Saturday, October 6, 2007


What is the point, I ask myself, of creating a blog and not posting anything on it for four months? Well, things keep coming up, especially in the last month or so, in which Nancy and I almost lost a daughter and did become grandparents.

As most of my readers know, Danielle’s pregnancy was complicated. I won’t go into the gynecology of it, but her OB had explained months ago that she would have to move from the island of Utila, where she and Benoit live, to La Ceiba, on the coast, where the hospital is, and that she would have to have the baby by C-section a couple of weeks before the due date – all this to forestall her going into labor, which would be very dangerous.

So wouldn’t you know that on September 16th, the week before the move to the mainland, around dinnertime, the placenta ruptured and the trouble started. Fortunately, their next-door-neighbor Phil and his girlfriend were home and their cooperation enlisted. Even more fortunately, the water was dead calm. They piled into Reefer Madness, the boat Ben had been keeping fueled and ready at the dock steps from their door, and with Ben and Phil navigating, and the girlfriend holding on to Danielle, they made it across the channel and into the waiting ambulance in a little more than an hour – record time, and fortunately so, for Danielle had lost two units of blood. The OB was waiting (in a dinner dress and heels), the C-section performed, and Maxim David Bellenoue came into the world.

And almost left it. Maxim was five weeks premature, and despite having received steroids in the womb, his lungs weren’t sufficiently developed to cope with earth’s atmosphere. Nor was the hospital sufficiently advanced to cope with Maxim; there was no neo-natal ICU, no pediatricians who specialized in his condition, and the tubes inserted into his lungs to pump air enriched with oxygen weren’t doing the job. He developed pneumothorax -- both lungs were punctured and partially collapsed. After a week of this, the baby clinging to life, the parents asking what more the doctors could do and being told that they should pray – an ultimatum: Max’s only chance was to be taken by private ambulance to the big hospital in San Pedro Sula, a hundred miles away over mountain roads. No one gave him much chance of surviving the journey. Danielle (fresh from surgery, and not the typical C-section but a procedure of greater magnitude) sat in the front, going quietly nuts with no way of communicating with Ben, who was in back with the baby and the staff.

But survive Max did, and now safely ensconced in a well-staffed ICU, attended by great doctors, he began to make his recovery. The holes in his lungs repaired themselves, the fluid was suctioned out, breast milk was added to his diet, and each day he got stronger. Nancy and I spoke to Danielle several times a day, and could chart the baby’s progress by the tone of her voice, as her anxiety gradually left her and was replaced by relief and the dawning thrill of motherhood.

Dan and Ben were living, by this time, in a two-bedroom apartment owned by the hospital, right across the street. On October 1st, Nancy flew down there and moved in with them. On the 4th, Maxim was discharged from the hospital and moved in as well. He’s still being seen daily by the pediatricians, being taught how to expel phlegm from his lungs, but he’s breathing, nursing, and solving simple quadratic equations by himself. Either next Monday, the 8th, or on Wednesday, the Bellenoue-Horwich entourage will make its way to Utila (whether by air or by van and ferry remains to be decided). To all of you who have showered us with your good wishes, baby presents, and requests for details, thank you! As soon as Nancy is able to send me the pictures she’s been assiduously snapping, I’ll post them on this site.

A final note: being Jewish only on my parents’ side, I don’t have an actual God to pray to, but I did cut some deals with the universe when things looked dark. One of the minor concessions was, OK, the Yankees can lose every game in the playoffs if Maxim starts breathing on his own. At this writing, the Yanks are down 2-1 to the Indians, a team they beat eight straight times in the regular season. And through some glitch, the Mets seem to have gotten roped in as well. So, it’s all my fault. Sue me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Now that Al Gore is slimming down for a possible run at the White House, I’ve been thinking about the crucial plank in his platform (not that it’s possible to forget about for more than a few minutes at a time). About a year ago, Jim Hansen reviewed a number of books about global warming (“The Threat to the Planet,” New York Review of Books, July 13, 2006) and concluded that the problem could be neatly solved in the same way that two earlier ecological threats, the potent pesticide DDT and the noxious propellant CFC, were neutralized. Each turned out to be replaceable without severe dislocation, and the ease with which we accepted their replacements has given Hansen what seems to me a false hope for the coming battle.

