A Slice Of Life (from Zen And The Art f Culinary Maintenance)


J.T. Hilltop
I was seriously depressed, spent 33 days as an unwilling guest at a South Carolina correction facility on my way to Arizona, and I never made it any further west then freaking Georgia. I played around in Atlanta, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach, and finally realized it was time to get back home to Long Island where I could at least waste my life away with some friends.

After two wasted years and a week of senseless sporadic hitchhiking in the south I finally made it back home to Centerlawn. It had only been two years yet as I quickly learned it’s a strange new world around here. Nearly everyone I hung out with has either gotten married, moved, or joined the “Establishment” and are doing their nine to fives. As for me I‘m officially unemployed and living at home with my Dad of all people. My next tattoo way just as well be a large “L” on my forehead so everyone can see what a loser I’ve become. What a cruel world. I had to do something, I was relented to the ultimate embarrassment of getting cash from my old man for doing menial tasks around the house, which had been seriously neglected as of late. A twenty three year old earning a teenage allowance. I needed to move out on my own again really bad but jobs were scarce, and I have zero money let alone security and rent for a month. Then my old friend Universe created its mysterious cosmic connection and the answer appeared in front of me. My cosmic companion placed fates ironic ad in the classified section of the local paper, “Looking for line cook for six day week. Room and board included. Inquire at Glen City Country Club.” “Fore!”

Thank you destiny! It opened up a whole new world to me. Long Island has tons of country clubs and most of them offer room and board as part of a compensation package. I could bounce from club to club until I get back up on my feet. Hey its not like Maggs Garden Apartment but it’s a room with a bed. I went to GCCC the very next day in my best clothes wearing my best attitude and charm. I got the job on the spot thanks to all my previous restaurant experience. Zen and the Art Of Culinary maintenance is back in the house.

The country club circuit is different from restaurants. For one thing it means split shifts. The members get breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday, and dinner Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday which meant a break from 3-6 on those days. Mondays the kitchen was closed so we all had a day off. The hours were very mixed up but the work was steady and the pay was decent. A great staff, quality food, lots of waitresses, and we all got along and had fun. The room and board left a bit to be desired, the staff referred to it as “The Monkey House.” A small room with a cheap bed and dresser with showers down the end of the hall but what the Hell man, it was still better than having to see Dads face everyday.

Alas, I’ve learned that anytime anything good happens to me something has to come along and fuck it up. After losing at love three times in a row I opted to not get caught up in any serious relationship but that didn’t mean I would stop flirting. As I have also learned I have a pension for flirting with disaster, this time disaster being the General Managers daughter. Eight years younger than me but she was just too hot to let pass without making a pass. I put my flirtatious charm into overdrive and soon their was a very thick air of sexually charged tension. As the Rabbi said before the Bris, “It won’t be long now”

I was employed at Glen City Country Club for just under a year when the ill advised flirting with the bosses daughter teamed up with that old practical joker JT‘s fate and raised the level from disaster to catastrophic cacophony. An accident that would send me to the hospital would set off the next series of unfortunate events in my life.

The members of the clubs get a lot of perks and have a lot of all day golfing tournaments. On most big outings we had to set up two refreshment stations serving soda, beer, water, a hamburger grill and cold sandwiches. We loaded up a golf cart with folded tables, food and drink, and ice buckets to keep stuff cold. The tournament was over and one of the other cooks, Jose, was driving the cart we had just loaded with all the tables and leftovers from the refreshment stand at the 9th hole. He was driving the loaded cart along an elevated tee, a two foot incline, when he noticed something fell out of the cart and jumped out to get it. The cart kept moving towards the edge of the incline so I reached my foot over to hit the brake. Unfortunately the gas pedal bore a striking resemblance to the brake pedal so instead of coming to a stop the cart, full loaded with me in the passenger seat picked up speed. Or it’s quite possibly the beer I snuck or the two Valiums I washed down with the beer an hour ago, but either way I put the pedal to the medal and the golf Cart took off. Literally. Not enough speed to break any golf cart speed records but enough to send the cart full speed ahead to the edge of the elevated women’s tee into a triple one and a half twist gainer with a perfect swan dive straight into the ground. … I remember seeing a bunch of things rolling around with me but don’t remember any pain. In fact I was shocked when I saw the amount of blood coming from my arm.

