Friday, June 30, 2017

The June Project 2017
By David A. Kirschenbaum and Ian Wilder
(david first, ian second)




i wasn't one of those kids
who went to the dmv
the day of their 17th birthday,
to take their road test,
to get their license.

it was a few months later
when my dad drove me in our 1971 buick skylark
to lynbrook, where they gave road tests in my area.

we introduced ourselves to the inspector giving the road tests,
he gave our car the once over and then said,
"i'm sorry, i can't test you today, your car's registration just
expired yesterday,"
i started yelling at my dad, a very nice man,
not so nice things.


I failed my driving test

once I didn’t check my mirrors enough
when I pulled away from the curb
at the start of test

once was for poor parallel parking
didn’t have much experience even seeing people parallel park in suburban Long Island

even now parallel (i need spellcheck to even spell the word right) parking seems more of a Yoda act
when I over-think it
I have to go back and forth
or pull out and restart
on the rare occasions that I have to parallel park

(wonder if city boy David still wants me to drive him)



may of 1985
going to see hall and oates, with 'til tuesday opening up,
taking the meadowbrook parkway
from my folks' house to the nassau coliseum,
running late,
hear sirens,
pull over,
cop comes into my window,
"do you  know how fast you were going?"
"67," i say
"i was taught you can go five miles over the speed limit on city streets,
and 10 miles over on highways,"
as i was just about doing on the 55 miles per hour meadowbrook parkway.
only speeding ticket.


i received my only (knock wood) speeding ticket in my early 30s

i was driving to the Vault performance space in Queens
to do spoken word with Nylon & Steel

i was in the left lane of the Suffolk County part of the Long Island Expressway
so I deserved the ticket for drawing attention to myself
and have made it a practice to stay out of the left lane ever since

I gave a noncommittal lawyerly answer when the officer asked me about the speed that I was going

unfortunately Suffolk County did not cut plea deals at the time so I got a fine and points

my Dad got a speeding ticket in the Nassau County portion of the LIE
but they were willing to knock to down it $100 in fines and fees
no points



when my brother fixed up and sold my sister
a white 1980 ford thunderbird
she gave me her current car,
a yellow 1974 amc gremlin,
it wasn't the prettiest car,
but it did what a car's supposed to do, drive.


when I finally passed the driving test at 18 or 19
bought me a 1971 brown, um, dirt brown Buick Skylark
my parents only bought American cars
my Dad as a WWII veteran would not buy a German or Japanese car
and cars from other countries like South Korea were not prevalent at the time

the Skylark was the perfect car for a first driver
surrounded by protective steel
a huge 350 v-8 engine that could quickly move me away from trouble

for a big car
it could turn on a dime
and too often I did



after a late night layout night at our school alternative newspaper,
the new voice,
drove to freeport in the morning to pick up one of our editors, my friend jerry melnick,
and crashed my first car,
a 1971 light blue buick skylark.


got bumped a few times by other drivers and a few close calls
my only real (knock wood) accident in my early 30s

working in Amityville (and I don’t remember which used late model American car I was driving)
backed out of a spot on a curve to the right in or to be facing the exit to left
must have not been paying attention and driving too fast
hit a car in the lot that was behind me

he even said that he beeped his horn at me to warn me

he was nice enough to let me pay for the repairs out of pocket



i still have frank giovinazzi's old mountain bike on my terrace
bought off my old college newspaper editor
over 20 years ago,
partially as a transportation vehicle,
partially as a keepsake of the editor we all so loved.


yesterday driving west with my lovely wife along Route 25 from our Riverhead home to Coram Fire Department for my nephew’s Eagle Scout ceremony
“There was a shopping mall/Now it's all covered with flowers/You've got it, you've got it”

to the right for we pass for several hundred feet a fenced off paved area with the buildings gone and weeds growing everywhere

to the left a large lake with a with a terrace of dirt abutting the road filled with 20 cars parked side-by-side

man carrying an old school fishing pole walks behind the cars along the edge of the road

