Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Fairy Tale Part 4

August 6, 2012

Start from Beginning

Part 3

They stopped off for lunch at a roadside mall. They’d passed scores of them since their journey began, hours earlier. Each mall was identical, featuring a McDonald’s, Subway, Popeye’s, with a sprinkle of Taco Bell. The crowd wasn’t too large, so they sat down and enjoyed their sandwiches. A TV nearby was set to a news channel. They watched a report of how Check had been bombed by Tiddly in response to a terrorist attack perpetrated by the insomniac militias of Iwalk and Isleep. The Check monarchy (known as the First Mate, or Mate for short) was calling for UZI (United Zones International) condemnation and sanctions against Tiddly. Tiddly’s Prime Minister, with one eye perpetually closed, decried the violence and pledged an investigation into how someone could steal their army uniforms and missiles. He denied all allegations and demanded an apology from Check’s Mate.

They spent the first half hour following lunch on an intercity highway. It passed the same as the previous hours, but then they reached the exit for Unsome.

“Remember to buckle your seat belt” said Flu as they entered the exit lane.

“Thanks. I have it on” said Obi as they decelerated to 15 miles per hour, exactly as the sign instructed.

“Do you think all those stories of Unsome are true?”

“That they are sticklers for rules and will arrest anyone, including the King’s best friend, for minor offenses?”

“Yes. I heard that also. Do you think it’s true?”

“I doubt it. I’m sure the famous poem is only propaganda.”

“It’s a poem?”

“Yes, we learned it in social studies class. I’ll tell it to you.”

Obi recited the famous poem of Unsome as they pulled off the highway and road the exit into Unsome.

Unsome:

I was sitting in the mud,
Waiting for that moment to come,
When I could join my friends,
In the land of Unsome.

I was exiled many years ago,
And now the years drag by so slow.
I was caught and tried,
For by the rules, I did not abide.
Life, the sentence would stand,
Yes, I would be totally banned,
From the land of Unsome.

From official to official I begged,
Please make the punishment end,
The answer was “nay”, I would have to stay,
With no hope for me to return,
To the land of Unsome.

Money was given as a bribe,
To erase my terrible crime,
But to no avail, my home was my jail,
And no way for me to return,
To the land of Unsome.

One day my friend became King!
My heart began to sing.
Now I’d return, to the land that I yearn,
The land of Unsome.

My friend said, “Sorry, no dice.
I just cannot be nice.
Your crime is a shame,
but I just can’t take the blame,
If we start having JAYWALKERS
In the land of Unsome!”

“Amazing” said Flu.

And then they both fell silent when they saw there was a roadblock and a soldier was approaching their vehicle.

Part 5

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An ant story (from early 2002)

April 6, 2012

Here is a story I wrote one night when I was studying in Israel.
One night I couldn’t sleep, so I went from the dorm room to the courtyard. I found swarm of large ants carrying a gigantic Israeli roach to its final resting place. As I watched, this story ended up on my paper.

I copied it how it’s written (aside for some minor spelling corrections) even though some of the puns are cringe-worthy. I’m also maintaining the original paragraph structure.

There was an ant named Richard.
But his friends would call him Adam
Because he was lazy as man.
Every morning his parents would wake him up.
“But the sun isn’t even up”, he’d complain.
“By the time you finish breakfast it will be light out.
“Besides, the early bird gets the worm and the early ant gets the bird.”
The problem with ants is they don’t have seats.
From the time they awake till the time they go to sleep
They are forced to stand on all 6 of their feet.
Richard enjoyed sleep. Sleeping on his back, with his head on a soft pillow. He couldn’t want till evening, so he could eat a quick supper and go to sleep.
One day Adam was going collecting, he was trying to find food
When he came across a TV that a mouse had thrown out.
It had a remote control, so he could watch without getting up.
Thrown out with the set was a perfectly good bag of stale caramel popcorn, so Adam didn’t starve. On the contrary, he grew quite fat.
(The other problem with ants is when they get fat, they aren’t horizontally challenged, but vertically challenged; and that made it sound like Adam was short, which isn’t true.)
When he shoved off for his hole (shlepping his popcorn behind him), he discovered he was too girthy to fit down the ant hole.
“Help me! Make the hole bigger, please!” Adam requested.
“If you want something done, do it yourself”, said Smithers, the ant guard.
Instead, Adam dragged his bag of popcorn a few feet away and cried.
Suddenly, an anteater came along and ate the whole ant colony.
He couldn’t smell Richard, because he smelled like caramel popcorn.
Richard cried for a few minutes. (That’s another problem with ants. They don’t have tear ducts, so when they cry, all they do is blink a lot. Although most ants are too busy to realize they are sad, and by the time they go to sleep at night they have forgotten why they were sad (Ants don’t have the greatest memories, which explains why they keep trying to go on my picnic blanket even though I chased them off about 3,713 times.) which is why ants seldom cry.)
When he finished crying he dragged his bag back by the TV and began watching again.
Adam watched TV for 2 straight months! (When his popcorn was finished, he discovered an old hot dog nearby, so he was never want of food.)
One afternoon when he was asleep (during the afternoon news), a pesky rabbit jumped by, pulling the plug and bringing the TV down with a crash. Adam woke up with a start. Realizing his loss, he began to cry again. The rabbit said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see the plug. Maybe if you play with the chip it’ll work.”
“Are you crazy?” Adam lashed out “It’s broken. But chips, now that sounds good.”
Now the TV had broken and the pieces lay all over the floor. Adam sniffed around, found a chip, and ate it. “Eww. This is horrible. It tastes like a chip off an old block. Oh well, at least it’s worth two in the bush.”
Suddenly, Adam felt queasy, he felt statically, but then he was picking up the channels normally. And, whenever he couldn’t get a good reception, he’d just adjust his antenni until he got a clear picture.
He died 3 years later, when he refused to pay his electric bill and they cut off his service, leaving him a shell of his former self.

