First You Laugh
p r o l o g u e

Over the past 40 years, my writing has often reflected themes that are both autobiographical and universal in nature. Most human beings, regardless of cultural, religious or economic differences, travel a similar path, though some are rockier than others. In life, we all face many ups and downs, difficult trials and tribulations, and have to overcome a multitude of tests and obstacles. I am no exception. My book, First You Laugh (How to Live Your Life in Love), presents 129 poems, and 31 family photographs that reveal my deepest thoughts and feelings about the commonly shared human experiences of love, marriage, birth, babies, children, death, divorce, family, spirituality, healing and re-birth.

The book is divided into three sections, which represent three major periods and events in my life:

First You Laugh contains poetry about my first wife, Marsha and our first-born son, Blue. Written from 1969 to 1974, many of the poems are simple, sometimes even naive. They are nonetheless filled with love and innocence, and flow with the hopes and dreams of a "young man born with a golden spoon in his hand."

Then You Cry includes poems written from 1989 to the present. Some explore and even attempt to explain the indescribable pain, guilt, grief and anger that I have oftentimes felt since the 1992 divorce to my first wife, and a Thanksgiving, 1989 car accident that took the lives of our son, Blue, our daughter, Dovee, and my mother, Alice, caused serious injury to me and our son, Noah

Then You Laugh Again has poems and short stories written during the same time period of 1989 to the present. They celebrate two monumental aspects of my life today. One is my passionate, romantic, joyous and successful marriage to my second wife, Abby, where the "quiet hum of the love of a man for his wife reaches into every cell." The other is the safe, happy and loving home we have created for Noah and our son, Justin. This last aspect is a true testimony to the triumph of love over hate, trust over fear, and light over darkness.

I dedicate this book to my amazing wife and editor, Abby, my four children, Blue, Dovee, Noah, Justin, and my ex-wife, Marsha. I want to also dedicate this book to my dear friend and angel, Emmanuel. Thank you for your help and comfort during the darkest times. You told me that I would write a textbook, and that this is it.

First You Laugh

A Blessing For My Eyes

A Composition Of Fallen Leaves and Acorn Hearts

From Winter Is Born Spring is Born Summer

High On Love

Me And Blue

The Lovely Doctor Love

There's A Hole In The Sky

We Always Live In Spring

Open The Door

Song For My Children

Thanksgiving Mourning

There Will Be A Day

The Yahrzeit

Justin And The Woodstock Mama

Shakespeare Within

The Beaver Dam

Time Has Let Me

Who Is This Man

First You Laugh

First you laugh,
then you cry,
then you laugh again.

First you love,
then you hate,
then you love again.

First you fly,
then you fall,
then you fly again.

First you live,
then you die,
then you live again.

A Blessing For My Eyes

Someday is not so far away.
Passionflower of love kicks.
Within your bountiful belly
lies the miracle of the sun-lit mid-west moon.

Perky pelvis rocks to music,
head bursting through darkness into light,
hair flying to where rag doll hands will dare
to touch you anywhere the flesh is taut and bare.

For me to behold,
for my eyes to behold,
is a blessing for my eyes.

Who’s inside you?
Friendly fingers, topsy-turvy toes,
engaged in summer’s swollen battle of the bulge.
This embryonic celebration, festival of fullness,
brings a twinkle to your smile.

Who’s outside you?
Frolicking upon your flatness,
amazing staring at the wonder of
magnificent mounds of milk that
satisfy sweet lips and voracious appetites.

For me to behold,
for my eyes to behold,
is a blessing for my eyes

A Composition of Fallen Leaves and Acorn Hearts

There comes sometime
in this and that man's life,
when he must rise above,
deeply stare about,
at all of nature's wonders
simply reaching out,
to take him for a trip upon his knees.

All those back wood roads
that he had traveled on,
with all his favorite foes
who've already been around,
heard the willows weeping,
barn door ivy creeping,
toads so still as stools,
in waist deep muddy pools.

Silly dream away,
I need not do.
For nature's nearest wonder
is sleeping in this room.

Grasping through the pitchest black
among fallen leaves and acorn hearts,
hoping to find my lover's unclothed lap
to lay my weary kiss upon.

Softness is her remedy
when daylight's hidden melody
refuses me a chance to sing
a moment of its song.
Loving is her answer.
when nighttime's composition
sounds out of tune for me,
words need not be.

