Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friday, July 8, 2011

Art So Far

The paintings I am willing to admit to can be found at this link:

https://picasaweb.google.com/rschwach/Keeper?authkey=Gv1sRgCIKy9c72-qz_SA

Sunday, March 13, 2011

36 of My Poems

I
Control


He was in the passenger seat while she drove,
Struggling from his lack of control but
Respecting her command.
Wasn’t love the surrender of control?
Wasn’t power measured in degrees of control?
Did we not pray to God because we hoped
God was driving while we rested?

Before the Fall, before the Tree and the Apple,
Did we worry about our fate?
Does knowledge create an irreconcilable need to
Drive and the fear this responsibility brings?

He pinned his lover’s hands in a loose grip behind her
Head in mock bondage
As they rose and fell in a dance in tune with the ebb and flow of all eternity,
Her excitement heightened by her surrender and his
Not by power but the assurance that none was required.

Can we lose control to God knowing he has made
A similar silent pledge
Of his love?


II
Googled


Hidden in a galaxy of
human consciousness
I am waiting to be googled.
What is the algorithm,
and who does the search?
Query over sixty, shy but thoughtful,
Crisis survivor not embittered?

Once hit like a lost
Street in an unknown town on
Google Earth, I will
Speed to the seeker in a
Micro-second of digital frenzy.

Frenzied energy sparks am I,
Laced with meta tags to
Send out there with hope,
Praying for distinction from
The Decoder.


III
Railcar Moment

Track ripped from Treblinka balances
The mystical box car from Poland;
Once a 15 ton transport to Genocide,
Now restored to play another role.

Not 100 or more crushed lives
A trip, but two million a year--
Travel sucked through a black hole
Of grief and screams with just a few steps,
To be warned by souls still stirring

That humanity’s train wrecks
Are not stalled cars on the freeway,
Slowing a trip to the bye and bye,

But massive strokes; conscience coronaries
That could cause our final solution.
And to Jews who enjoyed Bar Mitzvah
Sans tattoo number on arm,
Do not forget the Railcar Moment.
The next may not be a day
At the museum.


IV
Waves and Light

My eyes stare to a meditation.
Light impulses bend to photoreceptors
(Some glaucoma-broken) dancing to nerve cells,
Electrical impulses splashed on the wall of my brain.
You as Pointillism a la Seurat-a-dot,
Neo-impressionistic blips blended by my heart
To an image of you that is only mine.
Your lips move now, pushing waves of sound,
Vibrating pulses to my auditory nerve.

Waves also mine now, transformed by
My brain to my song of you.
(Digital sound dots forming waves
From data points of memory)
My brain, creating a reality from waves and light
Unique to me.

My body unlocked by invisible keys
To rock in ecstasy to your vibrating
Hum.



V
Passover

And so they all quibbled about God.
Did he create it all and then go somewhere for lunch?
Could he multitask a billion prayers per second?
Was his a virgin birth?
Are we on the ins or outs?
Does he like blue or red states?
Rosey or Trump?

If we go to heaven
What’s for dinner?
Is it Kosher?
Is the Earth God’s favorite  planet,
Or a piece of lint on his eyelash?
Is he angry with me for writing this?

Will our DNA code run on a
Nintendo?

If we don’t have a paschal lamb, can we
Still eat matzo?
Do we need to know God
To know wonder and
Awe?



VI

Lover or Fighter
Carotid artery swollen with a torrent of
Blood aimed at feral neurotransmitters,
All at ready in primitive anger
To strike with the strength and speed
of Achilles.

Another vein engorged on ready,
Another time, the same red river racing
To dance love with strength
And passion,

Both fueled by the heart.

One course leading to
Chaos, the other to
Pleasure.

A lover or fighter?
Always our choice.

Black eye served with ice cubes,
Or a good sweat and a cigarette?


VII
Party Pooper

He spoke of LDL and HDL
And 5mg Simvastatin
 From a smiling youthful face
That peeked from a well-secured yarmulke.

Science coexisting with Religion,
The Decalogue, and Grey’s Anatomy.

On this doctor’s head
The skull cap as a
Symbol of submission
To a higher authority
And a reminder that
The best medicine
Is only temporal.
Only atonement
Insures Eternal Reward.

A bummer
For a guy that only
Wanted a guiltless
Pepperoni pizza
Sans sermon and
Science to chase
Away the party
Pooper god.


VIII
My Turn

I stuffed my issues under my pillow
For review in a black and white
Dream show, while in blazing sunlight
I toiled at yours.
Distractions of Bach partitas kept
My demons at bay;
Their shouts muted in organ aural waves.
Yet for yours there was focus
And clarity;
Solutions (mine for you
Not yours for you) dancing
With octave changes
And plucked strings.
And there was that mirror
Reflecting an image unknown
To me.
That man who one day
I would meet.
Who would catch my eye
And hold me with his love
And answers, assure me
In silence that it was
My turn.