“you could write about the boats for your transportation poem today”

i will figure out how to work it into a poem somehow

“it doesn’t make much sense to go out in a boat. it’s going to rain in an hour-and-a-half”

i hear the fishing is better in the rain

“but the boats will fill with water”

i don’t think it would be that much water

“remind me not to go out on a boat with you”



it was a week after my dad tried to teach me how to drive standard shift,
in the staples parking lot as i cursed him.
"dad, can i borrow the car tonight to go see judy?"
and he said "sure," and handed me the keys to the standard car,
the 1980 pontiac phoenix,
"are you crazy, i can't drive it."
"well, if you want to go on your date that's the car you'll be driving."
and so i went to pick up judy phoenix in my pontiac phoenix,
shifting back and forth on one hill on the route, repeatedly,
taking 15 minutes to shift into my folks' driveway at night's end.


when my parents bought a house
i helped them move to a house they bought on the other side of Copiague
for the month before the moving truck came
we rented a cargo van every weekend
and we moved a load of nonessentials to the new house

the new house had a tight driveway with a brick pillar on each side
i asked my Dad to go into the street  and guide me out
he insisted that there was no need
exiting the driveway
i turned the wheel too early and knocked into one of the pillars

a while after my parents moved in
they found a ninety year old Italian brick mason
who enjoyed rebuilding the pillar in 90 degree weather



almost 23 years ago,
from madison square garden
just three blocks from my apartment,
began the drive to naropa, boulder, colo.,
allen ginsberg summer,
in alison's car,
we sharing the wheel for the three-day journey,
bil brown our steady passenger
all the days in his billie holiday t-shirt.


20 years ago I won about $2000 in the lottery
standing in the line to collect lottery winnings of $500 or more
you would think that the people around me in line would be the happiest group of people you had ever seen
after all they had all won $500 or more
yet they all seemed miserable
maybe they lost more than they won

i used the money to buy a used late model American car to replace the one that was dying
and to fly out to Colorado for a 10-day trip that I never could have afforded otherwise
that was longest holiday that I have ever taken

serendipitously timing had come together for this trip
i had started working with The Other Economic Summit US
who put on an alternative economic summit at the same time and place as the G8 meeting which that year was taking place in Denver
(this was the year before the Battle of Seattle)
i took on publishing a morning newsheet  that compiled reports of the previous day’s presentations
I would stay up all night editing, formatting and printing the reports
one night I was chased out of a Kinkos when the Secret Service was taking over that part of town

from there I took a week-long poetry theater class at Naropa
my best friend David flew out to meet me for that Naropa summer session week
and we shared a hostel room
in addition to the class there were programs every day
including Anne Waldman performing a set of Gertrude Stein poems

when I returned to work
i had to readjust to the guarded way that most people interact



don't know if i had a big wheel
but i know that every time i pass one
i want a big wheel
i wanna drive me some


i didn’t have a big wheel

i have toyed with the idea
if i had the money
of buying a Harley Trike



we took our first trip to the bay area in the summer of seventy-five,
visiting my mom's side of the family,
a good few dozen or so relatives i'd never seen before,
we would stay at my uncle sollie and aunt carrie's,
and not too long after our arrival
went out to some highway somewhere
and my uncle pulled his motorcycle over,
had us all follow him to the side of the road,
told me to hop on,
as my mom and dad watched 8-1/2 year old me ride away


I have only been to California once

five  years ago I flew out to San Diego for a weeklong training on running a Housing Counseling program
I used the hour and half lunches and free evenings to explore the city
one lunchtime I walked the mile and half down to the waterfront to get a fish taco and to see the tall ships
one evening I walked down to a public park to  attend an Occupy San Diego General Assembly meeting

for dinner one night I managed to find a restaurant serving Eritrean food
I underestimated the distance of the three-and-a-half miles each way
my legs were sore for the rest of the trip

when I found a  poetry reading to attend in a coffeehouse that was two-and-a-half miles from my hotel
I figured out how to navigate the local bus system



i was thrown off of the school bus
to jewish day school
for grabbing the ass of one of my rabbi's daughters,
the one who bar mitzvahed me,
so for now it's two public buses each way each day,
until they let me back on the school bus in a month.


