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Dave Tidman

Letter To My Children;
The Man Hell Didn't Want;
Low Toned Poems for The Sick and Disabled

Father of three children and a Counselor of 30 years , spends much of his time traveling between Washington and New York.

"You cannot live life as a cliché"

Contact e-mail address, Dave Tidman

A Borough Called Route 95

- 5-17 - Long Island Rail Road -

I left to take the train this afternoon.
Its sunny. There is a bare breeze
ridiculing my desire for a lower temperature.

The traffic for 2 miles to Douglaston
Is no better than an old hotel elevator.
Someone designed it to WORK.
That is all.

The station is a bare, simple, and worn
geometric simplicity, lines of rails and concrete posts holding up a platform.

I counted 6 shades of Brown on the tracks.
Rust, Creosote soaked timbers, Rocks,
Third Rail, Spikes, and dirt.

It's brown scale art without canvas.

Once this area was only trees and swamp.
Now it smells like asphalt and Diesel.
Oil is the Acne of Nature

People appear slowly for the next train.
A man bobs back and forth impatiently
at the edge of the platform.
He's trying to speed the train up
by looking down the tracks and "expecting it"

Bent telephone poles lean
either to or away from the platform.
Someone used whole trees for these things.
They'll be there for a hundred years
and a million staples for this and that notice.

A train squeals impersonally in to the stop.
Humans drift with unconscious aim
to a place the train door "should" stop…for them.

Instincts have become
an urge to gamble for them.
Resigned to the idea that
they can no longer tell the future.
A long ago memory
makes them think
it should still be possible .

So they pretend
and hope that it works.
As do most people with life.

5-18 Long Island Rail Road

The "socially popular" state
Once on the train
Is to treat each seat like an isolation booth
Then fortify the idea
By doping off

I think the greatest number
Of things transported on the Long Island Railroad
Is smells like McDonald's French fries
and dead skin cells

All along the tracks
Is painted the theme
"Nobody really owns anything"
Those living along the tracks
become blind to the daily stripping away
of life they once put into their environment

Back yard spaces along the tracks
are a mural of exhaustion
where even the weeds look fatigued.

Out of defiance,
the walls of this Iron Sewer
are decorated with artistically painted graffiti.

There are graphic maestros hiding in the shadows.
Their skill is squandered on retaliation.
Their reply to the command "You can't OWN any of this!"
Is: "Fuk You! Then I'll take what I want!"

These artists may go a whole lifetime

Ghosts of smells drift in and then out.
Perhaps they really are ghosts
taken out of the game before their time
or just memories that someone refused to let go.
Synonyms seldom care what they are called.

The train complains slowly across a curved overpass
in Queens.
It can't go too fast or something might fall off the trestle
And it can't go too slowly or the train could tip.

A rail yard passes by.
Here is the greatest evidence
that, without people,
this is a steel and wood desert of debris.

There is a certain spiritual residue
left behind by the daily lugging of
minds. "waiting to get there"

Convenience and cost are the main
benefits of riding something
so questionably hygienic
that one must wash their hands
BEFORE using the bathroom

The Road to Queensborough Bridge

There are several options for getting into Manhattan.
It's a juggling act between economics of time and the cost of space.

It's after 5:00 - I chose to drive.
I'm riding a camel in a caravan.
No one is going to move
with uncustomary enthusiasm.

Curving off at Van Dam St.
The red stone church sticks out
defying the crabgrass of industrial zoning.

To the east are tens of acres of gravestones.
Three feet apart is tolerable distance in life and after.
Row after row of undignified graves
face the Long Island Expressway,
erasing the sentiment for burying someone.
It is NOT a "rest in peace", but
"move on along"

Calling a Nursing Home "The Pound" paints the picture.

Behind the thousands of granite markers
stand two huge imposing smoke stacks.
Missing, are only the features
of Egyptian head wear, canine facial features,
and a choke hold on an ankh.

The builders efforted to ignore their own frozen sorrow.
There are thousands of dead in their front yard.

