August 31, 2010

MONEY IN NEWSPAPERS

Gless Avenue, Belleville, N.J.

The neat stacks of old newspapers
might have led you to believe
that Gramma intended to read
the rooms full of back issues
and headlines of earlier years
or she planned to write
her life story based on news events.
But Gramma could not read
though she could figure
and track your rent payments
these English words were a big blur
and the future not all that much better.
Gramma Silverhair had her reasons
for filling up rooms
with old newspapers she would never read.
It was all about the numbers
she would tell herself and no one else.
For in her old age
she trusted no one beyond herself.
Gramma grew all she needed in her yard there
with the grapevines and fig trees
and the chickens, the eggs and all.
The many cats had kittens
and she drowned the ones she had to
and left the rest to kill the mice.
On the back porch in the Garden State air
she dried green, orange
and yellow speckled gourds
and when we shook them,
the seeds inside rattled like castanets.
The fresh cool water from two hand-dug wells
lost its worth, its importance in daily life
when the town water came into the house.
It might have been needed some day
with all the papers there.
Those old newspapers held so
precious to her heart, left behind
when she died, the dollar bills fell out.

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 30, 2010

PILINGS

Out in the river you see
remnants of long-ago piers.
Only pilings remain.
A blend of observation,
irony and fact. It’s a good
day to fly a kite.
So few overhead wires
north of Harborside.
At sea, the pilings poke
up through the high tide.
What would they rather
have been? A tree
with a bird’s nest?
Making shade in some
forest glade? Cleaning air
with green leaves or pine
needles? Instead, here,
doomed to provide
respite to restive seagulls,
breaking waves, home to
green slime moss,
hazards to speedy cruise boats,
lined up idle sentries, gasping
for breath in a wash of waves.
Or nothing but a stick in the mud,
among neat rows of sticks in the river.

- By Anthony Buccino
From ONE MORNING IN JERSEY CITY
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
*****************

August 29, 2010

ROBIN

Carpenter Street, Belleville, N.J.

We saved a baby robin
from its fate of abandonment.
We used an eyedropper
and fed it milk-soaked bread
until it graduated
to pieces of worms from our garden

And we kept it in a spare canary cage
on our back porch
where the wind blew
in through the screens

And gave it water
and fed it
and watched it fly
from the shelf
to wooden Brookdale soda crates
to the newspaper piles
back to the shelf.

That red-breasted robin grew
and I taught it
to hold onto my finger
and later onto a stick
and then a branch I held out

And one time
when it was stronger
I took it into the yard.
Ma took a black and white picture
of that little bird and me

That was the day it flew
from the stick in my hand
to a low-hanging branch.

And like a foolish little brother
there I stood with my finger out
expecting the weightless robin
to come land again,
Be fed again
Return to its cage again

When I looked up
it flew over me
And chalked
on my forehead

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
See also: First robin of spring and the fifth grade science project

August 28, 2010

YOUR ALL

You've given
the company
your all
You're empty.
They are through
with you.
Go away.
You have
nothing
left for them
to take from you.
You have
nothing to give.
You are an
empty vessel.

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
******************

August 27, 2010

THE AFTER LIFE OF THINGS

When your soul
leaves your corporeal flesh
and floats to that new place
in the ether
It makes a brief stop
in eternity
where it solves
the riddle of lost things

That watch that disappeared,
the leather coat gone,
the eyeglasses, a number of wallets,
umbrellas and car keys.
Not to mention the eyeglass cases
or the eyeglasses
your childhood dog
that ran away
while you were at school

Like an NFL highlights reel
your soul remembers these things
sees them flash and reappear
and when memory is sure
those items go on their way
from the time you last saw them
and this time,
your soul follows
and sees the stranger
find your wallet
take the cash
and discard
your heirloom
in the trash

-- Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
******************

August 26, 2010

TELEVISION ENDING

Father knew best
when he left it to Beaver.
Always by the end, every thing was solved
until next week
Wally and Bud and Princess, all smiles
when it was time to move on

