POEM: Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch


Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch – by Mark Roman
This is an essay that became the current poem, but feels like it wants to be lyrics to a song.
I have more work to do…

I.
Why do I struggle in this culture so coarse?  
Why don’t I pursue profit without remorse?
Why do I want to heal, write and sing?  
And feel guilty every time I permit that fling?

REFRAIN
See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  
So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  
But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?
Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

II.
Is it because I grew up Kimmy Schmidt, not boy but man?
Inside the body of that Eagle Scout son of Willy Loman?
The not yet dead salesman of creeds and policies.
Always at the Goddamn fucking knee of Elmer Gantries.

III.
Is it because I’m still technically Catholic, brother?  
Chained to a Pope enrages a father. But satisfies a mother.
A mother after whom my nurtured fears did once lust.  
A second awkward marriage averted. Back to dust.

REFRAIN
See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  
So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  
But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?
Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

IV.
The student paper I wrote & published, why could I not let it go?  
That right wing Ken Doll pub crawl college boss sure hoped so!  
See he had a lot of agape to give.  If the smoking gun found sun.
Understand they wouldn’t. Especially his lady’s groom. His son.

V.
Everyone wonders why that abundant happy salesman not in my bones.  
Something completely different than Dad’s insurance.  Like mortgage loans?
Harness my wit and charms to sell whatever’s not yet criminal in this port!
Grab my “fair share” and do it before the next Great Depression or Big Short!  

REFRAIN
See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  
So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  
But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?
Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

VI.
To love what you’re supposed to do is just a decision away.  
For those not burdened with too many questions to parlay.
Produce for the consumers. Why not Abide? Like The Dude?
Why so fucking depressed and homeless you silly white dude?

VII.
When the vultures steal and enslave, why don’t I in kind retaliate?
Their tactics are worldly and wise, why should I not embrace?
And so to my ground zero arrive the charity of career counselors
What the Goddamn fuck happened to all the emergency responders?

REFRAIN
See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  
So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  
But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?
Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

VIII.
Doctors without board certified want to medicate my personality away.  
Soma.  For the masses.  If the theatre of Mass is not enough to assuage.  
The good citizens annoyed at the disease of my eyes that see.  
Why so stubborn?  Why not “get over it” and assimilate like we?

IX.
Why is merely being me an act of open revolution against the established fable?  
Why does imminent homelessness bring suicidal thoughts to the food stamp table?  
Mommy gave me religion.  And taught me to read.  Dark & Light, The Force indeed.

REFRAIN
See scrolls, screens and stages speak to me indeed.  
So many died, some lived, that I might listen, watch and read.  
But why did Mommy transmit that curious reading itch?
Why me? Kimmy Schmidt? Son of Elmer Gantry’s bitch?

© 2016 Mark Roman aka Mark Nehls – TheMarkRoman.com

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Beasts of Catharsis


The two stories that jump out at me this morning fit the binary math of broadcast news: rubberneck and feel good.

  1. Teenager Stabs Himself to Death on Stage

Fellow humans have taught me I’m supposed to experience “catharsis”, the Greek word meaning, as my high school Shakespeare teacher Mr. Duda taught me, “glad that ain’t me”.  I should judge this teenager for being selfish.  It wasn’t about him.  The people he “left behind” are more important.  Look at all they did for him … before he took his life.  Our “world class” health care system did its part.  He probably didn’t even pay his bill, so serves him right.  Why was he an artist?  It was just an open mic.  Looks like the music career he “tried” didn’t work out.  Why didn’t he go get a “good job”?  You know, as a salesperson or a lawyer.  Or a doctor.

2. UCLA Signs 9-Year Old Battling Brain Tumor

What do you mean hospitals like UCLA and USC follow a policy of patient dumping at Hollywood Bowl (after they got caught dumping downtown)?  My alma mater would NEVER do something like that!  Look, UCLA just signed a cancer kid!  What concussion?  Sports heals!  Especially if I get my spread this weekend!  What are you gonna tell me next, that my church rapes children?  That the electronics I’m using this very moment are built from raw materials stolen by child soldiers?  That our entire banking system is built on lies, fraud and crime?  Why can’t I just enjoy my $5 morning coffee and pretend everyone who feels the sun like I do now hasn’t a care in the world?  Why is that so wrong?

Health “Credit Card” Dangers, the “Interest” of Convenience, Ignorance


Hannah Seligson’s The Pre-teen Girl Mystery on The Daily Beast caught my attention, and is apparently not the first news story on bisphenol A.  Further reading on the Wikipedia page for bisphenol A is eye-opening.  Of course a Google search yields obvious plastics industry spin.  It got me thinking, not just about a particular toxin or the health of some people, but about all toxins as they affect every human . . . and what can I do to stay healthy?

I’m not a big fan of government action.  America started with the allegation its government could protect life, liberty and property.  Until the Feds get a handle on murder, theft and infringements on liberty, I’m in no rush to suggest any new business.  I also object to the notion that some outside institution or entity is responsible for the quality of life of every individual, beginning with me.  So I’m not advocating some spectacular new politics to keep us all healthier.  Why wait for an “act of Congress” with all the urgency that suggests when I can choose to do something NOW?

I choose to think a bit more about what I ingest on a daily basis, and make consumer choices that reflect my conclusions.  Take microwaves.  Some science and stats help (1, 2, 3).  But intuitively it doesn’t make sense to me that eating something I just “nuked” will lead to a happy ending.  I hate microwaves.  When I cook at home, I use ovens and stoves.  When I eat out, even fast food I prefer microwave-free, so Baja Fresh, Quiznos, and the Whole Foods deli are popular destinations with me.

Sometimes I can’t help myself to a bag of microwave popcorn or the quick McD’s cheeseburger.  But when I do, I believe I’ve just sliced off a few moments of my health and/or life.  It’s like I just charged to my “health” credit card an act of eating for the sake of convenience or taste or short-term “savings” that will cost me “interest” in the form of a complex web of known and unknown future health problems.  That is my thought process.  I’ve chosen to deliberately live healthier.

Canned food is another problem for me.  With the issue of food quality, nutrient levels, and freshness, I really didn’t need another reason to avoid mush from tins.  Now apparently there could be an issue of toxins in the plastic resin involved with the sealing of the can.  Shocking.

I don’t need a doctor or health official to tell me that sticking my hand in a pool of molten lava might negatively impact my health.  Is it a crime for me to choose to slightly enhance such health knowledge?  Not if I am a free, thinking citizen.  So here is what I choose to do, for the sake of my health and the health of anyone who might be watching me (yes, whether we admit it or not, we all see actions in vivid technicolor despite the noise of words):

  1. Trust my instincts
  2. listen to and learn my body at least as well as I do my technology
  3. remain curious, ask questions
  4. use the web, social networking and real world networking to discover and learn
  5. qualify sources, especially when they boast titles, degrees, licenses, or government authority
  6. notice trends, patterns

Many students just graduated.  Unfortunately most of them will look for a job because they were trained to follow and not question or think.  My education BEGAN when I was expelled from college for publishing a newspaper.  My health is tied to my education, which is a lifelong journey.