Jose freaked of course and in his broken English I believe he said “Jesus and crackers JT, you losing focking blood”. Indeed I was, I grabbed one of the table cloths and wrapped my arm as Jose took off towards the main house screaming “help, help, help” That’s when I passed out. I awoke in and ambulance but I was seriously disoriented. The medic told me to relax and I told him I was in considerable pain.Next thing I knew a familiar feeling of warmth spread across my body. My old friend morphine was entering my bloodstream for a reunion. I closed my eyes, smiled, asked the medic to throw away the pill box in my pocket and drifted off into a different state.

I woke up about one or two days later, my arm was tied up top a pole with this huge sock that would be too big for Shaquile O’Neil, and sitting across from me smiling was the managers daughter. I knew instinctively that nothing good could come from this, so naturally, I asked her out which was extremely awkward considering when I got out of bed I realized the tied on hospital robe I was wearing exposed my big white hairy ass….. Was tha a good thing? Or a bad thing? Time and fate would tell….



Pocketful of Memories (This Ones For You)



I sit in solitude in my gallery
Filled with ancient reminders
Sad that I own of ours so few
Moments past that wade in teardrops
And dangle on the heads of pins
Falling into the faults of fate
Like autumn leaves so full of verve
But signaling the end of a life
In my pocket I hold little treasures
Those still memories of ours I keep
Though they are small of number
Reminders yield power over me
Because love knows nothing of time
And though the hours were not enough
I rely on my pocketful of memories
For memories are all I possess



No matter where we made them
We like to buy and trade them
Collect them and parade them
With the happiness they’re made in
Or the sadness they have stayed in
And the misunderstood they strayed in
In the land of quiet reflection
Memories are gilded dreams
Sometimes it’s all I have
Or is it just the way it seems
I’m left to view my memories
Through a prism of regret
The penance I must pay up
So I never will forget
Because love never leaves….
Nor should it



Life in reverse is a series
Of episodes and reruns
Smiles and cries before you die
Shards of living good or bad
Glistening in the sunshine
Reflecting who we are
Remembering who we were
And memories, what of them?
A compilation of what time made
Skies full of clouds of hope
Clouds we can never hug and hold
Because they come and leave
And clouds get blown away
Because they aren’t really memories
Not creating memories
Is the saddest thing in the world


Every single minute of every single day we have an opportunity to make a memory. Don’t waste one single second, make them all moments to hold on tight to and recall on those lonely sorrow filled nights when you keep thinking I wish……I wish I had made more…Live and Love in Peace

Consumed By Memories



She came into my life
Stayed there for a while
Creating a new story
We drank and danced
We sang and laughed
When the music ended
Life parted our direction
Left a memory in the wake
To fill in some blank pages
Of my unfinished novel
A chapter in a love story
On my bookshelf of life
Once again I am consumed
By conflict and resolution
Sad stories sway in the past
Tender songs left unremembered
Hoping to be erased once more
But nothing is ever completely forgotten
Not really
So I add another reflection to my hill
That mountain of memories
That I climb everyday
Which consumes my being
One heartbeat at a time

Sad Smiles And Happy Tears



As the final day comes closer
The memories run further away
Held captive by loneliness
Her ambitions chained to her bed
Shackled to unspoken solitude
Where desperation reigns
She stands blindly confused
As friends just smile at her
Its not that they’re happy
They wear reflective smiles
Tender grins born of sadness
Sad smiles

He doesn’t understand his world
Nothing is ever complete
Thoughts move like clouds
Inside this head he knows
Yet always she’s there for him
Bruised from his confusion
One person who never gave up
Overcome with unexpected gratitude
The autistic boy hugs his Mom
A hug he never gave before
And it made her cry
Tears forged from joy
Happy tears

Sad smiles and happy tears
Confusion falls across the years
Telling lies and facing fears
Smiling sad with happy tears
Puppy love in disguise
She had me with her soulful eyes
Right from the start
I should probably be mad
Her smile looked so sad
But to this day I hold it in my heart
Haven’t seen her in many years
Both our eyes filled by happy tears
Because love made it all worthwhile
Sometimes it’s good to cry
Sometimes its sad to smile
Spending most of my time thinking back on how things used to be and it makes me smile. A sad smile, not because I was unhappy but because these days are gone forever yet remain in my heart.