But what of real life
that no one knew
It wasn’t the familiar,
happy television ending.
Sometimes the bad guy
got away
sometimes the other guy
got the girl
sometimes nobody
lived happily ever after

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
******************

August 25, 2010

SNOW DAY

In the old days, before the Internet
and all those useless cable TV channels,
after we’d cleared sidewalks and drive
and it looked like we’d be snowed in
for a while, or until the town plows
came rumbling past a time more or two
we’d walk down the hill, sliding & laughing
to Radcliffe Deli & buy a stack
of magazines & food treats – and milk, too,
to help us endure our cabin fever.
Sometimes we’d take the dog there
and tie her leash to the fire plug – or
a drainpipe or something secure.
The walk home in the fresh fallen snow
uphill on fresh-plowed streets – man,
that was Christmas-card perfect.

- By Anthony Buccino
From Retrieving Labrador Days
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
******************

August 24, 2010

BUTCHIE

School 7, Belleville, N.J.

Can you believe that little kid?
He got all the way here
fighting, fussing and dragging
and sits in a class stupid
as if the world around him
has been replaced by fools.
They talk in gibberish fluently
but only to each other
and often in his direction.
And these adults are puzzled
at the boy’s every word.
This school is supposed to have
smart people and teachers
but how smart can they be
if they can’t understand
a few words from little Angelo?
The boy who speaks only
his mother and father’s tongue
who never knew his full name
until this first day at school.

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 23, 2010

SEAGULLS

SEAGULLS

Gulls perch on the pilings’ tips
– sentries guarding the dead sea.
Winged wonders brave parasites
and man’s poisons. As a matter
of course they know not to eat rock
salt. Gulls gather at low tide, where
the fowl of the air meet the foul
of the water. But feed one seagull
anything at all, and in a flash, 40
have joined Gertrude and Heathcliff
in dinner scrim. What goes on in
those bird brains? Food gone,
on tenterhook pilings, gulls wait.

So why are they here? For the soggy
day-old bread and circuses?
It’s less than a minute to gobble
two Saltines. Black-tipped winged
gulls fly overhead. Fly up, out of reach.
Look me in the eye. Land tentatively,
if at all, on the water, swoop a crumb,
fly away, land on a piling. Speckle-headed
gulls fly in a big circle, choose another
crumb, seek respite on a piling until
a wave washes away their footing.
Watching my every move for a morsel.
A squawk, a pizza crust. Then off she flies.

Acrobatic tricks in the wind. Gulls
suspended in space on an invisible
breeze. Tiny specks, miles high
squawking at jets and helicopters
like Dedalus racing towards the
sun. They can go anywhere,
they have no baggage.

- By Anthony Buccino
From ONE MORNING IN JERSEY CITY

Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
******************

August 22, 2010

RUBBER TIRES

RUBBER TIRES

Picture a car, a midsize car,
rolling along slowly.
And picture your hand flat out
in its path,
And picture the car slowly
rolling over your hand.
The rubber tires giving in
a little, but not too much,
And the car itself hard
but not too heavy that
one-quarter can roll
over your hand without
breaking a bone or a tendon
or whatever makes up your hand.
Now picture the soreness
in your joints as pain pulses
alternating numbness and pain,
a tingling passes without a bell
And sparks like needles pierce
out of your fiery fingertips.
Can you picture this?
Now, put down the pen
you can only see,
not feel in your hand,
and leave the poem,
you and your gnarled tics and fits,
you’ve made your point
with your throbbing arthritic funnel
that passes for your writing hand.

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty

Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.

******************

August 21, 2010

SADSACK

Not too long ago
You were ashamed
When you were
Out of work

If you had
Any pride at all
Being out of work
Sucked it all away

And you hung
Your head low
Like a sadsack waiting
Until the very day
You found work

Not too long ago
Before you got canned
You could see it coming
Other workers got raises
Others got promotions
And you were left behind
So when they let you go
It was no surprise at all

Not too long ago
You’d open up the paper
And find some jobs there
Mail out resumes or go down
And wait for the call back
But that was not too long ago
Nowadays nothing’s
Like that any more

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
******************

August 20, 2010

GROVE STREET SUNRISE

Bloomfield, N.J.

