the dark things that I love about our great city, in the 1950's.

Borders didn't have the book...They never had it...No wonder they went "belly up"...Chapter 11...What the hell???...A Chicago bookstore without one of its main writers? An Iconic writer like Algren!...well, shut my mouth!

This is a Chicago book store, by God! I bet old Stuart Brent woulda' had it! I had to settle for "A Walk on the Wild Side", by Algren...It was the last copy they had...geez...and it was only 10% off.

screw the big bookstores
screw the kindle
and screw me...'cause I sell books on

The only bastion of sanity left for me is the "mom-and-pop" bookstores, where a book is a book, and can be had for a mere two or three bucks. The libraries are discriminatory as well. Here in Wheaton, Illinois...the heart of religious fundamentalism, my public library does not have ONE BOOK by the great Charles Bukowski!!! Damn those religious fundamentalists! They decided that old Charlie was too dirty and nasty for them. What in the hell is going on? Next year the powers that be will probably decide to burn all the books. They might as well put me in jail, for subverting young minds with my outlandish balderdash. That's allright by me! I can have 3 hots and a cot, color tv, a weight room, drugs, pruno, and a pretty well-stocked prison library! Social Security is going bankrupt, anyway...and I'll get good medical care in prison! See? Everything's gonna' work out just fine!

Monday, July 25, 2011


i see empty lots
and broken dreams
amidst the rubble
of discarded bottles
and candy wrappers

my once bright eyes
are now dimmed
by the lethargy of routine
which does not reward
for there's not meaningful work
for us

so we sit in bars
if we can afford it
it's better to buy the cheap stuff
in 1.75 liter bottles
and sit at home in alcohol induced fantasy
vicariously living through our tv sets
someone else's american dream
and we realize it's all gone bad for us

it's good when i get my little pay check
all of my "friends" come over and party with me
'til all my money and liquor is gone
then i hit the streets again

i see the empty lots
and broken dreams
my once bright eyes are dim.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


i wish i could hit the heavy bag,
but arthritic wrists and calcium deposits
are too painful for me.
I wish i could dance on my toes
like i did in my prime,
but my legs aren't there anymore
i wish i still had my balance
and could rat-a-tat on a speed bag.
bang!...bang!...two lefts, then a right cross
bob and weave...
i desire these things
i dance and shadow box
my mind goes to the past
illusory dreams
advice from trainers
go to the body, the head will die
defend yourself at all times
jab and counter punch
breathe and keep your hands up
the sweet science
i see the kids in the gym
i correct their form
show them how to throw a punch
rotate and drive
flick those gloves
pop! pop! pop!
the smell of the gym
the sweat
the dedication
i still hang out there
like an old ghost
and they still embrace me
like an old relative
that is enough.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


there are some lucky moments
when the bills are paid
and you can take vacations

there are some lucky moments
when "the wife" ain't raggin' at you
and your car starts every morning
and your boss thinks you are a winner

there are some lucky moments
when your kids love you
instead of calling you a drunken asshole
and they somehow see your wisdom

there are some lucky moments
when you feel no pain
and the dreaded cancer ain't in you no more
and the sun looks good in the morning
and there are no more hangovers

there are some lucky moments
but mostly there is pain
'cause this life here on earth
has fewer lucky moments
than we make up in our brains

but maybe that is good
or maybe that is bad.
it depends on if you're lucky.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I remember being nine-years old, with my friends at old Comiskey Park...Home of the "hitless wonders"...The Chicago White Sox. Comiskey was a grand, old edifice. It had style and character, even though the view of the playing field was obstructed by huge, iron pillars in the cheap seats. I remember that some men still wore straw hats, and suits to the games. McCuddy's bar, across the street, did a good business. This was the Bridgeport neighborhood...Chicago's South Side. Mostly Irish, but the neighborhood also had Blacks, Italians, Germans, Lithuanians, Polish, you name it. A melting pot culture of working class families, who believed in God, country and baseball.

