A Man Of True Worth Extends His Protection To All The Realm

After ten years of teaching English
at Spinoza HS I couldn’t take it anymore
and decided to devote myself
to writing full time.
Unfortunately
when I received
my 47th consecutive rejection slip
ten months later
I had a nervous breakdown.
“I’m finished, ” I said
to my best buddy Sam Zellermayer.
“No cash left...gotta go back to work in September.”
“Bernstein, get a grip on yourself, ” he said,
“do you wanna wind up a mental case like Tom DeWitt? ”
“He never wore shoes
that don’t make him crazy.”
“In Brooklyn it does
with all that dog shit in the street.”
“Didn’t want anything
coming between him and Mother Earth
wrote a poem about him and his feet.”
“Get it published? ”
“They only want happy poems
or abstruse stuff
you gotta read fifty times
and still makes no sense.”
Zellermayer stared me
saw the desperation, my need to create
we’d known each other for two decades.
“I’ll help as much as I can, ” he finally said.
“You owe $38,000 on fourteen credit cards.”
“I wipe my ass with them paltry bills
and
so you know
it’s $52,000 on eighteen credit cards
and more in the mail
every day
this is America, Bernstein.”
He paused, then said,
“I don’t worry
and you shouldn’t worry
that’s what really destroys a man.”
Then he marched to an ATM machine
lodged in a small bodega on the corner
whistling a merry tune
one I had never heard.

by Charles Chaim Wax

Comments (6)

Uriah must know something about artists needing understanding friends. I just recently lost another who told me I had too much negative energy. Suppose as Irving Layton once stated, 'enemies the true poet will always have as long as he tell it as it is! ' That's probably not verbatim but an approximate quote. While I am on the subject of Layton about whom I wrote a poem last night, I must extend a thank you to Charles for his praises. Knew not always why I maintained my endeavouring in the craft but any kinds words are always appreciated.
Bernstein, you're a really good writer! ! ! and don't all artists need understanding friends?
It's all about suffering for the Art ain't it Charles? Brooklyn sounds my kind of town. I would probably get shot on my first day! lol I learned a new word abstruce) and you are so right. And I agree, wholeheartedly with the worry assertion. There is nothing good that comes from it. Nothing is ever as bad as it may seem. I hope you got a publisher, I can't believe you havent infact. The world is your oyster as well as brooklyn ya know? Smiling at you Tai
This is great. I think we all need somebody like that to remind us of what really matters in life. Very nice. Sincerely, mary
I love your Zellermayer. Wish I had a friend like that! Was transported to 1960's '70's (if they'd have had credit cards) New York, wherever and whenever you meant it to be. It embodies what a brother should be, in our dreams! Linda
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