Talking Civil Servant Blues # 1 (for Robert)
ESL - March, 2007 - NYC

E B A

Beautiful Romania, the place where I was born,
In a time when people's hearts and lives where like their pockets
tattered, frayed and torn.
All of us being the older and somewhat wiser now,
We've learned since that practical Communism ain't gonna work, nohow.

My folks may not be cousins to Dracula, but it's same place that they come from
And as I was a young upcoming commie pioneer,
Good old Vlad's castle was at times my summer vacation dorm.
Til one day in 1953 my uncle said we are all jews ain't we?
There's no compelling reason for us to live in poverty,
Let's move to Israel, the land of milk and honey!

All I remember is in pools of paper drowning,
Duplicates, quadruplicates, papa's hands blue from signing,
Referred stamps, denied stamps, approved stamps, removed stamps,
They all seemed like the props of same demonic dance.
And finally, in 1961, only a short 8 years later, they took away our citizenship,
They kicked us out and we ended up on an Italian ship,
Bound for the promised land, Israel here I come!

It took a while for me to understand, but now I know:

It was the goddamned communist civil service,
It made you crazy and it made you nervous,
For a brief moment I thought we were out of it,
But we'd just stepped into a new kind of shit!

The beautiful city of Haifa welcomed us with open arms,
Just like a virgin, it took me a long time to explore her charms
I did quickly learn where all the government offices were hiding,
The next day after into town arriving,
At first you learn the word Shalom and about all the Jewish sorrow,
But the very next words are, patience and Machar which means tomorrow.

Growing into a man was a little slow and clumsy
But after 4 short years I joined the Defense Army.
Here you are boy:
two uniforms, one beret, two pairs of boots, 5 pairs of socks,
mess kit, canteen, duffel bag, 2 backpacks large and small, trench digger,
helmet, blanket, two towels, tarp, 6 tent pole pieces, one FN rifle, two magazines,
and 40 bullets - Sign here!
And when they gave me a tank it sounded like this:
Tank, huma-na huma-na ..... - Sign Here!
There was a war, the tank went bye-bye - Corporal, where is your tank?
Sorry sir, it blew up!
Are there any witnesses? No sir, the witnesses are dead!
Oy - huma-na huma-na ...... - Sign Here!
And don't worry, we'll give you another tank - Oy!
Tank, huma-na huma-na ..... - Sign Here!
Them duplicates, quadruplicates, made my hand blue with signing,
Did I but know enough back then, my life I'd be divining.
They taught me how to drive a tank and how to fly a plane
But let me tell you people all that paperwork was driving me insane.

So, as if I didn't have enough trouble, I got married.
At city hall they laughed at I, they said boy, you gotta see a Rabbi
Incredibly I found that in the holy land, you couldn't even get to God without the civil service.
Had to prove to one and all that both of us were Jewish since we were very small.
I had to wear a little Yamaha on top of my head now and again,
But my intended had to purify herself in a pool that was blessed by the holy civil servants,
But had water that was refreshed once a week, after all we were in a land that was mostly desert.
Her father offered the Rabbi a couple of grand for his favorite charity,
On top of the duplicates, quadruplicates, etc., that we all had to sign,
The good old American always fresh cabbage, that wasn't mentioned anywhere in writing,
bought us some peace of mind.
For maybe a year or two, or three, things proceeeded almost normally,
I learned how to program any computer, had two or three kids, fought a couple more wars,
Almost got a job in the civil service, but escaped by the skin of my teeth - my hair was too long!
And then one day my wife was heard to say:
I'm tired of this place, I want to go back to New York City, rejoin the human race.

Hallelujah! I'm outta here! I'm going to a better place, let's have another beer!

I was leaving behind the goddamned socialist/wanna-be-capitalist/militarist/rabbinicalist civil service
That made me twitchy and made me nervous,
For two brief moments I thought I was out of it,
Unfortunately I was gonna step into a much, much bigger shit!

America or as I'd learned since, the United States of it,
Is the most wonderful of all lands in this world because it has this most fantastic writ.
It's called the Constitution, and it was put together after a major Revolution.
There's nothing like it anywhere at all, but we as citizens should always be for it on call,
Because the biggest civil servant in the land - the President -
most of the time tries to take matters in his own hand.
To serve and to protect, oh what a noble goal, from Knesseth to the White House and further to Whitehall.
Unfortunately and unthinkably and to my greatest shame,
I by myself have joined the goddamned civil service and I there's no one else to blame.

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Copyright 2007 Ernest Samuel Llime. All Rights Reserved.