IX
Older Now

I used to fly through trees on New Balance,
Meditating on the approaching leaves.
I used to cut the waves in Speedo briefs,
Two breaths per fifty meters.
I used to multitask with the best
Dual processor 365 challenges per year.
I used to dance romantic,
Matching thumping baselines
With pelvic pulses.

But now

I retrace old proving grounds to
Study a different perspective
For clues of all that was missed,
Smelling scented oxygen
Served up by rain drenched forests,
Watching rain drops on silent
Ocean rip currents, solving nothing.

Accepting complexity.
Swaying slowly now to loving
Glances,
To soaring violins whose
Beat is far more
Subtle.



X
Patience and Healing

For some I fear God’s light is bent
And misses its target,
Either diffused or gobbled
By a black hole
In the DNA soup;
Torn and splayed by
An invisible engine of pain
Or diverted by unknown endless
Inhumanities,
Repeated
By timeless
Smacks against
The stuff of what
Once was the
Original
Creation.

(Is it their fault some souls
Can’t feel the warmth,
Can’t be healed by
Those magical rays that
Bring growth and succor
To the rest of us?)

God’s healing light will
Catch up and repair
In the next crashing
Swell of the
Source’s Power.

The repair and healing
Is a God microsecond
Away.
We need not pray for it,
Or repent to deserve it.
There are no sins that
defer it,
Only the need
For godlike
Patience.



XI
Get Ready!

In the quantum world
There is no physical reality
Without an observer.
Photons collapse to particle waves
Only when witnessed.
Physical reality is created
By our observation of it.

In the spiritual world
God also needs to be witnessed
To exist. But those eyes
Must be through a collective
Consciousness and faith
Of souls infused with Love,
Ready to send and receive
Cosmic codes.

Are we Ready?



XII
Sorting

Jaundiced eyes followed the
Crackling cocaine smoke spiral that twisted
Into murky lungs on its way to a
Cirrhosis liver bursting blood with
Portal hypertension and
Esophageal varices
Toward still another
Endoscopy.

His Al-Anon “Courage to Change”
Goes unread while her bi-polar
Riddle torments his logic.

She lies there now with swollen
Waist and ankles, still judge and
Jury to his faults she claims
Caused her behavior, while he
Addresses those that
Disallowed her rescue.

Her iPod sings old notes no longer
Tweaking a 60’s awakening;
Instead instilling an ever deeper
Sadness to failure.

Hers now so obvious
But his no less contorting.


A corruption of reason
Stirs guilt where there should be
Applause.

Restrained anger grows,
Clogs where a gathering
Flood needs to discharge.

The divorce decree lies
In its printed ink home,
Talking only of electronic
Deductions from a registry,
While his soul carefully enters
Into its billion synapse database
Thirteen years of memories and

Pushes “Enter.”

Swollen eyes
Watch the screen

Sorting.



XIII
One More Meeting

It was held in the Bethesda Church
next to the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach,
land of the geriatric monetarily endowed

and after the serenity prayer and the part he liked best
about the “wisdom to know the difference”
and after they read the Al-Anon Twelve Steps and the code of conduct rules or whatever,
there was the part where they picked a topic, which was “motive”

(and of course that was what he was wondering about)
when the lady next to him with the bad hair dye and tee shirt the size of his  two-year-old granddaughter reminded him of real pain when she talked about her pregnant daughter who was on the streets
with no support that she was aware of and

how “she knew this was supposed to be only about her and not her daughter”
but how could she just let this go and then,

someone else spoke (who I guess did not hear her or understand her pain) because

she launched into an endless monologue about her new number one priority which was herself
and her “motives” about sustaining her new love affair with herself while he heard

“yadda yadda yadda”

and addressed the nature of his own motives
until he decided that as he stood in line and held the hand of this suffering woman
and searched his memory for the words to the Lord’s Prayer
that he would keep all of this confidential and
try at least one more meeting

to get it.



XIV
Tamma

Queen of the non–sequitur,
Matzo–ball maker with Italian wedding soup,
New Yorker in black with Jersey accents.
Skinny legs and all.

A girl "such as yourself,"
Charlie Chaplin sans moustache,
A nose with a dot,
"toosch"without.
Tamster "extraordinaire."

Thirty–one without a clue of all you are, of all you'll be.

Cigarette toking, acrylic fingers dialing,
Recipe exploring, soap watching,
Hunting for answers that don't matter
To questions that do.

One-of-a-kind won't find models.
You’re one singular beautiful piece of
Wonder.


XV
Diagnosis

They said he was bipolar but
He was just ecstatic and baleful in
The same day.
That kid, they observed, obviously had OCD.
How many Barbie’s did she need at once?
Clearly a cyclothymic disorder if
She’s hypomanticly gushing with
New thoughts;

And a downer for more than a day is a
Dysthymic disorder.

Behaviors as varied as
Snowflakes, misdiagnosed
With a “normal”
Script of senseless
Babel.



XVI
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy

It took God's picture floating
one million miles from Earth,
Digital measuring in the second language point,
sending density data to
mission control.

