Archive for April, 2010

The Renaissance Women’s Shelter on Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn is a transitional homeless facility, funded by the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

Two hundred severely mentally ill and chemically addicted females sleep there every night. Screams of horror from the girls being forced to take anti-psychotic medication are common along the stretch Eastern Parkway that passes by the Renaissance shelter. Few road travelers on their way from JFK or Long Island step out of their cars in this drug-infested part of the hood.

Until just recently, hardly a soul took notice of this ‘Bates Motel’ on the dirty part of town. Until landing a new job, I never paid the sandy stone structure much attention, either.

The women who live at Renaissance must sense in their rattled big minds, that I too suffer from similar psychological ailments. When demons hound God’s chosen ones, the gifted with their special senses and psychic- seeing abilities can sense when another is under Satan’s influence, and crazy themselves..

On weekdays, when I stroll into the place like the white pimp from Bed-Stuy, I get a chill when the hyenas stare at me– empty and hollow inside, the poor things– their drive to press on remains ripped to shreds on that Lithium, unlike my mind, which just so happened to put aside those childish things called psycho-tropics, years ago, and now is free of such demented thinking.

Oh girls, I wish I could say to you what I want to say as a friend and not a worker here– just run away from this place as fast as you can– get yourself clean– don’t look back– remember what happened to Lot’s wife.

They are eggs cracked in this Styrofoam carton of unfair life; poor beings with nothing to think seriously about or even wish for. Bitches on sedatives that make one’s face twitch and distort– none of them will ever be pretty again.

Those pills– the one’s the city pays for– they not only cast out demons but leave one lost in one’s thoughts with only the hope that life itself will end soon, somehow, without having to do it oneself . Oh how I remember the bitterness, girls– hang in there!

This place does not hire its own psychiatrists, it subcontracts shrinks, just like the security personnel here from FJC Security Services, a mafia based conglomerate, based at a PO box on Long Island. The one psychiatrist comes for just 30 hours a week—time enough to see all the girls– the doctor in the white coat that avoids all full-time staff here is contracted through another city funded conglomerate called not ‘Zion’, but ‘The Floating Hospital’ of all things– how creepy is that? If ever I had a book to write, this is the story.

Let us pray that the funding from the Department of Homeless Services never dries up, no matter how many become homeless in these trying times. These girls need it most. Don’t ever cut them off or put them out at night simply because they didn’t follow some rule of this place– remember what Jesus said, oh yes, I remember, this is a ‘transitional homeless facility’– why are they all screaming to get out of here?

For me, the demons have gone. They no longer seem to enter me, but to the girls, the screaming hyenas of Ralph Avenue– they can still see through me and tell me, in voices of demons sent subconsciously, that I must ‘connect’ for them– somehow.

This place is just another job– the ugly grey walls– the water fountain in the hallway– the dry one with no running water that the girls of Renaissance spit in– not fit to drink out of, but it seems nice that something breaks up the stagnant walls and overhead florescent light around here.

The billing– I got to get back to work. Must bill the city a ton for this two star Hotel in the insane part of New York– hundreds a night, a-piece– just so the city can sleep– a place to confine all this screaming.

This more than just a job– it’s a way to make a difference, a story to be told– and I shall write it, for them the medicated, the shocked.

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It is a windy April afternoon in Brooklyn. The last of five-fingered white apple blossoms cling to stems now covered with leaves on a tree outside; the rest of the seasons first blossoms are on the ground, blowing in the wind towards the bustle of Bedford Avenue.

A city backyard garden, still unplanted, was covered in a carpet of white apple blossoms last evening. A good wine from Australia, red merlot, my bare feet, a book translated from Latin—the third version of such I have read, all by different offers, yet again, the story sends chills down my spine. My toenails sure need clipping and those pedals and the pages of this book I am reading—I’m like a flower coming into full bloom back here.

The wind kissed the earth last night and the dry stems from last seasons garden reappear atop the barren soil as the apple blossoms skirt away. Skeletal remains of sunflowers and tomato vines are signs of an unforgiving winter. Bury them. Turn them under. Make them mulch.

