Thursday, January 18, 2007

"The Great JB" by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

At 15:58 Standard Time, the Crew checked their watches to see,
If today’s Conductor would, indeed, be “The Great JB.”
In he strode, right on time, straight to the Sign-Up Sheet;
Covered all over from head to toe with Outside’s Ice and Sleet.
Assured that the "Cuts" were checked and marked to let the Drill begin,
He sternly cautioned the Brakeman, he was not to drop a Pin.
Pointing his Lamp toward the Baldwin, to announce the start of the Drill;
Relayed signal acknowledged by Horn Blast over the Hill.
Once the Engine started, there would be no second chance,
To regain the time advantage of that Drill planned in advance.
Counter-clockwise, he swung his Lamp, to bunch up all the Slack,
First Pin pulled, a Stop then thrown, freed Car rolled down the Track.
Quickly now, no time to lose, this Movement must not End;
Always forward without break, the "Cuts" rolled round the Bend.
The Cardinal Sin was to pass a Switch, 'cause backups cost Valuable Time;
But being the “Master Conductor;” JB stopped the Train on a Dime.
Hour after unrelenting hour, the Twelve Tracks of the Yard were Drilled;
Shuffled, reshuffled, crossed and doubled, until Car Sequence was Filled.
At 21:58 Standard Time, the phone rang in the Stiles Street Yard:
“It’s OK to pull the Houses,” said GM’s Security Guard.
The Switch was thrown from the “Ought;” putting the Engine on Track “A;”
Lit Flare in hand, the Flagman ran, to safeguard the Right of Way.
Vibrating, lurch-rumbling, screeching-wheels on sanded rail;
The Baldwin began its thrice-time run upon that Iron Trail.
Standing on the Platform braving Wind and Snow;
JB and the Brakeman were getting ready for the "Show."
Timing the exact moment when House Door was open wide;
The Engineer braked the Baldwin, precisely Eight Feet inside.
Knuckles open, then coupled closed, JB leaped from Cab to Car;
Landing on the Narrow Catwalk that for others was too Far.
The Brakeman was running on the ground, to close the inter-car space;
As JB “Knocked-Off” Top-Hand-Brakes, in this furious Against-Time Race.
Forty cars down, inside the plant, JB leaped onto the final Box;
He gave the signal to slowly "Pull" so as to avoid the Sways and Rocks.
Faster and faster, the train pulled out, into the Dark, Cold Night;
A Curtain of Sleet and Icy Rain back-dropped in the Baldwin’s Light.
The Saw-Toothed Tread of the Catwalks, quickly veneered with Frozen Glaze;
Making for Slippery Footing as JB leaped through the translucent Haze.
Autos stopped by the Crossing-Train, sounded Horns and Flashed their Lights;
Applauding JB, as he jumped moving cars, atop those perilous heights.
As the Engine approached the Office, JB leaped down on to the Ground;
Staying in view of the Engineer, as his Lamp wound Round and Round.
The final signal given, was to “Throw the Engine in the Hole,”
The long-standing-record was broken; time to set a higher Goal.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

DOWN by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Deep below the waters at the bottom of the Sea;
To carry me ever deeper still, an elevator waits for me.
Descending into greater depths, beneath the Ocean Floor;
I listened to above-fading-sounds of the waters mighty roar.
Before my eyes were written, numbers upon a Wall;
Evenly marking from 10 to 1, the destination of my Fall.
Exiting from that tiny Room, I stood upon Top Stair;
First of a Mystical Thirteen Steps that led down to a Secret Lair.
Counting backward from 13 to 1, I stood before an Iron Gate;
Somehow I knew admittance was my Code of 3-2-8.
As I entered the Room, I glanced around to see what it was that’s there:
A Stage, a Desk, a Phone, some Files, Cabinets everywhere.
I was standing in the Command Center of the Primate in my care;
He was on the Stage before me, comfortably seated in his chair.
Across the Room was a Hieroglyphed Portal, message inscribed on Papyrus Reeds:
“Enter Ye to the Sacred Temple of Ancient Mysteries, Sects, and Creeds.”
I stepped inside upon the lighted Ramp that led downward from West to East;
Torches held on Great Stone Pillars by every Mythic Beast.
The Ramp turned right Ninety Degrees ever downward South;
Drawing me closer to what I feared was a ravenous Monster’s Mouth.
Once more the Ramp turned to the right, ninety degrees from South to West;
I somehow knew that this would be, my Last, my Final Test.
Straining to see what it was that lied beyond the Smoky Haze;
My Heart stood still, my breathing stopped, as I witnessed what was before my Gaze.
I fell to my knees upon the Checkered Pavement, the Floor beneath that Mighty Throne;
Upon Who sits the Ancient of Days; He who reigns Alone.
No words needed to be spoken; I knew what I was called to do;
To return to the World that’s soon to End so I may die with you.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"QUO VADIS" by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Have ye continually sought answers in the Eternal Quest;
When ye entered into Motion from the Eternal Rest?
To truly know the Doctrine, ye must first set foot upon the Path,
The “Son of the Widow” trod before Thee; struck down by Ruffians’ Wrath.
Look ye beyond the Various Gates, doth yon Masons Light shine there still?
Have ye traveled long and traveled far even beyond the Brow of the Hill?
And when the time comes to knock upon the Door, the knock of that Secret Tap,
The Doorkeeper there will ask Thee, “Hast Thou studied the Map?”

