Friday, December 31, 2004

A look at ourselves

After watching a movie on Christmas that I very much enjoy called "The Majestic," that deals with what this country became during McCarthyism; a subversion of what it was meant to be, it seems appropriate to write this entry.

Periodically in this nation's history, the government and its people have strayed from the values written into the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Even the writers of those documents wandered off the track of righteousness through their adherence to the belief that slavery was not a complete abomination. The evil that was slavery was not America's only failed moment. Our annihilation of Native Americans, racial hatred and oppression, Vietnam, Watergate, the Red Scare, secret government experiments on our own people, tolerance of worldwide genocide, and ... the current Administration's rejection of American values, principles and rights are all stark examples of the United States falling far short of the ideals of the treasured documents mentioned above.

As many people in the blogosphere and media will likely give thought to the year in review at this time, and compile lists of bests and worsts, Poetic Leanings would instead like to leave the year with thoughts of something rapidly being set aside by the Bush Administration.

Bill of Rights

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Poem: Butt Why

Butt Why?

Do you think you have some kind of right,
To pollute my lungs and the world all around,
This belief that the earth is a personal ashtray,
Is a view that only serves to confound.

I am eating lunch, if you could just stop to notice,
And I ordered chicken, not nicotine smoke,
While you think your addiction is harmless,
I don't recall asking for soot in my Coke.

Can you hear me, I'm coughing in misery,
And if you had even an ounce of concern you'd repair,
If you need it so badly then swallow it,
Then at least you might save me from this smoky despair.

You smokers care so little for the environment you clutter,
How many butts from car windows can you toss with so little regard,
And if not that, you just flick them wherever,
As if my lawn was a place to dispose and discard.

So stop!
The rest of us are sickened by your pathetic addiction,
And we suffer in ill-health and the destruction you've wrought,
The hazards you bring to life all around you,
Are increased with each pack you have bought.

Copyright SGW 1997

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Plot Against America

Pulitzer Prize winner, Philip Roth, who wrote "American Pastoral," "Our Gang" and "The Human Stain," among others has written a haunting piece of fiction that has to make one stop to shudder in fear. "The Plot Against America" is the story of a nine year old Philip Roth, growing up in a Jewish home, in the Jewish section of Newark, New Jersey in 1940. Charles A. Lindbergh comes out of a virtual nowhere to defeat FDR for the presidency, negotiates a secret agreement with Hitler to keep America out of the European war and establishes a creeping governmental policy of anti-semitism and fascism, slowly becoming a mirror of NAZI Germany.

What makes this story so horrifying is how closely it hits to home. The hidden agendas, religious intolerance, appeasers and collaborators, and the violent discrediting of all dissent are eerily familiar to George Bush's red state America. The fascist tendencies, subtle policy shifts of extremism and the false patriotism of Lindbergh's 1940 America closely resemble Bush's manufactured American everyman-hero.

If you want to read an incredible story that combines real life characters and events with an all-to-possible fictional portrayal, "The Plot Against America" is a must read. It will frighten you as you see what we, Americans, might have become 60 years ago, and what we might be becoming today.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Poem: Boardwalks To Walk No More

This is arguably my favorite piece of my own work. It was also quite popular when I used to perform alot on the Jersey Shore. "Boardwalks" shows the influence of musical artists on my poetry, as this poem is definitely of a Springsteen style.

I wrote this when I was 23 through the eyes of a 40 year old longing to be 23. It is interesting now as I am 40, and sometimes think back to those days of 23. For you non-locals, Asbury is Asbury Park, a shore town that had some of the best music around. The town was a dead down otherwise for many years, but is finally now being re-built. The Pony is the Stone Pony, the rock club that Bruce Springsteen made famous. It was practically a second home for me from about 1985 to 1995.

Boardwalks to Walk No More

Now the Saturday nights are gone forever,
Washed away on the Jersey shore,
Long, peaceful evenings lost in a moment,
Boardwalks to walk no more.