Bemoaning the early hour of the day,
the summer morning light still asleep
as the sun – over there – considers
rising above New York City.
Were I on Montauk Point
this lightening moment
would be minutes past,
but here in Bloomfield
the lights are on
at Grove Street station.
Pass the jazz sculpture,
that’s not work, it’s music,
still resting in night shadows.
Pass the ticket vending machines
to stand under the overhang
and wait for the five-fifty.
The sun awakens
while we are underground,
hunkered in a soot lined tunnel.
We emerge Penn Station,
amble by rote
up escalators to our PATH cars,
cross the hundred year old bridge
over the ten thousand year old Passaic,
over a slight hill, and arc
down to Harrison Station
where other early risers
await this very PATH train.
Across the meadows the golden sky
over-exposes the big city’s
square and pointy skyline.
It is the sun and Harborside
is to the east.

- By Anthony Buccino
From VOICES ON THE BUS
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 19, 2010

COWBOY OF OCTOBER

COWBOY OF OCTOBER
by Anthony Buccino

I was the fastest gun on the block and could out-draw all comers
from cowboys on the Motorola and cousin Tommy next door
to curly-haired Gary on the corner.

I had big guns, pistols, derringers and a cavalry style single shot rifle
and a backwards facing pistol holder.
I had cowboy boots, sans spurs, though, and a vest
with wriggling fringe all around

I fought off circling Indians from the berm
of my living room couch, and the Singer machine
I died a hundred falling deaths shot through and through
I killed a thousand foes in hundreds of battles too
I tramped over mountains of hassocks
and camped under indoor laundry line clouds.

I rode for hours on worn out armrests,
through walk-in closets, endless darkened woods
and dry, dusty desert trails.
I stomped through blinding blizzards
with my home made snow shoes.
I crossed amazing rivers atop my trusted horse.

I was never true from one day to the next
my tales and adventures never picked up the next day
where they left off and the very next day I might have been
a fighting GI in World War Two, like my old man,
or the ranch boss over my minions of little men

Those little men of mine, frozen forever in plastic poses
whooping it up or falling off a bucking bronco.
Oh I had my favorites and maybe could still find them
in the gazillion boxes stuffed in the deep, dark attic
but the little men knew not from one day to the next
what would be their name or their purpose
until the little boy looked into his dreams.

From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty
Copyright © 2010-2017 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 18, 2010

WHO'S A BUM

Our dog Butch got super strong by dragging around
an anchor chain bolted to his all-weather doghouse.
Dad started out with one chain
and Butch snapped them by running full hilt
until his neck or the chain snapped.
Or he twisted the chain until it curled up in knots
and he couldn’t move.
As he snapped them, Dad sought heavier
and heavier chains until he got the anchor chain.

Butch would pace at the end of his long, heavy chain
like a lion in a Roman circus, or dig a hole in the dirt.
Even with that heavy chain on his collar,
he’d still jump from the ground up
on the pitched roof of his house,
whether you were there
or not to pet him or rub his nose,
so he could see the gas-man coming
and warn us until the danger cleared.

He was a watch dog, we’ll give you that.
And fearless, too, I’d say.
And when you walked past the end
of his chain’s reach he’d stretch out all he could
until his head was in the air
and he stood on his hind legs
pawing the air so you’d come nearer.
When you did, he’d lick your hand,
your face, and love you up.
The girls called him slobberpus.
When Butch leapt on Dad,
Pa pounded a few love taps
in his thick brown fur on his hairy jowls.
“Who’s a bum? Who’s a bum?”
He asked in all his kindness,
boxing mid-air paws balancing
with the dog that just wanted
a little love and attention.

- By Anthony Buccino
From Retrieving Labrador Days
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 17, 2010

PLENGE’S FARM

Belleville, N.J.

