Tears

     My first little publication “Metamorphosis” was popular with the student body at Blair. I think they related to the general terror of being a teenager. As a self-appointed spokesman for my peers, I considered it my regular obligation to shock adults, especially my parents, at every possible opportunity, At home, this typically happened at, but was not limited to, the dinner table. The poetry I was writing certainly was having the desired effect. 

       My family as a whole had a difficult time understanding The Middle Class Tragedy. I had painted a rather dismal portrait of my father as an alcoholic, which he definitely was not. My mother was beleaguered in her noble attempt to raise four rambunctious sons, but she was not the frenetic or unstable socialite that I had described. And my brother John was doing the best he could do, given the calculated harassment that I put him through. In hindsight, it appears I had borrowed images from my relatively normal, albeit “middle class” family and woven them into a web of exaggerated parity and satirical shock.

     At last I had found my style!

     Tears was published in the spring of 1968 during my senior year at Blair Academy. I was 18 years old. The covers were “airbrushed” by misting cans of blue and red spray paint atop pre-mimeographed teardrops of text. The following poems are excerpted from the resulting pamphlet:

Tears

 

poetry, prose, etc.

by dick boak

 

advisor

mr anthony l cassen

 

cover

dick boak

 

printing assistance

mrs david miller

 

sketch printing assistance

mrs mills

 

 

(All text on this page © 2008 Dick Boak. All rights reserved.)

 

______________________________________________________________

 

Georgy Kessel’s Dog

 

georgy kessel's dog died today

standing alone in the wet cement sidewalk

he waited eternally.....

frozen..... like a greek statue.

people walked by and laughed.

they'd never seen a dog cry

before.....

   georgy kessel's dog died today

and a little boy with a beard

lay wounded in the grass and wept.

someone said it was georgy himself

but his parents denied it.

"georgy never had a beard"

until his dog died...

 

   an immortal dog died today.

the mayor says he's very sorry

and he'll buy the kessels a new dog

after the sidewalk bill is paid

and this will never happen

but.....

   georgy kessel's dog dies today

and everyday..... yesterday and tomorrow.

nobody cares

except a dog

and a small boy with a beard

running silently and still

toward an ice-glazed hill of Calvary.

 

 

-----------------------------

 

 

Love Is

 

Love isn’t purple miniskirt 

to green-eyelid kissed

or fancy flake fingernails

coated with silver cutex

glowing in

a darkness

or fake eye-brow blue

with comb and brush

teased

into tweezer desire.

 

Love isn’t naked 

navel

or pink pearl on paisley

or spider leg webbed stocking

cherished

in left rear levi pocket

 

Love isn’t visible 

to mascara drip-teared eyes

of un-beauty

 

these may be

but

Love Is.

 

 

----------

 

 

Today

 

Today is far from the yesterday

      that passed through 

      the smeared newspaper headlines

      into another dimension behing the sun.

I’ve captured Today in my mind.

      My eyes don’t stop at a typewritten page

      or smoke filled room

      or even the cold rusted trees

      etched and presses into a glass window-pane.

Today is climbing toward me –

      gleaming and grasping my senses.

      I can smell the sun,

      hear the air

      and taste the sky.

      I can see through the auburn mist –

      through that sparkling infinity

      beyond the beginning and the end.

      Air freezes me into existence,

      into an ice-cube macrocosm

      of life.

Today – it lasts as long as time

      then it floats away

      through depth and emptiness into a memory...

      but I can penetrate it, break it away,

      stand and run toward it in time

      and although it is gone into another yesterday,

      I sense that it was mine.

      I lived and held it. I seized and possessed it

Today...

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

 

To A Janitor Crying In A Closet

(from Tears, 1968)

 

Behind a locked door

with brooms and cleaning fluid,

brass door-knob polish and dirt stained rags;

his companions and possessions –

he sits, the sad king

of his own linoleum world,

with dust streaked tears,

dripping from a plaster face

into a waste can.

his friends are the neat jars

with their keen patented odors

sitting like grandmothers

on their dark wooden shelves

and the brushes and brooms hang

intently upright

listening to his inward sorrows

that never escape

closet doors.

the day is black behind his hidden door.

the keyhole is a star

in a universe of midnight secrets.

unseen in the dark

unseen in the smiling streets

he vanishes to the night – behind a locked door

labeled “Custodian”

where he weaves his crown of thorns.

