Ron Singer, 2/18/2019

Current Occupation: Self-employed writer and volunteer for New Sanctuary Coalition.
Former Occupation: teacher
Your Short Biographical Statement: Ron Singer (www.ronsinger.net) is both a New-York City lifer and citizen of the world. That is, he has lived. worked and travelled in various parts of the U.S., and beyond. Among his publications that reflect this dual allegiance are A Voice for My Grandmother/Betty & Estelle, a memoir about his immigrant grandparents; Look to Mountains, Look to Sea, a collection of poems about Maine; many poems, essays, and stories in magazines across the English-speaking world; and Uhuru Revisited: Interviews with African Pro-Democracy Leaders.

 

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Bellhop, Nevele Hotel, Ellenville, N.Y. 1956-60 (summers).
 
A paper route paid for my saxophone.
(My parents sprang for the violin.)
The route also forestalled college loans.
But my dad did the math (depend on him!)
and, declaring I needed a “real” job,
pulled strings at a hotel, a den of sin.
My roommate was George Ramos, the barber,
a toothless old man, and Playboy addict.
If my mother only knew, god bless her!
George’s son was a bellhop and hipster,
also no teeth. There were twelve of us,
working in fours: three eight-hour shifts.
My protector was the giant, Les,
who could hoist four cases at a time
–four packed, full-sized suitcases, that is.
“How tall is that guy?” The joke was prime.
“About six-five, or six-six, mo’ or less.”
Les stooped, from shame, or from a curved spine.
Unflappably affable, the best-
natured bellhop, the kindest by far,
unlike us other jokers and pests,
Les consoled me once. Loading a car,
a fur I had dropped lay in the dust.
“No problem,” he winked, “they’re still in the bar.”
I can hardly leave the Nevele
without mentioning its other ghosts:
glass washers, gardeners, and now that he’s toast,
sporting a loud vest, the waddling Em-Cee.
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English/Squash Teacher, New York, N.Y. 1974-2008
 
A teacher, jusqu’au bout des fingernails,
this logo-meister, this master of words,
spouted for fifty years, a language whale.
Through classroom walls, Stentor’s voice could be heard
(though he used neither mike nor megaphone).
“ ‘Dative’? No! Front-leaning rest position!”
the former M.P. would bark. “You moron!”
He’d also bark at himself  –“Fat old man!”–
when he became too slow to reach a shot
on the squash court. We played thirty-some years,
my mentor and I, knowledge sweetly bought.
His idiom, profane, his thinking, pure,
to our weak pablum culture, a shock cure.
“You slackers will pay. Of that, rest assured!”

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