Good Fences

Welcome back to Poetry Monday. Hope your weekend was restorative. Here is your poem to get your week off to (hopefully) a good start. Be well, stay safe.

Good Fences

We used to live next to a hoarding crazy lady
who dispatched roach emissaries under our door
with demands from their queen.

The systematic execution of her messengers
didn’t discourage occasional personal appearances.
You’d open the door and she’d edge in,
ask if our heat was working,
linger nervously like a hungry, beaten cat,
clothes and skin monochrome nicotine stain tones
though I don’t think she smoked,
just a penchant for dirty tan fabrics and some jaundice.

You felt sorry for her,
and so did I of course,
secondary to my fears
that she threatened hassles, involvements
in which your tender, provincial trust
might ensnare us.

“I’m naked! I’m naked!” she screamed
as the cops drilled out her locks
to serve the springtime eviction notice.
We felt bad for her.

It had been a decade since I’d thought of her
when I saw her on the street in our new neighborhood,
a wax figure sameness about her.
I realized she’d died for me back then
in some 19th century way, drowning in the city,
but this is France, maybe she got some help,
or maybe she just kept going, like people do,
even the ones I ignore.

I averted my eyes, though I felt
a few singular moments of passive cruelty
hadn’t marked her enough to recognize me,
would be lost among the shattering of marks
I imagined she bore under that waxy skin.

We crossed without remark
and I replaced the thinness of regret
for actions I’d repeat
with thoughts of dinner.


Posted in Health and wellness, Loneliness, Mental Health, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Jesus Was…

During these days of of stress, conflict and tragedy, I feel that all of us could use a little humor to brighten our otherwise less cheerful moments. On that note, I came across the following sent to me by a minister friend almost twenty years ago. Hope it helps lighten your day.

    1.  He called everyone “brother”
    2.  He liked Gospel
    3.  He couldn’t get a fair trial

    1.  He went into his Father’s business
    2.  He lived at home until he was 30.
    3.  He was sure his mother was a virgin and his mother was sure he was God.

    1.  He talked with his hands
    2.  He had wine with every meal
    3.  He used olive oil.

    1.  He never cut his hair
    2.  He walked around barefoot all the time
    3.  He started a new religion

    1.  He never got married
    2.  He was always telling stories
    3.  He loved green pastures

    1.  He fed a crowd at a moment’s notice when there was no food.
    2.  He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it
    3.  And even when he was dead, He had to get up because there was more work to do.

Posted in America, Humor, Religion, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 6 Comments

Aged People

The Poem of the Week is being posted late today. That happens sometimes when you are dealing with senior writers. Speaking of seniors, here’s a short poem to all those whose hairs are now interwoven or replaced by gray. As for you youngsters – your turn will come. Be well, stay safe.

Aged People

They sit on benches in nearby parks

Like journeying birds on the telegraph wire;

They dream of past days, of grand old times,

Of their long lost youth’s burned out fire.

They sit on the benches and take advantage

Of the sun’s last rays in late September –

It is so good to have a bit of warmth,

It is so fine to remember…

Posted in America, Death and Dying, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Time | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Setting An Example

The stories I’ve posted below some of you may have seen or heard before. I know I have, and shared it with friends a number of times in the past. It recently came back to me, and I felt, given the world we live in today, it was worth sharing again with those who are not familiar with its content.


February the 20th is the 79th  anniversary of the incredible event that is described in  the second part of this story. You must read the first one to be able to interpret the second story in its full strength. I promise you, this is not a joke.


Many Years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.”  He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however.  He had a son that he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education.  Nothing was withheld.   Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision.  Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some resemblance of integrity.  To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.  So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street.  But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay..  Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.  Now is the only time you own.  Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time.  For the clock may soon be still.”


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. 
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. 

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. 

He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. 

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.  Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. 

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American-fleet. 

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.  He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet.  Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.  There was only one thing to do.  He must somehow divert them from the fleet. 

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes.  Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. 

Undaunted, he continued the assault.  He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly. 

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. 

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. 

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return..  The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.  It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet.  He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.  This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor. 

A Year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.  His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.  It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

Posted in America, Chicago, Ethics, Family, Fathers and Sons, History, Honor, Mafia, Thoughts & Musings, World War II | 4 Comments

On The Beach

Yes, Monday has again arrived, the last one in February. Time for a little contemplation, and another offering from the Poem of the Week. Be well, enjoy!

I was near the water’s shifting edge,

standing in a temporary pool left by the receding tide.

you waded out into the shallow tussling wavelets.

the early afternoon sunshine was like wind,

its ferocity prickling the skin,

its brightness leaving nothing hidden, no darkness.

it lit my awareness

of breathing the humid salt air,

the breeze ruffling the hair on my chest,

my heart doing its twitch,

lunch dissolving in my stomach,

blood flowing in my ears.

the sun melted the usual illusions:

I stood in myself as a conscious animal.

the city behind us evaporated in the sun.

