The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 9 Stories by Harry Martin Polis
             Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis

 Many years ago, I learned a lesson.  That lesson was re-affirmed when I started working for the school district.  I was not my job.  I have been lots of things over the years including a police officer, a store clerk, a soldier, and a disciplinarian.  When people try to classify me by what I do for a living, I carefully separate myself from the jobs I have held.  If anything, I am a poet and a writer in my heart.  I was a poet as a young boy, and as the years flew by, I continued to write, even while I earned a living at other jobs.  Of course, each job added to my experience with people and my insight into myself.  These have been experiences a poet and writer needs in order to relate his feelings and ideas to other people.  God gives us talents and poets (and all other artists) surely are committed to a higher authority.  

 Years ago, I tried to connect who I was to what I did.  When I retired, from the Police Department, I felt somewhat lost for a while.  Then I realized who I was, aside from that job.  I had to have time to remember, to get back into touch with the young man I had been.  Gradually, I matured into my full adult self.  By the time I went to work for the school district, I had no illusions about not being my job.  Knowing that gave me a freedom and the ability to see those around me without blinders.  There were some people who needed to feel above me in order to feel good about themselves. They could not see who they were beyond their jobs, and they treated others poorly, just to feel superior.  So it was that I saw and understood how empty those people were.  There are no degrees in Poetry.  It comes from the soul.  Our poetry reflects our life experience and our character.  
 It is time for me to proclaim proudly, “I am a man from my heart.  I look at my life from this point, and no other.”  One of my favorite song lyrics says, “…the lovers, the dreamers, and me..”
Copyright 1999 by Harry Martin Polis with a very little help from his friend Jaynee


 I have a washing machine and a garbage disposal. Each is equipped with a reset button that can be pushed when either appliance is overloaded or out of sync.  I need this kind of button for myself for times when other people push my buttons and I react in negative crazy ways.  It sometimes doesn’t take much to upset me.  Jaynee or Brian, or just life’s little speed bumps can do it.  Once the button is pushed, another Harry can appear.  He is a Harry I am not happy with, or proud of.  Most of the time, I am a people-pleaser.  I am my brother’s keeper and a caretaker for the people I care about.  I sometimes do too much and I get angry when I feel cheated out of something I feel is due me.  Mostly, I get angry at the lack of help in tackling some overwhelming project I feel unfairly sits on my shoulders.    Who put it there?  I did.  I do not stand up for myself when I need to.  I do not know how to say, “No” or “That’s it!” or, like Popeye, “I can’t stands no more!”  I just brood and then burst out of myself; screaming and hollering like a nut.  
 In life, there seems to be no end in what needs to be done.  I am the sandwiched generation between my mother and my children, especially Brian.  I am, I feel, a workhorse, the donkey, the beast of burden in need of a rest.  I’m weary.  I do not sleep well and I worry about things in my life.  I am just like the garbage disposal or the washing machine.  I work and work and work.  But they have a reset button for when they are overburdened.  They can stop for a time and start over.  I have no reset button and everybody expects me to keep working.  “Lord, please give me a reset button so I can press it and leave my worries behind.  Then I can get some rest for my tired body and mind.”
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.