as children we called it a teeter-totter moon
sliver of light held there between us and stars
something we could not comprehend in those years
years filled with amazement shrouded with innocence
innocence that slowly faded along with childhood
childhood memories that were pushed away by war
war that took our youth and turned it into horror
horror that still follows into my advancing years
years that move steadily toward their destined end
end as I still recall that teeter-totter moon


inflamed by need
I feel unacceptable
incensed by dread
wounded empty
confused by delusion
a hideous reflection
obsessed by mind
draining self seeking
completion outside self
I abhor my afflictions
overcome by them

for others affection
standing at a crossroads
which way should I go
for such affliction of both
from burning experiences
feeling pain and grief
my truth is something
I’m not able to accept


your motives for doing

whatever good deed

you may have in mind will be

misinterpreted by somebody

then you will be misunderstood

by all those who always hold

their hopes under their hats

while circumstances being what they are

admitting failure would be of little benefit

yet many prefer that state


We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought,
but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.
The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace,
but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools
and workplaces.

Two Choices

What would you do?….you make the choice.
Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one.
Read it anyway. My question is: Would you
have made the same choice?

At a fund raising dinner for a school that serves children
with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students
delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:
‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does,
is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things
as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued.
‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally
and physically disabled comes into the world,
an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself,
and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys
Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked,
‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’
I knew that most of the boys would not want someone
like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood
that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him
a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence
to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
I approached one of the boys on the field and asked
(not expecting much) if Shay could play.
The boy looked around for guidance and said,
‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning.
I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat
in the ninth inning..’
Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile,
put on a team shirt.. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth
in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs
but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning,
Shay put on a glove and played in the right field.
Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic
just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear
as I waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.
Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run
was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture,
do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat.
Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay
didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly,
much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up
to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team
was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life,
moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay
could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung
clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward
to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung
at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder
and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head,
out of reach of all team mates.
Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling,
‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’
Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.
He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’
Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second,
gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.
By the time Shay rounded towards second base,
the right fielder had the ball . The smallest guy on their team
who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.
He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag,
but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too,
intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.
Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners
ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’
Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop
ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base,
and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams,
and the spectators, were on their feet screaming,
‘Shay, run home! Run home!’  Shay ran to home,
stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero
who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team
‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face,
‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love
and humanity into this world’.
Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

Please feel free to pass this along, we all can make a difference in someone else’s life. I have a very personal reason for believing this because it strikes very close to home in my life. My daughter who spent her days confined to a wheel chair passed away a little over four months ago; so I can relate to Shay’s story. We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

May your day, be a Shay Day.


high overhead a golden pulsating orb
completing it’s twenty-eight day cycle
fades to first quarter, new, last quarter

whatever happened to that old man’s face
we looked for in our long lost innocence
could it really have been made of blue cheese

grown older now my thoughts turn inward
recalling one who has gone on before
I keep madly throwing rocks at the moon


what remains of my gray hair

turns a little whiter each day

aches foretell a weather change

legs once strong now grow weak

a slight tremble swirls my cup

causing hot coffee to spill

on this protruding stomach

bringing a quick flash of pain

slightly noticed not long ago

empty hours waiting to nap

sleep has become a refuge

sought more often than needed

while I try to go there these days

and yet, oh YES! I still dream


Talk about a can of worms!
these things inside my head
charging about like winter storms
all my pleasant memories have fled
as if fading strains from a distant violin
nothing other than echoes remain
when these worms start their crawlin’
all that’s left is a head filled with pain

Come out from there you horrid thoughts!
find another vacant space to occupy
before I take this gun I hold in my hand
and wish you all goodbye!!!


Why should I choose to live this way?
Sitting here in a torpid, drunken haze
my view of reality distorted
by the bottom of this dirty glass
from which I take my courage
my only friends those I find on sale

I take my Southern Comfort
to the porch and sit for an eternity
sharing lies and gossip
with all who bother to stop by

Jim Beam comes and lingers for hours
sometimes I take him in for the night
if we are able to find the bed
we usually share with Old Grand Dad
neither Jack Daniels nor Johnnie Walker
ever make more than a Ripple
when we kick T J Swan off to the floor

Why should I choose to live this way?
Because these blessed friends of mine
help me hold on to my sanity
they keep me numb to the pain I feel
everything passes slowly by blurred
distorted so much I can’t tell
what is reality, what is dream

These friends help me through life
one confusing day after another
not quite knowing when one ends
never caring when another begins

Life is quite beautiful here in this stupor
where nothing matters but my friends
I only wish that on those mornings when
I feel like lifting my head from the floor
that Old Crow sitting on the foot of my bed
would stop pointing at me and laughing

—–mid 1970s


Talk about a can of worms!
These things inside my head
charging about like summer storms
all my pleasant memories have fled
like fading strains from a lonely violin
nothing other than echoes remain
when these worms start their crawlin’
all that’s left is a head filled with pain

Come out from there you horrid thoughts!
find another vacant space to occupy
before I take this stupid gun I bought
and wish you all goodbye!!!

—–Jerry Marks