Spending most of my time thinking about how my baby girl has grown up into a woman, and how those days of believing her Daddy is the greatest man in the world are over. Then she kissed me and said I love you daddy. I cried happy tears

The Portal To My Heart



No more the portal to my heart
Shall be slammed shut in silence
Barren of loves treasures
My empty garden grows weary
The writing scribbled on the stars
Telling me it’s time to move on
To leave the city of my birth
Go without sadness or sorrow
For my days here were too long
With the pains of a hard existence
My evenings seeming yet far longer
Exiled to the pains of loneliness
Ah the bittersweet reelections
Regretful moments of sin and bliss
An insensitive trail of broken hearts
I caused the spirit of many lovers
To lay fragmented on my doorstep
Now destiny beckons once more
So alone and now free of my nest
I would fly off to find a setting sun
A new horizon emblazoned with hope
Yet first I pause to peer over the sea
In which my intensity swam so easy
Where the rebellious waves of the harbor
Disregard the covenant of the land
Yearning for days when I ruled
Riding the ebbs and flows of virility
Hoisting up sails of reckless eagerness
Set afloat on wings of sweet rapture
To endure all the ocean possessed
And all that it left behind
Sunken ships from angry storms
Loves treasure awash on sunlit shores
Broken shells tossed to the shore
Reflecting I took one last breath
One more toke of briny nostalgic sea air
Which had once seasoned my desires
A taste I shall remember forever
Whatever adventure travel brings
No river or stream I shall traverse
Will ever comprehend the freedom
That was abandoned those coral shoals
Aye that all lay in the past now
Histories to be written as ballads
It is the season to shed anchors familiar
Perhaps a new moonlight will impart
An unconditional offer of enduring affections
My moment of self absolution arrives
As the portal to my heart is flung open
To receive the treasure of love once more
This day I shall remain vigilant and true
For a portal once revealed to be open
May be entered from either direction

Looking Back In Anger



It could have been Tuesday
Or Thursday
The days all seemed the same
Maybe it’ll happen tonight
Or maybe tomorrow
A painful waiting game
But I knew it was coming
Or was it going
Only time can know
Why did I need to watch it
Or worse, live it
See the cancer grow
Cancer is an arrogant shit
Stepping on hearts with depravity
But I remember you you shit
That very night it took my Mom
Cancer spun and waltzed to the ballroom floor
In an ugly miasmic dance with death
Teasing and taunting
Till we could take it no more
Sucking up all her breath
She didn’t even know she was at home
Thought she was alone
Didn’t know how much I cared
Cancer took her brain away
Left her lonely and scared
With vile indifference
Some unfamiliar eyes looked my way
Like they had something important to say
But it wasn’t mom who was staring
The eyes were too angry
Then in my Moms deaths voice to taunt me
“Who are you? Why are you here? I don’t know you”
“It’s me Mom, your prodigal son. I’ve come back home.”
“You’re not my son, I’ve never seen you before in my life”
The anger in her eyes was vaguely familiar
At the same time completely foreign
Still they cut like a razor through my soul
Bleeding out the shame of virtues past
Burning a hole in my confidence
It wasn’t her it wasn’t her
It was the Cancer talking
Leaving me wounded
One final indignity
To taunt my reflection
Cancer cares for no one