At the swampy river bend
of Plenge’s peach tree orchards
the kids splashed buck-naked
in the makeshift camp
they carved in the woods
Birds, too, sought sanctuary,
flying carefree,
drinking among the reeds.
Upstream the kids watched
the water for red or blue dye
from the Bloomfield ink plant.
Fat muskrats lived on the banks
and fish floated among the rocks.
Swashbucklers swooped in to steal
the skinny dippers’ clothes
who waited ‘til nearly midnight
to slither home naked

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 16, 2010

WALKWAY

At lunchtime I tromp the long macadam trail
beside the Hudson River.
The Manhattan skyline is across the water;
you can’t not see the boxy towers, on the left
the north one’s got the TV tower,
the twins twice as high as everything around them.
They steal your eye from wherever you look.
The Jersey City skyline – a mangle of construction cranes
and glass buildings – has got my back.
Between opposing architecture helicopters buzz up
and down over the neutral river
on somebody else’s important business.
Seagulls squawk.
Ferries scurry across the water and back.
The Circle Line tour boat trudges upriver.
Low tide uncovers green rocks footing seawalls.
Some day you’ll walk this walk from the Statue of Liberty,
past the Colgate clock through Jersey City to Hoboken
and Weehawken, too, and rest, finally under the GW Bridge.
Meanwhile, nervous waves bash against green rocks.

- By Anthony Buccino
From ONE MORNING IN JERSEY CITY
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 15, 2010

OVERLOOK

On the street named Overlook
many years ago, a decade or two or so
somebody’s little brother, or maybe
It was somebody’s little sister,
drowned in a family pool when
everyone thought someone else
was watching and nobody was.

The street is set on the
terrace side of a High Street hill,
you see, with houses higher
on one side than the other.
The low side yards back
Spring Garden School and field.
A hidden walkway prevails
& school children walked the path
for decades back and yet to come.
You walk the street now and hear
the children play and there’s hardly
A thought, and certainly no plaque
For that drowned little boy, or girl.

-- Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 14, 2010

FIRST TIME

For Catherine

The first time you find yourself out of work
It hits you with surprise
After all these years in this same place
And now it's over.

Sometimes you blame yourself
What you could have, should have,
Would have done
But the shock sets in
And freezes something inside
As if it's always your fault

You try to remember that first day
You started at this place
And the first time you walked in
And the friends you know and knew
And all the triumphs and flops
You've been through

You break the spell and wonder
What tomorrow will be like
How can this happen to me
What did I do wrong
How can I fix the unfixable
Where do I begin
What about my family
How will we ever get through this

The first time you find yourself
Out of work
You feel you're in a world of trouble
And you feel you’re in it all alone

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 13, 2010

WAITING FOR THE BUS

Belleville, N.J.

Cars speed down Franklin Avenue.
A small curb, two breakaway traffic signs,
a concrete trash can and a fireplug
protect me from skidding chunks
of steel, glass, plastic and rubber.

Up the block old men cross
to the Chandelier Restaurant
in the rain. The cars do not slow,
the old men time them as they pass,
then muster all their speed to scoot across.

When it rains at the bus stop, you get wet.
An umbrella might help a little bit,
but you get wet.
Duck in the doorway of the Bank of America
but keep an eye on the traffic up at the light,
that’s the first place you’ll see the bus
coming for you.

In the doorway of the bank
you stand out of the rain
but you’re still out in the rain.
Your umbrella here is as useless
as a three-dollar bill. You get wet.

At Continental and Franklin, sometimes
waiting here for the bus, you smell burgers
or something else cooking at Wendy’s.
Did you know General Washington marched
by this very corner a few hundred years ago.
Makes you wonder what the traffic was like
crossing this road in 1776 with British troops
not so far behind trying to take your fare?

I remember when A & P was where Wendy’s is.
Teen Angel and I went to buy stuff kids buy
at the supermarket and we’d dally a bit after paying
to check out the beautiful blond checkout girl
who wore short skirts. She was always nice to us.
Her younger sister was equally beautiful.
She was our grade but she was one of those girls
who was too beautiful for plain Joes to talk to.
She ran with an older crowd.