Behold a flat universe, 13.7 billion years old:
A giant infinitely expanding
pancake.

Everything we know;
Everything we are;
Everything we measure:
All the Energy and atoms
only
4 percent of the whole
she-bang.

The rest:
dark matter (23 percent)
and dark energy (73 percent).

We are the skim on top of the
chicken soup.
God's snot.

Three quarters of everything may be
the devil
hoping to blow the rest up.
No wonder everything feels like it’s
going to hell.

I'm sure God is sorry he exploded
so long ago. All the King's soldiers

can't put Humpty Dumpy
back together again.

Maybe if we all hug
we can generate
a giant piece of energy
to
hold
on
to




XVII
Meme

Her grandchildren and great grandchildren
Called her “meme.”
Dawkins called a meme “a unit of
“Cultural transmission.”

A small band-aid covered the skin message
That a deep swimming cancer dragon had
Made it to the surface.

He buttoned her blouse after the
Mammographic visit
And studied her clear blue green
Ponds, birthday cake skin,
And “I Love Lucy” smile.

She spoke to the nightstand picture:
“See you soon Bobby,” and

Although he knew her assurance was
Not misplaced, he wondered at
Her calm and his fear that he
Would not be the same
Without her.

If not a cultural transmission,
Absent her constant model of style and grace,
Could he achieve the
Peace and strength her

Life represented and transpose his
Children and himself
By her training to a higher
Place?

She was Frank Sinatra and
Big Band, Lucy and TV dinners,
Country club dances, golf dates,
And mahjong, but also a gold standard
Of loving wife and mother.

And she was still alive;
Was he?
What more could she
Tell him? Quick now,
What more should he
Tell her?


XVIII
A Hug and a Reunion

First, drops of tears on a dry sponge,
Then light rays through cracks in his solitary confinement
Thaw drowned swimmer to cough
His first resuscitated breath
And reboot his hibernated engine,
While the merry-go-round resumes its kaleidoscope of sounds and lights
Featuring Barbara and a Bach fugue.

A spark from a simple hug
Reconnects to the life force,
Singing validation to all travelers
And succor from loneliness.
Hallelujah!

Simultaneously a shared set (1962-2006)
Reunion hug morphs from a

Sea of faces-abstract-symbol-life-marker to
A close-up of individuals and friends
With life songs to share and sing
And a Cliff Notes summary:
“We Cannot Nurture and Survive Alone.”
SO HUG THIS:

Turn off the tube.
Power off Gates and Mac.
Google the sound of Life as it
Pulses in waves and cycles

Falsely labeled “Hope” and “Despair”
Because as the young dude offers:
“It’s all good.”



IXX
Harmonica

The harmonica was diatonic,
Major tuned, not chromatic;
Playing notes key of C
Mostly blues, varied rhythms
Locked in C.

You can alter the tune,
Change the emphasis,
Blow harder; but
Sometimes you need to
Change the key.


XX
Half Moon Bay

Half the moon light
Spooned the Bay,
While the remaining
Hooded glow
Stood in line
To filter the
California watercolor with
Changed hues for
A different offering in
God’s museum.

The pageant observer that Sunday,
A derailed traveler, found himself
Studying nature’s transitions from
The master and praying for
Technique.


XXI
Starbucks

It was like a vocalized pause.
You know: ah… um… well…
His visit to Starbucks
Where the addicts assembled to avoid
The otherwise
Pressing reality engagements
Of their day.

I’ll have a grande coffee latte,
Toffee nut, organic milk,
Whipped cream,
NutraSweet, room please as he
Dumped the change, tipping here
Whereas he would
Nowhere else.

The coffee cooled quickly,
As did his interest in it.

It was a stall,
A destination point when he had none.
Socialization Cliff Notes style;
Conformity without apology;
Yuppie reverie while the world
Turned ugly.

Later, coming to his senses,
It was two glazed and a
Small black at the Dunkin.

XXII
Me vs. Toyota

It was the left side rear bumper
That was wounded in the course of duty
from my negligent carelessness in the
awkward parallel parking dance.

If it were my own infirmity, I’d let
the ass fester or tape it with my
frayed ace bandage athletic remnant;
or test the major-med deductible and
then likely dismiss the more formal opinion of
the credentialed expert who observes that
the ass is indeed within his sight.

But the Toyota deserves to stylishly back-a-new,
Drop its drawers and receive reconstituted plastic underwear
Pre-painted to match its silver suit.

After all, what a great reputation for
Reliability,
Economy,
Re-sale-ability,
While I am only
“Interesting.”



XXIII
A Valentine

The truck devoured the highway,
Coextending with its large side mirrors
Hero, astride the Harley,
Reflecting his loose skin
Flapping in tune with the Stones tee shirt
Sans sleeves; hat-less helme-tless
Four days before Valentine’s Day and
62 years after his Mom’s second son’s birth.

