While walking home from work today, I saw
the roads and sidewalks, elevated rails,
the houses – and the rows and rows of trees.
And all of these were silent, mute and still,
and yet it seemed they quietly spoke to me.
For as I walked, in end-of-day fatigue,
I thought of those who’d worked their days like me…
The city’s workers built those asphalt roads,
those concrete sidewalks and those iron rails –
and all the drains beneath, the workers laid.
And houses then were built, on vacant lots,
by other workers, in their many trades.
And yet more workers planted rows of trees –
so ravaged, ‘prisoned earth could yield again
its balm of grace to salve demented souls…
And those, insane, like I – and you, perhaps –
who dwell in cities, feeding off its veins,
while laboring to feed its grinding mills –
can walk these city streets, at end of day,
with gratitude – or not – to those before,
who built those things – and even planted trees,
so from our madness we could pause – and sense
there still is sanity and beauty left…
2014 May 29th, Thu. 8:21 pm Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
I’m a teacher, I’m a teacher – a teacher, that is me!
I’ve been teaching close to forty years, and still am teaching, see!
But I’m a burnt-out teacher now, and students might complain
That he, who tries to teach them, doesn’t seem to have a brain.
And how can I explain to them, oh how can I explain,
That teaching close to forty years can burn away a brain?
It seems as if a current strong was driven through my head.
Whatever little wits I had – that current burned them dead.
So I’m a burned-out teacher, oh, a brainless, addled fool!
But why then am I teaching still – in this old city school? \1
There’s nothing else that I can do, except to teach my classes.
And so it is with teachers – as it also is with asses.
For when an ass – or mule or horse – has worked until it’s old,
There’s nothing that it’s useful for – it even can’t be sold.
For in the past, it still had use, for turning into glue,
But now that’s out, so nothing’s left, so what can “owners” do?
And some, whose hearts are kinder, they may put it out to pasture,
And wait for it to buckle and to add, to earth, its moisture.
But others, they dispose of it – in a manner rough or gentle.
And so it is for workers – be they physical or mental.
And some may say – “Retirement! That’s the way for you to go.”
What little, of a life that’s spent in teaching, do they know?
For when I’m pushed out of my job, to live on a pension meager, \2
To go where worn-out asses go, I surely will be eager.
2014 May 24th, Sat. 11:55 pm (written after six continuous hours spent checking and entering one week’s worth of homework and labs – admittedly, more labs than usual, as my students did two extra labs this week) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
1. The high school in Bensonhurst in which I teach is close to a hundred years old.
2. I started teaching, as a graduate student, in 1975 – and I taught, at universities, for many years after that. I joined as a teacher in the New York City school system in 1987. The pay then was low and continued to be so until soon after I took unpaid family leave for my parents at the start of the 2002 academic year. I did day-to-day sub work often during those years on leave, in order to pay the rent. But I was only able to rejoin full time in 2009, and have been working ever since.
My pension, if I retired now, would be about 30K$ (U.S.) a year, before taxes, according to the calculator at the retirement system website. And so perhaps retirement might finally be viable for me, which it wasn’t just five years ago, when that figure was about 13 K$. It’s too bad that my earlier teaching work was not pensionable. Even if it were, it wouldn’t have helped that much, as most pensions are far from being linear functions of time – an important fact that math teachers should take the time to explain to their students – and perhaps also to their colleagues.
Apart from vital monetary considerations, it is difficult to retire if one has spent most of one’s waking hours for so many years on the teaching work. A teacher has five classes to teach, each day during the work-week, with all of the stress that one gets from that. If one is fortunate, one may also get some satisfaction from this, as from the other work one does after hours.
What is that work? One is often busy, after hours and on weekends and holidays, preparing class handouts, homework, quizzes, exams, etc. A science teacher may also have to prepare lab sheets, apart from having materials ready for labs, unless someone else has that last job. As the student population, with its strengths and deficiencies, the curricula and even the subjects taught keep changing, what worked before no longer does. So one has to keep changing things or doing them again from scratch, finding oneself, not only in in the teaching profession, but also in the authoring and printing business.
New subjects involve new learning, so one has to keep ahead of the students in subjects taught for the first time., which may be far removed from one's expertise. High school classes, which nowadays usually end in state exams, are often fast-paced, so this is not easy. All of this has to be done on the fly, after the physical, mental and emotional stress that the day-job involves.