i started hebrew school late so I could not miss any classes
they were given on weekdays after school
on days that my parents were both working
i had to take a taxi there
and they would pick me up afterward



when i worked at some new york city community newspapers
I did a double shift on tuesdays,
and so i got a double lunch
I'd go to either the big cup,
a wonderfully colored and cushioned gay coffeehouse where I could easily spread out for two hours,
for not much dough,
or a nearby greek diner,
where I'd sit at the counter chatting with the most cute-iful waitress I'd ever seen,
then return for second shift,
laying out pages for the amsterdam news
permitted to clock at 2:30 am,
even if we finished earlier,
getting the just out village voice,
then sharing a cab to park slope,
dropping off me first,
then sarth.


as a part of our joint mythology I am sure we have told this story before in a prior monthlong writing project but it also fits so perfectly here

helping David write an article for The Village Voice where he was interning
we worked on it at Hofstra in Hempstead
then a sleepy drive into Manhattan ridiculously early in the morning to deliver it
at some point a car was driving backwards towards us down an exit
searching for toll money in seat cushions because both of us were broke
somehow we were not arrested or killed



(sing to your own tune)

don't wanna ride in an am-bu-lance today
but mom fell in the elevator
so i'm gonna ride in the am-bu-lance
gonna ride in the am-bu-lance with her


my mother-in-law felt ill one night
on the phone with a friend of hers across the country
she described her symptoms
her friend said it couldn’t be a heart attack

the next morning she felt so bad she finally let my father-in-law take her to the hospital
she felt so bad that she had him stop the car at a friend’s house
the friend happened to be a former fire chief

the ambulance came unbelievably fast



when i was nine,
my sister won $20,000 on the pyramid,
one of her celebrity panelists was phyllis george,
the former miss america,
who I'd developed a crush on through her work on the nfl today,
my sister bought herself a gold mercury monarch,
me a gold 10-speed bike.


it seems like my older brother always worked

we are old enough
that he had an old school paper route
where he delivered newspapers on his bike daily
and collected the money weekly



i had an old school paper route, too
delivering newsday each afternoon for a few junior high and high school years
pushing my stolen shopping cart through my route
my dad driving the papers with me to the customers
late after his days driving an rc truck
when my depression kept me inside.


we bought a 10-foot metal ladder from Home Depot that we needed to do work on our house
before we bought it
they promised us that they would be able to help us tie it to the roof of our car

after we bought it they sent out some kid who had no idea how to help us secure it to the car roof

i ended up carrying it a mile home
taking frequent breaks along the way

i should have bought the ladder at Lowes
it is only a half mile from the house



i think it's because my dad's a teamster
that my friends would always ask me to drive their u-hauls
when they move around the city


when we moved from the North Babylon 1-bedroom apartment to the Riverhead house
we had to rent U-Haul vans several times
to move the apartment and the 2 Farmingdale storage units that contained the items we took out of the apartment to stage it for sale and the items that I kept from my parents’ house after my Mother passed

never once did I take the Parkways east
do other states have such restrictions on major roads
or is it just the residual racism of Robert Moses low bridge no city bus to the beaches



the most fun i had delivering boog city
four to six hours through williamsburg and greenpoint, brooklyn,
and lower manhattan,
was with jim behrle
we'd talk poets and poetry
gossip all around
and always sports,
baseball foremost.


after my Dad died but before any of us bought a GPS
i took my Mom to a Yankees home game with 2 free tickets that I received through my work

when the game ended
being a Long Island boy
I had no idea where to go as we left the stadium parking
Mom reached back 50 years in her memory to when she grew up in the Bronx to get us safely home



on the 70-mile road trips to my brother steven's southampton autoglass shop,
my dad driving us both to work,
radio tuned to wcbs newsradio 88,
we'd hear morbid story after morbid story,
and once each trip,
after one of these morbid stories,
i'd say to my dad,
"you and mom most have raised me right,
because i couldn't even think of doing that."