Loving is her harmony,
faithful is her harmony,
faithful as the wind.

From Winter Is Born Spring Is Born Summer

We like snows
where the winds don’t blow.
It’s a glorious day.

Trees without a leave
taste white delicacy.
It’s a glorious day.

Friend ladybug
in a spotted costume dressing gown
is calling my name.

I’m home again
snowflakes on my pillow
I’m home again.

We love sunny days
when we’re awed and amazed
at the miracle of sunlight

Trees with leaves,
green baked mysteries,
what a glorious day.

Playmates of enchanted meadows
hear me whisper your names
come join in this joyous occasion

Miracles happen at home
time and time again.
The river is home again.

High On Love

Can’t you hear
when they say
that we’re high on love,
high on love,
high on love?

Is it true
that we two
are so high on love
high on love
so damn high on love?

I will pray
that we stay
up and high on love,
high on love,
gay and high on love.

Is it true
all we do
is get high on love,
high on love,
oh so high on love?

In the sky
is where we fly
when we’re high on love,
touch a star
when we’re high on love,
high on love.

Me And Blue

Me and Blue,
we walk on water.
Believe, it's true.
Me and Blue,
grow from each other.
A seed to tree grows,
back to seed a tree throws.

His pacification,
sucking my lower lip.
His education,
suckling the tip of a tit,
knee glide slide around the room trip.

Me and Blue
assist the rain clouds
painting the sun.
Me and Blue
share love together
with a warm mom.

wrinkle his little nose.
When he's contended,
he'll crinkle his tiny toes.
Blue is our first rose.

The Lovely Doctor Love

The lovely doctor Love.
He smiled,
he bubbled,
he boiled,
he burst so feverishly,
his hand he laid to rest
upon his waist
just for me.

He wanted me to see
that he had healed her.
He wanted me to know
that he had healed her.
That’s good enough for me.
Then I saw his hands begin to shake.

This peaceful young man,
born with a golden spoon in this hand.
All he ever heard was
take while you can,
more money man.
But, all he ever needed were his hands
to till his land.

It’s how he wants to be
can’t you see?
He wants to tell the world
that he can heal them.
He wants to scream out loud
that he can heal them.
That’s good enough for me.
Then I saw his hands begin to shake.

There's A Hole In The Sky

There's a hole in the sizzling, stroblite sky,
through which sunbirds soar, float, flip and fly.
Behind the rainclouds, blue horizons lie.
It's enough to make a grown man cry.
There's a rhapsody of rapture that I sing.
Warm love, into our home, eternally you bring.
Baby boy, together, we have bred.
Torch ballads, to each other, we have bled.

The music sounds grand
from the fiddler and his band.
Praying that this gig
is more than a one night stand.
He heard the pleas
of the damsel in distress,
stole her heart,
left the dragon in a mess.

Strings sing, merry mandolin.
Romance dance, ballerina in a trance.
Making love on the white wings of a dove.
We're a classical duet, composed in heaven above.

The tender touch, ever so slight,
dissolves a child's intense tears of fright.
Without words, communication is an art,
playing squash with pieces of our heart.

Bring the palace lights low,
my knees to the earth,
pay the debt to you I owe,
compute what I'm worth.
Nothing without love.
Nothing without you.
Everything, infinity , a rose petal too,
when your hot, wet, whisper
sighs your love is true.

I thank you now,
before the end of my life,
for sharing my body, ecstasy and strife,
for being my soulmate, my beloved wife.

Strings sing, merry mandolin.
Romance dance, ballerina in a trance.
Making love on the white wings of a dove,
we're a classical duet, composed in heaven above.

We Always Live In Spring


For your fancy
dear smansy pantsy
simple answer
with no fanfare.

You’re the grandest
you’re the fairest
you’re the love
in my life.

Sow some powdered mirth
beneath thy holy turf
in hot blood of earth.

While in morning dream
we are fondeling
your fruits are flowering
we always live in spring.

Feel your felt-fur hair
flow down shoulders bare
now my only care
is to have you there.

I kiss thy milk full breasts
hear me ring the chimes
I touch our first born flesh
slime from hands of time.

Child’s heartbeat
after sex cells meet
in the hot seat
what a rare treat.

It behooves me
to be silly
breathing jelly
in your belly.