One must also try to deal with the almost impossible correcting load. At the high school level, this involves the daily and weekly work of often close to 170 students – and much more if one teaches labs and has to grade the lab reports.
In many cases, various factors reduce some of these diverse workloads, but others may add to them. I have mentioned only the things I myself have spent most time and effort on in my own work-life. Other teachers may have other preoccupations. And others yet might find all of this nonsensical and far removed from their own experiences.
But all of what I have outlined, if taken seriously, can become all-consuming, leaving little or no time for even vital personal and family matters. This is especially so when one has students with a great range of constantly varying deficiencies that have to be taken into account and compensated for, plus state exams that involve curricula which cannot possibly be taught and learned properly in the time available, given the deficiencies that the students exhibit. *
So some of us might enter, at retirement (as experienced during periods away from the job), from all of this continuous activity and social contact, with students and colleagues, at the faux village that a school provides – some of us might enter from all of this into a vacuum, where one is faced with the four walls of one’s room. With family and friends long dead, estranged or non-existent, when we step outside, we might find ourselves in a city full of busy strangers. We may blame ourselves for that, but that would be little comfort.
* In New York City, the financial squeezing and punitive "reforms"
initiated by our former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and pushed by Governor Andrew Cuomo
and his moneyed allies have greatly aggravated this horrible, manic predicament, for the students as well as their teachers.
We aren’t. Then we are. And then we aren’t anymore.
It seems we come from nothing, live – and then, to nothing, go.
But who has strength to face this or the wit to understand it?
For all we learn, from other things, implies, “It isn’t so.”
Could something come from nothingness and vanish back to that?
“That’s magic,” you would say, “like pulling rabbits from a hat.”
And if I said it’s real, that there’s nothing up the sleeve,
The men in white might come for me and want to have a chat.
So many myths that humankind has conjured, to assure
The certainty of that which can’t be ever known for sure…
Sobriety, sobriety, it’s time for you to show
That all our gods in heavens are but treasured fictions pure…
We come from darkness into light. To darkness, we return.
We come from silence, hear – and then, there’s silence, as we burn.
From sense-less state to sensing state, and senselessly, at end,
There’s nothing left of us, except the ashes in the urn…
But which of us will bear this and not call out to say, “No!
There was more to us than ashes, so there's still a remnant more.”
And who will hear our calling out and who will understand it?
For though it seems so senseless, there’ll be nothing left to show.
Posterity, posterity, that follows our behinds,
We leave for you the imprints of our bodies and our minds,
As children or as images, as things or streams of words.
And each of these, you will devour and only leave the rinds…
We weren’t, then we were and then we won’t be yet again.
And so it is with octopi and so it is with men.
The seasons, they return – as does the day that follows night.
And some say that we do return – for what, they do not ken.
In the land of the rivers five,
And that between the two, \1
You’ll hear the elders tell this tale
To kids – and puppies too.
And baby goats will gather ‘round
And try to hear it right.
But these will often wander off,
As puppies also might.
The puppies, they will cock their heads
As the children look astonished,
And the elders tell the story of
The Pumpkin that was banished.
“There was a time, when Veggies, Fruits
Were placed above us men.
And dogs and goats were also low
And Fruits were highest then.
“In Dilli, in a time now past,
A line of Mangoes ruled.
So Mangoes then were royalty,
As children then were schooled.
“For though the Veggies were, by far,
In number, more than Fruits,
The Fruits were cleverer – and led
By Mangoes, ruled the ‘Brutes’.
“For that was what the Fruits then called
The Vegetables all.
And strangely, Veggies long endured
This thing, as men recall.
“And many cities of our times
Existed, even then.
But each was built with palaces
For Fruits – and not for men.
“And Veggies too had quarters there
But some of these were slums.
The Veggies – they were workers then,
Though some of them were bums.
“But then, in Agra and in Oudh,
And in the west, Lahore,
A clan of fighting Pumpkins rose
To power, seeking more.
“ ‘The Fruits have ruled for long,’ they said. ‘It’s now the Veggies’ turn.’ With zest and zeal, they spread the word And did, with ardor, burn.
“And though the Mangoes tried, in vain,
To quell the rising tide,
The Pumpkins marched, in ordered rows
And columns long and wide.
“And by their side, in allied ranks,
Some other Veggies too
Did march along, while singing songs And making cry and hue.
“The Cabbages and Mustard Greens,
The Spinaches and others,
They marched and sang, “We're Veggies all!