‘Cause when the friends you grow up with are long gone past,
And the people in town ain’t the same,
The waves lose their power, the pier all its splendor,
The beach becomes no more than a name.

Now I wake up from my sleep in a cold, hard sweat,
Put the keys in my car and drive,
Down round into Asbury, along Ocean Avenue,
The shore again seems alive.

I see the pretty girls walking the boardwalk,
I see a guy yelling out from his car,
I see myself in the distance, by the door of the Pony,
With my girl, going into the bar.

The laughing, the singing on a Saturday night,
You and your lover, and everything’s right,
Holding your baby, and dancing real slow,
Closer and closer, swearing to never let go.

But the girl I am holding is a dream of the heart,
The bar a thought of what’s past,
And the sound of the music nothing more than an echo,
Fading so dark and so fast.

For now the Saturday nights are gone forever,
Washed away on the Jersey shore,
Long, peaceful evenings lost in a moment,
And boardwalks to walk no more.

Copyright SGW 1987

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Poem: Bounty of Cancer

Bounty of Cancer

An endearing smile
Surrounding me and encompassing my spirit.
Voice of brilliant, glowing textures
And the energy to survive;
Seeing hope beneath surfaces of struggles.
Compassion shared in these experiences;
Common battles; some won, some lost.
All fought earnestly
All building a family of understanding.
Intertwined paths and journeys
Knowing the fears, dreaded discoveries;
Diagnosed horrors.
Through shared and similar anguishes
The blessings of beautiful people,
Each with a hardship
Yet also mutual love and comradeship.
The bounty of cancer gained amongst one another.

Copyright SGW 2000

Friday, December 10, 2004


I have always loved this song, and the lyrics seemed to come to me today. They are particularly important of late given all the nonsense attached to religion and motivations of greed and profit.


Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Written by: John Lennon
© Bag productions inc.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Poem: Cry Rain

I was driving in the rain the other day and the idea that God was crying over our lost ways struck me. This is meant to be a poem of harmonies by weaving together two separate parts of the same poem. The blue is one piece and the red the other. This poem cannot be read by one person, as the blue and red should be read simultaneously.

Cry Rain

Rain bears reminding of God’s bitter tears
Lost are his blessings in cold, hardened fears

He cries for lack of empathy
He cries in souls divided
He cries when people’s endless hate
Forever gets ignited

Every felt raindrop brings stain to creation
Removed from the people He once felt relation

Can’t find morality in religion’s betrayal
Turns with disgust from extremist’s portrayal

He weeps when faced with persecution
He weeps for rights refrained
He weeps in words that seek to hurt
In bigotry sustained

Rain clouds gain pattern from God’s lonely perch
Intolerant speech marks an unholy church

He cries in lost inclusive virtue
He cries the narrow mind
He cries in doctrine twisted ‘round
That only serves to blind

Rain hopes for cleansing what preaching’s disgraced
Compassionate values might be more embraced

Copyright SGW 2004

Monday, December 6, 2004

Movie: Run Lola Run

Last night I watched the movie, “Run Lola Run,” from 1999. I know it received a lot of attention, and I must say, deservedly so. The story in and of itself is not much. The acting is unimportant. However, the way the movie is structured and constructed is brilliant. This was a completely original picture. Tom Tykwer, the writer and director, does a marvelous job of pointing out coincidence and choice, and how simple things can so dramatically alter life based on how everything is woven together. The flash-ahead sequences are a super idea, too.

If you are like me, and you missed this movie, go rent “Run Lola Run,” and see it at once. You will be spellbound by how smart it is inspite of its uncomplicated base.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Movie: Memento

Ok, I know what you are saying: "Scott, the movie is four years old!" Well, it fell through the cracks for me and I never saw it. I rented "Memento" today and I recommend it to anyone else who missed it.

The plot line: A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt down his wife's killer.

Guy Pearce is superb in the main role and the direction of Christopher Nolan is top line. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat, keeps you second guessing and thinking, and will even make you laugh a few times. Go, rent it. It is worth the $4.50 at Blockbuster.