When no blood flows
that’s how we’ll know.
Even Duzzi’s toe
ain’t from your toe

Open The Door

I am sitting on the edge of this precipice floor,
looking back at my past with open fists, is quite a chore.
I let it go, it flies away, into the darkest mist of yore.
“There’s a child who needs you now,” God does implore.

I am planning my life to follow my path and explore.
God laughs at me as if I know nothing at all.
I think that love already fills my every body pore.
What do I do if a child comes knocking on my door.

The snow falls down in this and that crazy way.
Then the sun shines again and melts it all away.
There is one thing I know, that is for sure.
If a child comes knocking, I would open the door.

“I am too old and have lost two children,” to God I roar.
“I believe that my heart so sore, I just can’t take anymore.”
“Your heart will grow bigger, there is more for you in store.
When a child comes knocking, just open your door.”

I say, “okay, I will listen, to even the score.
I’ll take a chance with your word, open my heart to the core.
If it’s a girl or a boy doesn’t matter to me at all.
When that child comes knocking, I will open the door.

Song For My Children

My words evaporate into the cold, dark, empty night.
I never had a chance to say goodbye.
I never had a chance to say.

I love you one more time,
that you were beautiful children,
who filled my life with everlasting wonder.

I never had a chance to say goodbye
to the little boy who taught me how to walk and play,
to the little girl who taught me how to dance and sing.

The hardest part is remembering,
then the endless dream imagining,
the man and woman they surely would have been.

I touch them tenderly in the daybreak.
I taste their sweetness in a snowflake.
I testify to the muted mountain,
sometimes, I can’t stop the pain.

I see them floating on the sunlight.
I smell them bathing in the wind.
I hear them laughing at the ocean.
My love still grows within.

Thanksgiving Mourning

Morose, slouched, I pace the unlit cellar.
Half blind, semi-intoxicated,
skin shivering, I am glum with grief.

Rush hour commotion is what I miss most.
Families gather, congregate around a sumptuous table,
spill beverages, barbarically devour the bounty and
engage in the seismic chatter of a Borscht Belt lobby.

Apparitions tug at my laughter,
nip at my nostalgia,
nibble on my dreams for dessert.

Standing isolated in a circle,
severed from my archives,
the music appears detached from the instruments,
Forsaken, I dance the Hora alone.

There Will Be A Day

“I’ve traveled the trembling path you face.
the turbulent terrain you chase.
I’ve learned the blessing that is God’s grace,
grief is not an endless space.”

There will be a day
when the sun shines again.
There will be a day
when the moon stops crying.
There will be a day
when you can dance again.
There will be a day
when your soul stops screaming.
There will be a day
when flowers have color again.
There will be a day
when you don’t feel like dying.

There will be a day,
stumble though you may,
you will find your way.
There will be a day.

There will be a day
when night won’t last forever.
There will be a day
when your heart stops bleeding.
There will be a day
when you can look at photos.
There will be a day
when you won’t smell his clothing.
There will be a day
when you can talk about him.
There will be a day
when you stop drowning.

There will be a day.
stumble though you may,
you will be okay.
There will be a day.

There will a day
when you see the stars again.
There will be a day
when you feel whole.
There will be a day
when you can smile again.
There will be a day
when you stand tall.
There will be a day
your song soars again.
There will be a day
when the lesson is learned.

There will be a day,
stumble though you may,
once again you’ll play.
There will be a day.

There will be day
when clouds won’t hide the mountains.
There will be a day
when oceans swallow your tears.
There will be a day
when you can be with children.
There will be a day
when light replaces fear.
There will be a day
when life has meaning.
there will be a day
you know he’s always near.

There will be a day,
stumble though you may,
for you I will pray.
There will be a day.

The Yahrzeit

I often ponder the mortician's plight.
Bathe, suture, reconstruct my children's' bodies.
Dress her in pink ballet shoes and tutu,
he in baseball uniform, trophy and glove by his side.

This year, the Yahrzeit is before Thanksgiving.
I'll visit the cemetery, recite the proper prayers,
present plaques, donate funds in their memories,
inscribe a communiqui to the community:
I have survived.
I am healed.

Concealed in my closet, I weep daily.
I have been ordained the death expert.
No school, books, diplomas or degrees were required.
Only test after test after test.