This Hopper-Fonda wannabe,
Acting the actor from resurrected memories of
Cool and what probably never was
And would certainly never be again,
If only for a Sunday.

Turning his wrist slightly
To juice an engine that could still respond
(Much more effectively than his own).
Contemplating the old Valentines but
Focusing on the now reality.

Marilyn Monroe was actually quite short
With a broad ass
(He’d never look at her twice).
Bardot with her animal rights bullshit
Had no time for sex unless the lover
Shouted “Shut up!”


But Hero had a new Valentine cooking,
Emerged from a crucible of experience,
Missed cues, and wisdom;
Cooled on a plate of wiser choices.

A love based on morphing images

That responds to body and mind changes
And evolving seasons of grace and beauty.
That sees a constant stream
Of “right” in all the mutations.

This love feels comfort in
Waves of emotional whisper,
Never too loud or too soft.
Seeing always a light when all energy
Has been depleted.

This love is a grown-up thing
Based in reality,

This love he had for
Barbara.


XXIV
Flamingo Joe’s

Flamingo Joe’s Auto Spa details my car.
They play with the interior and
Buff up the exterior.
They talk dirty about nozzles and jelly.
They're buffing and shining;
Body-work,
Oh my.

And if that don’t get you off;
They promote Poly-Armoral.

These days I’m so horny
Most anything talks of
Sex.

Whipped Cream;
Bones;
Air;
Long necks;
Anything.

Where the
Hell
Are
You?




XXV
Workout

Fourteen minutes into the Precor elliptical routine,
Stored salt oozed from strained muscles
While racing arrondi.
Synapses ellipses.

Thoughts driven to the subconscious,
A mind going nowhere while a body raced
Out of control.

Sixteen more minutes iPod unassisted,
Addressing the limits of his machine,
Counting down to a 300 caloric purge.

And then the mirror broke the spell,
Reflecting the tired ancient warrior
Spinning in place, going nowhere,
Unable to wage war on anyone
Except himself.


XXVI
San Francisco Museum

The soaring truncated steel cylinder
Borne of the mind of Maria Botta
Captured God’s light for the
Temple SFMOMA.

Did the child in primitive reverence
Bow to the guarded idol of
Creativity, watched by a modern
Madonna and child; or
Merely, with innocent curiosity,
Marvel at the view beneath the
Transparent floor?



XXVII
On Hold

Gathering his thoughts while the Muzak played,
On hold he was;

Watching age spots spread on his mother’s arms,
On hold he was;

Counting reunion days until he sees his imprisoned son,
On hold he was;

Smelling ammonia grab his alcoholics wife’s life,
On hold he was;

Waiting for his business ship to come in;
On hold he was;

Waiting for a grandchild’s voice to sing his name again;
On hold he was;

“I’ll ring you through now,” she says.
Was it with a leer?

“I’m not on hold now?” he says
Because on hold he was.

“No you’re not!
Now try to remember why you called, good looking.”


XXVIII
Little Richard

The flat screen TV covered all he could see,
A million lines of resolution in mock 3-D;
Dazzling colors and hues almost real, yet
Distorted enough to create wonder.

Sounds in Dolby decibels treat his
Ears to a thrilling orgasm,
Again tweaking  consciousness.
Were the sounds human?
Was he awake?

And then she materialized from the glow,
Plastic weapon shimmering to a battery growl,
Legs spread, head thrown back, eye lids flickering,
Body quaking.

He grabbed the image but the ghost offered no
Comfort;
Confused but resourceful he grabbed the
Remote,
And replayed her stroke with
His,
His Stroke.

XXIX
Fine Tuning

The light rays did not focus precisely on the retina
So he needed a new bending;
A new reciprocal of the focal length would do it,
So the phoropter said.
“Bump the right up two diopters for
Clarity.” Try the
Acuvue lens.

The neurotransmitters weren’t sparking properly
Through the gunk, he feared,
So he poured on the acetylcholine
To help the nerve cells deliver their
Messages.
Try the antioxidant
Apple juice.

His ears rejected the static radio noise
So he juiced up the CD player with Ludwig Van:
Violin Concerto in D.
Soaring vibrating strings smooth out
Digital steps into a smooth
Oral slide.
Repeat the Rondo.
Hit Replay!!
Again
Hit Replay!



Re-tuned now
He received each
Pulse,
Each
Ray
With clarity.

Go ahead,
Jump up!
Shout
Hallelujah!
For the subtle adjustments
That make life
New.



XXX
Saved Seats

Black and white flickering TV light bathed the room;
Gisele MacKenzie on Your Hit Parade.
Towhead sits at Meme’s feet
On a break from loneliness;
Grandma’s feet corn-ensconced from shoes too small;
False teeth rest next to horn rim glasses;
Graceful hands massage a small boy’s shoulders;
Friday night 1952.

“What happens when you die?” he asks.
“Where do you go?”
“It’s my secret,” she says.
“This much I’ll tell:
When I die, every time you think of me,
No matter where you are or where I am,
I’ll hear a magic bell ring,
And smile”.