For oil is part of our national mythology and identity, in the way that CFCs and DDT were not. We never idolized Redi-whip as we do the lights of the Las Vegas strip; no one gathered around the TV to watch bugs die the way Nascar fans do for the Talladega 500. The consortium of government and business interests that is locked into Big Oil is far broader and deeper than the pesticide and CFC lobbies. And it’s going to be a lot harder to find substitutes that work and that are acceptable to all the interest groups on play. Hansen glosses over the possibilities in a single sentence: “In the interim [before new technology is invented and implemented] new electricity requirements should be met by the use of renewable energies such as wind power as well as by nuclear power and other sources that do not produce C02.” That complacent formulation ignores the facts that wind turbines in numbers sufficient to satisfy our voracious appetites for heat and light would probably suck North America halfway across the Atlantic, and that nuclear power has been irrevocably demonized by the political left, from whom we would naturally look for leadership in the struggle against oil and coal. I had a ringside seat at the successful ten-year battle against the Long Island Lighting Company’s attempt to bring its Shoreham reactor on line, and it was a lesson in the law of unintended consequences: the protesters who rejoiced when the power company spent billions on a plant that never opened went home to find the costs folded into astronomical monthly bills, and now depend even more heavily than before on a dwindling supply of electricity generated by fossil fuels.

And speaking of unintended consequences and demonization: over a million African children die each year from malaria, which could be controlled -- indeed, all but eradicated -- by the judicious use of DDT, the best mosquitocide ever invented. Perhaps a more apt analogy for ending our addiction to oil is our battle with addiction to tobacco, which shows us that the only way to end an addiction, unfortunately, is not to throttle it back but to cut it out altogether. But no first-world country will ever wean itself from oil completely, and an America that tries to “cut down” -- in which liberals learn to get along with nukes and conservatives embrace Priuses and buy bicycles -- seems less like a viable vision of the future than a hallucination.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

MEA CULPA (and some thoughts about A-Rod and Iraq

MEA CULPA: What is the point of telling all your friends about your new blog if you don’t post anything on it for two weeks? I plead overwork, congenital laziness, the spectacular golf weather in the Hamptons.

Alex Rodriguez has had either a good or a bad week, depending on your point of view. First he caused an enormous brouhaha in baseball circles by calling something out as he ran to third base behind the Toronto infielder who was about to catch a pop fly that would have ended the ending. The infielder backed off, dropped the ball, and the Yanks scored three more runs.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on the ethics of what A-Rod did – even non-fans. So many questions factor into it: did he yell “Mine,” as the Blue Jays claim, or just “Huh!” as he asserts. Was it a rules infraction (no, as it turns out) or just “bush league,” one of those unspoken prohibitions, an example of bad sportsmanship and advantage-taking (especially since the poor guy who dropped the ball was a rookie, playing his first game in the Bigs).

But that controversy was, if anything, heightened the next day when the Post featured pictures of the Yankee star (who is married) escorting an anonymous blonde to a Toronto strip club after the game.

I have two responses to all this. The play: in hockey or basketball, yelling something to confuse opponents is an accepted part of the game. At the other end of the spectrum, in golf, even clearing your throat while an opponent putts is so not-done that you’d find yourself ostracized at any level of the sport. In baseball itself, some kinds of deception are condoned, as even A-Rod’s detractors point out: on a line drive to the outfield, the shortstop pantomimes fielding a grounder to force the runner on first to slide into second, to keep him from taking third, a play that has been known to result in injuries. And the aforesaid runner, in order to break up a double play, is taught to go after the fielder, not the base; Mike Lowell of Boston, about to be tagged out by Robbie Cano, leveled a block worthy of a linebacker, putting Cano on his seat (though miraculously, he got the throw off in time). As to A-Rod’s extra-marital high-jinks, does it come as news to us that pro athletes on the road enjoy casual sex as one of their many perks? A flight attendant once confided to me that on a charter flight (she wouldn’t tell me what sport or even which team), one of the ballplayers was hitting on her, and when she pointed out that he was wearing a wedding ring, he said, “Well, yeah, I’m married, but I’m not a fanatic about it.” So the issue here seems to be the ethics of sleazy tabloids who have not, in the past, followed athletes around road towns with cameras, recording their preferred modes of winding down after games.

