SECTION THIRTEEN
POETRY PAGE

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COLUMN SIXTY-EIGHT, FEBRUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)

LETTER FROM ED

[Born in 1917, Ed Galing calls himself the Poet Laureate of Hatboro, Pa.  He doesn't have a computer, prefers a typewriter and bangs out chapbooks---22 of them so far. His latest is TALES OF SOUTH PHILLY, PUBLISHED BY Fourstep Publications.  Here's another letter from Ed and seven poems from TALES OF SOUTH PHILLY, which sells for five bucks.]

30 OCT.

dear al

thanks for the material you sent me, and your kind words. i appreciate it very much. sometimes i wonder if it's worth it, but when you tell me things like you do, i just want to continue... the small press has been good to me. and i am being published everywhere. still i feel not enough is being written. by me. reading that letter about my 2 sons, i feel i have done them both an injustice ... it was kind of tongue in cheek, you know..i love both of them very much, and they love me too.

i recently made CHIRON REVIEW: photo and poems. also a few others. even got 15 bucks from one magazine....      hey, i am rich. AL, I AM SENDING YOU MY LATEST CHAP, TALES OF SOUTH PHILLY. feel free to use   any of the poems on your website that you want. You have enough in this chap to keep you going for a long time. however, tell me how much you like, or dislike this. okay? keep in touch. love, ed galing        3435 mill rd. hatboro, pa 19040

* * * 

by definition

you just don't come
to live in south philly
just because you like it
        here...

you come here the hard
way,
the way I got here,

some people came here
when their luck ran out,

and they had no where
else to go,

the poor ones, like the
jews and the italians,
got here by just gettin off
the boat,

lookin for an easy place
to flop,

south philly is the kind
of neighborhood

where people don't give
a shit if tomorrow never comes,

just so long as they can
cop a feel, drink a bit a wine,
and speak their mind....

i am proud of the fact that
my old man dumped us off in
the poorest section of the city ..

i don't mind the garbage
in the streets,

and the way the wind whips
old newspapers everywhere...

my favorite place is
the corner,

here, right outside jakes
candy store, i hang up with
my gang,

we shoot the shit, talk girltalk,
and whistle at the chippies
walkin along the streets...  ##

* * *  

strip tease

the house i lived in
was three stories
 

and i lived there
with my mom
 

cause we had no
man in the house
 

he had skipped years
ago and left
us on welfare...
 

the house belonged to
someone, and rented
out rooms for extra
money
 

we minded our own
business
 

my mom busy working
durin the day in a
chicken store
 

and me finding the
peep hole one day
 

which led to another
bedroom where four girls
the daughters of the guy
who owned this place
 

took their daily showers,
lyin naked on the bed,
their fine boobs firm and
succulent,
a flash of thigh and dark bush,
and backside,
 

and i'd watch them laughing,
foolin around, lyin on the
bed rollin around in nakedness,
 

not knowin that my eye was
enjoyin treats of juicy fruit
that south philly was famous
for.  ##
 

* * *

love on the sly

when I lived in
south philly

there were easy
girls

who would give you
anything on the first
date

we'd raid the ice box
first

then we'd snuggle up
in the parlor

when their parents
were away

and we'd try to make
out

cause south philly girls
came from poor houses

and dreamed of movie
stars like Gable
or Stewart

or maybe fred astaire
wantin to dance like
ginger rogers

but we guys had
different ideas..

we were more like
cagney or the duke..

know what I mean?

both of us made out
in our own ways

and chalked it up
to experience.  ##

* * *  

south philly

Nobody who
ever lived in
south philly
 

ever forgets
it.
 

the streets are
narrow.
 

the winter is
brutal.
 

day or night
someone is beatin
the hell outa their
old lady
 

or someone is
pullin a trigger
in anger
 

south philly
is tough
cause you gotta be
 

the only ones who
are soft are the
women
 

who like their
picture windows
 

showin some kinda
statue like the virgin
mary
 

and keepin their front
steps clean
 

and sendin their kids
off to school
 

hoping they aint
packin sornethin diffrunt
inside their lunch
 

and will come back
in one piece.  ##

* * *

south philly too

at sixteen i hung
out around fourth
and porter streets in south
        philly  

porter street is one
of the better streets
 

it's wide, and the houses
all have porches on em,
and are next to each other..
 

oftentimes i could hear
what was goin on next door
by puttin my ear to the wall...
 

my mom was good at makin me
eggs for breakfuss....
 

she was very pretty, had dark
hair, and a small slight
figure, and was allus cheerful...
 

she liked to clean the outside,
would grab a broom and sweep the
whole sidewalk,
 

and all the neighbors liked her..
we lived mostly in a jewish
part of the street,
 

and one thing about south philly
people,
 

they kept to the holidays,
like the big religious ones,

both gentiles and jews alike...  

each one had their own services,
and respected each other, too...  ##
 

* * *

dance time

we had these block
parties around

sixth and snyder avenue

every summer  

we would close off
the street
 

put up some fancy lights,
put up a bandstand in the
middle of the street,
 

turn on the radio,
get some nice tunes
 

and swing and sway
with sammy kaye
 

or benny Goodman
for the hot ones
 

at night we would hold
each other close
 

all of us rubbing it
up a bit,
 

sweet sixteen and all
that crap,
 

and we'd dance the night
away, and hide our erections

if we could...  ##  

* * *

a degree

you dont find anyone
with a college degree
workin in south philly
 

we all got degrees
you never heard of
 

joe brown next door
to me drives a truck
 

he's got a degree
in hard knocks
 

driving long haul
for days at a time
 

and he brings home
a coupla hundred a week
 

but don't have much left
after he pays the rent
 

minnie the butcher
lives across the street

on fourth and dickinson  

we buy all our meats
in her store
you see all those diffrunt
things hanging on hooks

like chickens and ducks  

minnie is a small fat woman
and her husband moe is short
and bald and hacks a knife
like nobody
 

he can cut a piece of meat
with one swoop of his thick arm
 

these are my people and they
got degrees in life
 

and nobody in south philly
would have it any
    other way.  ##

* * *

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