Forcing themselves to pretend they didn't care,
that it was unimportant, that it's "Only business",
or by outright bribery of officials to discover
that unalterable laws magically become
a "judgment call" at certain numbers.

Illness would be simple
if one could simply hit the right number$
And things like cancer and Aides would vanish

Someone will eventually
paint the words "Soilient Green" on the stacks.

I approach 59th St Bridge exit.
The regular disorientation of drivers on hot days
has worn ripples in the asphalt.
The ramp is pockmarked with missing pieces of street exposing a halted boil of cement.
A quilt work of pothole patching leads to the bridge itself.

Queensborough Bridge, was a giant rusting weed.
Climbing over everything.
It finally leapt over the water
and plunged itself into the concrete and granite in Manhattan.
The population and traffic simply went around it.

There are easily 5000 Cab and Limo drivers of Manhattan.
5000 English and foreign speaking people
pretending to be Don Quixote.

- At the Hotel -

Today started with the chill following a determined drizzle.
I went to the workout room for enough exercise
to stir the lactic acid out of my system.

It seems there is a level of demand to be placed on a body that eventually allows one to feel that breakfast has been earned.

Four or five potbellied-penguin business types
stroll into the table area.
Newspaper underarm, they waddle unceremoniously
to the coffee machine, to the pastry rack,
and to a table in front of TV.

Latino attendants drift in to clear tables.
Ensuring that crumbs and smears
are wiped off with wet towels.
They wait until returning to the laundry room
and mutter profane complaints.

What they lack in English fluency
they recover in effective housekeeping.
Their flowing dialect, a tap-dance of underwater syllables,
bingles on
like the string of cans behind a newlywed's car.

Daylight scripts through the curtains of my room.
Making its way through the white window covers.
It is a welcome accent to the bedcover's antique colors.

The light nearly exposes the nostalgia
in the image I left here for my return.

This day starts with one strand anticipation
and a hope that leads to a smile.
I could be amused, gladly,
with nothing I know about yet.

- Hotel day 2-

I woke up with little effort this morning.
The hotel room affords one the privacy that might be common to someone under house arrest.
Maids knocking on the door, cameras in each hallway.
At least it is clean.

Someone got in to the workout room before I did.
I can tell they woke up early because of indigestion.
The exercise bicycle seat has been lowered 4 notches
by someone with short legs.
The room retains muffled evidence of their ephemeral trauma.

I opened the suicide prevention window, on the first floor, the allowable 5 inches.
Nobody will jump to death today.
A gust of cold air and diesel fumes swirls in.
It brings the temperature down
and helps dilute the organic residue.

Again the Wobbling march of exec Penguins
from the elevator to the Coffee machine.
How can anyone continue successful business
on the diet of coffee, sugar and bread?
Anytime I tried that menu it only resulted
in tiredness, bad breath and farts.

Morning exercise seems to feed something
that needs it as much as I my breakfast.
All the rain from the past few days
allowed the surrounding audience of plants and trees
to move up in the stadium.
I think plants and trees are how Earth keeps a periscopic eye on animals and Humans

I wonder where the term "couch-potato" originated. Potatoes only see dirt. Maybe the word applies to news media addicts,
or those people so overwhelmed by the volumes of gloom and doom,
that all they can confront is the menu of different ways they will someday meet their demise.

I took a different elevator back to my room.
Small etchings of aspiring tattoo-ists, commercial sketch artists and group admiration seekers are carved into the walls.

There is a new elevator story after every trip.
This time the little fat guy with gas made his way through,
and the elevator car was then "perfumed"
by disgusted housekeeping employees.

They'll find a way to acclimate him
to the expected ambiance of this hotel.

Most of his new towels and sheets will be scented,
and his bed will likely end up smelling like the elevator car.
Fortunately the trail does not continue onto my floor.

I start down the hallway.
There is a faint hint of cigarettes in the air.
Maybe someone is smoking
by the air inlet for the AC system.
A thin overtanned man with a five-day beard and large moles on his neck
swishes his jeans as he clumps by.
The deep creases under his eyes, on his forehead,
and in the back of his neck look permanent.
His thick dirty blond gray hair carries the results
of smoking in his truck cab for hours.

