Morning Prayers


Morning Prayers


begin with a reading

not mine

Hoagland, perhaps Pardlo

            no need to rhyme


pick up a pencil

            let your imagination go

scratch out a verse, or five

            until something flows


at times its torture

            borders on tragic

persevere long enough

              you’ll find the magic


like jazz it’s best

to just let it be

words fall into place

that’s poetry


I won’t ask you

            to LIKE me

to SHARE, or even

read my poetry


that would be self-serving

             somewhat unnerving

dare I say pretentious

for all of us


what it comes down to

is this

discover poetry

            and find bliss

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Good Fortune

“Bad luck for the young poet would be a rich father, an early marriage, an early success or the ability to do anything well.” – Charles Bukowski


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Every Poem Tells A Story

“Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Every poet is trying to say something with their poem. We all might not get. In fact, the poet may not get it because the idea, lesson or image might be buried too deep and take another fifty revisions to unearth, if at all. But be assured, there is a story behind the poem.

My dad died in 1985 and an image remains with me of his best friend, this bulking, gentle giant of a mountain man, coming up to me as I stood in the receiving line in front of the casket at my dad’s wake, an image so strong that 36 years later I wrote the 13-word haiku “Kentucky Rain” that recently appeared in Haikuniverse:Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.55.20 AM

If you like the haiku share it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other social media.

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Louie Had It Right Back in ’67

“Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret …” – Louis Armstrong

Louie Armstrong, who would have been 115 today, joined a mass exodus of jazz and blues musicians from the South to Chicago in 1924, a city whose first permanent resident was a black man named Jean Baptiste Point de Sable. Point de Sable built a log cabin at the mouth of the Chicago River in the 1770s where today a striking bronze bust of him stands. The bust is the work of Chicago sculpture Erik Blome.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 7.46.31 AM

Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, 1745-1818



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Bring That Beat Back

It’s Saturday night in July and I’m sitting on a lawn with a little blonde in a flowered dress. Gary Clark Jr’s guitar is whaling Ain’t Messin’ Round and Brittany Howard is killing it singing Gimme All Your Love. I close my eyes thinking I’m in a field on Max Yagur’s farm in 1969, but I’m on a hill on the Camden, NJ waterfront in 2016 at the XPN Music Festival.

As I listened and reminisced a haiku wrote itself:

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.37.02 AM                 Gary Clark JrScreen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.38.40 AM

    is Jimi, the way Brittany

          Howard is Janis
Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.39.23 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.40.49 AM





Comparisons can be lazy, an easy way out of describing the brilliance of an artist. But Woodstock was my time–my prime–and I remember hearing Jimi’s Purple Haze and Janis’s Summertime, and I felt the same goosebumps in Camden in July as I did in ’69.


Me and a little blonde in a flowered dress.

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Words Have The Power To Sway Votes

After 352 posts, this site remains apolitical. Bar Rules apply here–no politics or religion. Nevertheless, good writing is good writing, whether it’s poetry or speechwriting, and last night the two combined for a powerful and memorable line with the potential to sway voters who consider the truth and logic in its simplicity:

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

It is certainly more imaginative than Crooked Hillary,  which by comparison sounds sophomoric bordering on cartoonish. Perhaps that’s the best her challenger has.

Notwithstanding strong endorsement speeches by former Secretary of Defense and head of the CIA, Leon Panetta and self-made billionaire Michael Bloomberg (who didn’t make his billions starting out with a million dollar check,) to name only two of the heavy hitters who spoke, the speechwriter who crafted the line, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” could very well have the most impact on the election. It is the single line that sould stick in voters minds when they enter the voting booth in November.

In 1962 when the world was on the brink of Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis Jackie Kennedy said of her husband JFK, “What worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started – not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men – the ones moved by fear and pride.”

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

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The Gallant Warrior

“I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains.” – from The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel

IMG_5454I remember the Saturday afternoon in 2009 when Gil and Sue visited our home in Bucks County and we hoisted beers, told stories and laughed the way we had since we became friends in grade school. Sometime during the day Gil pulled up his shirt and showed me scars from where surgeons cut out tumors on his torso. For eight years, Gil fought melanoma with dignity, humility and determination. Every time he got knocked down by chemo, radiation, experimental drugs and procedures, he got back up and came out for the next round bobbing and weaving. That was Gil’s style, bob and weave, flow with the punches. You can’t hit what you can’t see–Ali. At my children’s weddings my mom, brother and sister who knew about Gil’s battles but hadn’t seen him were amazed how good he looked, his killer smile, upbeat attitude, shuffling his feet on the dance floor, a cold one in his hand.

Gil was a fighter and a fight fan. He’d go to boxing venues in Philly to see hometown heroes Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Bennie Brisco, and oh B-Hop, Bernard Hopkins. He’d never bring up his own battle unless I pressed him, and then he’d simply tell me he was with the program, “I’m on the bus, Bren’s,” he’d say. It was actually a train he’d take to treatments, and then go to work, never missing a day.

Gil became one of the gang when he moved from Southwest Philly to the Northeast in eighth grade. He was a smooth dancer, Motown in the day, but then the late 60s rolled in, Woodstock and everything changed. We changed. There was Jimi and Janis, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Richie Havens (figures Gil would pass away on Carlos Santana’s birthday–Oye Como Va!) I remember going to the Spectrum with Gil to see Pink Floyd, Yes and the Allman Brothers Band, and the night we saw John Mayall we screamed, “Play Room to Move,” which the Blues Breaker didn’t. Gil loved the Allman Brothers. We’d listen to Live at the Fillmore East, “Statesboro Blues,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” and “Whipping Post.” Joanne and I went to see Greg Allman recently and after the concert we walked past a vendor on 69th Street. Jo said, Why don’t you get a shirt for Gil, which I did; for $10 Gil. I can hear Gil laughing.


Best friends Gil and Billy.

It’s been two short years since our buddy and Gil’s best friend Billy passed away. Billy, a health conscious cyclist and triathlete, was always concerned about Gil’s battle with melanoma, and ironically contracted lung cancer and passed in what seemed a short breath. Gil and Billy are reunited.

Gil loved St. John in the Caribbean. In Billy’s absence last year him and Sue invited Jo and I to their place on the island. The first day Gil wound up in the hospital at the top of the mountain, but that didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. Undeterred, we spent the rest of the week making memories touring the island, drinking beers at Skinny Legs, and having a sunset dinner at ZoZo’s in Caneel Bay. I smile every time I think about Gil coming down to the beach one afternoon later in the week with a plastic bag full of ice and beer and saying, “Hey, Brens. I got us some frostie’s.”IMG_5406

Gil’s final week in hospice resembled an audience with the Pope with all of the visitors filing through to say farewell. I sat in silence early one morning and a friend who worked with Gil visited. He said that whenever he got stressed at work, Gil would say to him, “Be not afraid,” a message he wrote on a Daily News he left for Gil. Gil’s girls–his wife and two daughters–held a vigil, never leaving his side for five days. Doctors, nurses and social workers were moved by the family’s love for him, and amazed at the number of people who came to see him. They remarked about what it said about the man.

I miss my buddy already, but I smile thinking about our crazy adventures, and that’s what will keep Gil alive in my heart, our hearts. The stories, the memories, all of the good times–the concerts, parties, Keenan’s, Wildwood, weddings, the Hollywood, St. John.

Farewell, good friend

gallant warrior to the end

’twas a truly brilliant ride;

til we meet again on the other side.

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