Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sometimes a thought brings on a poem

Rem and I were writing back and forth in the wee hours of the morning. He and Mark had seen a film by Fassbinder, who I looked up on YT.

He said my story The Death Room is ready to be sent to an editor. That's what I wrote for today's Writing Group.

The topic of donuts came up. A NY Times article on being in love with a Nazi, who owned, among other things, Krispy Kreme Donuts.

I said to Rem, I'd rather eat cheddar cheese and a slice of cucumber. Here goes.... and the problem, as my SIXTEEN readers know is that I may lose this entire entry.

And I continue to read the 9/11 book.

Clearing of throat to get ready for poem.


Dedicated to the late Judy Diaz

Judy, do have a seat beside me on my red crumb-filled couch
You'll notice my sea-foam green slippers which can take me
right into the water like Virginia Woolf. I of course have no
intention of leaving, not just yet.
The food's too good, the views too spectacular, and I still
can write a thing or two.

We'll use these shatterless Corelle bowls delivered from
Walmart. Cheddar Cheese from Cabot in Vermont, where
lazy cows with huge sticky tongues know not what they do
as they prepare haystacks of cheese

And cukes! Only someone like the Almighty can invent
such a seeded wonder. The color beyond compare. Like a
baby sea turtle perhaps.
The crunch, the cucumber crunch engages our entire jaw
tongue safely stowed away ... we don't even know how
they grow, nor do we care.

Have another Judy with a hint of salt.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Remembering Judy Diaz


On this blustery day in June
Flag Day, in fact, I am celebrating
the death of my dear friend Judy Diaz
dead of an overdose.

An anguished psychotherapist
she couldn't take it any more.

As I plant each tiny flag in the
still wet ground, I remember this
remarkable woman who blew me away
with her wicked sense of humor,
ability to wield a wooden spoon
for marvelous Mexican foods and green salads
love of her therapy clients - when she moved
to Colorado to be with Michael and Tory - she gave
him one of her blue-eyed Siamese.

Judy, call me now before you do the deed.
Now now now!
No use. She don't come back.

Stalked by bad luck in that voluptuous land
Doctors refused to provide her with her
sleeping medication, Class Four I think
they called it.

She was a rebel. The best friend of clients,
Chuck shot himself but missed, schizophrenics
who thrived, and Barbara in sandals, who moved to Miami
"told you you could do it."

We'd meet at Judy's Arundal Way condo
her best friend another Judy finally
said goodbye to a miserable life and
married the love of her life, Irv
from Rohm and Haas. He bought his
Judy a white sable coat and this sexy
octogenarian sat
in his lap at Salon.

Oh, she loved jazz. Bob Perkins with the
Good Music though he sounded like he was
chewing Juicy Fruit as he spoke. I'll call him
later to make a request.

Permit me one last memory. We're at her place
with the antique furniture everywhere. She leaned
against the patio door, cigarette in hand, a sweating
can of Pepsi in the other.

"Ruthie," she said, "What do you think of the
little waterfall I put in?"

Walking down the path, I stuck my
hot hands inside and swooned.

We sat on the patio. Birds sang and crows
cried to their depths, living in the
little woods beyond.

On my back porch is your white wicker sofa
the stuffing smashing through,
the front porch has your nifty ceramic pot
with wild strands of grasses reaching
toward the sky, reaching toward my good friend
Judy Diaz who had the audacity - yes! - to die.

For more Judy Diaz, as distinct from Judy Woodward, click here.

Below are original designs from when she and her ex, Andy Diaz, lived in Pakistan.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

My House is Dressed Up for the Night

Upper Moreland Library | Willow Grove, PA Blog

Though I'm already reading - count em - six books and good uns at that
I picked up six more, leaving most of them in the car.

Dorothy, I said, I haven't seen you in a while. The library ladies, such gems,
the men are too.

I dragged out a kitchen chair onto my porch tonight and read until I couldn't
see no more. The book? LIFE AFTER SUICIDE by Jennifer Ashton, MD.

The worst had happened. The husband she had divorced jumped off the
George Washington Bridge.

The first 25 pages are concerned with How to Tell People What Happened.

Jennifer is famous, but of course I've never heard of her. She is the ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent. Her best friends include Lisa Mahmet, Dr Oz's wife.

I remember when my dad died, we did the same thing: Prepare people as we spoke to them over the phone. Dad is dead, Dad is dead.


I peek out the screen door.
Six solar lights harness the energy of the sun.
They stand stalwart as soldiers protecting this house
where once the Lenni Lenape dwelled, eating maize
and acorn stew and fish they looped from the waters.

