Poetry Police

My hillbilly girlfriend in the 70s was funny. Ann was even funnier drunk. Her limit was two drinks after which she was transformed from an ingenue actress into a white trash beauty.

I wasn’t sure which I liked better.

One night at CBGBs she launched into a tirade about the poetry police coming to arrest Patti Smith and William Burroughs.

“Here come the poetry police.”

I poured her into a taxi for the ride home to our apartment on East 10th Street, as she ranted about TS Eliot, Keats, and Ezra Pound. The taxi driver told her to shut up. I informed him that she was a genius. I still think that.

Alice stopped drinking soon after that night, but this week I remembered that the poetry police this week, when the Qatari government sentenced Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami to life imprisonment for insulting the ruler of that wealthy desert country. Al-Jazeera has made no comment about this draconian punishment in fear of losing their financial backing from the news agency’s royal sponsor.

This offense against the ruling family was supposedly directed at the crown prince.

I couldn’t find any copy of the poem TUNISIAN JASMINE online.

The US has a big military base in Qatar.

No one in our government has said a word in the defense of free speech.

Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami has been held since November 2011. His trial was closed to the public. His lawyer said, “The judge made the whole trial secret. Muhammad was not allowed to defend himself, and I was not allowed to plead or defend in court. I told the judge that I need to defend my client in front of an open court, and he stopped me.”

Ajami was jailed in November 2011.

His life sentence has been reduced to fifteen years.

All for saying the truth.

“We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites.
The Arab governments and who rules them are, without exception, thieves.

Beware of the poetry police.

Dif-Tor Heh Smusma

The Masoretic version of the Bible purported that Methuselah achieved the epic age of 969. His name has become synonymous with longevity in the West. No one in modern history has touched his nonacentarian record, although my great-grand aunt Bert lived to 103.

She circled the world in a sailing ship. One port of call was Bangkok. Bert was the first of my family to visit the Siamese capitol, but not the last. Other relatives have reached ripe old ages. My father lived to 90. I expected to hit at least 110 if only because many more Americans are living longer, for wrinklies are becoming the largest growing segment of the population.


People don’t die as much as they used to die.

Once past 30 few people want to live by the James Dean adage ‘live fast and die young.

Even morticians don’t want to hump fat kids and those ghouls will hump most everything dead.

With that macabre phenomena in mind I’m living as long as possible.

I don’t want anyone touching my dead flesh until I’m way pass my prime.

Of course Vulcans like STAR TREK’s Mr. Spock live to 300.

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER or Dif-tor heh smusma in Vulcan.

Flutter Like A Butterfly

Muhammad Ali was undeniably the greatest boxer of the 20th Century. The heavyweight regarded his Manila match with Joe Frazier as ‘the closest thing to death’ as his greatest fight and his recapturing the title against George Foreman in Zaire as his greatest upset. These boxers sacrificed their body and soul during these combats and Ali’s slurred speech has been a painful reminder of boxing’s deadly effects on the brain.

In 1996 Muhammad Ali was invited to Indonesia by the president’s corrupt son, Tommy Suharto, to view a championship bout.

My friend Abe had attended a Jakarta party in his honor and he later said that he had been appalled by Ali’s deterioration, especially when Ali came up to him and said, “You look like my Uncle Ernie.”

Abe was a short white Jewish guy from Brooklyn.

He almost cried hearing Ali say these words.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Fame was fleeting, but Ali wasn’t through with Abe.

At the end of the festivities Ali shuffled behind Abe and whispered, “And my Uncle Ernie was ugly too.”

Abe had to laugh, for like many fighters and the US government he had underestimated the Kentucky native.

The body might be weak, but the floating butterfly had not lost its sting.

Ali Versus Stevenson

Fight promoters were dying to match Muhammad Ali versus the undefeated Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson. Many boxing pundits wrote that Stevenson could last fifteen rounds with Ali, but judging from his reach Teofilo wouldn’t have needed fifteen rounds.

Longer arms.


Better shape.

All action.

No talk.

But Ali had an edge,

Something one can explain.

Other than being Ali.

Black and White TV From Havana

Key West marks the southern terminus of US 1.

I spend several weeks there in 1980 and stayed in a small hotel off Duval Street. TV reception for the Miami stations was weak, however the signals from Havana came in crisp and clear. Most of the programming served Socialism in Spanish, however one station broadcast sports, especially winter baseball and boxing. Americans didn’t watch Cuban TV. We were at war with Fidel Castro.

One night I was sitting in Sloppy Joe’s Bar and the bartender turned on the Cuban station. The drinkers hooted at his selection. The gnarled barman lifted a thick hand and said, “Teofilo Stevenson is fighting tonight. Three rounds against a Russian.”

“An amateur bout.” A tourist mumbled from his stool.

Teofilo is only an amateur, because he refused to sell-out. The mob promotors offered him $5 million to fight Ali. Teofilo said, “What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?”

“Especially those hot Havana chicas.” An old fisherman reminisced about the lost paradise ninety miles to the south. “There was no place like Havana.”

“Or Cuba.” The bartender turned up the TV. “Now watch some real fighting.”

Teofilo won the heavyweight match and I returned to my hotel, wondering how to get to Havana from Key West.

There were no ships.

Cuba was not a destination on the airport departure board.

Teofilo Stevenson amassed a record of 302 wins versus 22 losses.

When he departed the world on 11 June 2012 at the age of 60, according to Wikipedia the Cuban state media stated that “the Cuban sporting family was moved today by the passing of one of the greatest of all time.”


In living color or black and white.

To watch his knockouts, please go to this URL