Sixty-three years old now,
Suffering societal disconnect;
He is asking:
Where am I?
How did I get here?
When did I get old?
What happened to Roy Rogers?

He had this dream:
There was this Broadway show,
Except not Broadway and
Maybe not a show.
But they all had to go:
A “must see.”

They all went together.
But when they got there,
John was pretty sure
He had the most experience at
This kind of thing so
He’d go on ahead and get
The seats.
They’d catch up to him
“Not to Worry.”

John is smiling and
His bell is ringing
Next to saved seats.



XXXI
Ski

First,
there was a mountain.
Two skiers began the descent.
One skied with style and grace,
soon finding the bottom.
Anyone watching (and no one existed to)
would have been awed with the grace of it all.
The second, limbs in confusion, heart beating with excitement,
fear...eventually found the end of the decline.
Anyone watching (remember no one existed to) would have been struck with the awkwardness of it all.
Should we decide which skied better? Or which had more fun?
What does it mean to be good at something?
Only God knows,
And the
skier.



XXXII
Defining Myself

A billion chattering neurons
Stoked with hot apple pie
Chilled with iced vanilla cream;
Collectively imagine
Myself as:
Grandpa with a
Little child asking
For “Just one more
Story.”

Certified letter from IRS
Next to stuffed ashtray
Imagines myself:
A Hunched Wal-Mart clerk
Packing checkout
For Super Savers.

Your smile before
I even speak.
Imagines myself:
Cary Grant,
Or Fred Astaire
With Einstein’s
Smirk.

Each stimulus
Creating a new
Imagined me.

Me retelling my
Story of myself,
While awaiting
The next defining
Adventure.

XXXIII
Facing Codependency

It said I was sabotaged,
Falsely empowered
Pedestal posted,
Told wrongly:
“Doing no wrong.”
Made anti-dependent,
With weak boundaries,
Fenceless.
But I thought:
Empathetic;
Walden;
Noblesse oblige;
“Have Gun Will Travel”?;
Until I admitted
My codependent
Self always
Left me

Alone.

XXXIV
Accompanist

Play me E1, 41 cycles per second, pizzicato;
I need to be slapped and plucked to respond.
Forget the bow, keep it simple.
I’ll be the roar of the waves.
After a while you’ll forget I’m here.
Who listens to their heartbeat?
Do you feel the earth spin?
Can you get that beat?
You be the melody, I’ll chug to it.
I tried the other registers,
Doing all those rises and falls.
So many keys and colors.
Being on top, now the bottom.
The smell of crushed leaves,
A thermal jacket and sweats;
No more  Hermosa Beach,
I’ll walk the Lighthouse.
Do you take Bach,
Or Bach lite?
Gould or Loussier?
It doesn’t matter
To the accompanist.

XXXV
Swimming?

The waves and the beach were at war,
The wind watching in anticipation,
For she was there uninvited
Running naked and fearless on the sand:
A rude uninvited party guest.

He watched and then screamed:

"What do you think you’re doing?"
The wind echoed: "Get out of here!"

Laughing, she dived headlong
Into the massive wave
that swallowed her
Like an angered great white

As it spit her to the surface
To be readied for the final
Massive salty bite.
The Onlooker locked her eyes

And her wink.

XXXVI
Just some notes

It was a paper box that could have held a new router or portable clock radio.  There was a wall of these boxes all the same size, as if one size fits all: a sumo wrestler or ballerina.   On the cover of his box was an envelope addressed to the Memorial Company (Levitt-Weinstein) and the Certificate of Cremation for Tamma, done up like a prize.  Inside the envelope another card Permit No. 422 signed by the Crematory.

He didn’t want to open the box and didn’t want to deal with the contents until he had thought it through, but then it was Tamma and he could imagine her saying: “What the hell is your problem?…Do this now! I’m not staying on the floor in your shitty filthy car. Put me in the ocean.”

So he thought about where.  Was there a boardwalk so the ashes wouldn’t blow back on the beach? Did it matter? Were there rules about this stuff? Should he wait until it was dark? Say a special prayer?

He ended up on the beach in Delray by a restaurant called Luna Rosa because she loved to go there and they had spent most of their Florida time in Delray. It was raining now and so he just grabbed the box and dashed to the water and sat down on the sand and opened the box. He pulled out the clear, heavy plastic bag and dropped it in the sand between his legs.

The stuff inside (Tamma stuff) looked just like the sand but not as fine. It didn’t look like ashes.

And then there was this plastic brad holding the bag together that clearly required a tool to safely remove. He could imagine a frustrated mourner just heaving the bag directly in the water or tearing the bag and having the ashes blow everywhere. So he worked the tab up the bag using his fingers like a needlenose pliers and somehow got it off.

He put his hand in the bag and let the ashes fall through his fingers. Inside the bag was a metal coin stamped ABCO Crematory 30336. With the bag open he walked into the ocean up to about his waist. He forgot that his wallet was still in his jeans. He let the ashes fall into a kind of milky cover,  like creamer in your coffee.