The moon's shaped like a broken plate
silent in the black sky
as it rises over Charlie's house
the little dog Kalie barking
her soliloqy, An "I miss Charlie" dirge perhaps
or "I wonder what life is like on the moon."

Liability Insurance Poem - Goddard College Poem


Ever read essays where they define the word?

"Liability insurance provides the insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people and/or property."

Dave and I had a pleasant conversation about this insurance, which I am mandated to purchase
once again for my New Directions Support Group.

Michael LaBarbera failed to respond.

Insure, insure, insure.

Do you know the meaning of suffering?

Every day I try to give Her hope over the phone.

I emailed her the ballad Bring Him Home by Alfie Boe.

She works through her tears.
Tears? Make that agony. Why aren't
the meds working?

Next on the list is Welbutrin. Do not take the
generic. I know these things since I've been
in the business since I was 38 and suffered

The Almighty plays no favorites. A man was attacked
by a shark the other day. No it was not Robert Shaw
in Jaws.

Step out the door and you are in danger.
Killed by Ubleck falling from the sky.
A rabid dog like in Old Yeller giving you
unquenchable thirst.

My friend Tom, living in peace in a nursing home
while his wife Shirley crumbles like a Greek statue
piece by piece.

Then again you may have a spectacular evening
revisiting the Goddard College of your dreams
in Vermont. My errant love and I lie on the grass
in the open fields.

It is twilight and we stare at Venus rising.
Neither he nor I have been touched by death.
A cool breeze ruffles my white hair. His is
black, dyed, like the movie stars he resembles.

We kiss all over, healing every patch of still
young, still beautiful bodies.

Let's stay here forever.
The memories I put in my pocket.
Reachable as the moon wends south.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Oh no! Not Tina Benco - Poem for Benco and Helene

Just came home from Scott's after watching ALL THAT JAZZ.

Is it just me or was it a terrible film? Roy Scheider, a skinny guy who looked like Sammy Davis Jr was a druggie and it showed the pill bottle of Dexedrine he took to wake up, and other pills to stay awake and go to sleep. Sex was his sleeping partner. Didn't matter who.

Let's see what Siskal and Ebert, both dead, and Vincent Canby have to say about the film.

When he is not planning for his upcoming stage musical or working on his Hollywood film, choreographer/director Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) is popping pills and sleeping with a seemingly endless line of women. The physical and mental stress begins to take a toll on the ragged perfectionist. Soon, he must decide whether or not his non-stop work schedule and hedonistic lifestyle are worth risking his life. The film is a semi-autobiographical tale written and directed by the legendary Bob Fosse.

When I came home I put my snacks away - pretzels and peanuts - called Mom to say hello - and then came upstairs to check my emails. 

Spoke to 91 yo Helene Ryesky this morning. She's doing fine but won't avail herself of the activities at Manatawny Manor. Be my guest and goggle the place. They're mostly all the same. Based on Quaker values... nothing like it in Pennsylvania. Helene warned my mother not to go into a home.

Sent her a letter with a new poem I wrote called


Possibly the birds are the most adaptable
of creatures. Once a plague decimated the crows
from our neighborhood. Now they're back. New DNA?
Their cries are magnificent, warning the wildlife -
the deer, the skunk, the bluejays, the tiny sparrows
living in my pink birdhouse - that man is about.

A procession strides along the sidewalk across the street.
Do they hear me sneeze - achoo achoo - from the invisible
pollen on our street. I hope so. I like to be noticed.

Mama comes first, pushing what seems to be a thousand-
pound baby, while junior in red shorts and T-shirt
is in a world of his own. Lucky little man. Lastly
is a panting Golden Retriever who looks like he's
about to enter Doggie Heaven.

All the while cabbage butterflies, as they're called
flit around with a black spot on their backs,
another scourge of mankind, laying eggs and
ruining our crops.

Have you remembered my sweet nectarine, Helene?
The oatmeal is ready. A meal in one. What a
fine cook you were. Your famous pie with
liquer inside. Salads with carrots and beets.

Still alive, still making trouble, can life
at Manatawny be all that bad? 

What made me goggle my client Tina Benco. What a shock I got.

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Tina M. Destephanis-Benco
Tina M. Destephanis-Benco of Penndel, PA passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on December 3, 2018 at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, she was 51 years old.

Born in Levittown, PA Tina was a wonderful stay-at-home mom. She enjoyed sitting on the beach and listening to the ocean along with spending time in Disney World. Tina loved the Philadelphia Flyers, her beloved cats, shopping and spending time with her granddaughter.

She also loved dolphins, as I remember, and wore dolphin jewelry. 

She was not ill when I knew her. 

In a moment I will write a tribute to her.

