Monday, May 01, 2006

Buying A Suit on Essex Street. Ed Galing. ( Iniquity Press./Vendetta Books POBOX 54 Manasquam, N.J. 08736) No Price.

Ed Galing writes of lost worlds. Approaching 90, he recalls The Lower East Side of NYC, the great Jazz players sensuously dancing with their axes, the joys and bountiful flavors of Moishe's Café, the memories of the great and obscure men and women he knew, the prize of a shiny new suit from an Essex St. shop, a boy looking at the riotous streets from a tenement fire escape, and all these images are rendered simply and evocatively. In "Jazz Man," Galing recalls a musician in a cold underground subway station in NY, who transforms the rather unforgiving environs:

eyes closed
his sax intruded
on the din and noise
of a cold subway
station where the
only music one
heard was the
screeching of a

and suddenly the
bland, cruel world
of unseeing non-
caring people became
a paradise where the
only thing that counted
was the beautiful music
he was making,
a solo on sax
both sweet and caressing
in such contrast
to the shrill cacophony
around him.

And here we have Galing as a young kid in The Lower East Side viewing the world from the confines of his tenement building . From: "Fire Escape":

Mine was on the
fifth floor

A small iron

Down below I
could see pushcarts:

Crowded streets
people pushing and

Screams and mutterings:
shouts of despair.

Up here, when I sat
outside the window
in my fire escape

I was six years old:
and already I knew
what if felt like

To be caged in
some wild animal.

Ed Galing and I have been friends for awhile; keeping in touch on the phone and in letters. Ed does not do email! Long ago I told Ed I would publish a poem of his in Ibbetson Street for as long as he is around. To this day Ed Galing goes to "Jack's Deli," in Philadelphia, plays his harmonica, and regales folks with stories of the "old days." The letters he writes me are full of the fears of old age and mortality. And I can tell you this: I love Ed Galing ,and so do many others in our small press community.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update

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