my wife and I try to avoid the Hamptons after Memorial Day but
six days ago we drove to Canio’s Book in Sag Harbor for their second reinstated biennial Moby Dick Marathon reading
readers are assigned a rough time period to be there but never know what passage they are reading because of the vagaries of reader attendance for such a large project
Kimberly read fluidly despite not having a preview of her section
and I was a ham
giving voice to each character’s dialogue

the enchanting writing kept me from noticing that the novel is ultimately very morbid
(spoiler alert)
as the ship and all the boats are destroyed and most all the crew die
leaving just Ishmael floating on a re-purposed coffin

(my now deceased father who served as a radio officer aboard US Navy ships in WWII
taught me that a boat goes aboard a ship)



driving to find new community cinema,
the one art house then in long island,
with risa and her friend rhonda in the car,
and we can't find the theater through the dark streets,
spandau ballet's "true" comes on the radio,
and risa opens up her window and yells to the guys in the car next to us,
"sing 'true' and we'll blow you."


while I was in the gas station on the way home tonight prepaying for the gas to fill up Kimberly’s car for work tomorrow morning
David called half-coarsely-jokingly demanding today’s poem
Kimberly told me of the call and said, Why don’t you include Lois in today’s poem?”

when I graduated college in 1987
i decided that i needed a break for a few years before I could sit in a classroom for another three years
i took a dumb job in a bank
started reading the classics that my business education never exposed me to
and worked on learning to write poetry

I began an every Thursday night drive north to the Huntington Library to attend a poetry workshop sponsored by the Long Island Poetry Collective
it was twenty-something clueless self-taught me
and a group of older women who patiently taught me the craft

one of them Lois Walker I now find out was not much older than I am now at the time that I met her
over the years Lois has become a good friend
my wife and I had booked Lois for a reading we curated in Brooklyn of Long Island poets and at the PeaceSmiths Coffeehouse in Amityville that Kimberly curated for 3 years

I came to learn that even more than a poet that Lois is a visual artist  (not an uncommon combination) who works in paint, sculpture, and mixed media

we arranged to visit with Lois tonight and return the painting since we would be in western Suffolk to celebrate Father’s Day with my father-in-law

Lois is one those people you could just listen to her talk
and while we talked we offered to move some small furniture from the second floor of her Amityville duplex to the first floor that she mostly occupies

we insisted she read us the poem that just won her a $100 prize in February
and she told us the stories of artworks scattered throughout her duplex
mostly hers
one created by a friend
another belonging to friend
she told us about how despite being self-taught she felt that she was an artist the first time that she earned prize money for a painting
lastly she told us of her art retrospective in Huntington next April



drive to great adventure with bill, michelle, and risa,
can't find it,
while we wander risa and michelle yell out at new jersey state policemen,
"new jersey turnpike, we love it, we love it,"
ala randy newman's "i love l.a.,"
get pulled over by the state policemen.


six years ago Kimberly and I were driving my brother’s youngest
our only mutual godchild
in Suffolk County

we hear his 10 year old voice from the back seat blurt out “duck down it’s the popo”

we quizzed him on where he learned the phrase
he said “on the school bus”



drive into the city with ian and risa
and a tv from risa's mom's house
which we drop at her king street apartment
then went to macy's 4th of july fireworks
on east 34th,
no spots anywhere,
so park illegally.
come back afterwards to find driver's side door pinned in,
barely openable.


around the fin du millénaire there was a burgeoning neo-hippie music scene in Suffolk County
which include a female duo called Moon Pearls
the vocalist and flautist Patty Beecher invited members of a number of the bands to her canal-side house for a 4th of July party

Her husband Bobby Beecher had been a member of the Bloodless Pharaohs which was a precursor to the famous rockabilly band Stray Cats
Bobby still played guitar but made his living now as a mechanic
took a few of us out on his small boat into the Great South Bay

the craft was small enough that it felt that I was hovering above the water
as the sky filled with all of the high priced illegal fireworks being set off by the wealthy homeowners along the water



imprisoned for trying to save the delaware river
by trespassing the construction site trying to kill it,
in the back of a cop car,
handcuffed to someone convicted of first-degree murder,
our bodies facing different ways,
he kept talking about running,
and i kept thinking about what to do if he did.


