Archive for January, 2007

The Protest By Alan Ulert

Friday, January 19th, 2007

They were all there. A ghastly, assorted
crowd, with blood dripping from each crippled body;
limbless, with faces painfully contorted
and torn uniforms. A soldier’s parody!

And they were many and of various ages;
they all have died on the field of glory.

The wars they fought have been filling pages
of the World’s bloody, sinister history.

They came from freshly-dug and from old graves;
they came together for a moment fleeting,
united in death that from hatred saves
to join voices in a protest meeting.

One ghastly speaker rose after another
against the living his charges to fling.
They set out brother to fight a brother
to suit a tyrant, dictator or king.

They always say, “Blood shall freedom buy
and save the country” it is all so plain!
But fighting over, it proves to be lie
and our blood has been shed in vain.

In our eyes they were throwing sand
when telling stories of hero and quitter.
For death, no matter if for Fatherland,
isn’t a shade even sweeter.

They send us into foreign land
to fight for honor and for justice.

But like ostrich, head buried in sand
They do not face up to injustice.

They still spread hate, but a fact is true
no matter what they write or say:
We all, the Gentile as well as the Jew,
have died the same, cold and cruel way.

No matter if our skins are black or white
In spite of lies that were spread,
Hung from barbed wire, we were ugly sight,
and blood that flows was always bright red.

They urged us on with words so big
all about honor, duty and home soil.
But now we know, now up is the jig.

We find they traded our blood for oil!

They put some marble over our bones
and toss some flowers whenever they pass
and think that phoney shrine atones
for broken pledges they gave to us.

But we don’t want their reverence.
Their pretty speeches make our souls sicker.
With marble shrines we can well dispense.
It all serves only to make the meek meeker.

We went and fought and won their wars;
were led by promises like geese.
But did they ever outlaw force?
But did we ever win the peace?

So, now, YOU LIVING, we implore
and send you this solemn request:
But till then, we The Dead, protest!

Lonely By Alan Ulert

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Quiet country all around me

Smiling sun up in the sky,

But there is no quiet in me

Why am I so lonely? Why?

I am meeting many people

Some are noisy, some are shy,

Still my heart feels like a cripple

Why am I so lonely? Why?

There is gladness; there is laughter

All around me, passing by

What is my heart longing after?

Why am I so lonely? Why?

And I think from far away

(Tears are rushing to my eye)

I can hear your soft voice say

Lonely, darling? So am I….

The Orange in the Crystal Bowl

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

I watched an orange rot, but never touched it.

I walked past it every morning and almost took it;

almost dug my fingers into its rippled flesh;

almost tore into the meat of it; but, at the last moment,

I changed my mind. Each time I passed my hand over it

I saw it quiver, but, rather than take it, I made a fist.

No, maybe tomorrow, I said, maybe, I’ll take it tomorrow,

when my mood is oranges, when I feel like lust.

But, I never took it. I left it in the crystal bowl.


One day, when I saw that it didn’t quiver, when I saw

that it was going to sag and whiten, I shut my eyes;

and every day after, I held my breath. What had been

bright, supple, and full of tart juices that would burst

in my face and burn the corners of my mouth,

was greening and becoming putrid waiting on my last

two-finger head-turned grip, a touch that would

complete its final ritual. But I couldn’t, death and

garbage don’t become me, so I covered it with a

paper towel and moved its crystal bowl to the porch.


Alice took it away and washed the bowl, and she

gave me that little sideways-narrowed-eyes look,

and never said a word. She didn’t have to, we’ve

been together a long time, maybe too long, maybe

through too many silent circumstances, I don’t know.


When we married she was beautiful, someone to look at.

Her blushed face and lace covered bodice drew me,

but I didn’t touch her because it wasn’t right.

It was enough for me to feel her vibrations,

smell her powders, watch the red on her lips.


One day, before I really knew what was happening,

she began to be less particular about how we would

look together, not really concerned about my admiration.