We drink of Sun as brothers!”
“And Carrots came – and even Plums
And other rebel Fruits
Who hated Mangoes, joining ranks,
For once, with all the ‘Brutes’.
“And Dilli, then, to Pumpkins fell,
With Mangoes roundly squashed.
In every town, the Fruits switched sides,
With those resisting quashed.
“But though the Mangoes long had ruled,
They had a fragrance sweet.
And Mango-kings had manners still,
And sense to be discreet.
“And though they did extract the tax,
They gave, to Veggies, gifts. ‘A petty favor, costing naught, A canny king uplifts.’
“But Pumpkins, they were rough and rude – A bumpkin, yokel lot.
They quarreled loudly in the streets
And on the rooftops fought.
“And when a subject could not give
The ‘rent’ that then was due,
They beat him soundly and they left
Him then to Pumpkins rue.
“So Dilli suffered several years
Of Pumpkins’ sad misrule.
And though his subjects bowed to him,
They called their king a fool.
“For he was such a Pumpkin as
Had never, past, been seen.
Some whispered he was ‘monstrous’, while
The others hissed ‘obscene’.
“Now men and goats and dogs could be
Both small and big in sizes.
But when it comes to Pumpkin – those
May sometimes spring surprises.
“For ‘Pumpkin Grand’ his title was,
And he was grand of girth.
The Vegetables, Fruits and men
Gave him the widest berth.
“When Pumpkin Grand would roll around,
The others ran for life.
The largest Mango-maid, he’d tried
To make his newest wife.
“But sadly, he had crushed her sore
Upon their wedding day.
To hospital, they’d taken her,
And there she'd lain till May.
“No other Manga would consent \2
To wed the Pumpkin Grand.
The king's frustration, it was great.
He would not understand.
“ ‘I want a Mango-maid for wife. No Melon, Squash will do! If those before had Mango-queens, So must this Pumpkin too!’
“The Mangoes were a clever lot.
They whispered and they hid.
They watched the Pumpkins’ stew-pot cook
And weighted down the lid.
“And so, when Pumpkin Grand’s mistakes
And Pumpkin-Lessers’ fights
Had taxed and tired the subjects sore,
They gathered close at nights.
“And there, with Mangoes as their guides,
They plotted, planned a strike.
The Cantaloupes, from Rajasthan,
To Dilli then did hike.
“For these were Fruits and Veggies both,
From both the sides descended.
And with their cousin Pumpkins, most
Of them were discontented.
“And be they Fruits or Veggies, those
Who couldn’t Pumpkins bear,
Towards Dilli also rolled – and vied
For place in front or rear.”
The elders, at this point, would rise,
And clearing throats, would sing.
And children, puppies, goats would join
So all the air would ring.
“And so, in annals, it’s recorded,
The army grew to giant size.
And younger Fruits and Veggies joined,
Despite the qualms of elders wise.
“Upon that host of 'Fruits and Brutes’,
Assembled, in a motley crew,
The clouds that passed did sprinkle rain, As the rebel army grew and grew.
“And by that sprinkled rain refreshed,
The Fruits and Veggies vowed to win
The throne of Dilli, from the king,
Whose place on it, they deemed a sin.”
And seated once again, they’d wave,
To puppies, kids and goats,
To stop their yelps and baas and all
Their other high-pitched notes. “ ‘If sugar be the thing that makes A Veggie be a Fruit, Then Beets should side with Mangoes in This battle with that Brute.’
“With whisperings like these, the Fruits
Fomented the rebellions.
And so, towards the city, troops
Of rebels rolled in millions.
“And some said, 'No! The Fruits are meant By Nature, to be eaten. But beasts and birds who chomp on us, The Veggies, should be beaten!'
“No matter. Pumpkins had aroused,
In all the Plants, such ire,
That when the Mangoes roused them more,
It seemed they'd caught on fire.
“The Cucumbers, from East and West,
The Gourds, of various kinds,
And others trekked to Dilli, both
Of tough and tender rinds.
“From South and East came Tamarinds.
The Apples came from North.
And Plantains and Bananas wild
From forests issued forth.
“Upon the Aravalli hills,
Among the thorny trees,
They gathered all, below the stars,
And waited for the breeze.
“For some of them had fragrances
That carried in the wind,
So even flies in the Punjab
Could scent the fruits in Sindh.