on our only drive to Florida
Kimberly and I noticed as we were coming in that the police were searching the bathrooms
(the only time we have ever seen that on a road trip)
we turned heel and left quicker than we could imagine

we found a nearby McDonald's with clean bathrooms to refresh ourselves



for my brother on his birthday

my brother steven's best friend mikey schmidt
called my folks late on saturday march 27, 1982,
my brother's best friend mikey schmidt never called my folks, ever,
"steve was in the rollover contest tonight at freeport speedway," said mike.
In the rollover contest one person drives to a ramp,
cuts their wheels at the last second,
and flies over as many of the cars lined up below,
before landing in a heap,
most cars over gets a trophy with an upside down car atop it.
that night my brother drove a 1965 chevy impala 4-door sedan with a 327 engine,
cut his tires at the edge of the ramp,
but they set the ramp up too close to the wall,
and he crashed right into it.
"he's with the emts," "mikey schmidt says,
"they're tickling his toes."
my parents head off to the hospital, worried about potential paralysis.
the next day we visit my brother at nassau county medical medical center.
mikey schmidt gives my brother a get well card,
inscribing "a #1 muff-diver,"
no one would tell 15-year-old me what a muff-diver was, no one.


another story that I am sure that I have written about before

I am living in my parents house in Copiague. 
i get home from being out with friends
i expect my parents to be home
there is no note
i check the answering machine message
my mother’s voice says that my father was in an accident driving home from a late class
they are at Brunswick Hospital in Amityville
he is not seriously hurt

a man parked his van on one side of Sunrise Highway and wandered across to the other side against the traffic lights
he could not be seen in the darkness and the rain

my father pulled his car over to shield the man’s body

after the man’s family left
the judge at the DMV hearing told my father that there was nothing he could have done



drove first-born niece amy
to moma in long island city,
in 2003 during reconstruction on west 53rd st. building,
it was free day, so broke uncle could afford to take her out to expensive museum.
we wait outside on long line to see Matisse Picasso exhibit
passing the time by playing geography for her 14th birthday


drove our only niece Hadley
to our friends Lisa and Tauk’s daughter Lilly’s birthday party
for the two three-year-old to meet

the party was held in the community center on the Shinnecock Reservation
our imaginative friend’s turn the large open room into a preschooler’s dream with a
10 foot high cardboard snow castle
and culminating in a white yarn puff indoor snowball fight with kids and adults



bus to move to albany with rod, and jon weiler, a boog apt, 1/2 of a brownstone,
with co-founders rod and me, and graphics editor jon,
dad brings me to bus in hempstead, where we meet rod,
then dad walks into local bodega,
comes back with a few magazines for our trip,
after our goodbyes to my dad
rod goes through the magazines on the bus
"damn i knew your dad was cool," he says,
"but this confirms it"
as he pulls out a copy of mad magazine.


when i had a weeklong class in NYC i had to decide how i was getting there
i did not like parking in NYC
driving in NYC
or even driving through NYC
so that was out
the best way to take the LIRR was to drive 45 minutes to Ronkonkoma station since the stations east of there had few trains
but i did not want to park even my late-model car at Ronkonkoma for a week

it took a couple of years of living in Riverhead to realize that the Hampton Jitney also picked up from the North Fork
Kimberly just had to drop me off and pick me up at a shopping center about a mile from our house



our brandeis high school basketball team was playing st. paul's in garden city,
a few miles from my dad's plant,
as we warmed up, there in the stands,
in his full coca-cola uniform,
was my dad,
his coke truck waiting in the lot,
before he returns to the plant late to finish his paperwork.


when i was a kid my Dad had this Camaro convertible
and for a short time this young doberman
the dog was only dangerous in that he would practically knock you over trying to lick your face

my dad would often leave the doberman sitting in the driver's seat of the Camaro with the roof down
we used to joke that he could have left his keys in the ignition
because nobody was going to reach inside that car



a few years after seeing lou reed and john cale's "songs for 'drella" at the brooklyn academy of music,
after my first time studying poetry at naropa's jack kerouac school of disembodied poetics in boulder,
I flew back east,
and crashed at jon weiler's place in albany and gave a reading at the robert burns statue in  washington park.
Jon gave me so many music lessons that week,
especially turning me onto reed and cale's band the velvet underground,
me listening to his velvets on permanent repeat,
from his apartment,
until he returned from work.