The morning sun at my bedroom window was filtered today by a tree outside that is no longer bare. The cardinals that nested in the apple tree last summer have returned. Life is too busy for me now– I don’t have the time to sit outside keeping an eye on the birds all day– just listening as they sing while I sink into a good book—such a temptation when there is so much to do in life.

Life has changed– so much of my free time is gone. Life was tough unemployed, but at least I had time to vanish into a book. I’m too busy now. So much work to do– no time to tend a garden.

As I peck at the ground of cyberspace upon my hoe of a keyboard, the cardinals sitting in the filtered sun on a fence just outside this morning sing of shame. They sing a tune of sunflowers– if ever a sunflower could write a song. A tweet that serves as a reminder of what I must do in that garden before moving out of this place– leave something for them to eat this Fall– after I’m gone from here– a patch of sunflowers will do. This place was never mine anyway—it was my dead lover’s and he has been buried for seven years now.

Got that itch to get out and not bother planting a garden here again this Spring.

The birds will watch over Baby Girl when I’m gone– the calico kitten that came crawling in from this garden and adopted me and my lover. She died of a massive stroke, it seemed. Bradley was up all night holding her little white, black and brown paw as she went into the light. I was in bed. I cried myself to sleep as she passed. Woke up the next day and put her in the garden. We felt so much better after that. She’s buried out there under the apple blossoms– near the grape vine.

I must plant a garden for the birds again this spring– even if I do plan to move next month– time to go– one can grow sunflowers almost anywhere.

In this garden, sunflowers grow as tall as city sky scrapers; one may never grow one like them again. Perhaps the new tenants that move in here when I’m gone will know what’s to be done out here, every spring, just after the last apple blossom has fallen.

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Peter Cotton Tale

The sun, like a drunkard with a hangover, slowly rolled from under mounds of sheets and pillows– a horizon of rolling mountains– the Appalachians– the heavenly body’s bed.

The glowing orange ball slowly erupted along the Juniata River, warming my nerves, on edge from so much talk of times gone by. Three days in a row I was sober, just listening to Dad talk– like that Pennsylvania sun reminding us early of the heat of summer that is soon sure to come.

The weather was flawless in Huntingdon, PA over Good Friday and Easter. A trip home is always a sure way to dry-out one’s addictions. The visit home offered a break from the booze of New York– a sort of rehabilitation for one who needs a good stiff one almost every night, just to take the edge off of so much darkness.

Poor dad– still ‘clean and sober’ after all these years, gets his thrills from a good hot cup of coffee every morning. So did I– that’s all there was to stimulate us– caffeine– and of course, cigarettes cost half as much in Pennsylvania. No Starbucks in Huntingdon, but Dad knows someone who works at nearby Juniata College, in the school cafeteria, who gave him a few bags of Starbucks beans inside of silver, not- for- single- sale wrappers for the occasion of my visit home. I had to go. It still owe Dad a ton of money from a loan that got me through an entire year without a job or unemployment benefits. But I won my appeal– after one year of signing up with no real check, two administrative law judges decided in my favor– almost enough to buy a foreclosed upon home in Central Pennsylvania.

Such clarity all around now. My how money changes everything! The morning sun lit our faces. In the silence of twilight in middle-America, it seemed Dad and I were the drug and our souls in this time of bonding were being smoked by some invisible pot head in the sky.

Our bright red faces smiled almost identically as we sat shoulder to shoulder on a porch swing, sober– or were we? We turned our content lips with puffs of volcanic breath towards Washington Street and blew golden streams of smoke over the porch banister while birds attempted to assemble a nest above our heads.

Not a single beer made its way to my lips over the holiday weekend. I love him too much to drink around him. Parents who were drunkards are so easily worried. I don’t drink around him, but I often thought of sneaking out of the house late at night after he was in bed to head down to the local convenient store that never closes. Just for a six-pack of beer– not even going to think about trying to pick up some man to blow in Huntingdon. I wanted to sit alone outside in that quiet, tiny college town, and drink beer. Viagra. Dad takes it. He told me so. He asked me if I wanted one. I just laughed and remembered where I was.