I remember the smell of hotdogs, factory smoke, and the stockyards. We took the trolley bus down Kedzie avenue, north to 35th street...then we transferred to another bus that took us to 35th and Shields, Ave., where the great ball park stood in all of its glory. I stood in the street with my dilapadated mitt, begging for pocket change or a ticket to see the game. Sometimes, kindly, old ushers let us sneak in after the fifth inning. We promised them we would sit in the bleachers, but snuck into the empty box seats when we could get away with it. I watched my favorite Sox players of the day: Nellie Fox, Louis Aparicio, Billy Pierce, "Jungle Jim" Landis, and Minnie Minoso. All this majesty could be had for pennies, if a kid played his cards right!

I usually made it home in time for dinner. If not, I had to pull weeds, or do something hellish for my punishment. If I made it in time, I wolfed down my dinner, and ran like hell to the baseball diamonds in Marquette Park, a couple of blocks from my house. I had to be home before the street lights came on. Sometimes my mom and dad rewarded me with twelve-cents for a double popsicle from the Good Humor ice cream truck. I chased the sound of the bell down the street with a hoard of other children, for my prize. Then, it was off to bed by ten-o'-clock. I had plans to play baseball the next morning.

Now, I think of US Cellular Field. What an antiseptic name for a ball park. It just rubs me the wrong way. Kids can't afford the White Sox games anymore. All the seats are for businessmen or corporate concerns. Families can't afford the games, either. It sucks. People talk and text during the games. All the so-called "fans" seem distracted. McCuddy's tavern, where the great Babe Ruth used to get a shot and a beer, or maybe a hotdog between innings, has been torn down. So has Comiskey Park. It was my baseball palace...a part of history...a part of my sweet's all gone forever. It was torn asunder by politics and corporate greed.

Now, fat kids play baseball on their tv sets. Gameboy is the new sport. The stockyards and the factories are gone. So is the work. Oh, how I miss sliding into 3rd base with the sting of that pungent city of Chicago air in my lungs! I still hit a baseball at the batting cages every now-and-then. My sixty-two year old body protests the next day...but I swear, I'll never, ever have a Gameboy in my house. I love the old days, and the old ways too much.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


she stabbed me in my heart
with a knife so sharp
that a white heat seared my head
there was nothing left unsaid
as i sat in disbelief
and looked at her pretty feet
i was a slack-jawed entity
nothing left inside of me
i no longer could be free

the untruths that i heard
emerged with every word
succinctly put by she
denied reality
made a monster out of me
as she stabbed me in my heart

this person that i love
flesh of my flesh
blood of my blood
hung me on my cross
desperate was my loss
for words explaining this
i so longed for her kiss

but she stabbed me in my heart
so dangerous was her art
of doing these same things
year after year it brings
me closer to my grave
she might just rue the days
she stabbed me in my heart

Monday, July 18, 2011


oh lord of technology,
restore my system
grant me the serenity
to have absolute efficiency
and the ability to multi-task
with the best of 'em
'cause the powers that be
confuse and exacerbate me
so i need the tools
to out-do other fools
i pray to thee...
cast them to the outer realms
'cause they continue to usurp me
so great puter god, restore my system
i am your humble servant,
oh great puter in the sky!
so do with me as you will
with ram and gig i will pay my bills
so that i might survive
to network again at supersonic speed
with awesome electronic feed!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


i fight the war inside my head
i've dodged the bullets
i am not dead
i'm quick of reflex
and move god speed
to enemy quarters
where i feed
my bloodlust
is now everywhere
to fight with me
most will not dare
for i am the universal soldier
a mindless thing
i fight for concepts
most everything
my human body
has been offered and bought
by richer men who know naught
of wars and things in the physical sense
with other mens blood
not that of their sons
in board rooms they fight
with money, not guns
so onward they send me
on to my grave
it's moral to them
i'm a "mindless" knave
they buy their way out
they don't pay a tax
in gated communities
they grandly relax
but if i survive
and i'm counting the days
i vow i'll come get them
put an end to their ways...