But the larger question that all this leads me to is, why are we (most Americans) more preoccupied with A-Rod and Lindsay Lohan and Brittany and Brangelina than we are with Iraq? Why, as it seems, does everybody have a strong opinion about what goes on on the baseball fields and bars of America, but hardly anyone, even Presidential candidates, speaks with forthright conviction about when and how we should extricate ourselves from Baghdad?

The answer is that baseball practices, adultery, and substance abuse are well-understood. The rules of baseball are known and finite; the conventions of behavior have been established over the course of a century; most male and many female Americans have played baseball or softball, so we’re all operating in a known field of discourse. You never hear it said of baseball, as it is said daily of Iraq, that it is a “quagmire,” a “black hole,” a “no-win situation, a “zero-sum game.” In Iraq, we’re passengers strapped into uncomfortable seats in the economy section of a plane flown by blind pilots. There seems no way to land, no way to turn around, no way even to communicate with those willful fools at the controls behind the locked cockpit door. And a kind of fatalism has set in. Waiting for the Bush administration to end in order for change to occur is an option one hears proposed in casual conversation – in other words, let’s table it. There are no precedents – certainly not Viet Nam: when we left Nam, that country prospered, the rest of the region stayed pretty much the same, and there were none of the long-term consequences that seem sure to ensue whether we leave Iraq or stay, build up or draw down: genocide (granted, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge remained open for business, but they were never on our agenda), the further polarization of radical Islam and the diminishing secular Middle East, a huge increase in anti-American and anti-Western feeling and the concomitant terrorism that such sentiments might bring with it.

Compared to these thickets, what happens on a baseball diamond or a strip club or even a highway on which a revved-up Lohan or a Paris Hilton is demolishing the speed limit seem familiar, manageable, and entertaining, a welcome distraction from thinking those dark thoughts about a world that is wobbling on its axis. I don’t think the American pre-occupation with celebrity, then, is shallow and mindless. I think it’s an escape hatch, a survival mechanism, an attempt – probably a doomed one – to hold onto our collective sanity. Nero fiddling while Rome burns? Maybe he was looking for distraction too.

Friday, May 18, 2007


By chance, I came across an amazing video clip on YouTube this morning,* and it brought back a vivid first-hand memory, dating back to 1986, to which my fervent response was, and is: Better Nancy Reagan than me.

That was actually my second thought as I watched the First Lady's chair tip backward off the dais in the East Room, depositing her in the flowerpots. My first thought was that something incomparably more awful had happened. After all, the President was there as well, delivering some graceful concluding remarks to the two hundred of us privileged to hear Vladimir Horowitz's White House recital; his presence, along with the Secret Service, the Marine Guards, the press, inevitably lends a kind of supercharge to the aura of any room he inhabits. So that sudden flurry, the chair toppling, the involuntary gasp from the crowd, the people rushing forward all conjured up a sense of waking nightmare, even fifteen years before 9/11: can something awful be happening? Here? Now?

But the next instant, Mrs. Reagan had bounced up unhurt, and she and the President were quipping away as if they'd rehearsed the whole thing. "I told you, only if I'm not getting any laughs," he said, and got a big laugh. And smiling, unflustered, unwrinkled, not breathing hard, not flushed, without a stammer, Nancy tossed off a bon mot of her own -- "I guess I livened things up" -- and resumed her seat (her chair having been moved, in the interim, a good two feet from the treacherous edge of the platform). Horowitz locked his left arm around her waist and kept it there until the President had finished his speech, and then, smiling and chatting, the Reagans and the Horowitzes trooped nonchalantly out of the room, leaving the rest of us to buzz.

"I saw it coming," said my wife. "She had on a tight skirt, and she was tugging it down, and the chair was inching at every tug." And that became the Official Version, as reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times the next day. But everyone else had his or her own version, some little detail that non one else had noticed, some explanation, some point of view. It was like Rashomon; no one of us could quite take in the totality of the event we'd just witnessed. It was a leveling experience, though; it restored the democratic balance between the celebrity musicians and politicians, who'd never seen anything like it in all their visits to the White House, and the nobodies (like us) who had lucked into an invitation and were there for the first time. Now, everybody had something to talk about, and if you had had a better sight line than a symphony conductor or a newsweekly publisher, he wanted to know what your angle was.

