by Mark Tulin

A Skeleton’s Tie-Dye

The esoteric bearded man
at a Dead concert
felt the spirit of the 60s
rippling through his bones
that made his white T-shirt
turn into a tie-dye swirl.

He’s a dancing skeleton,
a man who wasn’t afraid
to let his hair down;
music’s emotion in mashing guitars
made his body glide
down the narrow aisles
of the splintered sunlight.

He understood the Grateful Dead.
He understood the Dead Head dreams
in his stoner hip bends,
head twirls, and peace sign hands.

And when Weir
and the spirit of Garcia
had finished their endless jam,
the young bearded man
put his psychedelic glasses on,
pulled up his hoodie
and left section-H incognito.

Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass

Flames, looting, babies screaming.
Fires destroying nursery rhymes.
Didn’t they know I’d miss my parents?
Mom? Dad? Where is my promise of safety?

Broken glass shatters our childhood.
Bare feet bleed on shards of hate.
It’s chaos and thievery in the street,
arrested for being born under the Star of David.

Soon, trains carry the cold and starving
to destinations unknown
without sunlight, without dignity.
Crammed into trains like cattle;
verminsubhuman, the executioner’s say. 
Dead spirits will haunt us all for generations.

Smoke rising like butterflies from crematoriums,
gold fillings, jewelry piled high,
innocents shot dead into muddy burial pits.
Humanity reduced to disposable waste.
Stacked bodies form ancient pyramids.

Our flesh will perish, I could hear
the God of Abraham say,
but the Nazi’s soul
will suffer forever.

In an Old Pickle Jar

I have nothing to do today
but survive,
shield my head from the sun,
take a nap wherever I can find one.

I exist in a poor man’s swirl
at the insistence of everyone’s
although, barely seen
or heard, 

invisible on the street
like a stray
who hasn’t been spayed,
looking for a temporary home,
a patch of grass to lay on.

I live on the fringe,
blocking out the chatter,
avoiding the police
in their leather boots
and high-pitched sirens.

I count loose change
by chance
in an old pickle jar
as the sun turns to rain.

Squeaky Voice

When I was a boy,
I spoke in a squeaky

I was afraid to read
in front of others
for fear of being ridiculed
and teased.

My best friend had his own take,
said it was my anxiety
that made me shrill like a bird
when I read the Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn.

My doctor said I’d outgrow it.
It was just a phase
of pre-adolescence
I was going through.

I knew it was something
more profound, though,
something metaphysical
that even a doctor
couldn’t identify.

I realized later
that I was afraid
of speaking
in a strong voice.
I was embarrassed by my masculine nature.
I was afraid to be heard. 

Unlike a Dream

As the fire burns
the good Shepherd
abandons his flock.

As my uncle gets lowered
into the freshly-dug hole,
an old bridge crumbles
under a heavy toll.

Faces you can’t see
become even murkier
from the heavy smoke
and debris.

A voice in the distance
cries though you can’t hear
because the respirator mask
is strapped too tightly to his head.

The neighbors who once greeted you
were burned and sizzled yesterday
with all their belongings
and promises they couldn’t keep.

Unlike a dream,
everything is gone
when you awake.

About the Author:

Mark  Tulin is a former family therapist from Philadelphia who lives in Santa Barbara, California.  He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press, and an upcoming book of stories, The Asthmatic Kid. His stories and poetry have appeared in Fiction on the Web, Ariel Chart, Amethyst Magazine, among anthologies and podcasts.  His website is Crow On The Wire.