I surveyed the ocean as if I had just crawled out of it.

foreground: you, stooping to pick up a shell in the shallows,

looking incredibly fertile.

background: the liquid slab of the sea, unknowable.

I was just a mammal contemplating its origins on the shore.


Posted in America, Dating, Happiness, Love, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , , | 6 Comments


The spring edition of the Wall Street Journal Magazine has a column in which six luminaries are asked to weigh in on a single topic. The chosen topic, given the proximity of the issue to Valentine’s Day, was “desire”. Before reading what the six chosen individuals replied, I decided to write down my own thoughts on desire, aware that I would never be considered a luminary by the WSJ (what do they know!) and share it with you.

The first word to flash across my consciousness was “need.” Why did I pick “need” instead of “want”? I suspect the answer lies in the writings I shared with you on this blog regarding happiness, and what research (and my own experience) has uncovered concerning this topic. Living in our materialistic society, we are constantly bombarded with messages about things advertisers want us to buy, be they fancy watches, the latest in electronic gizmos, hot cars, or luxury vacations. The implication of all their pitches is that if only we purchased their product, it would make us happy, or at least happier than we already are. For those of you who succumbed to their siren song, reflect on how long you remained happy after obtaining the object of your desire. None of us are completely immune to the wants our society pitches us, but those of us who have learned that scratching the itch the purveyors of products have created for us offers no lasting benefit.

I find that when you have filled the basic needs of life – food on the table, shelter from the elements, people you love who are capable of loving you, a connection with the world that offers you meaning, and the freedom to live your life as you see fit, there is little else that I need, so I have no desire for more stuff.  I consider myself most fortunate, and remain grateful each day for having received these blessings. There remains for all of us, whether we realize it or not, a need for spiritual connection. The road to this connection some find in their chosen religion, though spirituality and religion are far from being the same. The stories of sacred writings, of saints and mystics, are all stories of those attempting to fill the desire that lives in the consciousness in each of us. Finding my way on this path remains a pilgrimage in progress.

As for the luminaries of the WSJ: Rosamund Pike, an Emmy winning actress equates desire with the forbidden, as desire for her has to have an element of unattainability.  She finds it interesting to explore what happens when all-consuming desire goes to otherwise moral people. Viet Thanh Nguyen, a writer and English professor at USC, finds desire as fundamental in creating conflict within a story, without which there is no drama. His stories tend to focus on sexual desires, and their frustrations. Mariana Van Zeller, award winning investigative journalist never defined desire, just expressed it as her wanting to connect with people and humanize them, and to learn what led her to take risks in getting her stories. Francis Fukuyama, professor of political science at Stanford, used the Greek definition of thymos,  the deepest form of desire when another person desires you. He then veers off to talk about people who are angry because they don’t feel respected, and goes on to riff about Capitalism, which in his view only fills material desires, but not human ones. KAWS (Brian Donnelly) is an artist. He describes desire as the guiding light of all things personal and creative, and goes on to list the elements he desires in his life. Kim Ng is the general manager of the Miami Marlins. She describes desire as coming from your essence, and how her immigrant story helped define her, and gave her the strength to get into professional baseball as a woman.

It’s interesting that “desire” is both a verb and noun. How does your definition of desire match up with mine, or those of the six people the WSJ chose to profile? Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.

Posted in America, Dating, Happiness, Lies, Love, Relatioships, Religion, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 1 Comment


Welcome to another addition of Poetry Monday. This poem is the last in a themed series about travel and the traveler. Hope you enjoyed them all. Next week, we’ll continue our journey through words, but with a different focus. Your comments are always appreciated. Be well, stay safe.


the city feels different today,

changed since I’ve been gone.

I walk my old ways,

head up, eyes sweeping.

a steeple pokes like new growth

over the trees of the park.

the crowds pour by,

rivers of new-struck pennies

each flashing, eye-catching.

a street turns to scoop yellow evening light,

funnels it like honey into shadowed square.

nothing has changed.


Posted in America, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Leave a comment

Wasting Time

Someone once observed that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. As the truth of this realization becomes more real, it forces you to scrutinize how you “spend” your time in the face of a diminishing treasury of moments. Regardless of financial price, there is a time cost with everything we do. We blissfully ignore the toll of moments during our youth, but as we begin to attend more funerals than weddings, we grow more cognizant that none of the wealth we have accumulated is going to buy us more time, so we better grow wise in how we allocate this precious resource.

