Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sandyhook The children are unsure Terrified, no clarity of moment A child’s fear, failure of surrounding spirit A child’s terror, that which is lore, and never comes to pass Until it does, but then, not to the child For they are children, urchin spirits running unbridled Across the playground of infinity, childhood never-ending Until it does, but that emancipation triumphs all, Clearly, precisely, devoutly holding a tiny broken heart Unskilled in the ways of the world, untrained, Unaware that atrocity is inevitable and shall not be denied Even by the love of all that is grace as it washes Over the peaceful children, each en-route to singular destiny Who shall know, that, which explains the evils of the world, as the levy For understanding this earth, its struggle, and all its glory. The Hack Poet 12/14/12

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011

10/25 2011, sitting behind a desk at the Master Cabbie Taxi Academy in Long Island City, Queens. Looking out the office window, I see the green glass of the Citi Corp Tower across the street from the Queens Sumpreme Court.

The street is closed off for a movie or TV shoot. Lots of onlookers are strolling by,watching the NYC Hollywood crowd. Most of whom are doing their best, looking very busy and intent..In charecter, for their part in making images to be seen by the onlookers at a later date. They Demonstrate a sense of pride in their work, probably deriving a sense of pride in the glamour associated with the end product. The final shape of which will have little to do with decisions made by them.

Trailers and trucks line the street, all in support of a handful of people inside the Court Square Diner, beneath the Court Square Subway station at 23rd Street at JAckson Ave. where the filming is taking place.

No orders to go today until the film crew is gone. But, the image of the diner on TV will bring in wandering tourists at a later date I suppose.

But today, the real action... is at the Taxi Academy.... This is where hard working folks are all studying to pass the New York City Taxi Drivers Exam. Geography, Rules and regulations, customer servie, defensive driving, and practie exams. All these are appetizers for Friday each week when the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commision inspectors come to adminsister the TAXI EXAM for forty or fifty applicants, most of whom are up late the night before, studying, hoping, for the possibilty of success. Once these future cabbies have passed the test they will be out and about on a daily basis and earn a few hundred dollars per day, ferrying people from point A to Point B...and beyond.

It's been many years since I have drivin a taxicab in this town, but the memories are still thick in my mind. So, I recognize, and understand the anticipation of the soon to be cabbies as well as the yearning that will be theirs as they evolve into the life of wandering. Where few reach longevity, but virtually all who pass through tell their taxi stories for the rest of their lives..

Whats the draw? To make a living, and NYC is an exciting place. The human electricty, the "juice", the current of excitment that surges through all who pass through this town, whether they want it or not. Affecting them in so many different ways as we march toward our individual destinies. Time spent here is not wasted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In and around the blessings of love
Therein rests beginnings of
all that has been and all that will be
Involved to sooth my soul. Soon free
Above the fray, beyond the pale
Gruesome and glory unwind the tale
Untold again and again at length
Unheard in village squares. The strength
Beyond my human weakness grows
a farmers hand, the seed he sews
strewn across a field of blight
Calling all to see the light
of time unleashed, of hate and pain
calloused caress to amber grain
Outstretched to skies of blue and white
Floating toward the coming night
That calls the fires crackling tongues
To fight the darkness on the rungs
Leaping upward, flames approach
Pure in deed where none encroach
Upon Times alter, cleansed, now pure
Eternal rest, love, and cure
That which never leaves the place
Upon which souls receive their grace
God’s breath Bestowed, words unspoken
Wherein all is right, unbroken
In total. Gathered, in total kissed
Lips eternal, none resist
Behold life’s thoughts and breath divine
To which I fear not to resign

T. Butler Gelber
The Hack Poet
(c) All right s reserved

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cabbie Prince RIP

Cabby Prince


It was a long time ago in a place called Long Island City N.Y. Long Island City was a small community on the East River in Queens New York that holds two gateways to Manhattan. The Queensborough Bridge and The Midtown Tunnle, and at that time was mostly warehouses and old three story one family houses many of which had been turned into three apartments.

I came to Long Island City to find a job as a taxi driver, and after eight months of commuting from sixty miles away I found an apartment on and old cobbled street, 43rd Ave. in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge.

It was a era of discovery. In those "Good Old Days" I fancied myself a poet, and spent a good deal of time with a pen in my hand serving my angst with rhyming couplets and an occasional exercise in iambic pentameter. They were glorious times of uncertinty and exploration for a Brooklyn born white-boy running away from the suburbs and coming home to New York City.

In my quest for action, and too be seen, I arranged for a small theater at 500 Greenwich Street where I would read my poetry. Another taxi driver was convinced to join me and Hack Poetry was born........

Our first reading was furiously promoted by ME...Flyers, lots of flyers, and calling all the local "cool" news outlets and some of the upper end ones. The night before the grand event my phone rang. It was Marc Singer from the New Yorker and he was planing to come to the reading..WOW....I had nudged the receptionist at the New Yorker and she apparently had obliged and sent the flyer up the food chain.....So we would have at least one person in attendance.

We were two rookies but none the less adreniline pumped and after about an hour of taking turns reading our poems we served some juice and cookies to our now swollen audience of seven people and then adjourned to Joes Bar on 6th Street in the East Village for the night.....A SUCCESS

On August 19 the New Yorker hit the stands and we were celebrities at the Taxi Garage. dozens of drivers came to tell me that they had read the article....One, a tall thin man name Pete asked if he could read a poem at the next event....What next event..."Sure" I said.