He was alone with her.

She was not drunk.

No rabbi, no body in a box, no family.

Only one mourner.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poem I Wrote While Babysitting Grandson

Grandpa’s Sitting

Hundreds of cascading TV channels
Blinking their best same old, same old;
Sitcom stories splash with eternal ennui;
Pundits pound home the depressing political impasse;

What happened to Howdy Doody? He asks.

The mirror watching the couch where he sits
Annuls his reverie, shining its spotlight on
The reality of a wasting medicare  social security self.

So many forgotten dreams replaced
With angry choruses of debt collectors,
liars,  and charlatans while formerly consoling friends
are silenced dead  to Realms no longer defined
to his satisfaction by science or religion.

Switched off babysitter
Surfing the sounds of silence
Wondering which wave will
crush him.

There is a darkness late at night when the
Media sleeps and all human contact is absent
And even memories have retreated to
The graveyard of burned synapses.

It is to that darkness to which now drawn
He davens in drunken prayer to the fates,
Yet again to be interrupted by the cry of a little one:

“GRANDPA!”

Friday, August 27, 2010

YouTube to Learn

Just time for a quickie.

About a week ago I decided that I wanted to learn how to paint.  I also heard that acrylics was the most forgiving medium.  I did not march off to the book store or night school for lessons.  All I did was watch about 20 youtube videos and then took off.  I have lots to learn but I am having fun.  Try it!  It's free.  Here's my collection of so so art so far: http://picasaweb.google.com/rschwach/MyArt?feat=directlink

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Learning Irie



There are times when my memory takes me places I thought I would never revisit. Now seems to be the best time to relearn old lessons. I wrote this in an effort to remind myself of what was important.


Learning Irie


He learned that if you held your thumb parallel to the horizon and counted the number of stacked thumbs it took to the falling sun, times twenty minutes, that was exactly how long he had until sunset. This was useful, on the beach of Negril in 1978, if you needed to walk eight miles to the Rock House for cocktails before it was dark. Not Cleveland Ohio dark where there were street lights and neon signs to mark your path, but Jamaican Negril dark where only the stars and whispers from  shadowed faces were there to guide you.


He points to a sky so graphically exact that it could be an observatory: “Delonn, isn’t that the constellation Orion.”  The young Jamaican with the body of a Greek god( if Greek gods had black bodies) responds:


“Sir Richard, in Jamaica we call that a bunch of stars.”


 ****
He wondered how much it showed. He hadn’t had a date since sixth grade and was freshly divorced from a 13 year marriage that produced two children. He had his “space” and not a clue how to fill it. Thursday night, he was told, was the night to meet and greet in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He thought he was ready. He had the new designer jeans, soft contact lenses and a clean apartment. An open mind.


On his way into the restaurant/bar he noticed a very tall blonde girl who he thought he had seen before. Was her name Sue Anne? She was saying something he could not hear to some of her friends and then looked his way. When she saw him returning her stare she said:


“Wait right there, Richard. Don’t take another step.” A little dumbfounded he responded:
 “OK fine but do I know you”?
“Not that well yet but you will know me much better by the end of the night. You’re not going in there. You are coming with me”.


****


He didn’t like beer so he pretended he liked scotch. No refrigerator or ice required. Sue-Anne liked beer but preferred sex. She said they could go to her apartment but then they wouldn’t have the privacy she required (“If you know what I mean”.  “Not really,” he thought.)


 “Lets go to your pad.”
“But you don’t even know me.”
“I know enough”. “You’re single, smell good and haven’t been with anybody but Wifey in many years. “
“Like A virgin”.


She was doing a reverse Andrew Marvell on him:


Had we world enough and time, This coyness lady were no crime.  We would sit down and think which way to walk and pass our long love's day. ...


There would be no conversations with this strange girl. What followed was copulation not love. He was learning a new sport that he discovered he was surprisingly good at. Lacking any emotion he could approach the new contest much like a dance. Lacking any concern for the emotional status of his partner, he found his new passivity liberating. If not satisfying in the complete sense of an emotional release, it was more like the feeling he had after he ran ten miles. He was in tune with his body and had a good sweat. Oh and she was there too. A beautiful body but a mouth like an ash tray. Were you permitted to ask them to brush? He’d learn that rule later.


 ****
Delonn did his cliff diving thing and collected six Jamaican (3 bucks USA) from the bartender and several rum drinks from the spectators before returning to Richard. He smoked his first spleef, which he had earlier retrieved from a plastic bag he had buried off the main road. He was aware Richard knew where he kept his stash but wasn’t worried. Richard was the only US guy he knew who didn’t smoke ganja.


 “Who is that very large woman selling pills to the new arrivals?” Richard asks.


 “That’s May. She and her husband are bad news.”