Tina will be dearly missed by her fiance Michael Malampy of Penndel, her sons Sean Destephanis and his wife Christina of New Hampshire and Ryan Benco of Virginia. Along with her granddaughter Esme` and two sisters Mary Ellen Donnelly and Nancy Weaver.
Relatives and friends are invited to her funeral service 3pm Saturday, December 8, 2018 at the Faust Funeral Home Inc. 902 Bellevue Ave. Hulmeville, PA 19047. Where friends will be recieved from 12pm until service time at 3pm. Interment will be private. Memorial contributions may be sent in Tina’s name to the National Breast Cancer Foundation or to American Liver Foundation


Always on time, shy, a simple smile on her lips
she offered simple joy which lit up the room.

Her boyfriend Michael was quite a catch
handsome as a matinee idol. If they
quarreled I never saw it, love was always
in the air.

I am saddened that cancer the crab entered
her body and began its course of destruction.

Had I said a proper goodbye when I left
the agency? Today I would hold her close
with a warm hug.

A simple girl, not terribly long for this world,
Fifty-one, comforted by loved ones sitting
around the hospital bed, her eyes closed
for the very last time as she ascended
with confidence to the Other World.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dan Deming on the line - Heroes of Tianamen Square

Was I seeing things?

My son's name was on the Caller ID.

What was this world coming to?

Here was his plan.

He'd pick me up. We'd eat at a taco place near the LOWE's in Warminster, I believe, and then we'd buy shrubs for his front garden.

In the car he said he'd been thinking about THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Dan, that's great I said. Since he'd gotten married I wondered if all he thought about was making money and consumer products.

He looked so handsome when he picked me up in his shorts and cap.

He was spurred on bc he had to return a defective propane tank from our get-together on Memorial Day.

The food was delicious and we sat outside.

The place is in Willow Grove but quite far away.

He mentioned Stephen Hawking's views on the meaning of life. And explained them.

Sarah, I said, thinks like that, too.

When she was a little girl she mentioned she thought she might be the only one in the world.

Scott wonders if God is doing an experiment with people.

When I interviewed Robinson Fredenthal for an article in Art Matters, I sent him the cover of a Times Mag, with Hawking in his wheelchair, and said, Anything is possible.

Fredenthal had Parkinson's.

He ended up in an apt for disabled people and taught them art!

On the day he died, I called Roger Wilco Liquor store and told them the sculpture in front of their Jersey store was done by Fredenthal.

I hoped that at one of them cared.

Below is the Akuba shrub I had Dan buy.

Stays green all winter.

When I awoke this morning my HEEL was in horrible pain. When I looked it up on the Net, the word plantar fasciitis swam into view.

I did the exercises and the heel is better.

I wanna write a poem about

Tiananmen Square

June 4, 1989

part of a bloody crackdown on dissent that killed unknown numbers of unarmed protesters and bystanders.

The army seemed in complete control. But then, the next day, something remarkable happened.

In an act that would reverberate around the world, a solitary man stood his ground before a column of advancing tanks on Chang'an Boulevard, which runs directly into Tiananmen Square.

His identity and his ultimate fate remain a mystery — but his lonely act of defiance, captured by photographers watching nearby, became an icon of the fight for freedom around the globe.

FRONTLINE investigated this extraordinary confrontation, and China’s attempts to erase it from history, in the 2006 documentary The Tank Man.

As the world marks the 30-year anniversary of the Chinese government’s Beijing massacre, we invite you to revisit this landmark documentary — which is available to stream on, the PBS Video App and on YouTube.

Will write a poem and get back to you.


China has loomed large in my mind. A sprawling country
directly below us on the globe. When I dug in the grass
I could hear the Chinamen with their high pitched voices
thousands of them.

Years ago, I hosted a Chinese exchange student from Beijing.
Every morning he drank a cup of warm water and did tai chi
in the back yard. Good-natured, his dream was to move
to America. Where are you now, young man.

Where are you now, heroes of Tianamen? Did you ever exist?
The massacre was massive as the songs of freedom rang
in your hearts.

We are with you, Brave Ones. Always and forever.
Despotism will one day fall away. And freedom
will ride like a horseman with wind in his hair.

Monday, June 3, 2019

From His point of view - These photos may disappear - Trump's trip to the UK, June 2 and 3, 2019

  What's there to smile about?

Wait a minute... this is bigger than my holdings

Who is His dresser? Dirk Bogard?

Ivanka with Liam Fox -- ooh can't wait to see that Huckabee woman

Asking God for forgiveness for conduct, lying, and in His case, hatred

Inspecting the Honor Guards with Prince Philip

Who ARE these people? Prince Philip and Lady Camilla

Oh, they'll like me when they see my charm.

Here... we... come!