My wife and I were there because fate kindly arranged, forty years ago, that my family and the Horowitzes should become friends. We've had the good fortune to hear him play many times -- once, several years ago, in Washington, when we came down the morning of the recital and went home as soon as it was over. Could anything be more special than listening to the greatest living pianist? What would those Russians who froze all night waiting for a ticket, whose tears streamed down their faces as he played, answer? But such is the human capacity to become inured to blessings that this time, it was the Presidential overtones that set our hearts to beating a little faster.

In some ways, we felt very privileged: just telling the cab driver, "The White House, please -- Visitors' entrance," gave me a charge, though as it turned out, he couldn't find the Visitors' entrance, having been misdirected by a D.C. cop, and we had to walk a quarter of a mile from where we were let off. Next time we'll get a limo, we told each other. But sweeping past the crowds of tourists toward the portico, the heart-stopping moment when the guard holding the Guest List couldn't seem to find our names, showing the requisite identification (our social security numbers having been provided weeks before), all reminded us that this was a special day, a time to soak up the memories and impressions for our daughter and our friends in New York.

But it's a nerve-racking business, in some ways, going to the White House. The identification, the metal detector, the handbag search were more than a little sobering; this wasn't a routine social or cultural occasion in any way. If I had a sense of being a witness to history on a very small scale, I had a complementary sense that my role was to remain invisible, on my best behavior, while history unfolded. One doesn't go wandering around the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, thumbing through books and opening closet doors; if you have to the go the bathroom, a Marine major escorts you. Remember being an adolescent, worrying about developing a pimple before the dance, about buying the wrong corsage, or saying the wrong thing, or not being able to say anything at all? My wife was nervous too; an hour before, in the hotel room, trying on and discarding innumerable pairs of pantyhose, she was worried she'd faint if she didn't eat something. Not since my wedding, when I was sure that during the ceremony my knees would lock, pitching me forward onto the rabbi's feet, have I fretted so about keeping countenance. What if I started coughing while Horowitz were playing? Belched? Sneezed on someone's tie? Had some kind of fit? None of these things was likely, but I could imagine it, everyone slowly turning around and looking at me with an expression of incredulity on their faces.

That was just the expression on the face of the Leader of the Free World when his wife did her back flip into the geraniums. The kind of thing that would surely mortify you if it ever really happened actually did happen -- in the middle of the President's speech -- and to the President's wife! But that, of course, made all the difference. If I'd fallen off my chair, I doubt whether the Chief Executive and I would have shrugged the incident off together with a little exchange of impromptu humor. Nancy Reagan belonged up there; she was in her own home, surrounded by her own guests (though I imagine she'd not met a third of them), and her aplomb undoubtedly stemmed, in part, from her sense of security: if I want to steal the stage from my husband by taking a pratfall while he maunders on, by God, I'll do it! And of course, all those years of social training, of discipline, of learning how to carry off difficult moments with tact, diplomacy, just the right gesture or remark -- they had prepared her superbly for a really juicy example of what the Reader's Digest would probably call My Most Embarrassing Moment. If it had been me, I'd never have appeared in public again; five minutes later, at the reception, she was laughing about it as if she actually found it funny! I loved her at that moment. By a process of Darwinian selection, the one person in the room who could survive accident, or practical joke, or trick of fate, and actually triumph over it, was the person it happened to. Confirmed atheist though I am, I thought, there is a God. Better -- much, much better -- Mrs. Reagan than me.

*Check out the video yourself. It’s hard to find on YouTube’s website, but you can Google “Horowitz at the Reagan White House” and play it right from the fifth listing on the page.


I've been taking a break from Shakespeare since NYU let out, revisiting some classic American stories -- among them the one by Stephen Crane from which I gleaned the quotation attached to Danielle's and Ben's wedding announcement, and also that mother lode of American myth-making, The Great Gatsby. And I came across the following obituary, which in many ways is a retelling of Fitzgerald's story, all except for the ending.

Frank Parker, U.S. Tennis Champion, 81
by Richard Goldstein (The New York Times, July 25th, 1997)

Frank Parker, a product of a poor Milwaukee family who was discovered by his mentor while working as a ball boy and who rose to win the United States Nationals singles tennis title twice, died last Thursday. He was 81. . . .