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Soda Can

May 9, 2011

This a poem I wrote in November 2001. I was sitting in a Beis Medrash (study hall), learning with my chavrusa (study partner) and he left to take a break for a few minutes.
I noticed a soda can sitting on the table in front of me. Later that evening I was scheduled to go on my first date. I had heard that women liked poetry, so I wrote the following poem with the intention of impressing her. She was not so impressed, so this is the only “dating” poetry I’ve written.

Soda Can
The can sits on the table
And holds it down
And if the can would wobble
Fall to the ground
The table might start rising
And bump the lights
There is no way of knowing
Which one is right
Because even if you remove
The can from above
It still would not be proof
The can gave a shove
If you see a can on top
Resting, at ease
Don’t blow it or make it drop
Just let it be

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Customer Service Training : A Poem

June 17, 2010

I’m at a mandatory training at my job
For “Customer Service”, to not be a snob
At my job, I don’t interface
With customers so it feels like a waste
I’m supposed to learn how to better interact
With coworkers and managers, have a great impact
Improve workplace morale and quality of work
Minimize conflict, arguments to brook
They prattle on and on about giving respect
Most men here point to reality and reject
The idealist view the trainer espouses
Tempers flare, tension rises, emotion arouses
Communication is raised, a positive trait
But this gentleman is fairly irate
The women are one nodding in agreement
The men are skeptical, they see appeasement
Is it honest to cover things up with a smile
Maybe fuck “truthiness”, it’s not worth the trial
The bottom line is you’ve a job to do
A paycheck to collect, a dollar and a cent or two
So go along, get along, don’t make a ruckus
I’m sorry but I still think this training is pointless

The Tug Of War Tour

February 18, 2010

I attended the The Tug Of War Tour on Tuesday evening. I didn’t watch any of the youtube videos or read about it (aside from this interesting article).

All I gathered about the show was it featured a Muslim guy and gal and a Jewish guy and gal engaging in debate through the mediums of poetry and hip hop. I wasn’t sure how much tension there would be or whether I would find listening to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be entertaining.

The show, produced by @ffidler, was held at the Nuyorican Poets Café. The bouncer at the door let me in 30 minutes early because of the foul weather. This was fortuitous, as I accidentally miscalculated how much time I had between the movie and the Tour.

The show kicked off with a drum solo by Swiss Chris. The solo was impressive. He drummed on everything in his area. (His use of drumsticks that continuously changed colors was nice eye candy in the dim room.) The floor, a chair, curtains, oh, and, a drum set. He was very energetic and talented. His ability to twirl his drumsticks while simultaneously keeping a beat was impressive.
My only criticism is from where I sat, in the back, left corner, I wasn’t able to see a lot of the drum performance. (Especially when he was drumming lower than knee level.) If the stage had been elevated it would have been better. However, that’s a limitation of the venue, not the performer.

After the drum solo, the emcee, Simply Rob, introduced the women. They got up on stage, with their scripts in hand. They seemed slightly awkward standing in public and reading off a script, but only for the first few moments. They quickly got into their roles. They promised in their introduction (deliver in rhyme) that they aren’t here to kill each other or sing “Kumbaya my lord”. They suggested that through poetry they could express their own perspectives and understand the emotions of the other.

The two women, Tahani Salah, an American Palestinian-Muslim, and Vanessa, the @hebrewmamita, an American Jew of Syrian-Russian ancestry, had completely different modes of dress. While they both wore sweat-like stretchy pants, Tahani Salah wore a head covering, while the Hebrew Mamita wore a sleeveless shirt.
Both women are attractive. (Later, when I watched the youtube video for the event, I saw that she wore a jacket or a longer sleeved shirt in a prior performance. On Tuesday evening, she did not. I had to concentrate on the words she was saying, because otherwise my mind would have drifted to more physical things.)

