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Monday, December 31, 2018


Year End post...

I was recently watching the Kominski Method with Michael Douglas and Allan Arkin, a new Netflix series. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. There is a line in it which inspires this post.

"True love is letting go."

There are so many things this past year that I have let go, and there are even more ahead for 2019.

The explanation on why it has seemed so difficult is love. Simply love.

And to be truthful, to myself, and my love, I need to let go of 2018, and embrace the future.

There are not enough heartfelt thanks to express my gratitude for all the people whom I love, yet must leave behind in order to face my new life. We will still know one another, still be friends, but our day-to-day contact will cease. Your physical being will now be consigned to memory. I know I will think of you all often and fondly. Should you find your way to these words, know that each and every one of you has had a profound and lasting impact on my life. Thank you all for making an adventure out of Civil Service.

To those who have seen so little of me over the years, my family, my loved ones from the beginning, with whom I have missed so much during a career that took me into the very arteries of NYC, I mean to make up for all that some how, some way.

I "retire" from service to the city of my birth, from the weird hours and stressful situations where I met people often on the worst day of their lives. I set out now on a new adventure. To find out who I am now that ERT Inspector 338 has taken his final bow and long.

Ransom out.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Words Strung Together Inspired by the Old West

Words Strung Together Inspired by the Old West

No romance novels  
No Leaves of Grass
No paper pulp

The news comes word of mouth
Spoken like Navajo prayers and
Comanche war cries

Here there are only hand-hewn planks
making Prairie Schooner floors 
to separate pilgrims from
dusty trail and open sky

Necessities of survival
packed at the general store of my saddle bag
Local law enforcement strapped
to my hip

My sole conveyance through hostile territory has a rock
wedged between her shoe and fore-hoof
Lame they say, but soon, 
the farrier will have us on our way...

Peace in solitude.
I take deep breaths
far from a world of gentleness.

I was a young man when I set out West
Been riding that horizon ever since.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Penultimate Human Constellation : a Father and Son Converse in Poems

My dad used to call me bud, I called him dad, or daddy. So as not to confuse him with my grandfather whom was called pop before I was born. And long after also, though I never got to hear him call my name aloud. He was gone before I arrived.

Penultimate Human Constellation is a conversation in verse between father and son in contemporary northeast USA.

The son, Benjamin, his voice is distinct from the father, Steven.

Full disclosure : Steven Ostrowski is a person with whom I have been acquainted since a very young age. Even today we could probably sit and converse about what’s happened to the old neighborhood for at least a six pack. (Each). 

Yet, his son, Benjamin Ostrowski, was a stranger to me. Still I can see the influence the father has had on the son. Much more subtle is the influence of child on parent. Especially when the child has reached such a flower of maturity I am certain he no longer wishes to be referred to as a child. Yet so we all are.

Part One:Seen/Unseen Lovely, hypnotic verse full of twists , turns and surprises.
Pages 28 & 29. Temperatures by Benjamin and Omniscient Sky by Steven are such wonderful examples of this influence. Tattoos for the son, kissing later for the father are themes stitched together through early pages. 

Part Two: q and a, Poems of Inquiry, the poetry in call and response kicks into high gear with questions and answers. Spiced with wry humor and deep passion for familial bonds, not just father son, but husband/wife, father/daughter, sister, mother, brother/adopted son, gardener and soil. Answers to all the questions: Advice as fine as intricate embroidery.

Part 3. Post Cards from far, far away. (I was going to say Post Cards from the Edge, but this collection does such a nice job of putting cliches in a Cuisinart that I changed my mind. )

For my generation, going to Hanoi was nothing but bad news. For soldiers like John McCain and Hollywood royalty Jane Fonda alike. Nothing good ever happened to an American in Hanoi. Yet Benjamin puts me into the heart of that darkness with a fusion meal and I feel I begin to know the individual man.

And his father’s response to a son’s journey is no less cosmic than the effects the moon has on tides. What I find so daunting about math is its relentless discipline. How even at its most creative it’s used to uncover and express what is already present. Yet math is an intricate part of the verse here and yet so masterfully applied one forgets it is there.

These poems especially make me feel like a voyeur eaves-dropping and making a spectacle of the father/prodigal son relationship. Only because the images are so razor sharp, I can almost smell the New England grass clippings and see that little boy shot putting a baseball to the delight of all fathers.

Part Four: What Matters

What matters? Matters of course. There were no Woodstock Gurus in sight because you were not looking in a mirror Steven, and stumbling upon Bears I could almost swear I began to detect a wry code between the two friends, one friend with more ahead than behind and the other with more past than tomorrow, but still expressing the mystery of mortality with every thought. And at the same time, their collective thinking back, rings of truth about family and reassured me that the confusing conundrum of young manhood has not changed since I was young.

Maybe I don’t read enough poetry, or just have not set aside the time, but I rarely encounter a book of poems which becomes a real page turner. And so this morning, I began to read Penultimate Human Constellation : a Father and Son Converse in Poems, and I could not put it down. It was the very best way to spend these hours.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

No Place Like Home

Some times it feels as if the road is home. Big sky, two lanes taking me anywhere.

