Featured Post

The Journey to the West

Though we journey to the West We pray to the East More or less that's the way Each day begins and ends It’s a tale everyone ...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ode to the Chelsea Hotel

One of the sorrier sights I've seen recently while traipsing around is the destruction of yet another venerable landmark of  Old New York -- the Chelsea Hotel, now marked as off limits and undergoing a gut-job renovation; the new landlord trying to evict all the old tenants, those with the most intimate knowledge of the building's mytho-poetic past.

Ode to the Chelsea Hotel

Property rights trump
All others in the
Landlord’s view

At least
That’s my takeaway
From the sign
I saw this afternoon
On the front door
Of the Chelsea Hotel

Residents only
No photographs

Which I promptly
Defied so I could
Present to you
In contraband fashion
The photograph below
Irrespective of whatever
Penalties may lie in wait

Because this Hotel is
Our common property
From stem to stern
From the room that
Gave birth to sad-eyed 
Ballad of the Lowlands
Or just down the hallway
Where sad eyed Nancy expired

Sunday, February 24, 2013

One More Saturday Night

Doesn't it
Always seem
That the price
For too much
Euphoria is paid
In revulsion
Whether by psilocybin
Or milder means
Between toxicity
And delight
There remains
A steel forged link

For My Classmates Busy Preparing for the 35th Reunion

It’s exceedingly nice
That having reached
The time in life
When the kids’ tuition
Should be well in hand
And the 401(k)
Fully funded
My college classmates
Never having been modest
In their expectations
Still intend to change
The world and enlarge
The endowment
More so than in
All previous years

Whereas I find
Myself overcome
By a contrary spirit
Of pessimism tonight
As I sit and watch
The late middle-aged man
At the condiment counter
Stuffing his pockets
With packets of ketchup
Preparatory to going home
To make himself soup
Change the world
Much as you like
But in America
It remains certain that
Age like poverty
Will soon enough render
Each of us objects
Of irritation and
Mild ridicule

Monday, February 11, 2013

Towards A More Footloose Practice - II

Here's a revised version of the poem about Richard Musto's daily practice on the streets of Manhattan.

Towards A More Footloose Practice – II

When Buddhist friends
Speak of this or that
As being part
Of their daily practice
I’m never quite sure
What they mean

But I believe
Richard Musto’s
Daily practice
Consists precisely of this --
Keeping things footloose
And fancy free
To the ultimate degree

It’s the mantra
He lives by
While traipsing
Through the city streets
And the very words
He taped to his boots
When we met
The other day
In Midtown
For Richard
Working the streets is 
Both means and end in itself
Whether panhandling or selling
Flowers on the corner 
It’s change that he seeks
And the freedom
That comes with it
But never the fixative
Of money

Saturday, February 9, 2013

In Pursuit of A More Footloose Practice

I am posting here a (mostly) prose version of the first draft of a new poem that I am writing about Richard Musto.  Richard is an 88 year-old man who sometimes lives on the streets of Manhattan and is the subject of my upcoming biography called The Life and Times of Richard Musto.  

As I complete the first draft of this new work I have been thinking more about the spiritual dimensions of Richard's life, and this is the focus of my new poem.

*  *  *  *  *  *

A Footloose Practice

My Buddhist friends speak of this or that as being part of their daily practice, not that I’m entirely sure what they mean by this phrase.  But my guess is that Richard Musto’s daily practice could best be described this way – keeping things footloose and fancy free to the ultimate degree.

It’s the very mantra
That he lives by
As he traipses through
The city streets
It’s the message
Quite literally that
He taped to his boots
When we met the other day
In midtown Manhattan

What better evidence do you want to vouchsafe for Richard’s bona fides as a resident of the Floating World?  Long ago having consumed whatever seed corn that once may have come his way, Richard now abides by Providential means (that plus a small monthly stipend he receives from the VA for his 30% disability) as he takes to the city streets much as Han Shan and the rest of his gang took to the caves along the face of Cold Mountain, an eponymous hero, but in Richard's case almost every night in search of a new abode.

And Richard also engages in sporadic commercial activity by selling flowers, used books and assorted novelties out of a sidewalk storefront, whenever the weather and his health allows.  And while such activities would probably run afoul of a traditional Buddhist monk’s vows of poverty, they in no way impair Richard’s pursuit of his more footloose spiritual practice, since all of his inventory fits neatly into a canvas satchel as he bangs his way around town.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Please take a moment to visit the home page for Richard Musto's Life Story and support our kickstarter campaign when it launches in the days to come.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why I Write -- II

It’s like there's this dog
Leaning out the car window
Except it's me trying 
To write things down
As fast as I can while
Reality keeps rushing by
And that’s precisely why
It’s so important that
I make a proper record
Of what I see and think
Before another moment
Passes into oblivion