Friday, January 12, 2007

COMING HOME by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Three months into my 21st year, after a three year Tour of Duty, I returned home from Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia, in disgrace; a whipped dog, tail between my legs.

The trip home from Fort Dix to Long Branch, New Jersey, was not an easy one. I didn't have one cent to my name. Not that it mattered; the "Joad-y Suit" I was wearing, probably made from an old Army Horse Blanket, had no pocket in which to put it if I had had one. The only possession I owned, at that moment, was clutched in my hand. It was an Army Issued "get-the-hell-out-of-here-and-don't-come-back" train ticket home.

Everything I owned in my life, right down to my shoes, was stolen from me before I left by those who had called me "friend." Too ashamed to be seen sitting in one of the coaches, attired as I was in thick flannel, I rode the entire 70 mile trip, standing on the undulating platform of the vestibule, between the "see-sawing" cars.

I watched my life race backwards, through the cinema of the open top-half of the Dutch Door, through which passengers entered and exited the train. The sound track of this virtual movie, which could quite properly be titled "Despondency," was a cacophony of monotonous "clickety-clacks" crescendoed, every so often, by the nerve-ripping "Banshee" screeches of the brakes.

As the train approached the stop I dreaded most - mine; the Conductor began to call out, in mock Italian, as was customary, because of the large Italian population: "Long-a Branch! Long-a Branch! It's-a Long-a Branch, she's-a next!" As usual, all of the wealthy passengers who lived in the "Palaces" beyond the "Servants Stop," would laugh at the daily joke, mutter incoherent sentences, under their breath, generously punctuated with ethnic slurs, such as: "Dago" "Wop" "Ginzo" "Garbage Eaters," and other demeaning adjectival words, used in those times to describe Italians, then look to see who it was who would be departing the train.

On this day, the sole focal point of this repetitive play of glares and stares, was me; a Welsh-Irish-English kid, grandson of former indentured servants to the world's wealthiest Jewish families, who lived and summered, as Royalty, in Deal, New Jersey.

I'm not exactly sure when "Long Branch" became "Long-a Branch." One day, without warning, we found ourselves living among thousands of transplanted olive-skinned Mediterraneans who grew their own grapes, made their own wine, forbid their children to play with the "Ereesh-Amedicans," placed religious statues in their yards, and spoke in a Neapolitan dialect which defied translation.

At age 17, I had tried to escape this pre-ordained existence of mediocrity and servitude by joining the Army and taking advantage of the promises of upward mobility that would be possible through the GI Bill, which was only days away from being discontinued. Now, even that little bit of hope was gone.

There were no bands to greet me, no crowds to hail a conquering hero, no friends or family to meet me and welcome me home. Instead, I took the first of 5,000 steps upon the "Path of Humiliation," and started to walk the two mile gauntlet from the station to Joline Avenue, amid the pointing fingers, laughs, and taunts and jeers. I was oblivious to all of this because all that gripped my being, at that moment, was the thought of my last steps, when I would have to stand before the man I most feared in my life - my Father.


At 79, I am now 10 years beyond the age my father died. Although he never said he loved me or hugged me or kissed me, was out of my life during the war years, 1941-1945, which left me open to every kind of predator imaginable, and was the strictest disciplinarian of any fathers I have ever known, I miss just seeing him there and letting him know that someone he never suspected, loved him and admired all that he was, and was so proud that he was my Dad.

When he named me by his name, he must have had high hopes for me to achieve and accomplish the things that would have been rightfully his if circumstances had been different.

He never blamed me for dragging that name through the dirt and never judged me for the insane life I led. If ever there was a Prodigal Son I was it, and he was always the silent understanding father who allowed me to stumble and fall, but was always there for me when the chips were really down.

I now know how much I must have wounded his feelings and how much he must have really loved me because I know how much I love my sons. He must have felt things he didn't know how to express when he looked at me, the way I look at my sons, the way they look at their children, my grandchildren. I wish he were alive today to see that for whatever God given reason, I am the father of the sons my father deserved to be his sons.

Thank You, Lord, for accepting me as the one to bear the Cross so that my Six Sons, my Six Points on the Star of Your Beloved, David, may wear the Crown.