postscript: "Only 2% of Congress have a son or a daughter
serving in the military"...(USA TODAY, 1-3-2007)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Sun's up!
I'm ready to travel on dusty roads.
My thumb is out.
Beer cans are thrown at me from passing cars.
I have newspapers stuck in the soles of my shoes.
They work to ease the "souls" of my feet!
There is sweat on my brow.
In fact, I stink.
My dusty roads call to me.
A beat-up car stops for me.
The door swings open.
I assess the driver with my vagabond eyes.
He looks alright, so I take the ride.
I borrow a smoke, and take a pull off his whiskey bottle.
This is freedom, man!
It's the end of the line, and we part friends.
I go down the road and keep walkin'.
I put my thumb out on the dusty road.
I hike 'til the sun is setting.
It's a beautiful world out there, man!
I look to find shelter.
Somewhere safe, out of the elements.
I score a room in back of a bar.
I wash glasses all night.
I even get free drinks and a meal.
I hunker down with my belly full.
The covers are musty, but I am warm and happy.
The red sun will come up tomorrow.
It will guide me to more dusty roads.
I'm smiling as the rain hits my face.
I realize this is my adventure.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


i guess i'm running out of time
but, just like the old adage goes,
"even an old clock has to be right...
twice a day"
that is, if it still runs
or rather walks
or maybe lumbers
perhaps, crawls
to the intractable truth
that which is life,
and the reality,
that there is only sex and death

and if one embraces death
over sex...
he can't be right twice a day
so i carry on
and make my mistakes
this is the human condition
admitedly, i love sex
and absolutely, i fear death
so, what else is new?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


As I pondered old age as a young man, the prospect of reaching fifty to me, was a Herculean accomplishment. Such is the foolishness of youth. At sixty-two, I find myself amazed and grateful. I am amazed that I have accomplished so much in my life, and I am grateful that I am still in good health.

What a man can endure and survive is to a large extent based on personal choice. The rest of it all is left up to genetics and luck. I have survived alcoholism, a forty-year cigarette habit, automobile accidents, bar room brawls, cancer, emphysema, double bypass surgery, my first marriage and American politics.

It's all quite amazing! I have a keener wit since I put "the plug in the jug", in May of 2003, and I don't hack and cough anymore 'cause I quit my "beloved" Marlboro Reds almost seven years ago.

I reminisce more often now. I think of my lost dad, my mom, my brother and sister are now all dead. They are gone from me forever, but my loving memories of them linger on. A great number of friends and relatives have also joined them in the great beyond. I thank my higher power that I have a loving wife and daughter who continually amaze me with their charm and accomplishments. Above all, I am grateful for their love...a love I often did not deserve.

I have no unrealistic expectations of myself now, and for the most part I am happy to wake up "not dead" in the morning. Every day is more frosting on my lifetime cake. One thing that always makes me smile is when my wife claims, "We're middle-aged!" My retort is always, "For Chrissakes Debbie, do yah thing we're gonna' live to be a-hundred-and-twenty-four?" She just frowns at me as she rolls her eyes...then she laughs.

She is one, tough, lovable cookie, my gal. So, for this day, July 13th, in the year 2011, I am happy. I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and lot more deaf and forgetful...but by no means am I "out of the game". You betcha!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


i sat in dirty apartments
smoking cigarettes
drinking cheap whiskey
looking out of screenless windows
at the humanity on urban streets

roach infested diners
kept my body nourished
i had a soul sickness
so i wrote it all down
on grocery bags
with nubs of worn-out pencils
#2s if i recall correctly

and you know what?
the words sustained me
and as my dramas unfolded
my realities came together
but only if i really looked for them

so i took buses to taverns
dark places i feared to enter
and i took pictures with a cheap camera
so i could paint what i saw on canvases
i worked in dingy basements
with inadequate lighting
i worked in mold, dust and decay

i knocked on a million doors
and they were slammed in my face
but the few that opened just a crack
were opened by the force of my foot
i barged right in, fearlessly

i saw the "light"
i saw the "high life"
and the best of things
i sat with the laughing, well-heeled, elite
i smelled their colognes
i ate aged beef and drank single malt scotch
i smoked cuban cigars
and everyone claimed to be my friend

so i held court every weekend
like a king on his throne
i had finally arrived
it was my time
and time moved fast
my head was spinning
it was a disneyesque world
all of it fantasy, and dreams

and after years of this
i found myself wanting the open window
the screenless window
and dead flies on fly strips
the smell of sweat and urine
in lesser places
for this was more real to me
because the humanity there
laughed at cruel jokes
but it was good laughter
and it was felt by all
not done out of obligation
so, i quit the scene of the well-to-do

i managed to quit the low life as well
i found a place in the middle
that was less painful than the extremes
but i was still in a dangerous place
because i still had to live there
inside my own head.