At the age of 10, Franciszek Patkowski was hitting discarded tennis balls at the Milwaukee Town Club where he worked -- turning over all but a nickel of his $2 weekly pay to his widowed mother, Ann -- when he caught the eye of the club coach, Mercer Beasley.

Mr. Beasley taught the youngster the game, taking him along to New Orleans for intensive coaching when the Beasley family moved there.

At 15, Mr. Patkowski was crowned national boys’ champion, at 16 he became national junior champion, and at 17 he won the national clay-court championship.

When Mr. Beasley became the tennis coach at Lawrenceville Academy in New Jersey, his protégé enrolled there, then went on to Princeton. He changed his name to Frank Parker, perhaps because tournament officials had trouble pronouncing the name Franciszek Patkowski.

In 1938, Mr. Beasley’s tutoring of Mr. Parker ended. That is when Mr. Beasley’s wife, Audrey, divorced him and married Mr. Parker, then 22 and her junior by about 20 years. She became his adviser and trainer and also tailored his tennis wardrobe.

“They remained the best of friends,” [Parker’s nephew] said of Mr. Parker’s later relationship with Mr. Beasley. “When he won a tournament, he got a congratulatory wire.”

. . . He played briefly as a pro, barnstorming with [Pancho] Gonzales, [Jack] Kramer and Bobby Riggs. After retiring, he was a sales manager for a box company.


“Everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it,” wrote Mark Twain. Ah, those were the days. Twain’s irony must certainly be lost on the legions of world citizens who demand -- and most persuasively -- that steps be taken to reverse global warming before we all become victims to its manifold threats: bigger and more frequent tropical storms, the melting of glaciers and concomitant rise in sea levels, soaring ambient temperatures that will transform New York into Calcutta and Calcutta into hell.

I don’t dispute the Annapurna of evidence for global warming. Even if we take the longest possible view, under which global warming is part of a natural cycle of heating up and cooling off that the earth periodically goes through, the human race has a strong vested interest in prolonging the cold snap that’s coming to an end; after all, another natural cycle with which we’re familiar is the evolutionary one, in which species appear, become dominant, and then decline and fall because they’re unable to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

But I do confess to a certain nostalgia for the days when not every looming disaster was someone’s fault, representing a remedy overlooked or ignored. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got his face turned into hamburger in a motorcycle accident last year, and strident voices were immediately raised: it’s his fault for irresponsibly ignoring the helmet option; it’s the fault of Pennsylvania for not mandating helmets; it’s the Steelers’ fault for not limiting his transportation choices to something tamer, like roller skates; it’s the fault of the driver of the car with which he collided, who apparently received death threats. The term “accident” has almost lost its meaning here in the early third millennium. The explanation that events take place randomly has come to seem disingenuous and self-serving -- best example being Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “Stuff happens,” which apparently argues that that the carnage and chaos in Iraq are independent of the fact that we sent an army of destruction there unaccompanied by anyone who knew how to preserve the infrastructure or restore order.

In other areas besides the political and military, though, we can see a similar logic of victimization at work. I’m not the first to point out that in third-millennium America, if someone dies, someone else must be to blame: the doctors who pronounced the cancer ineradicable, the HMO’s that refused to sponsor experimental treatments, even the patient, who did not assist in his own cure by adopting a posture of optimistic and resolute fortitude. A child falls off the monkey bars in the playground: sue the city. A woman spills hot coffee in her lap: sue McDonald’s. You choose a humungous SUV over a Prius, even though you know its gas tank will cost a hundred bucks to fill: throw your congressman out of office if he won’t lobby for using up our emergency reserve fund.

My concern is hardly the root causes of all these ills; some of them are surely preventable, others not. What I want to point out is that the weather is no longer the last bastion of irresponsibility as far as mortals are concerned. When the rains fell for two solid weeks last May, I noticed that many of my friends and neighbors didn’t resort to Mark Twain’s stoicism; instead, they pointed the finger. See, see, what did we tell you? Global warming means more volatile weather; get used to it. Every cold snap, every heat spell, every blizzard and drought is now exorcised from its customary category as (take your pick, depending on your spiritual orientation) an act of God or stuff that happens. We no longer have the luxury of simply wallowing in self-pity when the weather doesn’t cooperate with our plans or our esthetic; to our pouting is now added guilt. The beaches of both coasts will be under water before we know it, and IT’S ALL OUR FAULT; we’re being justly punished for our excesses.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Danielle and Ben on their wedding day -- May 9th, 2007.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Yes, it has happened, at last! That's rice they're being pelted with, and a marriage license in Danielle's hand! Look how intrepid Benoit looks, leading her into the wilderness of a new life (or is it more like Adam leading Eve out of Eden?).