I don’t know how long it has been since my abused body went without some sort of mind-altering substance, and Dad, the ex-drinker– hardly shuts up– on that viagra!

“Here’s something for the road, Son,” Dad said on Easter morning. Little white eggs out of a little basket the color of a bottle of beer. Gobbled down two before I got on the bus home. I don’t remember much after that. Memories of my stay slowly became my half-asleep dreams– the American bald eagle we saw at Raystown Dam– the turkey gobbler standing along the winding country roads upon which we drove in Dad’s new car– the talk– the memories of when I was little and got a wad of gum stuck in my hair– how it made Dad laugh when Mom finally had to cut my pretty hair like a boy’s.

“Thank ya Jesus!” I said when Dad handed me the Easter eggs. “I haven’t had a drink of any kind in three days. Sorry, but I must hop along now.”

Dad smiled and replied as I turned to get on the bus– “Please come home again soon. Don’t worry about the money. You won that Unemployment hearing and you’ll have money soon. You should have said something. I would have bought you some beer. All you mentioned was that you didn’t like the coffee we drink back here.”

A bus went from empty to having not a seat to spare by the time the greyhound reached Philadelphia. Had to piss three times– crawling over those people and that horrible smell that didn’t bother me in the least! Husky guy in brown with a big bag between his legs was all I needed next to me– a soft pillow– not an inch to move in those seats– so muscular– so warm– like the morning sun in Pa.

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Appeal This

The New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board reversed the decision of an administrative law judge, who, after two lengthy hearings last summer, decided against my claim to extended benefits, preventing me from receiving $425 a week during this most horrific recession.

I was fired in December 2009 and it has taken until March 29, 2010 for America’s judicial system to reveal the scandal of disability harassment that occurred several years ago at my former job.

Appeal Board members Michael T. Greason and Tanya R. Daniel awarded me nearly $25,000 in retroactive benefits per a three page Notice of Decision issued on March 29, 2010. Of course, my former employer has 30 days to appeal this decision to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, but after reading the three page FINDINGS IN FACT and OPINION of these two judges, the mental health organization for which I worked for nearly a decade will not dare take steps to push this matter further up judicial channels in an attempt to bury the matter behind the walls of federal courthouse and to prevent themselves from having to fork out so much money!

Despite the fact that I was angry the moment I was handed a pink slip, and even though I called by boss, Maria Barreto and “Evil Cunt”, I did not attempt to hide this truth from the court during heated moments of testimony last summer. Inside, I knew I would win the fight, no matt what I shouted as a ‘cripple’, but now, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s services has egg on its many faces–.

“With respect to the claimant’s failure to participate in the November 11th audit that resulted in his November 18th suspension,” the judges wrote, “–the claimant credibly testified that he had been advised that he could have another employee substitute for him during the audit. The executive director does not dispute that this advice may have been given to the claimant. Therefore, an accommodation was made for the claimant and ignored by the employer when the claimant attempted to avail himself of the accommodation. As the claimant was told he could have a substitute, his use of a substitute and refusal to personally participate in the audit does not amount to misconduct.”

Daniel and Greason went on to scribble within in their opinion: “With respect to the claimant’s refusal to participate in the December 3rd audit, we have noted that the claimant suffers from a disability which affected his perception of the audits, Executive Director, Susan Bear, acknowledges that she knew of the claimant’s problem with the audits and the frequency of them…The director admits that two audits a month was excessive and that they would only be conducted if there was a problem with the audit. However, she also admits that there was no problem with the claimant’s department which would explain the number of audits conducted of him. Yet she ordered the additional audits.

Finally, to pardon my foul-mouth, the appeal’s court judges decided:-

“The claimant’s reaction was not unforseen. As his reaction was the result of an illness, he was not responsible for his action. For this reason his refusal to participate in the December 3rd audit does not rise to misconduct for our purposes.”

Not only am I $25,000 wealthier this month, but I proved a point– I’m not the only cheap, crazy person in the world!

To Read My Original Appeal–Click to this Article:


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