Harry Stanton and the Dirty Thirties


Harry Stanton is out on the street

singing, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

After thirty-six years of slavish devotion

he just didn't get it.

As the company accountant

you must learn how to add.

Two plus two must always equal

whatever the company wants it to be.


The howl and shriek of Father Coughlin

was no help when trying to pass for white.

The air was polluted with ghastly lies

about the Christ-killers who owned the banks

while fomenting revolution.


So the kike, sheeny, and the dirty Jew

were nothing but trouble as the

good Germans of the day would say.


Mounting dread short-circuited sleep,

Harry Stanton worried away the night.

Psoriatic scratching only deepened his angst.

The familiar glow of a Lucky Strike,

a beacon of light.

Finally asleep, just before dawn

he dreams his most favorite dreams:

a yellow mammaliga oozing kashkiaval

or pulling up mackerel in East Moriches.

Never failing to rise with the sun,

impeccably dressed in his Rogers Peet suit,

checking for Parker pen, watch and comb,

reporting for work at 120 Wall Street.


The Bank of America gobbled up the company

spitting out loyal cadre over fifty.

Ghosts of the past

walk slowly to a waiting handshake

as jobs were replaced by recent graduates

ready to play by newly minted rules.


Milt Ehrlich