His walk tells the story of a job taken after running out of options.
His eyes carry what's left of innocent honest hope
that things might someday get better.
Life can't be trusted, people can't be trusted any more, and until there is a reason to do otherwise, he drives.

His eyes, once as bright and ambitious as new crystal, are now analogous to the old glass balls of a clawfoot table.

The long drives offer him a chance at thinking through his life.
His effort was sabotaged long ago by limited vocabulary,
limited morals, and limited views on where life can go.

Between New York and Charleston
he searches the same material repetitiously,
hoping to find some unreviewed memory
that will somehow explain his unchanging life.

Crying in confused solitude has never found relief
And he sleeps as an alternative to suicide.
It's something he can do over and over
without going to hell as a result.

He can't afford to quit and can't afford to get better,
so he dreams.

Hotel , Then on the Road-

The Hotel is done now.
Finishing what I came to do has a ring to it like choosing door number one, two or three.

Packing to leave has gotten annoying
to a point of religious damnation.

I appreciate the kindness of a no response
from whatever deity might be eavesdropping.
No one burns. No one goes to hell,
however, an acrid smell floats above the carpet in the rear elevator hallway
Someone washed their dog there
using bad soap or it's some drunk's urine

I drive to the interstate.
Cars bunch up like gangs in Lord of The Flies.
They weave, nervously, trying to estimate who's speed will get a ticket, so they can ride behind him.

There's a middle-aged guy riding the next lane over.
He's trying to shove a cell phone into his brain.
He's listening to some long stream of info, and posing for his mental photography so his memory will read in a professional manner
- ticket or not.

Someday he'll try to look back and the "good old days' will be filled with memories of feeling stiff and wooden..
The highway is a stream of narcissistic cameos

A woman sits in the seat beside him.
She's bored and irritated as he talks to his phone and not her.
She dresses professionally suggestive to accelerate her career.
Political correctness can wait until the weekend and gardening with her Mom.
Corporate check signers need reminding
of another basic urge besides eating.
It's not business, it's war, and it's personal.

I drift into an open tollbooth.
The guy collecting tolls
has six rings in each ear.
He's got massive and intricate tattoos on each arm
a metal stud piercing through his lower lip.

The music in his booth is too loud.
It's the sound track of someone
getting their legs run over slowly by a Tractor trailer.

He also bites his nails halfway down his fingertips

I pay the guy and yell for a receipt.
The cameos behind me fidget and mutter insults
to an imaginary "me" in each of their cars.

There is a greater danger than cell phones on the highway.

Driving in to DC

Washington DC is protected
By a force field called 495.

Each city has it's own driving attitude.
DC is generally careless of the next guy.
I signal for a quarter mile.
I don't exist until I hurl my van
in front of a pimped-out Honda Civic.

He retaliates by passing me on the shoulder
and cutting in front of me, then proving my "lower caste"
by wildly speeding off, dodging
through other people who "don't exist."

It's dusk.
I head towards the twin radio towers appearing
as I reach Silver Spring.
Traffic is congested by mis-timed stoplights
and construction equipment.

Drivers on both sides have a look of concentration
in the direction of the red lights.
They wouldn't admit to trying to "wish" the light green.
It's an effort to make up time lost in last minute fiddling around
when they should have departed.

An older man, dirty green military shirt,
and jeans thrown away by some auto mechanic,
staggers into the intersection.
The complaining horns from stopped cars try to
push him off the street with noise.
It's not really at him but a demand for someone else
to take responsibility for his presence.
"Damn these lights anyway."

The area becomes more rundown
light after light.
The sun covers its eyes in anticipation

Where little shops would be
Liquor and Check cashing stores
compete for space with
body-piercing tattoo shops,
nail salons with hand painted signs,
and Chinese take-outs.

The occasional 7-11 lights up everything
for a block in each direction.
Shadows of bodies on the sidewalk
shift from front to back as headlights roll past them.