****


When Sue Anne asked him if he wanted to meet her in Jamaica this actually created quite a dilemma for him. First of al,l he was used to defining relationships and he certainly couldn’t define theirs. Did sex buddies qualify? Was that relationship enough to go on a vacation together? And where was Jamaica? He had never been out of the country except for Canada. Did you need a passport? His decision to meet Sue Anne was finally decided for him by a high school kid with a prank gone wrong. Richard had just put a deal together to buy a strip center in a west side neighborhood. The day after the celebratory closing, one of the two anchor tenants, the drug store had a major fire from a “stink bomb“. After an initial panic, Richard was informed by his partner that “this is great we will make money on the insurance adjustment and we can terminate the lousy one sided tenant lease now if we want”.


“Get out of here Richard. Take some time off.”


*****
“That’s great, Richard. You will love Jamaica. I will be there a week before you get there so I will take care of everything. Just meet me at the Yacht Club in Negril Sunday. Sue Anne adds: “Negril will blow your mind.”


 *******
All the government of Jamaica required was his birth certificate and twenty dollars. He hoped he packed enough clothes and that he had the proper look for the Yacht Club. He grew up a country club boy with valet and dinner dances. Surviving the minimal customs in Montego Bay, Richard exited the airport to a field of mules and dogs. Among the many cab driver solicitations he chose the driver standing next to the ‘54 Buick Roadmaster that reminded him of the family car as a boy. “Irie then, Master Richard” shouts his new driver friend Rashard.


“Welcome to Jamaica and the beautiful drive to Negril.  Is this your first time?”
“It is Rashard.”
“Do you know the Yacht Club in Negril?”
“Yah Man”.
“Are there many boats there”?
Rashard lights a joint that would have made Cheech and Chong gag.
“No boats Man”. What your friend tell you?


 *****
The Northcoast Highway from Montego Bay to Negril travels around the coast for 50 miles and takes even the most aggressive cabbie two hours. Rashard got Richard to the Yacht Club in just under 2.5. As he dropped Richard’s two large bags on a pitch dark road after sunset, Richard assumed that a golf cart or something would take him the rest of the way to the Club House where he would find Sue Anne and a Dewars. Instead after Rashard had been gone for at least a few minutes and Richard’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw a sign on a shack not more than twenty steps from where he stood that said by way of a twisted rope: “Yacht Club.” Outside of the door stood some locals with yellow eyes who must have noticed his bewilderment and said: “You’ll need a Red Stripe“? And he had several of the local beers before he saw Sue Anne walking down the road to greet him.


“Shit what did you bring? I hope you remembered the Bic lighters”.


 ****
No electricity also means no telephone or hot water. Hot water was obtained for short periods through the  pipes exposed to the sun next to the shower but that rarely lasted more than 30 seconds. To see in the dark you employed lanterns and so matches were at a premium. A Bic lighter was a gift from God. Long distance phone calls? Very difficult. He was worried about the status of the shopping center deal and had planned on calling his partner. Now he was told to essentially forget it. A call to the States was an all day process. Only one hotel on the beach had an operator willing to tackle the hurdles and if you could afford it you still had to wait in the lobby most of the day to accomplish the call.


There were no visible hotels by any standard Richard knew. Sue Anne had arranged their lodging at a cottage owned by Cyril Connell, a local builder known as tough but fair. What she had not told Richard was that their lodging was essentially a two bedroom apartment that they would share with another couple from Rennison Island, British Columbia.. The roommates Janice and Edmond were fisherman who when they were not fishing drank beer. When they were not drinking beer they were sleeping.


While drinking beer in Negril they were mostly drunk and incomprehensible. Their inability to converse in a manner that could be comprehended was now being practiced and perfected by Sue Anne who was also now rarely sober. She mostly smiled and said: “How ya doin.” After two days of this the final blow to Richard’s sense of calm occurred when Edmond allowed two of his friends to sleep on the hammocks on the porch of the cottage. Cyril Connell did not think well of this and hit both “freeloaders” with a broom to wake them in the middle of the night. He reminded the two that he didn’t allow anyone to stay for free and although he himself had black skin this did not grant any special status for an American Negro.


Sue Anne laughed it all off but Richard decided that although Negril deserved a second chance, Sue Anne did not. He told her he was too preoccupied with things occurring stateside to properly let his hair down and was not going to wreck her good time. He only had a few days left and would find somewhere else to stay.


 *****
Richard had been staying at Ten Sing Pinn for three days before he met Delonn one day after his epiphany. Ten Sing Pinn was run by a Brit who owned an oversized ancient gas-guzzling Jaguar  that seemed totally out of place in Negril. His cottages were for those who were “short of funds”. In other words there were lots of very young people lodged in rooms about the size of Richard’s stall shower.


The Brit’s name was Nigel. He shared Richard’s love, if not skill, at backgammon. If Richard had not been humble he could have stayed at Ten Sing for free for the rest of his life on his backgammon bounty or rather on Nigel’s failure to master the doubling cube. After one particularly bloody backgammon massacre, Nigel offered Richard some magic mushrooms as payment. “You know they grow right on top of shit. Very powerful”. The non-pot-smoking, Richard a little off course from his split with Sue Anne and recent life adventures in general, decided to try something new.


