High Anxiety

You visit
without warning
unlike a gentleman
come to call

my heart races
with terror
when you wend my way
you can make
the mightiest fall

I wish I could stop the
flutter in my chest,
the fear from things

I don’t like you
please pack up your bags
And leave!

Sit In

It took an old man from Georgia
whose skull was cracked
by the cudgel of prejudice
on “Bloody Sunday,” 1965,
to force the speaker down
even if he would not hear

The speaker called the sit in
a “publicity stunt,”
debasing the act with
a catchall phrase

We are not blind,
Mr. Speaker.
We are not deaf.
You will not silence
the will of the just,
the pure-hearted.
We see through
your icy smile

You have blood
on your hands

Venus (or Bernie) in Furs

Venus in fursVenus of Urbino - Titian

(Venus of Urbino by Titian)

I am a humble pussy cat
my fur is red and white
I’m not a Renaissance painter’s dream
or a swordsman of great might

I lived with my owner till she died
then they put me in a cage
I lived there forever, it seemed
I wondered if I’d be saved

Now I have lots of furry friends
and good (diet) food to eat
scratch posts and mouse toys to play with
my world is quite complete

So don’t forget–it’s never too late
for good things to happen to you
don’t ever give up, be steadfast
and your dreams can come true


Jesus in the Glass Elevator

Jesus in the Glass Elevator (Erica Herd)

Jesus in the Glass Elevator (E. Herd)

Have you had enough
of gold Jesus in the Glass Elevator
looking down at you

Have you had enough
of shiny TV correspondents
bloviating on the blessed lives of celebrities
before you brush your teeth

Have you had enough
of lawns that keep growing
that you can’t afford to upkeep

what’s the grass for anyway?

Have you had enough
of 15 flavors of Triscuits, including:
Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil
Reduced Fat
Hint of Salt
Rosemary & Olive Oil
Dill, Sea Salt, & Olive Oil
Roasted Garlic
Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil
Garden Herb
Rye with Caraway Seeds

Why fifteen?

Have you had enough
of too much
enough of hearing “amazing”
when it’s not

enough is enough

Bernie, Ankle Biter

Bernie on the stairs

They put me on a diet
that I don’t like one bit
Mom and Pop want me to slim down
they want me to be fit

Karl lets me eat his food
if they put us together
since they started to feed us separately
I’ve been in quite a lather!

I meow at the top of the stairs
to let Mom know I need food
She ignores my pleas, I rub her legs
how can she be so cruel?

She walks to the human litter box room
why don’t they use ours?
I lunge and nip her ankle
as she goes to take a shower

She turns to look, I run away
She says, “What was that?”
Why, silly, it’s predator vs. prey
A game well-known to cats

Of course, I’d never eat her
She’s much too big for me
but if she thinks I can
I might get more of those treats

Skelly Comes Home

I was inspired to post this after reading Rebecca Lemke’s story in The Neighborhood.me and mom in the sun
(Mom and me, 1966)

When Skelly comes home
she’s all skin and bone
Mom screams when she hugs her,
“Are you trying to be a eunuch?”
No, I can’t say that
was my intent.

Mom let’s go, fast.

It’s not about you (for once),
It’s all about me
needing control
finding it the only way
I can
sculpting my body—
you have no part in that

Running and starving
takes discipline—
it’s not for the faint of body
or heart

Don’t touch me
I bruise easily

“You must eat some casserole,”
Mom says.

Skelly heads to her room,
suitcase in hand
“I’m going for a run.”

“Why? You’re so thin.”

It’s has nothing to do with that.

The Thing That Got Away


(google image)

It’s sleet in an April storm
it’s the homeless 22-year-old
outside Grand Central Station
with a sign,
“You don’t know how humiliating this is .  .  .
I just want to go home.”
you want to turn away
but can’t

the thing that got away

it’s not spoken of
in polite conversation
what makes conversation polite?

It squeezes you
it stops you
in your purposeful tracks
It muddles your dreams
it asks you why
you abandoned it
what could be more important

the you that got away

Genesee – a Beat Poem

Genesse(photo by me)

at the bus stop in the rain
a tall can of beer remains



cigarette butts on the grass
as if thrown at the can

such vio-lence

oh, Genesee
how they mistreat
at least the flowers
don’t abuse

You’re still standing tall
from winter to fall
no matter how bad
you taste

oh, Genesee

This poem sucks.

Easter Baskets

The ritual of it
Stations of the Cross
at Blessed Sacrament Church,
watching King of Kings
and The Robe,
shopping at Macy’s or Alexander’s
for Easter outfits

Mom’s Easter baskets
ribbons on the handles
curled with scissors
she learned to do it as a
gift wrapper at Macy’s

me and Rick at Easter

My prize possession
was that sailor suit
my brother and I
clowning for the camera
replete with being
lived in our own world
sometimes that was good

mom on Easter

In pink coat,
white stockings
and gloves,
graceful and
sometimes hard, too

For Erica_Page_3

The munchkin years
I can’t recall
this photo or this outfit
my dress too long
but we had our baskets
we were going places
Rick and me



(photo: David Robert Bliwas)

It was a time
when I thought
smoking cigarettes on the roof
with Janine
was a sin

Janine was my “cool” friend
She wore tight tops
and sat on men’s laps

Catholic girls in Jackson Heights
didn’t do that

I swore I heard someone coming
so in my haste
to tamp it out
ashes fell and bubbled
a scar on my knee

We ducked but
nobody came
I was so afraid
of sin, always sin,
but she wasn’t

She had no fear
She was cool
but never mean