I could tell she had begun to have doubts about the

things people see, like seeing was somehow not enough,

like it was the cause of something, a miasma;

and I, too, began to doubt. Now, we just live in

the same house. We talk sometimes, but not often.

She buys the oranges and puts them into the

crystal bowl, but I never touch them, never.




The Dead

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

I know people who are dead.

I know them as well as I know those who live;

yet, I don’t know the living like I know the dead.

I am one way or the other, I don’t know which way I am.


I expected Joe to die.

We talked and laughed beforehand.

I cried a little at his graveside funeral.

It rained, too, just enough to cool the ground

and keep down the flames before Joe got his bearings.


It was different when Norman died. He was only 48

and I was young and I didn’t know a dead man.

Norman was a serious person who thought people ought,

and should, and could, and would — that they were called.


Norman said to go as far as you can go then let God carry you.

That way, he said, when you die it will be peaceful.

He was right, but it didn’t rain and I cried too much.

There was nothing to cool the earth.

No one should touch God, even if he will let you.


Rex never expected to die. He never went near God,

so, he thought he was safe. He, too, was 48.

He trusted doctors, but it did no good.

There was no funeral service, no ground to cry over,

No earth to cool. Belief is everything.


Rex never forgave his ex-wife for their marriage.

He loved his children too much for a man who lived in one room.

We drank a glass of whiskey in that room.

We talked of Norman.

Rex said God touched Norman and Norman died.

It made Rex shudder.


Like Rex, Bill had no funeral service.

Before he died he refused to wear any clothes.

He stopped talking to Ann.

On the last day, I helped carry him on a stretcher

from his house to an ambulance.


They took Bill to the hospital and stored him in a room.

I sat next to his bed and listened to his attempts to breathe.

I think he must have said, “There, we’re even.” Then he expired.


I picked up his ashes from the Crematorium.

I remember thinking, “Someone should have said something.”

Bill had hidden from God for a long time,

but, finally, he had given up.

Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

The ground was hot, but what could flames do to ashes?



Saturday, January 6th, 2007

I am tired and, perhaps, sick,

but doctors have never been much comfort to me.

Our relationships have been just business.

How I feel has never mattered to them.

How they feel has never mattered to me.

I was impressed with how Dr. Pool acted when he examined Luke.

Luke said exactly what was wrong, Pool listened,

then he did exactly the right things.

Neither Luke nor Pool suffered from any doubts,

although they both knew the outcome would be dismal to the end.

At least, they knew. Pool did his part. Luke will get worse.

His foot will cause him more pain until someday it will become useless.

He will take pills, all kinds.

It will be faster version of the demise of everyone.

Last week, Ogden, whom I knew not, prayed for me on the phone.

He asked me to sent a letter to Jim Brown, Insurance Commissioner,

and to say how we will save the health care system in Louisiana.

I obliged, and called upon Jim’s Creator to join the fray on our side.

I sent the letter to Ogden. Who knows? I play the lottery too.

Ogden gives half of his commissions to the Church he runs.

I think God talks to me but I can’t hear him because my ears ring.

I have to get by on Faith and my own wits.

Sometimes that’s enough, but usually it’s not.

Usually, I’m barely able to think

and less able to do what I think is necessary.

I dress-up, wear a suit, a white shirt, a bright tie.

I sit around pretending I’m in charge of something.

People dressed like me visit my office and we measure our appearances.

We check to see if we are WASPS and Republicans or fakes.

No one throws up.

Instead, we tell golf jokes, reduce wages, raise commissions,

and generally support the changes we have made.

We consider buying belts, but decide to redesign everything to fit

The New World Order, which is like Luke’s foot.

Dr. Pool said he was a good doctor, the right age, in the right location.

We would be able to use him to get money from patients,

who, like Luke, would take pills and continue to decline.

That’s probably why my ears ring.

It’s a natural defense, the protection Ogden prayed for and God granted.