Why someone dares to drive with their hands off the steering wheel is a mystery. Richard never lost control. Ever. Until that night. Timothy Leary’s arguments not withstanding, this was not a good experience for Richard. It is one thing to see the world warped into bizarre distortions in the USA and quite another in Jamaica where its often difficult to not float into an altered consciousness merely from the presence of a less filtered nature. Stumbling down the road, commencing with the first person remarking to him: “Good mushrooms, eh?” he knew he was in trouble. As he became more and more uncomfortable in his skin, he thought that food might help. But Negril was shut down for food and actually even the bars were closed. In a full panic, he looked for Sue Anne. They were no longer a couple but he needed a familiar voice to steady him.


Suddenly finding Sue Anne became the most important thing in his life. After what seemed like hours to him, he could not find her.  He  felt more alone than ever before in his life. Exhausted, with no idea where she was, Ten Sing Pinn or in fact where he was standing, he sat on the side of the road and laughed hysterically and then finally collapsed into a heap. He awoke with the sun to the bug-eyed stare of a very young girl.


“You alright, Richard”?
 “Uh, huh.” How do you know my name?”
 “All the kids know Richard”
 But why, he asks?
“You the white Rahsta man. All that blond curly hair. The only USA guy who play with us. Let me get my Dad to help you. He’s just inside. You know my Daddie Delonn?”


No he had not found Jesus but to Richard his epiphany was that he could survive and maybe even thrive just by being himself. He needed little help and certainly not a Sue Anne. Just being Richard unaided by drugs or super powers was enough to warrant an audience with the world. Everything would be IRIE.


 ****


Delonn had many jobs. As an entertainer he was a cliff diver nightly at the Negril version of Rick’s Café and by day he walked on hot coals at the Hedonism Club. To his community he was the chief herbalist, keeper of ancient healing recipes and consultant to scientists from London working on new drugs from old Jamaican wisdom. He was the father of two beautiful little girls and potentially Richard’s first Jamaican friend.


“So Richard besides entertaining the children and being an excellent example of the dangers of drugs to amateurs, what do you do in the USA”?
“I put investment groups together to buy real estate.”
“Excellent…would you like to see the site for my new home? I have some real estate skills as well”.


 ***
Delonn took Richard to the site for his new home, which he had staked out carefully to accommodate the pattern of the rising and setting sun and the drainage from the potentially very heavy summer rains. He taught Richard how to taste the trees to determine which ones would successfully deter insects. Before they left he spread butter around the perimeter of the site and put his cat in the center.


“She will mark this territory and keep all the varmints out”.


 ****
Richard stayed with Delonn and his family for several weeks. He had managed the telephone struggle and learned that all was okay. His kids were with his parents on vacation so he was free. He learned that he had brought unintentionally some precious cargo. His Miles Davis tapes were good as gold and his fifty Bic lighters a treasure. But mostly what he offered the Delonn family was a baby sitter. He read to the girls and told them stories about the USA and reminded them that their Country had treasures as great as his.


 ****


About a month after Delonn had told Richard about May and her husband,  Richard learned that while May was selling drugs at Rick’s Café to visitors who had been told to meet her there, her husband was busy robbing their lodging with the knowledge that they would be with May and maybe high on drugs. This profitable and successful scheme was finally halted by a tall Indian man name Asher who had discovered May’s husband doing his deed and reported it to the authorities. Richard knew Asher from a long evening’s introduction to the sitar starring Asher and a friend.


May’s husband was arrested.


Two evenings before Richard’s return to the States on the walk to Rick’s, an enormous naked May wielding a golf club came out of the bush to attack Richard. Able to duck in time his one push drove the inebriated May into a collapsed heap. Richard learned later that she was certain Richard was Asher. All white guys look alike.


*****


Many years later Richard returned to Negril, rented a car and saw the rest of Jamaica. Fake Rahstas, satellite dishes, disco music, hamburgers, cocaine and vodka had altered the chemistry. Even Delonn and his family had moved to London. A tour bus took tourists from Hedonism to Rick’s Café ignoring all the mystery and adventure along the way. There were more than 50 hotels along the beach that bragged about MTV and French fries. The Negril he knew no longer existed except in his memories, where it was locked in a safe place nurturing his soul and coloring the world IRIE.

********

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Trying to Stay on the Board

Some days it seems more difficult to stay in the game.  Remember that great toy we had as kids where you turned the knobs and tried to keep the ball on the top without falling in a hole.  It inspired this:


Roll Boy

I’m the tilt ball in the labyrinth game

Moving this way

NO STOP!

THAT WAY!;

Avoiding holes that end it.



I thought I was the crank turner

But others do that for me;

My role is to roll.



Staying on the board is winning I’m told;

Don’t even think about “holing out”!

I think:

The crank turners are having all the fun.