Please don’t Feed the Pigeons
Ancient Rotting Piers, central to Atlantic City, creak and moan weakened by years of neglect, standing for the blight of the city over my protests. Dozens of Waitresses in black low cut blouses look to me for love supreme when there is none.
Generations of Swamp grasses splashed by the muddy sea, so beautiful, except for the deadly Greenheads that bite and bite and bite until puss runs free. Then the rains came to make every one take shelter from the storm of insolvency. Along with plastic Cups, the debris of humanity ran to the storm drains and out to sea.
And as if drunk with power, intoxicated with power or just for revenge, it came and stole the beaches, you know who it is, lock it up, you know who, the Northeaster, that’s it. Yes Mr. Northeaster did it; the storm, he stole our beaches late in November. We went to see our beach and it was gone. We must lock him up before he does anymore damage, but our Jails are full of Homeless people trying to get out of the cold.
Surely, the homeless people must have known that the Northeaster was stealing the beaches. Did the homeless man help the wondering Northeaster steal our beaches, and tear up the Boardwalk? After all he does live under the Boardwalk. And back at the shelter, the homeless were wondering who among them helped Mr. Northeaster steal the beaches, the sea grass, the Dunes and the boardwalk.
Mr. Dune is here to keep you back, to stop you Mr. Northeaster. As a matter of fact, Mr. Dune was the lonesome one who first suggested that we lock Mr. Northeaster up. But you, Mr. Homeless one said no. You said you know what it is like to be locked up and not to be able to roam free. Free to spit at the passing wind & sky. Free to roam the darkly lit alleyways of Bacharach Boulevard, City Hall and beyond.
When is my next break? Do they have anything to eat in the cafeteria? No cussing at the tables please Sir. Did I win yet? What is my payout? I have to get on the Parkway or the Expressway or anyway out of town. And in the rearview mirror, the Casino lights blinked off and on to the dismay of the Control Commission. And in the wee hours of the morning, a lone Baby cries out for his mother. He did so in wonderment of what he will be when he grows up and whose place he will take.
Once again the Waitress screamed, he only gave me one dollar for four drinks, the cheap bastard. That other guy did not tip me at all; I have bills to pay to. No Jingle bells for me today.
Oblivious to everyone but a dedicated few, the Gay couple danced Club Six until way after the Sun came up. The Ecstasy shun on their faces as they loved one another in the hallway, in the doorways. Dark suit says yes, bright suit says no.
Drug Control was out of control, the ancient Detox Center was full of needy downtrodden Souls seeking the answer to their addiction to the corrupt system. Pacific Avenue, Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Uptown, Downtown, Center City is not an option. In the darkness, the police were arresting the Johns as well. Can you call me now? I need to talk to you. I need to talk to anyone. I need to talk to somone, someone who will listen and not interrupt me because what I have to say is important.
We are locked together as one, the family, my friend, my buddy, Boo in Skin tight Jeans, in high heels, toes feeling the pain of Saturday night dance fever. Elton John was here, Sting was here, but how can I see Lady Gaga when I am working here. No blue sky, no rain, just bright lights in the sky ceiling lights above.
Please don’t feed the pigeons, they have no respect for us, they may poop on my Car and on your car. And as for the beggars, on the Boardwalk be nice to them, you may be next.
Lennox Warner, April, 2010
Ode to the Old
Rhyming, in quick succession, the old man with cracked hands asked me, how old are you? Are you as old as me? I want to know how old you are. I demand to know how old you are. Are you same old as me? What is your age? It is really important to know your age. Are you still working? I must have this information for me to function. Your age is my ruler, my measurement. My compass! It is my measurement of my failure or success. Do we have something in common? Do you have the same stiffness in the leg, neck and back as I do.! Your age is very important to me. Tell me your age. Did you reach my milestone yet!
The poignancy of his request resonated in my head like the jumbled words of a rock guitar at an ugly Bruce Springsteen event. By the way, I do like you to meet my newest friend, his name is O.L.D. I did not ask to be his friend; he just came along and became my friend. Like most friends that I have or had, they just showed up. He plans to replace some of my other friends, Vigor, speed and vitality. Old brought along with him, some of his friends, in support, to become my friend. They are ailments, slowness, pain and forgetfulness to keep me company.
The old people used to warn me about old. The Old man used to warn me about the old people. My Grandmother used to tell me not to get Old. My parents told me not to get old. My Grand Uncles told me don’t get old. Old people told me don’t get old. They told me, don’t get old. They said, you don’t want to get old. How do you know when you are old! They say people tell you that you are old. Now old wants to be my friend.
Why all of a sudden do Old want to be my friend! Why now? You past me by when I was twenty-five! You ignored me again when I was thirty, thirty-five and forty. You ignored me at fifty! And now at sixty, you want to be my friend. Is it something that I do differently today than I did in the past! Really, why do you Mr. old want to be my friend!
Why you are so attracted to me, is it because I drive an old car. But I have always driven old cars. When I was seventeen, my first car was old. I had an old girlfriend but that was a long time ago. Old did not want to be my friend then. There are many others who are much more deserving of your friendship, after all, I do not smoke, I drink only the best bottled water, exercise and take my vitamins regularly.
There are others who may wish to be your friend. There are aging football and Basket ball players. I am sure that Michael Jordan, the great Basketball player would like to make your acquaintance. After all, he has made his money. Then there is Tennis Star John McEnroe, he does not mind old for a friend, he already has old money as a friend. Yesterday, I even throw out the old French from yesterday that was causing me much indigestion and bile for something much more suitable for a man my age.
Old, though I have not gone to church in a while, I plan to atone again soon. The last time I atoned was at the Million Man March in Washington DC. There, Louis Farrakhansaid; I had atoned for my sins. But, that has been some time ago. Emblazoned, I will atone and seek forgiveness from a high Vicar, a Catholic high Priest or the nearest Mullah. Maybe by doing so, old will no longer want to be my friend.
Suddenly we were one, old and I, we went everywhere together, from sunrise to sunset, and from dusk to dawn we were inseparable. Understanding, we went to the diner together, to the movies together and to the hospital together. And we lay in bed together, and soon dying together.
Lennox Warner, August, 2010