Maybe the A & P moved out already
before the building burned down to the ground,
I’m not sure anymore.
Nowadays, there’s a new, bigger A & P
around the corner a ways
where the Acme used to be
on Belleville Avenue in Bloomfield.

When it was the Acme store, my mom
won a diamond pendant in a giveaway.
They called to say she’d won, she thought
it was a joke. She never won anything.
There was that once on Bowling for Dollars
when she was the home winner.
And a few times she finally won at Bingo!
Splitting $25 with eleven other winners.

My sister won the raffle once
at the Holy Family bazaar.
I remember she gave some money
to the little girl who picked her winning ticket.
My sister used to take the bus from this street
to the subway to her key punch job
at Mutual Benefit. When she was late for work,
teasing her hair or putting on makeup,
she asked Mom to drive her
to this bus stop on the corner
or if she was real late
to the subway station on Fifth Street.
The same place I’m heading this very day.

If there was one thing Mama didn’t like
it was driving in rush hour traffic.
When she was a girl she lived in Newark
and took the trolley everywhere.
When I was a boy, we took the 37 bus
to the old subway and shopped downtown
at Bamberger’s department store.
If I wasn’t too much of a pest, she bought me
a hot dog and orangeade at the basement stand.
Like those Presidential Subway Cars, that A&P
and Bamberger’s, though, Mama is gone.
Here, the bus is coming for me.

- By Anthony Buccino
From VOICES ON THE BUS
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 12, 2010

FINALLY

Finally morning arrives
after the restive night
away from the moments
that stirred this soul
in a cauldron of misspent efforts
the deeds undone,
the work to do
the deeds half done,
the work to re-do
the lapses in judgment
when you did those things you do
And now you can’t take it back
and they stir you from your sleep
like that cradle in the top of the tree
each night before morning
when the wind blows.

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 11, 2010

TALK MORE NOW

For two hundred dollars an hour
I can get a doctor to tell me
why I talk to my dad more now
than when he was here.

Maybe as I get older
and closer to his age
I’m finally seeing things
the way he did or find some kind
of comfort in talking to him
from inside my head

Dad always got the tough jobs, you know,
and I, I was the toughest job he ever had.
I spat on people. They teased me.
I bopped them with my sister’s baton.
They teased me, and laughed at me.
I bit them on the ass.
They stuffed me in a garbage can.

So it fell to him to be the bearer
of the swift and mighty blow
to bring the little bastard to his senses
or to render him senseless so he
couldn’t hurt anyone for a while.

And eventually, somehow, it worked
I went from being mad at the world
and I became afraid of the world.
Afraid of the attic,
afraid to climb on the roof,
afraid to speak in class,
afraid to be laughed at, picked on,
beat up and beat down.
And afraid of the dark,
and afraid of my father’s voice

But these decades later I find
We talk more now
and I have a different view
of him and the twenty few years
we spent together.
I know he was winging it
and I was a whirling dervish.

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.

August 10, 2010

NOTHING LIKE MINE

His hands are nothing like mine.
His hands were flat like a two by six.
His fingers flat and as wide as one by twos
and tapered at the fingertips like shims.
His legs are not like mine.
His legs were stout and bowed
like warped four by sixes tossed aside
to get to the straight and true wood.

His eyes are nothing like mine.
His eyes were steely sea-grey
and women loved to stare into them.
It skipped me and left me
with light brown, almost hazel, eyes.
And I laughed when he wore
those Clark Kent glasses
to read the news
and needed a magnifying glass
to see the dates on the coins
he was collecting
“without tying up too much change,”
for me.

His arms are nothing like mine.
His arms were rock-hard, muscular.
You’d swear he could whup Superman
in an arm-wrestling contest,
yet, firmly, gently hold a homer
to read its silver leg band
or flair out its wing feathers
or check its nest for squabs.

