The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 19 by Harry Martin Polis
                Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis
It’s A Hard World
 Today, it seems it gets harder and harder just to live our lives.  Our utility bills are soaring.  Health insurance, when it’s available, has seen its benefits dwindling and its rates increasing.  Our country seems to me more mean-spirited toward the poor, and even toward working people.  Bosses seem to have tightened the screws on the workers, demanding more work (and work time) for less pay.  We experience the outcome of this in everyday stress.  We find ourselves short-tempered toward our neighbors and the public in general.  I am glad to see signs on cars saying, “Mean People Suck”, but too often instead they have messages like, “This car is guarded by Smith and Wesson”.  We have road rage incidents everyday.  If you are not traveling fast enough, some jerk will ride your bumper to force you aside, and some crazed drivers will even knock you off the road altogether.  That is not even mentioning the people with guns who will shoot you if you cut them out on the highway, or take their parking spot. 
 Colleges are so competitive that students need to write essays about esoteric abstract ideas that really, are totally irrelevant to anything in life.  The kids are expected to have spent the equivalent of years in extracurricular activities.  Of course, some kids are lucky if they receive a quarter of the education others receive for free.  Jaynee, Honey, and I have all experienced many of those situations.  It scares me to imagine what life will be like in five, ten, or fifteen years from now.  How much worse will it get?  Will it ever change for the better?  We need to work and pray for positive change.  What do we need?  We desperately need more compassion, understanding, love, and caring, for not only family and friends, but also neighbors, and even the strangers we meet on the street.  Treat others how you would like to be treated.  Follow and live the Golden Rule.  Give a “thank you here and there”.  Say, “Please”, and “Excuse me”.  Be civil always. 
 If we could manage that kind of living, the quality of life for all of us would improve.  I may be shouting into the wind, but I hope even a few people hear me and take heed.  We really need to care for each other as it is written in the bible.  It is possible to be civil, be tolerant and charitable, share your love, have enough for yourself, live according to God’s rule, and complete our destinies in life. 

Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.

 In the beginning of December of the year 2000, the world lost a great poet.  Gwendolyn Brooks was 83 years old.  Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1917, she relocated to Chicago with her family when she was seven.  Her first poem was published when she was 13, and soon her work was being published regularly.  Her first book “A Street in Bronzeville”, told tales of African-American life in the ghetto.  Her second book, “Annie Allen”, won the Pulitzer Prize.  She was the first black poet ever to win a Pulitzer.  Over the next 20 years, Brooks won nearly every award in American poetry.  From sonnets to free verse, she was a gem. 
 Brooks thought of herself as a poet who just happened to be black.  She told new stories to people of all races, and no one felt threatened because she was a female.  Her poem, “The Bean Eaters” and “The Mother” (a poem about a woman who mourns her aborted children) were written before Ms. Brooks was 28.  Then in 1967, she changed with an act of courage creating a new voice for herself: angry, indignant, prophetic and against oppression and ignorance.  She wrote of racism and called for change.  Her world famous poem, “We Real Cool” talked about pool players sever at the golden shovel.  I will reprint here in honor of her rage at wasted black youths.

 We real cool
 We left school
 We lurk late
 We strike straight
 We sing sin
 We thin gin
 We jazz june
 We die soon

 Gwendolyn Brooks was a poet with her heart and soul on the pulse of the people.  She will surely be missed by the world.
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.


To read more, click hereand go to the Index.
page 20