“But Neems, with Curry Leaves, conspired
To hide the army's scent.
And so they waited in those hills,
Preparing for descent.
“And when the breeze had turned to blow
From Dilli towards those hills,
They slid towards that city, as
The water, hollows fills.
“And at the most opportune time,
When Pumpkins all were snoring,
The Fruits and Veggies struck as one,
With Beets and Eggplants roaring.
“And though the Pumpkins, when aroused
From slumber, tried to fight,
They one by one were tied to beds.
It seemed a glorious night.
“And some of those embittered joked
At Pumpkins lying tied, ‘We’ll leave you in the summer sun Until you all have dried.’
“But Pumpkin Grand, he would not yield.
He rolled about like thunder.
And those, who saw him coming, fled
Or froze, in awestruck wonder.
“But then, the Onions devised,
With help from Garlic Cloves,
A way to quell the Pumpkin Grand,
By jumping him in droves.
“He could not stand the Onions’ scent
Or that of Garlics strong.
He struggled for a while, then fell
To sleep – and snoring long.
“They could not drag him to the Court,
So heavy was his weight.
The Judge, arriving as he slept,
Did read to him his fate.
“ ‘Oh Pumpkin, known for your misrule, And for the one you wed And almost squished to pulp, we find You snoring, by your bed.
“ ‘But though you snore (and loudly too), Your sentence, it is this: To China, you are banished, there To do as you may wish.’
“And when the Pumpkin woke, he found
Himself upon a wagon,
With ropes tied down, on a caravan
To the land of the Dancing Dragon.
“And whether he got safely there
Or not, we do not know.
But rumor has, that China still
Is where Bad Pumpkins go.
“And with the Pumpkin clan dispersed,
In Dilli, there was calm,
Though winters still were far too cold
And summers far too warm.
“And subjects still begrudged the tax
That some would call 'the rent'.
A few resisted. Most gave in,
With sun and seed content.
“And in what form that rent was paid
And why it then was needed,
We men, who then had little say,
We never knew or heeded.
“But later, we were told, by kings,
That taxes were the rule,
And even Fruits and Veggies paid,
When Man was just a Fool.
“For all of this was long before
We men, of monkey-kind,
With help of dogs, from jackals bred
And wolves, did stature find.
“But here’s the twist. Though Mangoes schemed
To end the Pumpkins’ rule,
The Radishes rose in their stead,
As you will learn at school.
“And Radish-Strong in turn was felled,
By the Custard-Apples fooled.
And so again, by Fruits with wits,
The Veggies all were ruled…
“But that’s another story. Though
In Dilli, Pumpkins ended,
The Son of Pumpkin Grand became
A big and fearsome bandit!
“No, no, enough! You’ve heard enough.
It’s time to go and play.
We can’t be telling you these tales
All through the heat of day.”
You’ll see the elders rise and stretch,
As puppies play in threes
And children, laughing, try to climb
Upon the guava trees.
And baby goats will seek out leaves
To nibble, as they do,
Not knowing Lettuces once ruled
And might, in the future, too.
And monkeys, seeing children try
To climb the guava tree,
Will throw at them the stunted fruits
That kids can have for free.
2014 May 10th, Sat. 8:45 pm Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
1. The references in the first stanza are to the Panj-aab and the Doh-aab. These regions are usually spelled "Punjab" and "Doab". Their names come from the Farsi (Persian) words for five (panj), two (doh) and water (aab, cognate to Latin aqua, here meaning "river").
If one descends from the mountains that lie to the northwest of the Punjab plains, one first encounters the Indus (Sindhu) river, flowing south. Crossing that river and traveling east, one meets in turn the five rivers of the Punjab: the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.
All of these flow southwest to join with the Indus, of which they are tributaries. The Indus flows south, passing next through Sindh and then into the Arabian Sea. So the Punjab region may be thought of as the northern part of the Indus plain or valley. Crossing the easternmost river of the Punjab (the Sutlej) and traveling further southeast, one enters the Doab, the land between the Yamuna (Jamuna) and the Ganges (Ganga) rivers (the light blue and dark blue watercourses in the map below). This region is a western section of the Gangetic plain, in which the main flow is southeast to the Bay of Bengal.
