9th and Harrison

Harry watches television in silence.

God plants clues in everything, and Harry thinks
with enough silence, God will say who he is.

But these distractions, these sins; they’re not Harry’s
sins, but they want to be.

These sins want to inflate Harry’s ego and obscure God clues.

Harry searches God’s hiding places: asylums, dumpsters,
crack dens, hustlers, and speed freaks.

God swims in oceans of puke and dares Harry to follow.

Harry sleeps for two or three days in the sanitized houses
of God where pious friars who don’t know God tell him to
pray and give him deodorant.

Harry wants to belong to these men.

He wants clean hair and an eternally pregnant mother
dressed in stars.

But God is on the street across from the church sleeping
in a stream of piss.

How did it begin?

When Harry was five, he lapsed into the unhurried sleep of the
child and had a dream

 

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

There’s Nowhere to be When You’re Being Here Now

28 August 1999 (you got less than a month, right?)

Hey Dude,

Today be Jamie’s birth date day, and we’s havin’ a barbecue
in his honor if he ain’t drunk an’ if he shows up.

Jack be doing the cookin’, I’m on the eatin’ committee.

Maybe we can do it again when you get out, in your honor.

(Oops, I didn’t mean that your honor. No, I won’t reproach the bench.)

I had me one of them birth date days too, 4 days ago.

It was ho-hum, which they get after the first six years.

An I didn’t get no cake… an I didn’t get no party neither…But I turn 38 in 2001 so mark your calendar. (I bet that’s one thing you got good at.)

What did I get, you ask.

Lessee, mmmmm oh yeah! I got a couple of CD’s, an ooh! Ooh! That reminds me–you ain’t seen my stud-o-saurus yet.

He don’t walk softly but he do carry a big stick.

Where was I, oh yeah, the “loot.”

I got myself a couple of pairs of REAL GOOD sunglasses, a DVD, an a
headache.

You got me worried with talk of Bactrin and Pentantamine.

Is the prison doing this for prevention or did you come down with AIDS?

Did I mention Jake FINALLLLLLLLLY moved in, lock, stock, and porno?

I gave up but suu-prize, suu-prize, suu-prize.

Jake was in solitary for 8 months.

Eight months!

I hope they named a tile after him.

I guess I better work up an appetite by staring at food for a while.

Them pills my doc gives me don’t work so good.

I hate it when the present is the past and the future is now.

I guess what I mean is there ain’t no place to be when you’re being here now.

Got that?

Laters dude!

 

9c) Rob Goldstein 1992-2018

I found this on an old hard drive. The file is dated 1999 

 

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Mother, You Need Shoes

I would not have noticed her had the subway car not cleared
of people at Lexington Avenue.

She removed a tattered stocking cap and stuffed it
into a grimy army jacket.

She held a smudged white bag between her legs.

She reached into it and pulled out half a doughnut.

That was when I noticed her shoes.

The uppers had split from the soles; she wrapped
her feet in newspaper and rags.

I thought, Mother,  you need shoes.

I wondered if forty dollars would do.

I looked up and watched her untangle a lock of
matted grey hair.

She reached into her bag and found a bobby pin.

She styled the lock of hair into a bun

I had forty dollars.

It was for vitamins; specifically, anti-oxidants.

My body was rusting faster than a wet Ford.

The crows feet around my eyes whispered: erase us; your
happiness demands our absence.

I examined the old woman’s cracked and broken shoes;
they were useless for January in New York.

She closed her eyes, as if ready to savor a long warm ride.

Maybe she lives in the subway, I thought, like those people
in the documentary,  Dark Days.

If she never leaves the subway she doesn’t need new shoes!

My crow’s-feet said, ’Yes!’

But that can’t be right, I thought; an old woman, alone, with
nothing but a stale doughnut for dinner.

I saw myself stand, and watched as I took two twenties out
of my wallet.

Then I knelt and said, “Mother, you need shoes.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me and
nodded in agreement.

“Will forty dollars do?”

“Yes,” she said, “God bless you.”

I gave her the money and returned to my seat, and
listened as my crow’s-feet maliciously threatened
to deepen and spread.

 

Rob Goldstein (c) 2014-2018 All Rights Reserved
First published 5/29/16
Revised 4/7/18

 

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A Semi-Literate Boy Named Bobby

I was a project kid, pretty but hard to make.

Most of the men I let into my life started in pursuit but stayed as teachers.

I was bright and gave my full attention to any man who was willing to teach me about the world of art.

The music I knew was the music of my parents and the other kids in the projects.

From my Father I got Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, and Skeeter Davis.

From my Mother I got Dinah Shore and Kitty Wells.

From the other kids in the projects I got Motown.

With the music of Motown I learned I could dance and for me dancing is still spiritual.

Everyone said I moved like a black kid, and it was true.

Black folks were my friends and neighbors.

As far as I was concerned I was a Black kid with pale skin.

I figured that Blackness was as much about class as it is about race.

My friend Paul knew I knew my ‘place’ in Charleston’s antiquated class system and that I wanted out.

Paul lived in the rich part of Charleston; the historic district near Battery Park.

He invited me to lunch one especially bright spring day.

He poured tea and showed me a decorative plate that was inlaid with hundreds of shimmering butterfly wings.

Paul liked exquisite objects.

We stepped onto the patio that overlooked his garden and I brought a branch of wisteria to my nose.

Paul said that he wanted me to hear a record.

He said he wanted my opinion.

Then he placed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Minor on the turntable.

I heard the needle drop, and then a timpani followed by woodwinds.

I listened as Beethoven told me a story.

I had never heard a story more complex and profound.

It was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen or touched.

And I never stopped listening….

Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

by Yehudi Menuhin, violin Wilhelm Furtwangler, cond Philharmonia Orchestra of London Recorded: 1953

  1. Allegro ma non troppo

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