a few months later
i moved back to albany with rod,
jon connecting with david clarke,
whose family I used to live-in nanny for,
Scoring him, rod, and i a spacious half of a brownstone,
a boog apartment as it were.
we'd drive all about the area in jon's car,
so small we dubbed it a jukebox with wheels,
a cassette stuck in it on permanent repeat,
lou reed's new york album.


for a while we owned 2 Hondas
both bought used
a 1993 Accord and a 2003 Civic
though Kimberly usually takes drove the newer car
we decided that she was more comfortable with the Accord
[i could never remember which car was which model until I realized that Accord had the hard c like the K in Kimberly and Civic had i’s like in Ian]

when kimberly took the Accord we decided that she at least needed an upgrade from the cassette tape radio that came with the car
the Best Buy purchased and installed radio played CDs
and even had a USB slot
so I picked up a mini-usb drive and filled it with a couple of her (and my) favorite songs

technology does not always oblige
the random setting only shuffled between a handful of the songs
and even when playing them in order there were songs on the drive that it just refused to play for no reason that we could determine



7-year-old me sitting in trunk,
facing the rear window of our 1965 ford country squire station wagon,
brother steven and sister debbie in the back seat,
parents up front,
no seatbelts for anyone in the car,
not because we wanted it that way,
but because that's just the way it was,
and dad driving, dad always driving,
be it behind the wheel monday to friday of his 7-up truck,
or here, the family car,
on another day trip to
aunt marion and uncle saul's house in the new jersey suburb of fairlawn,
i'd watch as my cousin allan would shoot his own 8-mm films
with his action figures,
go down to cousin howard's room,
filled with memorabilia of the knicks,
who he had season tickets from,
go upstairs to cousin kenny's
to listen to his great record collection
and play with his craftmatic adjustable bed
and then off to one of the first mcdonald's in the area,
us kids sitting on the tailgate, eating our burgers and fries.


my parents drove my brother and I and late model American cars innumerable times to New Jersey to visit family
my Uncle Oscar and Aunt Sarah lived in Little Falls near their Army Navy store
when my Grandmother could no longer live by herself in the Bronx
her children moved her to a nursing home near my Uncle Oscar

my cousin Abby and her husband Dick bought her parents’ house
when my Mom was the last of her generation
we drove her out to their house for a visit



fridays that spring semester of 1995 in our apartment on east 5th street
between c and d,
were the one day each week when candace and i would wake up the same time,
i'd drive her down the fdr drive in my 1980 pontiac phoenix to her job,
at a german bank in the world financial center,
us chatting for the few minutes the ride took,
then pulling into the financial center driveway,
across from the twin towers,
a goodbye kiss
before i drove the fdr up to harlem,
eyeballing the east river all the way up the fdr to touro college
where i was teaching history for the first time,
awaiting her hello kiss that evening.


my girlfriend at the time
had taken the Trailways Bus from Cohoes to visit me in Copiague

as I waited outside her bus as it was idling in Babylon  to take her back to Cohoes
I drew a heart on the dirty side window next to her seat on the other side

the bus driver came barrelling out
threatening to throw her off the bus if I further defaced his dirty bus windows



1988 bus from long island upstate to girlfriend judy,
we stay with her best friend anne at bard college
for halloween weekend,
we walked their beautiful campus,
such fine greenery all about.
and get ready for a halloween party,
tall and thin me's going as buddy holly,
judy and anne got black hair dye to authenticate me,
cover up my red hair,
now my black rimmed glasses in place.

take bus from by bard to long island,
it's pretty full
take a seat next to this pretty girl named lauren,
we talk for the next few hours
about everything,
swap numbers when we part.

get back to classes at hofstra,
hit prof. rosenbaum's polisci class,
i go to his office afterward with a question,
then headed about my day,
but prof. rosenbaum pulls me back,
"you know, the black hair doesn't look right,"
said the holocaust survivor.