(You can click on the map above to see slightly enlarged views of that map and the other maps here. Hit the back arrow in your browser to return to the post.) Although this is the specific region most often referred to as the Doab in the Indian context, the general term doab can also be applied to any region between two rivers. So parts of the Punjab, lying between two of its rivers, are also known as doabs, with qualifiers to distinguish them. The Rechna Doab between the Chenab and Ravi rivers is one such region.
2. Female Mangoes were, at that time, called Mangas. If you're wondering how Fruits managed to have genders, then you should wonder even more about all the other strange things in this story. Yet, they are all absolutely true. If you don't believe any of it, go ask a Cucumber.
In the Tumult of the City
In the tumult of the city,
Where there’s rarely pause for breath,
Can we take some time for elders
Or for illness – or for death?
For it seems that in the city,
Where the money drives the time,
There's no space that's left for caring
Or for passion – or for rhyme.
And yet mothers nurse their children,
And the women nurse the old.
And there’s warmth and there is patience
In the city, bleak and cold.
You can see, amidst the hustle,
How the seasons take their time.
You can listen, through the bustle,
To the cadence and the rhyme.
There is singing in the city,
Though it’s muted by the roar,
Though the ones, who’re used to speeding,
Find the rhythms rather slow.
There is singing and there’s silence,
As there’s night that follows day.
What would singing be, if silence,
That’s at bottom, went away?
When you’re locked within a prison,
Then the silence drives you mad.
But the silence, in the open,
It can make a person glad.
If you happen to be walking,
When the rain has blessed the land,
Then the patterns, that are ancient,
You’ll begin to understand.
You can see the sky is clearing,
You can smell the dampened earth.
You can sense the life that’s breathing
And the ties of death to birth.
You might see the leaves aquiver
Or be still, in silent grace.
There is silence, in the city,
That we’ve rarely time to face.
When the cars, from streets, are absent,
When there’s quiet in the park,
You can walk, within the city,
As the daylight fades to dark.
You can sense then, in the city,
That attempts to hide the earth,
There's the planet, live and breathing,
That's the one that gave you birth.
In the freshness of the mornings,
In the heat of summer noons,
With the moon and stars at midnights,
You can taste of Nature’s boons.
In the tumult of the city,
You can watch the children play.
You can live and age and ponder,
And in twilight, fade away.
And you’ll know, that in the city,
As in village, forest, field,
Though a death may be a pity,
There’s a birthing it will yield.
2014 May 9th, Friday, 6:00 pm Medical Office* of Drs. Paluzzo & Perlman, on 18th Ave near 82nd Street, across from the New Utrecht Reformed Church, built 1829, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York *
I was there just for a sudden flu-like cold and fever, that started
Wed. night and led me to take a rare day off from the school job today.
This is the age in which business rules,
And those who resist, they are labeled as fools
Or they’re crushed and they’re killed, and we rarely will know,
For if you are heard, then away you will go.
This is the age in which business is king,
And the praises of business, the worshippers sing,
For business is blessed as the work of the Lord,
And those who defy Him, He smites with his sword.
So yes, in this age, it is Business that’s God.
And woe will betide those who think that is odd.
The priests of Big Business are pouring the wine
And chanting their paeans to Business, Divine.
But yet, it’s the mother who nurses her spawn,
And yet, it’s the father who rises at dawn.
And would there be business if workers would shirk?
And would there be wealth if it weren’t for work?
And see, it’s the students and teachers who strive
To learn and to teach what is needed to drive
The engines of business. The drivers of wealth
Are the workers who work till they’re failing in health.
And then they’re disposed of. They’re useful no more.
For a job that’s now vacant, you can pick from a score
Who are needing a job, who’ve been fed and been taught
By their parents and teachers, too often for naught.
But the needs of Big Business cannot be ignored.
For the cash that it offers, our selves, we have whored.
And we’re sending our children to school to be schooled,
But in what, is the question, for the ones who’ve been fooled.
We’re racing, we’re racing. The president says
We must race from our births to the ends of our days,
Competing, competing with the nations of Earth,
With our brothers and sisters in the land of our birth.
Prosperity, jobs and the dream! We progress!
Never mind that we live in a god-awful mess!
We shall clean up our corner and sock it away.
For the dollar’s what matters. We hear and obey.
For this is the age in which Business is Christ,
Muhammad and Moses. The bigger Its heist,
The more is Its Glory. We’re soldiers of God.
And our God, it is Business! And it isn’t so odd…
For the God our ancestors had worshipped was seen
As the Lord who did rule in the realms unseen,
As the lords of the land did then rule over those,
Who were peasants and led by the ring through the nose.