 

 

-------------------------

 

 

December 1, 1967

 

Standing at our crimson windowsill,

our bloodstained pedestal,

our unchallenged throne,

our eyes blink

and tongues cause sound.

Hearts pump and faces contort.

 

OUR GENERATION

with ‘blow your mind’ as a motto,

‘bob dylan’ as a prophet

‘protest’ as a weapon

and the birth control pill as protection...

OUR GENERATION

‘the jet set,’ ‘the cool guys,’ ‘the wild ones,’

‘the in-crowd’ and ‘the squares’

spinning in circles and gyrations

proclaiming silently

with cardboard posters and buttons:

‘Pot is fun’

‘Kill a commie for Christ’

‘Make love, not war’

‘Where is Oswald when we need him’

‘Drop out and fly’

‘Draft beer, not men’

‘Ban the bomb,’ etc.

 

We cry for freedom.

We change to be different.

We are individualists, but we conform.

We’re cool. We don’t believe in things we can’t see.

We don’t believe in god.

We’re athiests and we’re secular-existentialists

and we like 50¢ words.

 

OUR GENERATION

The caressers and the degenerates,

not complete without a ‘Lucky Strike’

and a ‘Budweiser.’

Running to New York City,

to Greenwich Village, Berkeley, to San Francisco;

running to ‘Freak Out,’ to get bombed

and maybe even get a sneak preview

of a crucifixion...

 

We’re bi-sexed, over-sexed and homo-sexed!

 

OUR GENERATION

The one with mods and teenyboppers and psychedelics

and Rolling Stone records.

The generation that spends close to 

             a billion dollars a year

drinking liquor they are not old enough to drink.

And we’ve got the Hippies too!

The dime-a-dozen cats with long hair...

the buddha worshippers

the incense burners

the frequent fliers

the unshockables

the day trippers

the glue sniffers

the soul brothers

and all the rest...

The sons of freedom

and the fathers of illegitimate children.

The black power oppressors,

the complainers,

the phonies

and the hypocrites.

 

They’re all there

and they’re all here.

Real people – you and I.

 

Too many tragedies.

 

 

Given in Chapel,

Blair Academy

December 1, 1967

 

 

-------------------------

 

 

A 3 1/2 X 2 1/2 

Wallet Sized Photograph

 

I found you

waiting

in all of your platinum beauty

lying face down

on the wet sidewalk

dropped by some false grinning lover

by mistake (or otherwise)

into a thought

and I picked you up

wiped the grime from your textured face

dried your tears

smoothed out the cardboard wrinkles

and brought you back

to a black and white life

 

in my mind

 

I loved you

cherished you

as the only beauty in my world

your gentle image was close to me;

closer than you could have ever been

 

then

as if you knew my love

you walked away

mysteriously

through my fingers

away from my wallet 

lost in a gutter

face up and waiting

with your posed smile

 

 

-----------

 

 

the play

 

        I sat contented in the audience. The usual coughing and whispering went on. The ceiling lights were bright in the theater and they illuminated a mysterious glow on the heavy green curtains that protected the large wooden stage.

        Then there was a slow silence; a slow air that fell upon the curious grinning faces of those seated below. The heavy green curtain opened slowly and the deep stage was lit with a crimson glow, almost the luminous shade of blood. On the great platform, stood the actors. They stood quietly with their hands covering their eyes, and they blindly came to life, stepping slowly at first, then quickening their paces to a walk. There must have been at least twenty of them walking about in circles, then more came onto the great platform – women and men – increasing their paces to a wild crimson frustration.

        I sat there with the confused audience, wondering what the point of it all was. Then I saw the great stage of reality and I understood.

        One of the women stopped. She was an old woman with grey hair and spectacles. There didn’t seem to be any reason for her to stop. She just looked tired and I assumed that this was the case. Suddenly a short little man with a moustache bumped into her. In shock, he tore his hands from his face and the old gray lady did the same. Seeing reality for the first time, the stubby little man violently swung his fist at the woman. She fell hard to the floor.