Friday, July 8, 2011


she said, "i can hear a little tweet bird out there...
i can hear its' sweet song."
she said these things to me, sometimes.
So, I looked at the yellow finch,
as it ate seeds from the thistle sock in our garden.
It pecked outside our window.
I fell in love with my woman all over again.
I do this every day, because of what she says.
It's been this way for some thirty years or more.
We sat in silence...
together, on a love seat,
reading our books,
and I realized once again,
that I am the luckiest man alive.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


the oldest son resented the old man
the youngest one loved him
the old man was a drunk
sometimes he could be mean
but he loved the young one
they sat together often

on the porch on hot summer nights
they listened to baseball games
the old man taught the boy
about many things
the boy watched the old man smoke
and drink his cocktails
he helped the old man to bed
he chose to accept his father's flaws
he listened and he learned from him
the young boy never showed any disrespect
the boy grew into a man, and saw the truth
yet, he wasn't embittered by it

when the old man died
the youngest brother inherited a gold watch
and a diamond ring
they originally were owned by his grandfather
the older brother was quite wealthy by this time
the younger one not so well off
the older brother wanted what was rightfully his
the young brother wouldn't give them up

the offer was overly generous
but the younger brother realized
that a price could not be put on special things
he never would sell
he smiled, because he knew he made the right decision
love, not money was the answer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


he was a man/child
a frightened little boy
who mesmerized with great aplomb
vast crowds of girls and boys
he lived on lonely street
in a place named heartbreak hotel
and in his dark, expansive rooms
he lived his private hell
he prayed aloud to jesus
"oh lord, how great thou art"
he always sung his gospel roots
he really played his part
his mistress wasn't alcohol
the pills were his dark art
he romanced many ladies
but he always was aloof
he was the "king" onstage
this should have been his proof
but inside, he was just a child
this was his only truth
he collected wealth, awards, and fame
he had more fun than God
he never lost his boyish charm
yet, he always felt so odd
this little boy named elvis
i hope he rests in peace
his wondrous music lives on still
in poems such as these

Monday, July 4, 2011

MY 4TH OF JULY (that is poorly written and doesn't rhyme)

bombs bursting in air
trash everywhere
the ones who blast 'em
won't clean up
they don't care

fires on the rooftops
police ain't enough
damage to autos
fights do ensue
no money for fireworks
so what?'s Americas due!

they blow off their fingers
they generate trash
they call me curmudgeon
a foolish old ass

they spray toxic bug spray
all over themselves
to keep mosquitoes at bay
then on to cheap-assed carnivals
whoopee! hey-hey!

a forty-something fat guy
blowing bombs in the street
no children are there
his mind in defeat
(and i wonder...why?)
well, hot damn! it's the 4th of july!

i've lived through 62 of these things
i could care less
it's banal, it stinks...
a real fucking mess

at least i'm locked up
where it's cool and no fumes
of sulfur can cause me alarm
i'm not going out for the holiday charm

i'm a crank and a grouch
but i don't really care
i listen to beethoven
i read proust
all snug in my chair
i'm in my sound-proofed studio
breathing fresh air.

Friday, July 1, 2011


i can dream
of better horizons
somewhere there's hope
so i can carry on
i keep believing
in the moment
so, i can't sit still
and my movement
defines me
action is the key
believing in my dreams
is me
i build my courage
every day
for better ways
so, soon i transverse the chasm
i travel onward
to the other side
there, i see new horizons
and more chasms to bridge
and i smile at this thought
for i have dreams.