I’ve stopped filling out or answering surveys, despite the increasing number of requests from companies and governmental agencies. I’ve severely limited the time I spend with the television, especially the “news” channels, as I find little value in their offerings. I’ve managed to avoid social media, as I don’t really care what people are eating for lunch, or what the latest viral trend is. I do, however, have a blog, to which I contribute at least twice a week. I write primarily as a way of sorting out my own thoughts and feelings about life, the world, and how I perceive my role in the human comedy. The blog also serves as a communication tool with family and friends, many of whom are scattered around the world. Finally, the blog serves as a place for those who know me, or have an interest in my life, to discover where I came from, how I got here, and what it is that I find meaningful or significant in this journey in our tiny corner of the Universe. Through the comments I’ve received and the “likes” that have been sprinkled, I’ve found others who blog, and the opportunity to see the world from their perspective. Unfortunately, many, if not most of the “likes” appear to be generated without any regard to my posts, but only as an obvious attempt to get “liked” back in return. Many come from commercial sites whose only interest is to get eyeballs on the products they sell. Others come from bloggers who are using their sites not with the primary attempt to communicate something of value, but rather to help them develop a large enough number of “followers” to create an income stream from ads. Being human, I admit my vanity was stroked as my follower numbers began to increase into the multiple hundreds. However, I also found myself clicking on websites in response to a “like” that held little or no interest for me. Life is way too short for this time sink, and I rather have a readership that cares about what I say and has something to teach or inspire me than a growing number of “followers”. Corwyk, one of the writers of interest I’ve met since being on WordPress, shared his similar experience with being a “like” lemming, and how he freed himself.

If you are an occasional or frequent reader of Medico Musings, I’m grateful for your interest, and encourage you to leave a comment so I can respond, and see what you are doing on your site. If you are only spreading “like” to build your readership numbers, you won’t see this, as you never read what’s posted, and you’re wasting your time and mine.

Posted in America, Computers and Internet, Death and Dying, Thoughts & Musings, Time | Tagged | 6 Comments

The Last Step

Welcome back to Poetry Monday, a place far removed from Super Bowl Sunday. Hope you had a good weekend, and the following words get you started on the right path for the week.

the last step

standing on the rim,

looking back across the traversed arc:

opportunity molded to sculptures of moments

(a few untouched slabs of clay like stolid grave markers).

adversity traversed, laid to rest.

adventure tackled, leaving happy tattoo scars.

the forest grown,

groves to wander

as deep and wide

as memory.


Posted in America, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged , | 3 Comments

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Language reveals a great deal about a culture. Given the centrality of snow in their lives, it should not come as a surprise that for those natives living above the Arctic Circle, there are over 230 different words to describe the nature of this frozen precipitation. It is surprising, to me at least, that English, a language so rich in synonyms, has such a limited vocabulary for love. Think about the countless poems, books, movies and plays that have been written and produced on this topic, and I challenge you to come up with more than a dozen useful words for this feeling we all profess to share.

The couple, both in their mid-twenties, has been dating for a month. Valentine’s Day is approaching. One night, he tells her “I love you.” She whispers back, “I love you too.” How likely is it they both have the same understanding of the depth of their relationship? What kind of a commitment do you think he made to her? What kind of a commitment did she make to him? How likely do you think they share the same exact feeling?

The Greeks, those preeminent thinkers of the ideas on which we base much of our Western civilization, recognized seven different types of love, and had words that clearly applied to each. Eros denotes the passionate love we most commonly associate with romance. Philia is the feeling that forms the bonds between close friends. Philantia is self-love. We all need some of this to maintain our self-esteem. Storge is a natural fondness coming from familiarity or dependency, as is found in a family. Agape is selfless love manifested by altruism or charity. Ludus is a teasing, playful kind of love, as occurs in flirting. Pragma is the love that comes from having common goals; i.e. pragmatic love.

With all these different kinds of love in the world, it’s no wonder that the relative poverty of English in expressing the exact nature of this feeling we denote with one word “love” can and does lead to so much misunderstanding in relationships. Think about the couple I just described, and reflect on some of your own life experiences.

Let’s move on now beyond the case of just binary relationships. Mary Ruefle, an American award winning poet, wrote: “We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love – a connection between things.” As we reflect on the divisive nature of our current world, as we desperately strive to find the glue which will keep us from tearing our lives into irreparable shreds, there is a deep truth in her poem. We need to see the cosmic connection found in Carl Sagan’s words, “We are all stuff of which stars are made.” There exists a fundamental connection between every living thing, and recognition of that bond is basic to the requirement of love.

What has been the experience of “love” in whatever context in your life?

Posted in America, Dating, Family, friendship, Happiness, Health and wellness, Love, Marriage, Relatioships, Religion, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 3 Comments