        The same thing happened when others stopped. With fierce swings and silent crashes the actors and actors fell to the ground. After minutes of blind struggling, only one young girl remained standing. The sound of smooth swirling wind passed and the heavy mirrored curtains closed.

 

        The lights brightened from their dull flickering glow. There was no applause. The audience passed slowly out, aisle after aisle. A stubby little couple excused themselves by me and out the wood-carved doors marked EXIT. I sat alone in my seat. They were the last to leave.

        I don’t know why I stayed. It was as if some strange force had sealed me to my seat – as if the play were only half finished.

 

        Again the lights dimmed, not to the crimson blood tone, but to a cool aqua color, much like the hue of the first leaves on spring trees. The girl stood with her smooth pale hands to her face. The bodies of the other performers were gone, probably through the exit door into the outside world of shadows and mirages.

        She stood in all of her beauty against the deep blue backdrop that opened slowly into another world – a world of moist blue-green grass, gentle plants and flowers with perfect shape and form. It was a different world, perhaps with a different sun and a different moon.

        I watched her drift into the soft meadow, perfumed with the strong scent of orchids in the hot air. I watched her stumble and fall into the sweet grass, and as she eased her hands away from her pure skin, as she breathed in a golden life from the unscorched breeze, she became one with her green surroundings.

 

        The lights grew bright and a clear silk curtain drew across the pale green light. She did not see me in the darkness. She did not hear my silent applause.

 

        Act II – there was nothing more...

 

        I walked across my row to the aisle and up to the carved wooden escape marked EXIT with its deep crimson blood-glow. I reached for the door but it held fast.

        I walked slowly toward the great wooden platform and before ascending, I lifted my hands to my head. There were seven steps to the stage.  blindly found them all and stepped into the perfumed air, through the parted silk curtain. I could hear her golden breath. I could feel the wet grass under my feet. I could even taste the truth in the earth beneath me as I heard the heavy green curtain close.

 

        The play was over. There was no applause.

 

 

 

----------------------------------

 

 

 

The World Is On Sale

 

The world is on sale –

lowest prices possible...

exchange your purchase at the desk to the left;

sales slips necessary, etc.

Buy a kiddy smile

with a plastic toy Jesus 

on wheels – ONLY A DOLLAR –

greatest bargain since Beatle wigs

(or if you’re not up for smiles)

buy the special X-20

Automatic Army Surplus Machine Gun

great conversation piece...

comes with ammunition – limited offer

(or if you’re not up for conversation)

try our portable inflatable bath tub

handy on business trips

helps keep families together

(and if you’re not a family man)

perhaps you’d like an airplane

or a telephone pole

or a friend.

 

We’ve something for everyone willing to fight

and the world is on sale if the price is right.

 

 

 

---------------------------

 

 

 

fulton street blues

 

In melted ice graves

the sad fishes lie

with calcium scales,

oyster-pearl grey

and silver eyes.

 

Row after row,

cold and hard,

shredded gills

treaded in blood

with the smell of death.

 

The frozen tubes

that once carried the life fluid

stiff – and the body 

that once pulsed swiftly

is now: For Sale.

 

 

--------------------------------------------

 

 

The Middle Class Tragedy

 

(from Metamorphosis, 1967)

 

(8:00 am)

And the sun rises again

over the white-washed microcosm.

Then through the arteries of the house

flow simultaneously the tired bodies

down the staircase, 

two by two,

upon the sunny side down eggs

lying cold in the kitchen.

Father’s munching his corn flakes

guaranteed to stay crisp

(provided you keep him dry)

“Just a little squirt of rum

in my coffee please,” he says.

“No cream or sugar.

It’s much too early for that.”

Mother’s in complete frantic

(as Mother’s usually are)

Grandfather didn’t like the eggs,

Or the coffee, or for that matter, anything.

So he drank her cooking wine

And now there’s nothing left for Mother’s tantrum.

The kid’s are crying already.

It seems that one wanted Kartoons

And the other wanted Kaptain Kangaroo!

So they compromised as children do,

To watch the channel 5 news

And seeing that neither wanted news

They cried instead.

 

(11:00 am)

But things are softer now.

Father’s off to the office

And Granddad’s out cold on the couch.

The baby’s locked in the crib

Secured with cotton and barbed wire.