A day or two later he approached me at the Taxi garage and began describing the poem he was going to read and reading me excerpts....He further explained that he was going to wear a Zorro Mask and call himself the Cabbie Prince....WHATEVER!?

When the night arrived, there he was. Six feet twoo inches of denim wearing the Mask Of Zorro. When his turn to read came he stuttered through a beautiful poem laced with racisim and hate for his passengers. I cringed at his crowning line as he uttered the words "French men and N$%#^ don't tip. And those fat F%$%$ Arabs, but here comes the ship"

The dozen people in the audience could not stop their jaws from dropping....We sat agape, my girlfriend, who is a very dark skinned lady looked at me in a hurt way as if I had said it.....It was raw poetry in a raw place spoken by a raw man in a raw way...indigenous art...before rap had conquered....

He slogged on and closed his poem with lines of beauty...."New York City, I'm part of its energy, power and pain, tomorrow I'll do this all over again, and again and again till I shot in the head, die in a crash or just plain drop dead. Randals Island not known for its beauty, on my stone let it say, Prince of Cabbies off Duty"

A smattering of applause and he walked off....

Hack poetry played in various off off off broadway venues for three years developing into a reading and poetry contest, but after a year or so The Cabbie prince didn't come around. I learned he had died in a fire in his apartment in Long Island City, apparently from smoking in bed....He was a heavy drinker so I was not surprised, but I was troubled as he was the first of my contemporaries to die, and in such an awful way.

I, and one other hack poet held a memorial reading at the RED ROOM in Hells Kitchen in his honor. It was scantly attended. I had an audio tape of his first reading which we played for those present to hear...." ON my stone let it say, Prince Of Cabbies, OFF DUTY".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Freedom Lurks

Freedom Lurks

tuning the instrument, sharpen the blade
statements avoided intend to degrade
the life and the times of the one who now goes
back to the streets with the little she knows
about finding the freedom now forced upon all
who call the hawks tune then run to forestall
what will and must be, graded in turn
by the life that we live with a lack of concern
for all that once mattered and what matters yet
to be scattered in places, order upset
for now and tomorrow, future uncertin
the play unfolds, regardless the curtin
floating about, above and before
memories off track live to restore
the moment of change, long ago hidden
grasping for freedom, long since forbidden
to alert, challenged voices, a choir extended
not a soul in the mix ever defended
by those who aquire what's left on the table
as bartering fails leaving me able
to scoop up the chips, counted at length
feeding my soul and restroing my strentgh
of what is and what was, and what one day might be
the path less enjoyed by those searching for me

T. Butler Gelber
A.K.A. The Hack Poet
(c) All rights reserved
November 16, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

On The Seat

Lady killers walkin, struttin their stuff
I'm lookin on from my retreat
I've heard those lady killers can play kinda rough
wish there was one I could meet
Lately in the evening I cruise on by
But I've surrendered any thoughts of ever giving them a try
and I doubt they could ever take the heat
Of this grueling life on the seat

Lonely tourist cameras hangin from the necks
of full fledged world travelers from Rome
Got all the balances, passed all the checks
How else could they be so far from home
But life always happens, no matter the cost
You'll pay any price to avoid being lost
So you hop into a yellow car with a man knows the street
Its a God Damned lousy life on the seat

Halloween is wild night, costumes for the Queens
make-up and paper bags for those of lesser means
Park Avenue and Amsterdam go their separate ways
the lonely kid who drank too much is the only one who pays
with unreported income, the Policemen's Gala treat
Just check your soul and uniform and come cruising on the seat

Miles of city streets go rolling by each day
Towers view the suburbs from aloft
second story windows blow those sights away
showing me reality....so soft
I hold my position, I gamble not to lose
I keep my car in drive always set to cruise
like a keystone cop I'm on the beat
I love it, on the seat

(c) Terence Gelber 1991
All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The deluge continues, I am numb from the rains,
that scour my essance enroute to the drains
now full from the storms relentless attacks
taking credit again as my resolve again cracks

I have done nothing wrong, I yearn to be true
yet I stand here alone as rivers wash through
making easy my life, to be seen through the storm
cut loose from its moorings, hard to get warm

The storm rages within me, fear ebbs and flows
I know what I feel, don't care if it shows
confusion, delusion, shown clarities mark
On destinies roadmap, ever so dark

I have already climbed to the great mountains peak
And back to the valley where solace I seek
evades me and haunts me, puts me to task
granting no pardon for questions I ask

So back to the mountain, upward and onward
looking over my shoulder to know the way forward
bankrupt, befuddled, alone and dejected
praying for guidance, and to be protected

from actions of martyrs caught in that river
delusions last victims wanting me to deliver
salvation, atonement, redemption, on tap!
a spiritual cleansing, regardless the gap

between rightly and wrongly here stalled in mid-air
a hundred years hence not one sould will care
as their river rises and their lifes flood stage calls
amidst lifes convenience as their sanity stalls

and madness proclaims to those burdened by choice
to choose one or the other the invisible voice
screeching, and screaming with ultimate candor
to that place in your heart where the devil will pander

to the weekness of man and the strength of resolve
both guided by fortunes yet to evolve
in the guise of adornment and statues bedecked
from the past to the present agenda unchecked

(C) Terence Gelber
All rights reserved