Justin And The Woodstock Mama

Born through two Russian children,
Justin began life as an unwelcome mat.
Orphaned, he rocked himself to sleep.
The Doctors masqueraded as angels.
The Nurses substituted for mothers.

He was delivered from that gloom,
stolen through the darkness,
spirited across the ocean,
planted in the valley,
liberated into our open arms.

Morning birds chip away the silence.
Raindrops tap-dance on windowsills.
Pine trees skate in the wind.
Daddy is cooking in the kitchen.
Brother is preparing for school.

Upstairs there is serenity.
With lullabies on her lips,
Woodstock Mama surrounds her son.
Their breaths are synchronized
in harmony with God.

Shakespeare Within

I wish I could write poetry like Shakespeare in love.
I am humbled by the depth of his beautiful words,
envious of his ability to create passion with his quill,
and wistful, unable to express my love with equal fire.

I seek to match him with phrases that roll easily off my tongue,
manifesting images of leaves spinning into fables,
orchid blossoms flowing through my veins and
lilac bushes fanning the blush off her skin.

I envision our bodies stretched breath to shallow breath
over plush hillsides tinged with her laughter,
I inhale the fragrance of her lips
and recline into the quilt of her essence.

I discover that the space into which my love unfolds
follows the channel into her heart.
I explore the songs that resonate within me
until my music vibrates the stars.

I savor her in a lifetime of narration and
ponder the poetry that I have penned.
I may not have forged a Shakespearean sonnet, but,
I believe that I have fashioned a play.

The Beaver Dam

I never understood how he could get so wet.
Yesterday, he stood at the door dressed in
a soaked sweatshirt, flooded boots and flashing smile.
I yelled, "don't get wet again!
It takes three days for your boots to dry!"

Today, we are visiting the Beaver Dam,
delighted that there is activity around the den.
Fresh felled trees, floating in front of the entrance,
indicate that for now the traps have been eluded.

Suddenly, the children are wading in the knee-high water.
They are exceedingly, sloggishly, sopingly sodden.
They have chosen to happily, sloppily, slosh in the swollen swamp,
with little regard for the consequences of their actions.

I was reminded of a moment in my childhood.
Standing in a stream at the edge of a swamp,
where I was once "captain of my wooden ships,"
I raced broken twigs and ice-cream sticks.

Worried my wetness would cause my mother to scream,
I quietly slithered up the farmhouse's creaking staircase.
I remember being relieved that someone else was in the room.
I knew she wouldn't holler in front of a visitor.

When you get old, you don't like to get wet.
You cover yourself from even the mildest summer sprinkle.
But when you are young, and tadpoles are your friends,
you ride your bike to the movies in the rain,
splash in the brook, and jump into mud puddles.

Tonight, my son and I stand in the hallway.
Our clothes are dripping into a pond on the floor.
We are both drenched and laughing.
No one is yelling at us.

Time Has Let Me

Time has let me
forget your lovely face,
through the passage of a decade,
I’ve learned to fill the empty space.

Time has let me
heal my wounded heart,
cease the crawling of my skin,
congeal my ever bleeding art.

When we set out the door,
our smiles filled the night with light.
How could I ever know
you’d slip forever from my sight?

Time has let me
turn my life’s next page,
handed me the perfect road
to process all my guilt and rage.

Time has let me
remember giggles of joy,
grasp that we all die sometime,
even my little girl and little boy.

When I slide into my mind,
if I want to scream another rhyme,
I dig my way up to the sun,
plot a new poem in which love can run.

Time has let me
live with endless pain,
absorb its’ stormy lesson,
enjoy its’ warm and gentle rain.

Time has let me
hug my family more,
sing and dance at weddings,
laugh until I fall upon the floor

Who Is This Man

Who is this man sleeping in my home?

Where has he hidden the baby born in the bathtub
or the little boy who slept in my bed until he was ten?

Where has he hidden the frightened little child
who would only be picked up by his dad during a snowstorm?

Where has he hidden the 12-year-old second baseman
for the Dodgers
or the punky kid who got arrested for shoplifting?

Where has he hidden the young man singing his Haftorah
or the excited 16-year-old getting his driver's license?

Where has he hidden the high school graduate receiving his diploma
or the scared college freshman on the first day of school?

They are all living inside this man
who is sleeping in my home.