His aim was nothing like mine.
His aim was true
from his jungle cannon.
He used high school calculus
he learned to send
his rockets glare
to the spot Marines called,
there on Guadalcanal.
He’d had enough of that
for generations.

My aim, decades later
at pheasants taking flight
as if they were dad’s homers
stealing him away from me,
dropping those beautiful ringnecks
like Zeroes from the sky.

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 9, 2010

PIGEON MAN SECRETS

Nutley, N.J.

“Like ants,” he said, “they look”
he sees them mornings from his
kitchen table in the yellow house
off Kingsland Street on Brookdale.
He watches their cars stop in traffic.
The hurried bodies pack up and depart
buzz and amble to the corner
wait for traffic to break at Roche.
Hordes would cross, cars would creep,
it was almost better than television.

Turn your feet sideways to step
up the half-size attic stairs
and even at that, a child’s foot
would overhang and a ladder’s rung
seemed gigantic to the tiny step
on up those stairs to where my Dad worked
one day and actually let me tag along
and stay out of the way
to play in the dust and the dirt.

Up in that attic Mitch’s old foot locker
held the stories
long-forgotten and scribbled
by much younger men
discovered six decades after the war
the visions of the Panama Canal
and the wonder of the locks;
and the Marines’ field day shooting
Zeros from the skies over the jungles
of Guadalcanal and the Fijis;
and the loneliness
came alive with the longing for
the Charms Candy factory in Bloomfield,
and the pigeon lofts of home.

In August the young soldier
wrote his best friend
at home the war would be over soon
and he’d be home by Christmas.
But what none
of them knew
was how many more years
it would be
before he again saw his mom,
apple pie, his gal,
or the pigeon loft he left behind.

- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.

August 8, 2010

LAKE ERIE AT SUNSET

June 1976, Ashtabula, Ohio

Green waves crash again and again
on the gray blocks of the breakwall,
A glowing orange sun sets in a hazy horizon,

An old man in a tattered suit fishes
for two hours with two rods outfitted
with two open-face spinning reels;

He caught two sheephead
with crippled worms on bent steel
and tonight it will be his meal.

"There's other fish to catch --" he says
sucking in breaths of the sea air,
"Perch, and salmon, and great ones!"

But he's only got the two fish
at the end of a drag line
floating in stagnant water.

His dirty fingernails and dusty boots
are lonely for the other hundred people
who usually fish here on the breakwall
at night.

"It's cold -- he says in a harmless
old man's dirge.
It's beautiful, I think in a silent gaze;
The waves, the lake that ends beyond
the wide, wide horizon;

It's breezy, with the wind ripping
through the checkered shirt
and the old man is tired.

The sudsy green waves crash against
the huge gray blocks of stone.
They did it today
They'll do it tomorrow…

Discarded beer and soda pop cans,
and green slimy driftwood
All in different stages of decomposition,

Rotting fish and crusty skeletons
decorate the shallow marsh
this side of the breakwall.

The sun has set, the light grows dim,
The old tanned leather-faced fisherman
takes in his lines and leaves.

It's not his life, this lake
but it make his day…

Young long-haired people in curtained vans
And young couples in love
swallow the crisp Lake Erie breezes
Listening in half-deafness
to the rush of the waves.

Great cargo ships as long as
skyscrapers are tall
Chug west on the flat greenness
of the lake;

A yellow Bug and an M&M green Datsun
Stand quiet in the gathering darkness
of the mellow night
So full and rich with the calmest
sounds of the sea.

June 1976, Walnut Beach, Ashtabula, Ohio
- By Anthony Buccino
From DAYS YOU KNEW ME
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
 Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.

August 7, 2010

LAST DOG

For Zamboni

You benefited from dogs before,
dogs tied on a chain and staked
Dogs penned in cold plywood houses,
dogs that dug into cool pools of rain water.
With each passing dog came an improvement
from the yard stake to the first floor
to the doghouse and the heavy chain
to a nap in front of the fireplace
to a penned-in doghouse
raised off the cold ground
and overflowing fresh straw inside,
for sleeping behind,
a burlap bag door.
From a shared pen
to the basement crates side by side.

