Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Memorial Reading for Ed Galing by Alan Catlin

A Memorial Reading for Ed Galing

By Alan Catlin

The last Sunday of the year is the traditional poetry service at the Schenectady Unitarian Universalist church. I signed up at the last possible moment this year and faced a dilemma as to what to read. As I told the congregation, when you have tens of thousands of poems choosing one that was appropriate is extremely difficult. Generally, when I don’t know what to read, I read the last piece I wrote which was to be a poem as epistle, in memory of Ed Galing, who had recently died. As with others of my correspondence friends, a letter poem seems the most appropriate way of paying tribute; addressing the person directly as if writing a letter they would actually read. Every year, on vacation, I write a post card to Dave Church from Block island, as I did when he was alive. I see no reason to discontinue the practice now that he is no longer here to read it. He is alive to me in my heart and always will be, as will Ed. 

The problem was, my last poem was not finished yet; his passing is still too new for the kind of distance needed to write the kind of poem he deserves. Instead I tried to find a piece that Ed would approve of. As I said to the congregation, Ed was a simple man, a humble man, who wrote up until the day he died. Apparently that included letters to many he felt closest too knowing the end was near. I wrote back to Ed right away, after receiving my last from him, thinking you never knew which letter would be the last one. Ed was 96 after all, the poetic grandfather I had never known. As I pointed out with reference to the previous reader , who read a poem by Wordsworth’s ships passing in the night, our letters crossed in the mail. 

Ed embodied the virtues that I consider the most important in a man: he loved simply and well, especially his family, his beloved wife, Esther, to whom he was married for 67 years and whose death he never recovered from. He knew poverty but it his spirit knew great riches and with that in mind I read the following poem dedicated to Ed Galing 96.

Love in a Time of War

You can see them, the pregnant women, the nursing mothers,
the lovers holding hands

Their ears wired for sound, one thousand songs for liquid days,
a herald angel’s apocalyptic ode

And for some, the bombs are falling now, all the highways are
mined, the mangled fields are as unsafe as any road

The bombs falling are an aphrodisiac, the shock and awe of love
among the ruins; all their exposed flesh burned where it is
Even when the war is ten thousand miles away

Ten thousand miles or five thousand, it makes no difference, war
is simply something just beyond the horizon and love is what
happens right here

Right here where the black hawks are flying, where the bombs are
smart, the missiles guided, precision piloted reminding us it
is not so much how the bombs are directed but where they land

And who they land on that matters, distance is a factor in a time of war

In a time when we have come to love the bomb more than we love our
fellow man, more than we love ourselves

Maybe, what we know is not love at all but something more primitive,
something bestial and impure

Something that causes us to believe that we are no longer descended from
Angels, unless the angels are the exterminating ones, the kind that
fly on the wings of stealth bombers that inflict their death, unseen,
from above

Consider what they have wrought; consider the light from burning cities as a
celestial event, a fireworks display, a celebration for the dead, for love
in a time of war

Love in a time of war is all we have.

Cherish it.

****Alan Catlin  has published well over sixty chapbooks and full length books of both prose and poetry.

Poem for the memory of poet Ed Galing by A.D. Winans


a rose blooms
deep in the memory bank
in the garden of poetry
you tended to with loving care

you wrote your poems
in the language of the people
kept your gnarled fingers
dancing across the keyboard
until you folded like a ballernia
wavering without a safety net
the black panther of death
stalking your poetic soul

your eyes an abandoned lighthouse
steer you toward the galaxy where
the man in the moon waits
to greet you

your spirit in full bloom
tends to the stars
rides the galaxy
where new poems wait
to be cut into like
a wedding cake

words clear and pure
never obscure
no metaphor tricks
no simile illusions
ten fingers working
the keyboard
like a magician secure
in his trade

go my friend
to that tomb in the sky
where lovers wait
at every intersection
and light shines eternal


 A. D. Winans was born in San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco State College (now University). He returned from Panama in 1958 to become part of the Beat and post-Beat era. He is the author of 45 books of poetry and prose including North Beach Poems, The Holy Grail: The Charles Bukowski Second Coming Revolution, North Beach Revisisted, This Land Is Not My Land and The Wrong Side Of Town. From 1972 through 1989 he edited and published Second Coming Magazine/Press. He worked for the San Francisco Art Commission (1975-80), during which time he produced the Second Coming 1980 Poets and Music Festival, honoring the late poet Josephine Miles and the late blues musician John Lee Hooker. He has received numerous editor and publishing grants from the NEA and the California Arts Council, and writer assistance grants from PEN and the Academy of American Poets.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ed Galing Has Passed at age 96

