Archive for August, 2005


Financial Aid in September

August 31, 2005

FAFSA isn’t done.
Neither is my Profile.
For Fin Aid I’m screwed.

Not quite, but seemed an appropriate haiku for this last day of August. Classes at MIT start next Wednesday.


The Angry Winds

August 30, 2005


The angry winds scream
dropping heavy pregnant rain
on flooded rooftops.
The breaking water gives birth
to waterfalls of chaos.


The angry winds blow,
dropping heavy pregnant rain
on flooded rooftops.
The falling water becomes
a waterfall of chaos.


Ring Around the Rosie

August 28, 2005

“Ring Around the Rosie” is a child’s nursery rhyme which pertains to death (or does it?). I always wondered about the meaning of a “pocket full of posies” and “ashes, ashes, we all fall down”, but one look here will make it all clear.

This statue of children playing I found in a park in Needham, MA. There is an empty space between the two children on the far right side of the picture, inviting you in to play. Kind of a strange image in many ways. Do you see the look of horror on the children’s faces? Or is that just my imagination? Why do faces in extreme joyfulness take on twinges of painful hysteria?


“Thoughts Into the Future”

August 27, 2005

I wrote this at an especially pessimistic moment for me. At the time (in 1986) the religious right was gaining ground politically and, to me, the supreme insult appeared to be the (somewhat) serious candidacy of an evangelical minister for U.S. President. Now, let me say this up front — I have nothing against Pat Robertson, evangelicals, Christianity, Russians, Africans, or Israelis. In fact, I don’t wish any of these groups harm.

This poem just was an exercise in seeing what would happen if the unthinkable became real. How far would we go? Was it in any way prophetic? You be the judge.

By the way, I included this poem as a supplemental essay with several college admissions applications. Some of the ones I sent this to even accepted my application for admission. Others may have run for the hills when they read this!


I. Pat Robertson in ’88.

“He’ll never win. He has no chance.
It’s just a joke.” They say.
“Be serious, America would never let
a man like that be its leader.”

“Oh God! He won. I can’t believe
the mad support he got
from millions of T.V. addicts.
American will now become
a Christian Paradise.” (Pair-Of-Dice)

II. South African Revolution in 1990.

“A ‘Gene Overthrow’ just took place
in South Africa. The black
majority led by ‘Zenyatta Mandatta’
revolted against the white minority
led by ‘Negraphobic Xenophobic.’
The new black leadership
is happy and oppressive. God bless
Pat Robertson.” — Knightly Knews Knetwork

III. First Permanent Space Station – 1992.

I am a child.
A Star-child.
A lover of infinity.
I was born on “Pat” space station.
And will live there all my life.
I will never see a bee, a tree,
Be free.
I will always believe in the
Disunited Statutes of Amerika
and will salute Pat Robertson
as the supreme leader.

IV. AIDS and Starvation Kills Everyone in Africa – 1994.

Pat Robertson believes in colonizing
“The Little Brown Brothers,” but wouldn’t
give them food. How rude! How crude
of all those millions to die when
Pat Robertson

V. Russia Turns Robertsonistic – 1996.

The Reds have seen the light,
Kissoff, the Premier, has turned God-fearing.
(Pat Robertson-fearing)
since “Star Wars” is only for Amerika.
Now Russkies and Patskies are
hand in hard hand.
It’s a world in peace (pieces)
with Pat as our God.

VI. Amerika is Great in 1998.

“Let’s party like it’s 1999.” — Pat Robertson

Heil Pat Robertson!!
All are Christian here;
Big Brother will make sure
that God, Jesus and Pay
are your Holy Trinity.
The K.K.K.
(Knightly Knews Knetwork)
shows Pat as our savior,
Amerika as love,
and Robertson as life.

VI. Israel Nukes Robertson’s Amerika – 2000.

“Jew-Boy, Jew-Boy, Scaredy-Cat, Scaredy-Cat” — Pat Robertson, Jr.

A Jewish, Black, Oriental . . .
(non-W.A.S.P.) State hated
by Amerika, Israel is
the homeland for the dislocated.
To save (end) the world
they sent the bomb as a nuclear
Trojan Horse.
Amerika responded.
All are gone (dead).
But so is Pat Robertson.
That is one good thing.



August 26, 2005


When I fly above,
the clouds form
billowing shapes
that drift by…

a person here,
a mountain there
a shopper buying
his daily wares.

But only I see these shapes.
Everyone else is blind to them.
And though I know my mind overworks
I want to throw open my arms in welcome.

When I fly above the clouds they form
hypnotic strangers, atomic dangers, billowing creatures.



August 23, 2005


Signals sound,
Alarums ring.
Empty warnings
Sound and sing.

Empty silos,
Open holes,
Gone, the bodies,
Gone, the souls.

For what was done
Was done in rage
This byproduct
Of a nuclear age.



August 22, 2005

Finnegan is a tooth rat.

I know, sounds improbable. Some might even say it’s kind of gross, but in the Barkowitz family, we don’t have a tooth fairy. We have a tooth rat.

Finnegan’s story is not well-known, even to those whose teeth he collects. The bare bones of his story goes something like this: an Irish tooth rat, Finnegan lives in the attic of Read Brothers in Charleston, South Carolina (a family store). Finnegan’s mission is to search out teeth from the Barkowitz and Read families when they are placed under pillows, and to leave little rewards for those teeth.

Growing up, I accepted Finnegan as fact. My children do too. This poem is written from Finnegan’s point of view.

You left me an enamel treasure tonight,
proof that your childhood is falling out
as your roots reveal another row
of permanent changes.

I was there, hiding in the shadows
when your parents saw the first
moving pictures, lily-white buds,
later flowering into pearl-studded
crowns for a princess’s mouth.

I was there when your first teeth
broke gums. I soothed your
feverish skin with cool cloths
as your tiny hands struggled
to express your triumph and tragedy
of those first teeth.

I was there at the first check-up,
helping to count your teeth,
helping the hygienist remove the cookies
from your hesitantly open mouth.

And I will be there, through
orthodontia, wisdom-teeth, cavities
and caps. Whitening, straightening,
miles of floss and gallons of paste.

I will help hold you together,
binding you in a line to your parents
and their parents, and theirs.
Teeth stretching back through the generations.

And you will tell my story to your children,
inspiring them with the tale
of a small Irish tooth rat,
living in your family’s store,
whose sole job has always been,
not only to collect teeth,
but more importantly,
simply to celebrate your triumphs.