All to you, the last dog who sleeps on a $200 orthopedic cushion
Intercepting concrete cold chilled by an underground spring.
You, the last dog,
who whimpers when left outside alone,
Who nudges again and again
for a long-nailed belly rub.
You, the last dog,
who takes the kid’s dirty laundry
And cuddles it like a pillow.
You, who never learned
to take a biscuit in a gentle way
Or come when called
if there’s a better deal elsewhere.
And I won’t go into the things you ate after a scolded “NO!”
And the way you returned that contraband.
Oh, you remember, don’t you, the slime ball in your crate that day,
It had us wondering which end it came from and what it was,
Until some prodding proved it to be a sock you ate
From a stranger’s shoe left on the soccer field one night.

You are the last dog for this old man.
The mornings are dark and cold in winter
And the summer nights
full of stinging mosquitoes.
That, six, is the magic number,
that, after you,
Last dog, there shall be
no seven, no other dog.

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty

Also appears in Retrieving Labrador Days - Dog tales in prose and verse

Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Photos and content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
******************

FIRED

fired for not bleeding
the company colors
fired for not reading
the boss's mind
fired because the boss
spent all the company
money at the bar

fired because the boss
stole all the money
fired because the boss
took his girl to Aruba
with her new boobs
fired because the rent
wasn't paid
fired because your paycheck
kept bouncing
fired because there
was no one minding the store

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 6, 2010

MURRAY THE GROUND HOG

On the west bank
of the Newark City Subway tracks
near Davenport Avenue
and the abandoned Heller Parkway stop,
near the senior citizen warehouse
and opposite the pathetic junkyard
that passes for the maintenance yard,
there, sometimes, on a sunny day,
often in the evening ride home,
when the lightrail in which you are traveling
might be stopped for traffic,
you might look out your window
towards the setting sun
and down below,
above the tufts of grass
you might spot
a cute ball of brown fur we call
Murray the ground hog looking back.
How he got here, who will ever know?
Maybe he took a left at Poughkeepsie?
He rises to see us go by, sometimes.
If you blink, you may miss him.
Oh, sometimes he’ll be in his burrow,
blogging or surfing the net
for gophers and prairie dogs
looking for a good time.
You see Murray the ground hog lives
in a fairly safe world.
He doesn’t get screened by big machines
set up by Homeland Security,
the nearby fences are topped by barbed wire
and the singing overhead wires
warn away hawks and such from the sky
above his wildlife patch.
Not too many four-legged foxes in town.
Maybe an occasional bear lost in the city
but they rarely get to this side of the park.
Newark is no place for wildlife.
You see, Murray the ground hog’s
burrow entrance is off the beaten path
and tucked into a berm,
mostly covered with weeds and such,
but his very presence alongside man’s Iron Horse
threatens modern locomotion.
You can be sure the suits in NJT’s
downtown penthouse
are concerned Murray could dig the wrong way,
and, well, ZAP!
Not only to Murray,
but he could short circuit the city subway
and the new loop to Broad Street.
It could happen, you know.
I’m loathe to reveal
Murray the ground hog’s exact location,
or even his real name and sex,
as he might be deemed a threat to Homeland Security
and before you know it,
crews with rakes and hoes
set upon his ancillary brush to lure
and remove the cute critter
from his underground shelter.
(If you see a cement mixer along the fence,
bet it’s not getting a new foundation!)

I like to think my cute ground hog is safe
in his underground chambers and tunnels.
Maybe he’s sitting in the air conditioning
reading the NJ-dot-com Transit blogs?
Although, truth be told, I haven’t seen
the little guy in a while.
Maybe it’s been too hot for him.
Maybe I forgot to look out?
Maybe he’s got a girlfriend across the mews
and they are looking to settle down
and raise a family in the lush green park.
Or he shifted his train-spotting hours.
Or maybe it has something to do
with the large rocks and sticks cast
about his entry point.
He’d surely be a loser when set upon
by street-wise boys with implements of destruction.
Or maybe Murray the ground hog has moved on
because of the defoliant used alongside the tracks
to keep them clear of undergrowth,
some modern day version
of Newark-made Agent Orange,
that turns the vegetation brown
and allows the run off storm water
to run off somewhere else.
If you see Murray some day,
give him our regards.

