Gerald Goldstein -- in Memoriam
Now he is gone, we know not where,
Much as we knew not whence he came.
He spent his final years in fear;
Perhaps we too will do the same.
I see him as I saw him first;
With time, I came to know him well.
For odd details, he had a thirst;
He gathered things he would not sell.
He picked up items from the road;
And never learned to say, “Enough!”
His house was packed, fit to explode;
He rented space to store his stuff.
With odd device, of every sort,
He grew enamored; but, being tight,
To Radio Shack he would resort,
Its dumpster-day his week’s delight.
Though Brooklyn born, and Brooklyn bred,
His diction showed no sign of that.
By heart and reason, he was led
To treasure what, to us, seemed flat,
But which, to him, had twist and bend
That needed gentle, loving care;
For to preserve, and gently tend,
What needed it, was his affair.
With this, he whiled his life away,
In gentle fascination ‘tranced
With how things worked, and why we say
What we don’t mean, but leave unparsed.
For he had gone from Science to Law,
And studied nights to earn degrees;
But found he lacked the drive and jaw
Demanded of New York J.D.’s.
A Juris Doctor, that was he,
Left physics for legality;
And so, he never did feel free
To loosely speak like you and me.
And yet, he never used his skills
To put in place, or poke a hole.
He shied away from fights and kills.
His was a kind and gentle soul.
He did not envy, hold a grudge;
Nor did he speak of others ill.
Where others pushed, he’d gently nudge;
His simple needs he did fulfill.
And so, contented, free of strife,
He tried to live a quiet life.
When all around was heat and hurry,
Slow and measured moved our Gerry.
His speech was clear, and quite precise;
He loved the pun and subtle joke.
His hands were golden, he could splice
What none could fix, with one deft stroke.
He paid attention to what’s dead.
His patience now is out of style.
Through the eye, he’d pass the thread;
And yet, he was quite free of guile.
His clothes were clean, but clearly worn.
He had no airs, and bothered none.
He went where others had not gone.
Of such as he, there was but one.
Those shallow, judged him by his shell.
To all our fads, he’d not conform.
But those who looked, could clearly tell,
Here was a man outside the norm.
What others did, he did not do.
What others thought, he did not heed.
He did, what he did have to do.
He heeded, what he thought worth heed.
He did not push, nor did he let
Himself be pushed, or pulled away,
From what, he felt, we oft forget,
Which is, to live a decent day.
To ailing mom, he was devoted.
He offered help when it was needed.
He did not waste, his word he kept.
With guiltless heart, he nightly slept.
This was the Gerry that I knew.
But still there is much more to tell.
He cared for mom, until she flew,
And life became a living hell.
For every ailment, known to man,
Seemed to strike him down with pain.
He found himself without a plan.
He could not lift his head again.
And yet there was a saint who cared,
A saint with faults, like he himself.
Much worse, indeed, he would have fared,
If he were by his lonesome self.
He lived afraid she too would flee,
And leave him, like his mother dear.
The comfort, that she now would be,
Was edged, always, with this great fear.
For those, with whom he’d worked his life,
Had gone their ways, and left him lone.
Such is this world, where each has strife,
And lone ones wait by quiet phone.
So Gerry lived, and did his job.
He did it well, as I’ll attest.
Then he suffered, much like Job.
God likes to put us to the test.
Well God, I’ll kick you in your rear!
In Brooklyn, you were out of league.
You picked on one, who’d gamely bear
Your insults without fuss or pique.
How can I capture, with my arts,
A man in full complexity?
He was a man of many parts;
This sketch is mere simplicity.
Now he is gone, and we are left.
A man’s a man, not Turk or French!
All my prattle has no heft.
When all is said, he was a mensch!
Arjun (Babui) Janah
< firstname.lastname@example.org >
Brooklyn, New York