A Korean War vet tramps around Overpeck Park

having P.T.S. flashbacks of being butt scrunched

in blood and piss soaked khakis as a moving carpet

of howling, bugle blowing Chinese attacks,

officers screaming like women as he bellows

to an  exploding sky: will the next bullet have my name?


Now, a peripatetic dog walker yanked about

by an amber-eyed Weimaraner reflecting on the fate

of neighbors, some who suffered sorrow

and misfortune, others unscathed, resonate

with good luck, fame and the glow of success.


He grieves for victims as he passes their homes:

a couple down the block who were blown across

the street when they returned from vacation,

discovering a gas leak when they clicked on the light,

a science editor on Glenwood who tinkered

with snow on a T.V., a screwdriver delivering

a fatal shock for his young kids to witness,

the brother on Sylvan who drove off in a hurry

dragging his sister like Isadora Duncan

to a tragically premature death and the mad cobbler

from Philadelphia who terrorized residents

of a non-descript house, murdering a nurse

who just happened to visit on a cold January afternoon.


His melancholy fades as he passes the French Provincial

house built by Harold Urey with Nobel prize money

won for discovering the hydrogen isotope,

can’t stop smiling when he walks by the home

of Captain Hawkeye Pierce, belly laughs seeping out

of the eaves; domiciles that sheltered gifted writers, gaining literary

acclaim, Robert Ludlum’s tales of espionage and betrayal,

Robin Cook’s novels of forensic pathology and genes gone awry.

He jauntily strolls by the colonial Cole-Boyd house with 75

varieties of Iris, musing on painters who gathered

since the art colony evolved many years ago.


Returning home under the shade of century old maple and oak

trees he feels no Schadenfreude for the luckless casualties of his town.

Nothing is safe, everyone has some kind of brickbat with their name

on it through “this bank and shoal of time.”


Milton P. Ehrlich