A chapter of the Mormon Church sits across the intersection.
The occasional pair of suited young men with knapsacks walk their bicycles to the front door.

Peddling from one neighborhood to the next
they're balancing the tide of evil
as they achieve full membership.

Faith is a valuable thing
for those who've learned
that they cannot know.

New York,….. Again

I usually start with morning.
A decision to wake up.
That's the end of that.

Rolling out of bed ,
sit-ups work to move the sand
out of arm and leg muscles, despite
echo of internal protest at sit-up number 45.
It's expelled by 75

Many things
Happen in a bed
between birth and death.

Horrible insomnia is no mystery.

Too many pranks on sleeping or ill people.
Too many times sent to bed with no dinner.
Too many times faking illness.

Too many times sharing a bed
with someone who doesn't belong there
Or maybe too many times laying there
without someone who should be.
Too many times leaving without saying goodbye.

For me, it is just sand and shadows.
A light ritual for a habit breakfast.
The air outside is still cool.

There is a short whisk carrying
Long Island Sound
Through the trees

A slow and invisible growth of heat
by noon it will pooling.
The entire asphalt lot will be pumping heat
and blaming the sun.

This neighborhood has the residents fooled.
They think they live here.
They're ducks in a barrel
For tax revenues

Ron, the ticket man strolls through the neighborhood.
He has learned diplomacy and patience.

Dealing with people who could sue him into financial oblivion
A few minutes of one-way threats
He walks away with a handshake and a smile
They end up with a ticket and determination
to sue the Village of Great Neck.

Why do people live in an area where property taxes
Rival a year's tuition at Status University of New York?

One family after the next
Madly involved
Trying to steal applause
From their neighbors.

With all this beauty
There is so little

Too Early in Manhattan

Morning is a semi littered sidewalk.
A piece of crumpled paper blows half way across the street.
It's not hard to look at it and wonder which of us is actually better off.

Diners sit behind the greened windows of some small 75 year old restaurant.
Most of the customers eat with the same uncontemplative rhythm.
Do they ever look around or simply go through a habit life, occasionally wondering if anyone else is out there?

The old woman, who lives below the ancient Coca-Cola sign, struggles along the cracked sidewalk.
Her blue dotted dress sways in the breeze
just as it did when her husband bought it
the year before he died.

A pigeon drifts overhead.
He seems to have a reason for where he is going.
Leaves fall from the trees for the same reason:
"because it happens"

The sun pokes carelessly through clouds.
It hasn't decided to warm anything yet.
The greening buds on trees along the avenue try to sell me an idea that it could be a nice day, if I lived here.

I stroll through the next several hours,
hunt and peck through an obligation
to do what I am supposed to,
and glance occasionally
to see if darkness will signal that I am done for the day.
I wonder if the evening might be occasioned by anything interesting besides eating and preparing for the next day.

A stingy array of clouds reflect the twilight.
The horizon it looks like a felt painting on the wall of some bar with tobacco stained woodwork.

I grab a quick and meaningless snack.

Boredom weighs against the idea of wanting to go home.
The bubble of fantasy surrounding interest in travel
has been tarnished with familiarity.
Tiredness collects a toll of expendable attention.

One place is as good as the next.
The only difference is that right now I am here, my thoughts have gone phonetic and, and like anywhere else, when I return to the sidewalk,
I can pretend to wake up.

End of Week

Sleep is enjoyable, eventful,
and unphysical.

A dream rolls by like the moving ad-boards
outside the Midtown Tunnel.
Dreams are ice carvings.
Water made to hold a shape
for a little while

Some noise in my mind takes a break.
Someday, I will train my life
to do the same.

The days came together
a little piece at a time.

I realize, almost on a dare,
that part of me lives
where the future is made.

A thin trickle between there
and thinking is how I tease the rest of me
into forgetting that Present
is just a memory between history and tomorrow.

Copyright © 2007. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Duplication of this poetry and/or art without permission of the author/artist is forbidden under copyright law. Please ask permission if you wish to use for non-commercial purposes
Last updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2007