I CAN FLY

 

In the morning sun

I watched a Robin

walk back and forth

across my sidewalk.

I asked him, why walk,

when you can fly?

He asked me

the same question.

But I canÕt fly, I replied.

Yes, you can he said.

Let your wings unfurl.

Realize who you arenÕt,

and you will fly like me.

With no self I take off.

 

 

BROTHERHOOD SAVES MY LIFE

 

On the first day of spring

I hike up the Major Welch,

the tallest mountain within

60 minutes of New York City.

 

Half way up to the summit

a hungry black grizzly bear

emerges from hibernation

and confronts me directly.

 

I try to remember my choices

I learned as an Eagle Scout:

Stand your ground, maintain

direct eye contact—donÕt yell

or scream, speak in a soft voice.

 

The bear embraces me like a brother.

I even thought I saw him smile.

I forgot IÕm wearing my fatherÕs cap

inscribed with TeamsterÕs Union,

Local 177.

 

After the bear scampers off,

I realize heÕs a reincarnated

TeamsterÕs Union brother.

 

Buddha got it right.

We all get recycled.

 

 

MY BIANCHI MILANO BICYCLE

 

When we were young kids,

John Flaherty and I rode out

to Laguardia Airport to watch

planes take off and land.

 

We made tomato sandwiches—

mayonnaise on Silvercup Bread,

The WorldÕs Finest—to fish off a pier

 on Cross Bay Boulevard at Point Lookout.

 

Golden blue dragonflies landed 

on our mouth-watering sandwiches.

A good omen, forecasting our success.

 

We caught flounders, flukes and crabs,

and once hooked a drenched NYPD cap

with the embroidered letters, POLICE.

 

Since JohnÕs father was a police sergeant,

he was spooked, and never told his folks.

 

 

MY OCULAR HALLUCINATION

 

I see a montage of my world falling apart.

An earthquake rumbles in the sky—buildings crash down

in an avalanche of crushed skulls.

ItÕs a quagmire of Houdini-like deception—

shocked faces peer out of falling windows

at the sight of embezzled money floating down.

My eyes roll around, turning inside out in pinball gyrations.

Antelopes roam across clouds, nuzzling each other nose to nose.

Able-bodied men lower women and children into lifeboats.

A fog horn blares as a ship sinks into the sea.

Galaxies clash, lightning cracks yellow-green over a black sky.

Kamikaze pilots plot peace—diving down for breathable air

and drinkable water to a place where thereÕs a there there

as real as the love of an infantÕs first smile.

 

 

THE NAZIS IN MY CLASS

 

In 1940, two snarly classmates, George Larosa and Lawrence Marrineli,

joined the German American Youth Bund so they could dress like storm troopers

and sing ŅDeutschland Uber AllesÓ— which still rings in my ears.

 

MarinelliÕs parents kept a banner of the 22,000 American Nazis

who gathered at Madison Square in February of Ō39

that read ŅStop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans!Ó

 

The classmates werenÕt even German, and had to lie about their ancestry

to join the ŅFriends of the New GermanyÓ and attend Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, N.Y.

They must have figured if Hitler was good enough for Mussolini,

he was good enough for them.

 

These kids were brainwashed to promote antisemitism.

As the Chief Justice of the student-run Supreme Court

and the only Jew in our school, I was a conspicuous target for their rage.

 

After school, I ran as fast as I could—hitching a ride on the back of a trolley car

that ran down Fresh Pond Road. I evaded them by running in the back door

of my grandmaÕs dry goods store on Grand Avenue.

 

To make matters worse, they were jealous of the beautiful Natalia

who liked to corner me with her prematurely prominent bosoms.

I never ran away from her.

 

© Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D.

 

Bio:  Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D., is an 87-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published many poems in periodicals such as the London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Taj Mahal Literary journal, Antigonish Review, Ottowa Arts Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times.