As the cattle were led, as the bullocks were worked,
So the peasants were led, and the ones who then shirked
Would be punished. And those, who delivered their shares
To the lords of the land would then live to have heirs.
So we’re bred to be docile and to bow to our lords,
And we’re bred to be warlike and to battle with swords
For the sake of our rulers, so that rulers have wealth,
While we work all our lives till we’re failing in health.
And so now it is “Business” that is served as religion,
And it’s “Owners” who’re bowed to. We’re in their dominion.
So hail to Big Business, to the Mighty, who own!
And we, who are workers, from labors will groan.
And that is but fitting, as the Social Darwinians
Have preached, so convincing the laboring minions.
So the Hindus had castes, and with each in its rung,
They could stand on each other, while hymnals were sung.
Oh praise to the ladders that humans have wrought,
With the workers at bottom, in their laboring caught,
While the ones who are smarter are climbing the stairs
By stepping on others – and putting on airs!
Oh a suit and a tie, it will serve you much more
Than the time that you spend on the detail, the chore.
And the more that you hang with the suits, you will find
That the chores and the details are best out of mind.
For that is the work of the workers, my friends!
So leave that to workers, who work till their ends.
It is best if you leave that to workers and strive
To climb up the ladder, until you arrive.
But even the ones, at the top, they can see
There are others, who’re climbing – the top-dogs, to be.
So they buy them and kick them, and also ensure
That the ones at the bottom are kept there for sure.
For it’s all about profit, and the less that is paid
To the workers, the more, of that profit, is made.
So the workers are needed, but are kept in their place,
And they’re prodded to buy things and step up the pace.
For it’s labor and markets that are needed, you see.
For what, with no labor, would a businessman be?
And who, without markets, would line up to buy
The things and the services workers supply?
If the worker is working and buying as well,
Then the business is booming and everything’s swell.
But the ones, who’re contented with this are the ones
Who don’t know the power of wheelers and guns.
For it’s all about power – and wealth and its growth.
And those, who’re content, they’ll be losing them both.
So expansion, expansion, is what is then needed.
More markets, more labor – but labor, defeated.
Oh hail to the Capital, essence of all,
That giant that towers and grows yet more tall.
And some call it Mammon and some call it greed.
But those call it Capital, who know it indeed.
And all that feeds Capital, cunning and shrewd,
Is worthy of worship, with essence imbued
That’s sacred and holy. And that is the creed
Professed by the Owners, who are ruling indeed.
So hail to Big Business, to the Owners, who’re great.
It’s time for the lowly to get used to their fate.
And if they are smarter, their climbing, they’ll start,
Adroitly and early – for climbing’s an art.
For this is the age of the Businessmen, oh!
And remember, advancers, I’ve told you it’s so.
To the ones, who’re not climbers, be ruthless, my friends.
Remember, the means do not count – it’s the ends.
And the start and beginning is profit. The dollar
Is what you should focus on. Let the mob holler.
For they are just cattle, to be prodded and poked,
To be herded to slaughter, with Business invoked.
Big Business is King. It is Queen, it is God!
And death to the ones who consider this odd!
For this is the age of the Businessmen, oh!
So either be Owner, or be C.E.O.!
2014 May 3, Sun., 7:06 pm Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
I walked upon a winding path in autumn in the woods.
The leaves were crunching underfoot, a chill was in the air.
The afternoon was still that day, and I could hear the birds
That called out clear from far away – I could not tell from where.
I walked upon a winding path beneath the soaring trees,
With leaves that ranged in colors from the greens to burning reds.
And some of these were drifting down, as I was slowly walking,
Looking at them lying there, like corpses in their beds.
But even those in withered states were blest, in their repose –
Composed, and left with beauty, grace, as humans rarely are,
Whenever it is time to leave – for some may go in peace,
But others mostly don’t, as we're forever roiled by war.
I walked upon a winding path – as all our lives we do.
It was autumn, with the fallen leaves like corpses on the ground.
And some were crunching underfoot, as some of us are crushed.
And far away I heard the birds – a distant, peaceful sound.
And I remember fragrances – the scents of dying leaves
And other scents that issue forth from woodland in the fall.
If only our departures were as fragrant as were these,
We wouldn’t mind, we wouldn’t mind – our dying, not at all.
2014 May 3rd, Sat., 3:40 pm Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York.