On Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday – A Poem

Happy birthday Walt Whitman
Two hundred times remembered
Words engraved, memorized, preserved
Immortal haunting poetically still

Dear sir, please, look not away
Though this, not, you spoke beautiful true
Forgive us, if it to be your desire
Selfishly wrecked such fragile beauty

On the rotting wood docks Atlantic
Creaking lapped wave lapping
Once booming bustle freedom
Vacant lonely ghost ship serenade

O’ Brooklyn, sweet Brooklyn weep
Through hustle step toe run around
Manhattan masks sorrows gentrified
Burnt contract breeched profit smoke

Nature chokes a gasping cough
Water spits up trash can careless
Floating death absorbing lethal
Melting we, doomsday countdown

Rest assured, poetic pens still scratch
Birds sing sonnets to the bloom of spring
Ships sail, lovers love, dreamers dream
Baseball played as once remembered

New York is New York, in ways
Though men ruin with thirsty lust
Shameful yet ghosts remain reminding
It began before the rusted age of greed

America, still beautiful messy beloved
Still, rivers, rushing, gushing, into open seas
Poetry matters, more so, ever still
Walt Whitman, your words, more so, ever still

Identity Crisis (A Poem)

Identity Crisis

I’m a man
If that makes you happy
I can’t agree fully
I don’t know what I am
A crumbled newspaper
Insignificant stain
I’m gutter gum sticky
White, sure, but filthy
All constructed bullshit
I’m zero
You have made me what you wish
I just don’t give a shit
Artwork – Identity 2019

Banjo Pete – (Happy 100th)

May 3rd was the 100th anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth. This is a poem I wrote about him a few years ago.

Banjo Pete

You sang about the unions
You spoke to those in need
Carried a banjo on your back
Picking when you needed to sing
From the Hudson valley
To the western shoreline
Telling stories about the heartland
A friend to all you met along way
Even those who wanted to destroy you
Your songs were hymns of reconciliation
In groups the harmonies rang true
Alone you gently got em to sing along
Freedom chants and peaceful protests
Just a smile for the working man
The woods were your happy country
The rivers made you feel alive
On top of mountains a yodel carried
Down on the street you spoke to the young
Years of love for music and peace
For rights and for things to change
When you died we mourned a hero
More so we just sang the anthems of the day

Eating Tom Waits

I ate a Tom Waits record
A1 and ketchup
Picked it up biting down
It was chewy crunch vinyl
Trying to taste the pain
Savor the songwriting
Sharp edges cut my inner cheek
Blood filled old holes
where teeth grew
I squished it into my left side
Chipmunk pouch-like juicy
Afraid to swallow the metallic taste
I felt the chunks of albums
Ripping my stomach to shreds
I spit the blood in the sink
Looking in the mirror I saw my age
No longer teen queen
No longer twenties two tone
Not even dirty thirty
I was grey and cold
Salt and pepper poetic
Lyric lacerating inner self
I ate a Tom Waits record

We are Being, We Are The Earth

We Are Being, We Are The Earth


We become dualistic in youth

Putting one against the other

Establishing social norms

Constructed ideas of humans

Race and gender explained as fact

A fallacy of powers built before

We camp in our valleys

Climbing mountains of hope

Facing weather stormy unfair

Unbalanced breaking beyond

Crying for a voice

Voicing our crying

Soap boxes wobbly reactionary

Revolution of convenience

“We still gotta work”

“We can’t be too different”

“We must adult like adults”

Who are the adults?

Another construct given life

That life taking ours


Foretold in history

Western only apply

Our systems, science and social orders

Arbitrary axioms or apathy

But hope is real

As much as it is not

It’s lives as ghosts around

Sleeping dormant until needed

Burning embers to scorch the soil

Of old ways long instilled

We are alive

We are being

We are constant birth

We are connected beyond

In all life we breathe deep

No linear straight line

It’s all a circle

We return to where we came

The earth

The Slug

Jeremy Mark Ritch 2017

The Slug

Staggered walk into a bar

His belly bulging

Pants sit below the sagging waistline

His hair thin but trying to remain presentable

Nicotine hands

Yellow fingers match his eyes

Liver damaged dare devil

His breath a mix of beef jerky, beer, cheap cigarettes and spearmint

His fat bloated ass covers the stool like a mushroom top

The legs of the chair straining to hold this asshole up

It’s 2pm on a Tuesday

He is at his second bar today

He works occasionally with a friend

Unloading trucks of metal at the scrap yard

His take home is just enough for cigs and booze

His life’s blood

The fuel for his degenerate soul

190 proof chicken soup

The Slug’s thin greasy cracked hands

Holds crumbled bills

Cloudy eyes gaze

Nicotine is his blood

Heart pumping sludge from fried food

Eyeing up young beauties

Perverted and lonely

Hopelessly ambitious

Taking health for granted to live

Smoking to breathe

A voice cracked by hard nights

Hangover mornings

Sweaty waste slumped over trousers

Suspenders stretched thin

He has traveled the States

On rails and bus routes

Spent 10 years in South America

Dodging drafts and bullets

A smuggler of vice

A fighter of bigger men

A troubadour of hobo history

European tours of debauchery

Found a brothel in France by accident

His heart was taken away in a London alleyway

She loved his younger frame

But predicted the end of his youthful looks

He wandered like a gypsy

Only to find himself an alien back home

Friend of writers and artists

A trusted bag man for a time

Wheels stolen in a midnight storm

Con man of legend

The Slug has lived a long life

Many times over

Taking his tales with him

Truth faded into mythology

Now he takes in a happy hour shot

Or a morning beer slurp

Broken smile lunch counter storyteller

That’s the epitaph

Just a Lone Ranger

A trailblazer of revel rousing

This bloated devil once was a dreamboat

Wrapped in psychedelic folly

Demonized and ostracized

Cold and alone

Bottles and shady women

Dirty mind unleashed

He is a hero to the renegade

A waste to the establishment

No family ties

Just triumphs and failures

Illegitimate father of bastard paternity

As the years pass by

He fades

Like a sun set in the west

Slow and beautiful

Yellow, orange and then black

Until it’s the darkest hour

The credits roll

He is The Slug

From “Rock N Roll Tiger” 2015

Fuck William Burroughs

He had written Burroughs several letters in the early nineties, receiving a few responses. Gary had been flirting with the notion of being a writer since he was young, reading constantly and banging away on his mother’s 1954 Royal typewriter.

Obsessed at a young age with books, Gary was enthralled by the magic of Salinger and Hemingway but it was when his youthful eyes engulfed Kerouac, it was the beats became his passion. One day a neighbor was having a yard sake and there was a beat up copy of Naked Lunch, which he gobbled up like a starving dog. Burroughs became his favorite, over all else, and unlike his other idols, he was still alive.

Gary would write his letters with a reckless energy that was raw and full of adolescent hope. It must of touched a nerve as he received responses from his idol, even an invitation. So in the summer of 1993 Gary traveled on his own On The Road journey, and stopped in Lawrence, Kansas.

Burroughs, an old man, was a gracious host and very eccentric of course. They smoked weed, talked writing and politics then even sat in silence. As it got late, Gary felt he should go but William wasn’t pushing him away, in fact it seemed perhaps he was hoping the young man would stay. Though perhaps it was all in Gary’s head?

After his journey, Gary told me all about his meeting with his idol. A Burroughs fan myself, I was full of jealous excitement. He told me “Ya know I think he wanted to fuck me or something?” I said “You should have! It’s William Burroughs, man! Just fuck the old man and there’s your story!l” we laughed but inside we both knew I was right.