I was feeling anxious and uneasy--the last few days.. For some reason something was not right...Today I got a call from Ed Galing's son--he was found dead in his bathroom--at age 96. The son was crying and I am now...I published Ed in every issue of the Ibbetson Street Press and the June 2014 issue was to have his portrait on the front cover--he died before he could see it--I will miss Ed Galing greatly--- here is an article I wrote about him for Rattle http://www.rattle.com/rattle26/holderd.htm 

Please send flowers and notes to his son: Leonard Galing  16308  Gemini Court Ft. Myers, Florida  33908

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ED Galing 96-- Profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer

ED Galing with his lifetime Achievement Award ( photo from Philadelphia Inquirer--Luke Rafferty)
Posted: August 25, 2013

Ed Galing cannot get enough.
Enough attention. Enough praise. Enough love. Enough life.
And if he hasn't had his fill at 96, he is unlikely to ever feel completely sated.
"I love publicity," Galing said, with characteristic candor. "I'm famous!"
In June, the mayor of Hatboro gave Galing a lifetime achievement award for his more than 16 years as poet laureate of the Montgomery County town.
"It's like being in the Kennedy Center, and the president puts a medal around their neck," Galing said in his gravelly voice. "Lifetime achievement!" he marveled. "Not everybody gets that. You have to earn it."
These days, Galing does not get many visitors. His sons, both in their 70s, live too far away to make the trip very often to the family's brick Colonial, where Galing still lives. And the grandchildren and great-grandchildren? "They're just too busy," Galing said.
Since his wife, Esther, died six years ago, he spends most days in his own still-plucky company. Alone, that is, except for an aide, who comes for a few hours a day, and his most loyal companion: a seafoam-green IBM Selectric typewriter.
Every morning at 5, he wakes up, gets out of the hospital bed in his first-floor office, transfers himself into his motorized wheelchair, and hums over to the desk to write for an hour or two.
"I write whatever comes into my head," he said. "Then I put it away and look at it the next day to see if I still like it. If I don't, I throw it away."
That rarely happens.
"I'm a good man, and I know how to write," he said. "Can I read you a poem?"
Without waiting for an answer, he pushes his thick thumb against the joystick of his wheelchair, so well-used that the black vinyl is as cracked and wrinkled as old skin. The chair catches on the threshold to the living room, and he coaxes it onward - "Go! Go!" - then bursts through into the living room.
The tchotchkes, vases, and family photographs remain exactly the way Esther left them, except for a new couch and armchair - gifts from one of their sons.
"He told me he's going to take care of me the best he can," said Galing. "He told me he loved me."
Galing reaches into a bookcase and pulls out one of the many collections of his work.
The World War II veteran graduated from South Philadelphia High School and worked in a variety of jobs, first at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station and, in his later years, processing sales documents for a car dealer. His last job, when he was 80, was custodial work at a restaurant.
That was the year he began writing in earnest, for personal expression, yes, but always, too, in the hope that his work would be recognized.
"Now, I'm in more than 400 publications," he said. "It's like George Bush's Mission Accomplished! Except this is real."
Real enough, in any case, to fill the deeply human need to feel significant. Especially at this far end of the trail. Hard of hearing and crippled by arthritis, Galing writes to be heard. To resist fading into his own shadow.
"If I was 60 right now," he reminisced in a recent letter, "I would be driving a car, going on vacation, making love with my wife, enjoying family picnics . . . and all of us would be young, and laughing, and so very happy."
Describing his life now, he continued: "My fingers are curled, and I live in my wheelchair all the time. However, I can still write."
Galing's poems have appeared in a few small literary magazines, like Red Wheelbarrow and Rattle, and he is a regular contributor to a newspaper for the homeless in Nashville. Much of his work is self-published, such as Pushcarts and Peddlers, a collection of pieces about his childhood in the early 1900s among other poor Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of New York.
"It didn't sell as much as I had hoped," he said. "People don't read much anymore."
For a moment, his brave front faltered.
"I'm not really famous," he said. Then he rallied. "But I'm very well-known and very well-liked in the field."
He came too late to computers to master the new technology, he said, but Doug Holder, a fellow poet in Massachusetts, helps him blog by proxy, and praises him as "a poet of the Greatest Generation."
Galing found the poem he was looking for in the bookcase. It describes his childhood in New York, the rooming house where he lived with his mother, and his habit of sitting outside during the hot summers, writing poems on sheets of paper that he would fold into paper airplanes, launch, and watch flutter to the sidewalk.
where the garbage collectors
would sweep it
with the rest
of the garbage.
Galing, proud, smiled with satisfaction, plumping up his doughy cheeks.
"Sometimes, I wonder what am I doing, living here in this house with only health aides. It's lonely," he said. "But I don't want to die. I'm going to keep writing till the end of my life."