talk to lauren to get together,
not a date because i'm seeing judy for almost a year now,
i pick lauren up at her parents' home,
in my 1980 pontiac phoenix,
and we just drive around some,
end up at a grocery,
some teenagers outside,
"hey man, can you buy us some beer?"
take their money inside
then hand them their beer to grateful nods

drive around some more,
lauren looks oh so beautiful,
shift the car,
then take my shift hand and
run its fingers through the holes in her blue jeans,
post each shift some more touching,
then back to her parents' home.

fessed up to judy shortly thereafter.


when Kimberly and I were dating we both lived with our parents
when I picked her up to drive somewhere was often the greatest amount of alone time that we would have
so we would regularly hold hands while I drove with her sometimes tracing the contours of my hand
we would never mind getting lost



august 1987, drive from new hope, pennsylvania
from save the delaware river offices
with fellow volunteer bill from pittsburgh in his ford taurus rent-a-car,
visit my folks in long island and then head to city,
bill heads back to pittsburgh and leaves me the car to return to new hope.

find out from folks at save the delaware river,
that i have to return to doylestown
after two arrests alongside abbie hoffman
trespassing the in construction pumping station,
which was planning to grab one million gallons of water a day from the delaware
to help cool limerick ii nuclear power plant
that i'll have to go back to jail.
no cell phone head to the village voice,
where i'd been interning and writing this year,
figuring what to do,
call my folks,
my dad answers,
"where's the cordless phone, where'd you put the cordless phone?"
and he was more concerned with that phone at that moment than me,
so i hung up,
call best friend ian,
but it's family anniversary dinner for his folks, so he's a no go,
the editorial floor at the voice was empty,
except for me and vernon reid from living colour,
who was writing for the music section then,
saw i was in some distress,
walked over,
calmed me down at a bit,
and then i headed out
for a one-driver, almost no money, drive back to new hope,
i begged for money at the gas stations along the highways,
said i was fighting to save the delaware river,
and some workers would give me a few dollars of gas,
before i headed to the next one, and did the same thing,
at a toll i was cash poor,
pulled off to the side of the road,
filled out an iou form,
and kept on driving through the middle of the night.

arrived in new hope for sunrise,
the volunteers worried about manic me
and any damage i may have done to bill's rental taurus,
the movement,
so they have me give them the keys,
and wait inside the back of a car,
during the latest protest,
hiding out,
then they drive me to doylestown to purge before the judge,
to say i won't get arrested anymore,
and i won't have to go back to jail,
so i purged, it was time to go.

didn't wanna see my folks,
didn't know just where to go,
i contacted eliot katz,
month old student organizing friend,
who i'd later know as a poet,
who was down in new brunswick, nj.
so i bused there with all of my stuff,
an army green duffle bag,
and a charcoal grey large cloth suitcase.

arrived in new jersey,
greeted eliot,
and he said they had to take care of some stuff at their home,
could i hang out at the basketball courts for a bit,
and i said sure,
so me and my luggage hit the courts,
shooting away, running around,
playing one-on-one when some folks turned up.
it was a long while before eliot returned,
we hit his place for a quick bit,
then he says lets go to dinner,
and we hit a place a little fancier than i'm used to.
once inside i see my parents,
who just made the two-plus hour drive from long island,
to bring me home.
i get pissed, grab my luggage and drag it to the train station,
wanting to return home on my own.

head to penn station
then to an oceanside bound lirr train,
bump into high school friend mark opatow and his oldest sister jessica on the train,
heading back from some metal show,
they ask what's going on
and i rip into my suitcase,
and start pulling out mementos from my new hope summer,
and eventually they ask if i need a ride home,
i breathe and say thanks.


there is a Jewish aphorism
that you are not responsible to complete the work
but you must do the work nonetheless

on a Sunday, October 7, 2001
the Christian Sabbath
it was after church time
4pm and 5pm
coming on time for the evening meal
the few pacifists left were marching through the streets of Smithtown
[i don't know why it was Smithtown]
to oppose another useless US war
to protest for
to profess for
when we heard the President announce
that we had started bombing