Barry Dickson and Roy Ehrlich
Barry Dickson is a retired Creative Director on Madison Avenue, where he worked 35 years. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, print and online, including North American Review, PEARL Literary Magazine, HazMat Literary Review and his favorite, asininepoetry.com. He’s been a finalist for the Hearst Poetry Prize and received “Special Mention” for the Pushcart Prize. His work covers a wide range of subjects from relationships to politics to cheeseburgers.
Happy Birthday to You
“Vince, I keep telling you, you can’t just come up with a poem on command.”
“C’mon, Dickson, one little poem for my birthday.”
“Sorry, nothing personal my friend, it just doesn’t work that way.”
I rode the commuter train with this gang nearly every day. There was the Grand Central crowd, to which I belonged, and the Wall Street crowd. We had all become friends over the years, but those Wall Street traders, hoo boy, they could be a tough.
The next day he started in again. This was four days in a row, now.
“Hey, Bar-ry, c’mon, whip me up a poem for my birthday. How hard could it be? You a poet or not?”
And the next day.
“Hey, poem guy, you got my birthday poem yet? Tomorrow’s the big day, buddy. Better get on your horse.”
I thought, Enough already, this was almost a week.
“OK, you want a poem for your birthday, Vince, I’ll give you a poem for your birthday.”
“All right, Bar-ry. I knew you’d come through, buddy!” He held out his palm for me to slap, which I did.
Friday, May 14, 2011, Vincent C’s 43rdth birthday.
“Hey, Bar-ry!” he said. “You got it?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Vince. I got yer poem right heah.”
“Shoot!” he said, smiling.
For the Guy on the Train Who Kept Saying
“Whip Me Up a Poem for My Birthday”
You are older now than you were
when you started this line.
You have less time left than
you did this morning.
You are not as young as you used to be
or as old as you are about to be.
The closer you get to the end of this poem
the closer you get to the end of your life.
Happy birthday, dude!
My poems have appeared in some pretty good journals and reviews over the years. I wonder where appearing in a wastebasket on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange fits into that mix.
“Happy Birthday to You” © Barry Dickson (2019), from Reflections
Roy Ehrlich is a Psychiatrist. He worked as the Executive Officer of the Psychiatric Department of the School of Aviation Medicine in the US Navy. He had a private practice in Chappaqua, NY, was the Medical Director of a Psychiatric Clinic in New York City, and worked in the field of PTSD. He is a specialist in insight dynamic psychotherapy. After several professional articles, he’s now writing a new book offering psychiatric insights for laymen.
Roy E. Ehrlich
He Was (an excerpt)
“Roy. Roy Cohn. Phone call.” The voice in the quad outside my college dorm announced I had a call.
“Roychic, it’s Mom.”
“Hi, Mom. What’s up?”
“I called to see if you wanted to go to Atlantic City for a few days when you come home for Easter vacation. You could call Lorna and Bob. The four of us could spend a couple of days in Atlantic City. I could leave Marcia with Herbert.”
Bob was my brother. Lorna was my girlfriend from Canada. Marcia was my younger sister, and Herbert, Marcia’s father, was my mother’s second husband.
And so it began.
I came up from Richmond, and Lorna came down from Canada. Bob, Mom, Lorna, and I loaded into the Hudson Hornet, and off we went to Atlantic City. About midway down the Garden State Parkway, my mother said, “We better stop for gas at the next gas station.”
“Ma, we have plenty of gas.”
“No! Roy, please stop. You know how nervous I get about things like that.”
No! I didn’t know because she was always in complete control, but who was I to argue? So I pulled off at the next service area and topped off the tank. Just as we were leaving, a two-tone green Buick Roadmaster pulled out ahead of us. A few miles down the parkway my mother said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that car in front of us was going to Atlantic City too?”
“Sure, Ma, all the cars on the Garden State are going to Atlantic City,” I said sarcastically. However when we came to the Atlantic City exit, the Buick turned off ahead of us.
“See, I told you he was going to Atlantic City,” Mom said.
“Yeah, yeah, and he’s going to the Claridge too,” was my cynical reply.
Well, don’t you know, he did indeed pull into the Claridge. I passed it off as just a coincidence. We piled out of the car, and all of a sudden my mother, in her most dramatic way, exclaimed, “Oh, my God! That’s Hilly Ehrlich!”
I finally realized I’d been had. This was all a setup. We had gone to Atlantic City to meet this man.
As the story unfolded over the next few days, it turned out that Mom had dated Hilly in college, but they stopped seeing each other when he went off to medical school in Munich. Mom subsequently married Nat Cohn, her first husband. I was her first child, and I was named Roy, Roy Cohn. My mother claimed she just happened to be walking on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and saw Hilly’s name on a brass office sign on the outside of a building. She dropped in to see him, and the romance was instantly rekindled.
“He Was” © Roy Ehrlich (2019), from Reflections