Memories are like watching reruns of our lives. Many make us smile, swell with pride and feel the comfort and warmth of an epoch of our younger days. Sometimes they bring on a state of melancholy leaving us yearning for those days while others make us outright sad and depressed, especially when the memory is of something ripped from our hearts. They come as an ending, a final memory, the last episode. This is inspired from my final memory of my Mom who passed from cancer many years ago. I left home when I thought I had become a man to become an adult on my own terms which intensified the already established rift between my mother and I. Fortunately mere months before she was diagnosed with cancer we had come to understand and appreciate each other and our relationship had returned to a strong mother /son bond. On the downside, this made the end so much harder…

I Love You Man



Forgotten laughs
Turn to sighs once
A piece of childhood
Retires to memories
I heard the news
A boulder on my heart
Haven’t seen him
Since life happened
Yet somehow I still miss him
Miss the carefree times
Fearless sled rides
Down the glistening crescent
Crashing and laughing
Into diamond ice drifts
Not noticing the cold
Fires of friendship glowed
Bonfires of the innocent
Strolling on our bikes
Kick stands banana seat
Three speed really neat
Nowhere to go
But so much fun
Getting there
Carefree nights
Listening to crickets song
Camping out so tough
In the backyard
Looking up at the stars
Wondering who we are
Who We’ll be
Asking about life
But like clouds in the sky
Life passed us by
Our very first cars
The girls and the bars
Dreaming about playing guitars
Until life took control
Different nights on a different day
Life can be funny that way
Finding love getting jobs
Get away from the mobs
Then came the day I moved away
Yea man, life’s funny that way
After so many sunsets
Its much too easy to forget
That the best friends I had
From my mirrors rear view
Were much closer than they appeared
All along
With a blink of an eye
Our lives passed us by
And the love of a friendship
Fades and runs dry
Memories in storage now
In the gallery gone
Where my space awaits
To become the past
Those days found a home in my heart
We had the best of times
Maybe that’s why I’m numb
But my heart breaks not for myself
It aches for the family
Of my childhood friend
Who welcomed me into their home
And still to this day
Allow me into their hearts
Bryan…. I Love You Man
Rock In Peace sweet childhood soul mate
Live And Love In Peace


Kodak Moments

Kodak Snapshot Mini Album

Found an old photo album
Moments in time
Held still in a book
Captured on film
A slice of real life
An imprisoned memory
Proof of existence
A chronicling of emotion
Both happy and sad
Happy because it’s a reminder
Of days gone by
Sad because it’s a reminder
Of days gone by
Reflection of my affections
Impression of recollection
Right before my eyes
Family photo’s
Smiling faces
Memories in print
5×5 gloss memorials
An innocent epoch
A world of contentment
A perfect family
But photographs never really tell the whole story
Do they?

One Last Smile

one last


What can we say when the world holds still

Both breath and soul have departed

In place of joy we have but time remembered

Our lives reduced to years

But those years are mine to own

And my years with you were the best of my life

And I will hold them until no strength remains

To praise my fond apparition of before

I place the phantoms of our time to word

Because when memories are afraid they will be forgotten

That’s where they go

To become stories or song

Words of love

Words of joy

Even words of anger

So that never shall we either forget

Despite my pain I smile for you one last smile

I’ll make it the best smile I can manage

In that tomorrow when I awake alone

I’ll still be part of your memories too

Live and Love in Peace, A very Happy New Year….Make some great memories this year


Met A Girl

sad song



Glistening snowflakes fall and melt

Leaving no evidence of their plight

History or memory, truth or tales

But their grandeur survives in my mind

For but a fleeting moment

Until sand castles wash out to sea

Rainbows glories fade

Cotton candy skies dance away

And moonbeams light the way

To a starless day



Memories are tales

Our life and loves

Inscribed in our hearts

Which beats out our songs

We sing to ourselves and weep

We sing to ourselves and smile

Each memory another stanza


I Met A Girl

I met a girl who sang the truth

The way loves tune should be

Her words rang out so beautiful

But she wasn’t singing to me

Met a girl who sang her story

Or maybe it was only one memory

A voice of silk and words of hope

But the tale seemed sad to me


Met a girl who sang soft and blue

With warmth my heart was mended

A bluesy tune that wasn’t sad

Until the music ended

No song is sad

No tale Mournful

No story wistful

Until the song is finished