And the kids have gone to school

secured with smoke bombs and squirt guns.

Mother’s fixing onion dip and crackers

with sprinklings of rare sugared ant wings,

and her hopes of maintaining 

the utmost social status 

are vain

without the garden delicacies 

discussed with disgust

in the Wednesday Morning Flower Club.

 

(1:00 pm)

The party’s over now and Mother,

again in complete frantic,

rants and raves

over the Gin, Vermouth and Bourbon

that so coincidentally walked unnoticed

out the door with the 

Wednesday Morning Kleptomania Club.

A Salem to soothe the nerves

and a slow slow count 

from one to five hundred.

Oh the hell of it all!

The kids will be home soon

Trailed by the usual toothleth leeches

And the stray wounded animals

Seeking the refuge of security.

 

If only they knew what security was like…

 

(3:00 pm)

“Bang you’re dead!” and the kids are home

to crayon the walls

and trampoline the beds

and pinch the baby

and burn the sickly gray dog until –

it goes plowing out the door,

tail in mouth, seeking refuge.

(5:00 pm)

And then to Mother’s pleasant surprise

the cute one has buried himself

in scores of Downy disposable diapers…

And the dog returns with father,

newspaper in mouth,

teethmarks to the “Great Society.”

 

(6:00 pm)

Father’s in his chair

slurping his martini

avoiding the olive

at the same time

staring through his toes

at the human comic strip.

And Mother’s in the pantry

cooking marshmallows and Rice Krispies

with a pinch of arsenic

to keep the spirits up.

A smile of chagrin at the thought

of her cunning witch-like craft.

Granddad’s playing double solitaire

with himself; jumping up

as fast as his heart will let him

to take the Queen of Hearts.

(the only card without a move)

He always did beat Grandma

when she was alive.

And John’s in the cellar

with his beer and his billiard cue

shooting a masse with a left hand twist

on the twelve ball.

He made that shot once, but never since

and now he’s a cross-eyed neurotic

locked happily in the cellar.

Only one member left in this family.

The dog, so wrongly named George,

and George’s rabies shot is tomorrow

though he has no teeth;

he sits contented nibbling grass

and swallowing roaches that constitute 

his healthy rabid diet.

 

(6:45 pm)

The house is quiet now

except for an occasional explosion

of Granddad tripping over a spade

or Mother’s hungry disposal

or the cow-bell on the dog’s tail.

Yes, all is quiet now

except for the kid who dared to cry.

 

(6:46 pm)

But then it happened, without a word

and Father gulped six martinis

in amazingly rapid succession

over the King of Black Spades.

And the dog howled, and the kids cried

and Mother spilled the Rice Krispies

and John growled in the cellar.

Everyone wished they were dead

except Granddad, who lay out-

stretched upon the paisley carpet

and Father said one holeymary

and Mother crossed herself

and the kids cried some more

but the stillness prevailed…

 

(7:00 pm)

Then Mother exclaimed, “Dinner is served.”

Father staggered to the table

and George’s dog food rolled unnoticed 

under the cellar door.

No one said grace, except Granddad

who had other commitments (obviously)

as did everyone.

 

And then the roof fell in!

 

 

 

----------------

 

 

 

The Cocoon

 

An ugly silk cocoon

   with its rutted tan threads

      of lace and wax

         lies on the branch.

So innocent and dorment

   waiting to burst

      toward the blue heaven

         flapping violent – to keep the air.

Then with that silent crash

   the Change sways toward the sun

      free to the wind

         with but one charge of life.

With so short a span

   it comes to a stop

      whirling down and swiveling

         taken by current

      like a falling leaf

   into a perfume

of life-less-ness.

 

A dimes worth of existence into the blind man’s cup.

 

 

 

-------------------------

 

 

 

The Last Page

 

The first word

and the last blood stained page

the last of faded frustrations

i feel diffused now

like the star’s light

miles away yes

this word game

it’s no good 

the last page ruins it all

everything I say

is torn

by smiling prodigies

and frowning idiots

i’ll tell the truth.

this page is five minutes of thought

unlike the rest

but don’t worry about me

it’s all a phase

and i don’t believe a word i say

 

(even these last pages)        

Home

Home Button.jpg