After they finished, Simply Rob introduced the men, Mazzi, a Persian Muslim, and Sneakas, an Israeli Jew. (Mazi wore jeans. Sneakas wore purple pants. The pants fit in perfectly with his word play.) They came out and introduced themselves with a lively hip hop beat and dance.

The Hebrew Mamita, got up and recited a heartfelt poem about her inability to defend Israel for its actions. It was obvious she’d wrestled with her Zionism and her humanism and found a conflict between them.
And, so it went, a serious introspective poem by one of the woman followed by a lighter hip hop piece. This is a clever way to keep the audience from burning out on serious things or losing themselves to the rhythm and incapable of following the deeper message.

One exception was a piece performed by the men, in which they explored what an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian terrorist are thinking in the moments leading up to a conflict. That was almost completely serious and the crowd was moved by how it progressed.
Both of the women delivered a piece that really didn’t fit with the evening. The Hebrew Mamita spoke about her aunt and her Sephardic heritage. And, while I think that a discussion among Jewish people about the treatment of Sephardim is important, it didn’t seem to fit the theme of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship. Tahani Salah spoke about her relationship with her father. She added a bit at the end to make it connect to the overall struggle, but I think she lost some of the audience by taking a long time getting there.
However, their poems were highly entertaining and full of emotion.

There was one part where both women stood on stage, back to back. First, the one facing the audience spoke. When she finished, they exchanged places and the other spoke. This was my first artistic performance, so I don’t know if that is a common artistic device. The women didn’t appear to be addressing each other, so I didn’t understand the need for the dramatic pose.

I especially liked:

  • The Hebrew Mamita’s story about getting an abusive text message on Passover night. She had a great observation that her youtube channel is often attacked by a religious Orthodox Jew for her dress and words. When she said, he (the attacker) watches everything she makes, I laughed.
  • Tahani Salah’s pieces. The one that resonated most with me was when she pointed out that most people would have a hard time telling an Israeli from a Palestinian. Underneath it all, all we are is humans.
  • Mazi’s energy. It’s not easy for me to dance in a room full of people dancing. Mazi put on a solo dance performance that made me want to jump up and dance along!
  • Sneakas’ word play. Not only were his puns and word tweaking funny, they were also insightful.

Overall, I had a really good time. The performances were entertaining from beginning to end. I was struck by the energy of all the performers. I wish the show had dug more into the motivations of why each side acts the way it does, but, I understand the limitations they face in keeping it entertaining, not too heavy, and mainstream. I would highly recommend this to anyone who can think critically. If you are scared of the possible tension of the two opposing viewpoints, don’t be! Come, see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. I give it 8 out of 10.

Tuesday Feb 16, 2010

February 18, 2010

Tuesday was a full and interesting day for me.

1. I had to write my 2 initials on 45 pages on 5 copies. (45*5=2=450 letters.)
2. I had to find a find a notary public and sign the document in front of him.
3. I had to travel to my wife’s lawyer and drop off my final divorce agreement. (The final agreement lays out the terms for the divorce so that when both parties sign it and a judge agrees to it, our divorce settlement will follow those terms. In our case, we will have the religious divorce as soon as we have both signed the agreement. We will remain married civilly until after a NYS judge can review it and agree that it’s fair to all parties involved.)
4. I went to see From Paris With Love
5. For dinner I stopped at the “2 Bros Pizza” on St Marks Place.
6. I went to see “The Tug of War Tour” that @ffidler produces. For information go here.
7. On the way home I passed “Second on Second”, a karaoke bar I’ve heard so much about, but, I’ve never seen. Last night Veni, vidi, vici. The bar is pretty empty on Tuesday nights apparently. And, while I only went in to see the place, and, later, just to sing one song, and, yet later, only to sing two songs, I found myself two hours later telling the karaoke jockey, yet again, that I need to go, because I have work the next morning.

Subway Poem

February 16, 2010

This poem is in response to Shades of Grey who suggested in a comment to this post that people are motivated to have children because they want to leave a legacy. And, while I will concede that this poem is not a complete mockery of the need to leave a legacy (since it implies that the speaker will be there the next day), it does question the need for a legacy.

The train arrives at eight twenty-four
I wait for some to disembark before I enter
All the seats are taken, so I stand clear of the door.

A stop later a woman leaves for an express train
I take the vacant seat and relax my feet
I pull out puzzles and a pen to engage my brain

During the trip I successfully complete
An easy and hard Ken Ken, a sudoku,
even a crossword, all from my seat

Now my stop is coming soon, it will be time to leave
My thoughts turn to the future
Once I go, will my absence people grieve?

Will people forget that here I did wondrous things
Should I put up a commemoration
So others can bow their heads before their absent king

Oh dear, my stop has come without ample warning
I leave without making any declaration
It’ll be used by heathens – until tomorrow morning.