Nancy and I are thrilled and happy, even if we couldn't be present for the ceremony (in which, by the way, everyone was barefoot, even the mayor of Utila).

Of course some relevant epigraph must appear. I'm going to abandon Shakespeare for the moment, and go with something non-standard but choice.

If you ain’t got a gun, why ain’t you got a gun?” Scratchy sneered. “Been to Sunday-school?”
“I ain’t got a gun because I’ve just come from San Anton’ with my wife. I’m married,” said Potter. “And if I’d thought there was going to be any galoots like you prowling around when I brought my wife home, I’d had a gun, and don’t you forget it.”
“Married!” said Scratchy, not at all comprehending. Seemingly for the first time, he saw the drooping, drowning woman at the other man’s side. “No!” He was like a creature allowed a glimpse of another world. He moved a pace backward, and his arm, with the revolver, dropped to his side. “Is this the lady? he asked.”
“Yes; this is the lady,” answered Potter.
There was another period of silence.
“Well,” said Wilson at last, slowly, “I s’pose it’s all off now.”
“It’s all off if you say so, Scratchy. You know I didn’t make the trouble.” Potter lifted his valise.
“Well, I ‘low it’s off, Jack,” said Wilson. He was looking at the ground. “Married!” He was not a student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains. He picked up his starboard revolver, and, placing both weapons in their holsters, he went away. His feet made funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand."

-- Stephen Crane, "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky"

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Flubber" by Danielle Horwich (age 6)

Make something.
Break it down, fall down, say Well,
Let's go back to bed.
Take a balloon.
Take it.
Blow it up.
Take ten more or all you can get
And go outside.
Place them in the car.
Take anything that you can blow up in the car
Start the motor and

My retirement announcement from Brooklyn College

And it came to pass that my heart was heavy, and I knew not the remedy. So I said unto the Lord, “Lord, my joy is gone from me. For I no longer wish to do battle with the Philistines in the Land of Brooklyn whereto, lo, these thirty years, have I sojourned. And the College that lieth in the Land of Brooklyn hath offered me an early-retirement incentive, and I am sorely tempted, Lord, to accept this bounty. But also, I am afraid, for to some, retirement is a blessing, but to others, it is a curse. And I know not what to do. Lord, send me a sign.” But the Lord spake not.

And on the next day in the College that lieth in the Land of Brooklyn, the Pharaoh of the Department of English calleth me into his chamber. And the Pharaoh sayeth unto me, “Lo, Horwich, thy disciples have fallen away from thee, and I hereby cancelleth thy Shakespeare elective for insufficient enrollment. And in its stead, I give thee this choice: thou mayst teach English 1: Fundamentals of Composition, or, if thou wilt, thou mayst teach English 0.4: Fundamentals of Composition (Remedial). How chooseth thou?”

And the Pharaoh’s words were like a black cloud sweeping over a starry sky, and I knew despair, for teaching Fundamentals of Composition is as eating thistles, but teaching Fundamentals of Composition (Remedial) is as eating thistles with tares. And then at once, a thought came unto me: that this was the sign from God for which I had prayed. And my heart leapt up, and I accepted the early retirement incentive, effective January 30th, 1998. And my household rejoiceth, and all our hearts are full.

Poety in Motion?

They have no need of poetry,
Those who should be moving shortly in the sooty tubes
Beneath the river that surfaces at Times Square.
No need of Strand's or Clampitt’s airy overviews
That fresco the walls of buses,
Short-haul limos awash in the city’s changing lights.
No, those with tunnel vision
Have more pressing concerns
Than thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird.
They need to know
Where to get their torn earlobes stitched
How to avoid AIDS and its evil twin SIDA
And most of all
What steps to take
When they can’t move
And the lights go out.