Spending time away from NYC gives one a different perspective upon return. The buildings loom taller, the people seem more than just extras in a film or television show, a perceptible difference of  a season's sunlight  becomes more palpable.

A visit to St Patrick's on a September day reminded me of my Roman Catholic roots.  The iconography depicting the passion of our Savior used to terrify me. Now it is strangely comforting.

Peace to all who have lived to face such times as times as these where indiscretions of the past become indignities of the present. May what divides us make us stronger as we come together and address injustice. Let us make corrections where it is in our power to do so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hurricane Florence Poems

In the tense hours before and during the storm, my mind had the space to compose some poems.

Who built this road?
I’ll never know
I can only find out
Where it goes.

Who cleared the path?
What man? What woman?
What child ate because of
Their labor?

Who built the sky?
And mountains on
The horizon?

What God? Or Goddess
Filled the desert?

Who built this road?
I will never know. But now,
I must discover
Where it goes.

Perhaps I can find it
On a map. Or perhaps
I will just drive.

Uncle Stew 

Enigmatic tear from a place
so far
A well too deep

Perhaps dust
from a star
Mote in the eye
of a cry

Single tear
rivulets of tears
Sobs of grief
howls of laughter
cries for joy

All one expression
drops of water
made inside
a human being
But belonging

I am back on the road to NYC to resume my job there. Expect more poetry will come to me on the long drive. I feel great love for all in my life. Thank you for the lessons. I am humbled and blessed to know you.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Never Forgetting...But Moving On...

9-1-1. 3-4-3.

Never forgetting does not have to mean always remembering. That is what I have done for a long time. Always reliving that day. Sometimes I would lose myself in the memory. If you were to be with me in those moments...or for those hours, you could tell I was not with you. I was in downtown Manhattan when the planes hit the buildings.

I want to thank you who have understood that over the years and have been there for me when I decided to return from the dead and join the living.

I am looking forward now. Remembering the good and leaving the worst behind.

I am going back
So I can say goodbye
To yesterday


I return to
My past
So, at last, I can rest

So I can finally
Like I left that building
Which collapsed behind me
 And covered us in
Dust of hate’s


I will forget
I will now
Not never
 Yet ever

The horror
The bravery
The guilt
The honor


Will remind me
To remember
What we did
After the Fall



I will go back
And then
Go forward
For Love


Saturday, September 8, 2018


Things I remember about my father: Everyone always commented on how alike we were in physical appearance. 

What I loved about dad, is he knew how different we were, and he loved me for those differences. He encouraged them. Demanded them. 

Today, on the day we note the 10th year since his suffering ended, I have faith that he, along with all the dearly departed, are somehow aware of us, and our lives, and how much they want for us all to be happy. 

God bless and keep you daddy, in the bosom of her heart.

Monday, September 3, 2018


For those who work, those who make, who think, create, organize, implement, contemplate, formulate; for those who do, who study, for those who work with their hands, those who work with their minds, for those who make the wheels and those who set the wheels in motion, for those who drive, build, invent, conceive, give birth...for all we do...I salute you. Today is our day to reflect on what it means to work. The great gift of labor. The privilege it is to build a life from nothing but the energy our bodies create. From the love of our hearts, the vision of our minds, may we figure out a way to move forward into a better tomorrow...

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Once upon a time, in America, it was a great source of pride to remember one's heritage, our roots, the springs from whence we came. This sentimental nostalgia comes from acknowledgment of those who came before; sacrificing so that we here, now, can enjoy bounty.

When labels define us, we are no longer us. We become other. And as other-ed, we become less, and as less we are deemed not human. That makes it easy for atrocities to take place.

I was told a story today about a young man who "came out" as a Republican. As if that was something to be ashamed of, by the way, it is not. No one should be ashamed of what they think. Deeds are shameful, wicked deeds are criminal. But to be a member of a political party is one of the things that is great about America. We have the freedom to disagree, and to criticize, and to argue our points.

In frustration, labels are slapped on a person so they no longer matter. So their point of view is not to be considered, their complaints, words, fears, passions, no longer heard. This is wrong. It always has been. And always will be.

Republicans matter. Democrats matter. People matter. Life matters.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

VOX - My 100 Words for Today

 VOX, a book I have yet to read. As I feel we already live in a dystopian society, I feel no urgency to do so. A 100 word premise is one I would like inflicted on some powerful personages currently able to bully people with their tweets.

Here, I get to say what I want, but I have to employ self-censorship. 

Speak frankly without offense? People seem to take straight talk straight to the gutter. Speaking one's mind is no longer an exercise in civic discourse, but an invitation to war. Honesty is endangered. Does it have to be brutal?


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Today I am accepting a challenge to post 10 books in ten days on Facebook, no review, no explanation. Today is day seven and I am posting the Hobbit to represent all the works by JRR Tolkien.