- By Anthony Buccino
From VOICES ON THE BUS
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.
******************

August 5, 2010

WATER FROM A GARDEN HOSE

Before we knew what sweltering is
Gary and I sweltered, playing hours
on sun burnt days in Jersey summer.
We wrestled our way across the path
and tumbled, gritty and sweaty
at the spigot on the side of his house.

Our slippery hands tugged down the hose
and our small hands twisted the tight knob.
Gary grabbed the snaked garden hose
and waited for the rush of water
so we could get a drink and be gone
before we got chased for making mud
in the peonies and the snowball bushes.

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 4, 2010

BOOTH PARK CAROMS

Behind the bakery,
the former Texaco station
down the wall in the Third River
the ducks await castoff cakes
The geese, and seagulls too,
show up for their dough,
then all,
merrily, merrily, merrily
swim upstream.

Third River runs
through Booth Park
right down the middle,
breaking up
upper Booth Park
from lower Booth Park,
breaking up the wide field
for baseball and soccer
and some sledding, too,
on the high side,
of the Yantacaw Creek
running through
from the lower playground
where once upon
a summer day long, long ago
my cousins and I played caroms
like Minnesota Fats
and Paul Newman’s Hustler.
And there in Booth Park
in 1964 my puppy,
a mongrel mutt named Butch,
lost out the ‘smallest dog contest’
to the Nutley kid,
a favorite and a regular, too.
My cousins cried out, “FIX!” but
my dog and I just went home
across the river that runs through
Booth Park and up the hill
to good old Gless Avenue
in Belleville.

- By Anthony Buccino
From Retrieving Labrador Days

- By Anthony Buccino
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty
also appears in Yountakah Country - a poetic view of Nutley old and new
Copyright © 2009-2013 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 3, 2010

NEEDLE

Gless Avenue, Belleville, N.J.

We lived the cliché: Grandma downstairs
without a word of English;
Children frightened by the needle
she proffered and the thread;
And by the big old woman, herself
whose strange breath and odd teeth
and white-yellow hair
framed her large nose and haggard face;
She cornered the little girls – my sister
and two cousins on the stairs
as they tried to pass by in play,
talking in a gibberish tongue
thrusting a needle at their eye
as a thread danced in the breeze,
a kite tail without its cross ties,
held tightly in the swollen,
battered, stuttering old hand.
What she wanted must be so obvious.

- By Anthony Buccino
From SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
From AMERICAN BOY: Pushing Sixty
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 2, 2010

SAILBOAT

First you want a body of water
To look at out your window
Then you want
A sailboat to float by
On the shimmering sea
Then you want a body
Steering the sailboat towards you
It should be someone sexy, you say.
And the sailboat, slick and sleek
As it approaches your shore
Then you want no window between
You and the sea, a summer breeze to blow
Wisps of see spray to keep bugs away.
Next you want more vacation time
To sail away on the sea, and that, my dear
Is why you can see no sailboat, or foamy water
You see nothing from within your cubicle

- By Anthony Buccino
From ONE MORNING IN JERSEY CITY
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

August 1, 2010

AIN'T LAZY

You don't know me, that I can see
you judge me anyway, that's okay
but you should know
that wherever I go
I work my share,
and then some, too,
because I ain't lazy.
I work hard, you know.
Just that me and bad breaks
keep smashing our heads
and that's why I'm here
starting over
to work at your job
and prove I work hard.
You will know me
by the work that I do

- By Anthony Buccino
From CANNED - Booted, bumped, down-sized, fired, forced out, hated, hired, jobless, laid off, let go, out of work, out-sourced, pink-slipped, terminated, sacked, unemployed
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.