The Poetry of Zeke Goldblum

 

Trained as a lawyer,  Zeke has had the time to explore his creative side during his decades in prison. Here is a selection of poems he has written while incarcerated.  Several have been published

Dedication

When I was small
She held me close, as if I were part of her.
I was totally safe.
She held my arms as I learned to walk.
She never let me fall.

She combed my hair and tied my shoes.
She kissed me and put me down.
She took me to school my first day.
I was brave on the outside, but
That’s all anyone saw, except for her.

When I left for college,
She was upset. Her end of the job was nearly done.
Making light of her distress, I didn’t understand.
I had finished growing, but only physically.
It would be a few years before I caught on.

When I was little,
he seemed to be bigger than he really was.
He carried me on his shoulders,
Picked me up with one arm,
And taught me how to throw a ball.

While I was growing up,
He solved my problems,
Taught me times-tables,
Showed me boy scout knots,
Told me the facts of life.

As I matured to adulthood,
He gave me sound advice.
He helped me choose a college.
We talked about careers and marriage.

In their younger days,
They were quick and strong.
Now they are stooped and tire easily.
Health problems used to be of little concern.
At some point, they took on a new dimension.

There is no use trying to pretend.
Unless there is a world to come, they cannot last forever.
I have no choice but to hope that I will see them again.
The alternative is too painful.
Long after they are gone I will see them.
Their loving smiles grant me benediction.


 

White Linen Suit

Their first complaint was diminished status.
After defeat in war, sanctions were too severe.
Power would restore their standing among the nations.

Their insidious motive was easy to see,
But only if one looked.
Few of consequence were willing to look,
Not Kennedy,
Not Lindberg,
Not even the Bishop of Rome.

Some supported this moral compromise to contain the eastern horde.
People with no strategic consequence, lesser beings, were a small price to pay.
In a Faustian agreement, innocence was sacrificed to secure “peace in our time.”

Those who warned against the rising tide of Fascism were called alarmists.
Fear of ridicule precluded the use of wisdom.
The fatal tragedy was easy to predict.
His “Struggle” made it clear.
Despite these clear warnings it was dismissed as too extreme.
Few spoke up. The courage simply wasn’t there.

The world turned a blind eye to the slaughter of millions.
With no danger recognized, asylum wasn’t granted.
Plausible deniability authorized a grand cover-up.
Even the Red Cross reinforced the charade.
When the pretense was exposed
Phony excuses were contrived.

In the wake of worldwide devastation
Humanity recoiled,
Pledging it would never happen again.
Embracing human rights, the world created the UN.
History would never repeat itself.

Stalin was not called to account.
He was hardly challenged.
Those who did lived shortened lives.
Mao conducted a cultural revolution.
Millions were annihilated.
For many years, a billion people were lost to the world.

Papa Doc used the Ton ton Mahouts.
Pinochet made torture legal.
Argentina set a record for missing persons.
Yet again, the world looked the other way.

Apartheid, so blatantly evil, survived for too many years.
Pol Pot slaughtered people in the “fields.”

In the land of the free
Separate but equal was the law of the land.
An evil empire was invisible
Because prejudice did not exist!
A white linen suit stood in the doorway
To exclude a deserving black student.

On the news, experts told us
That intervention made sense
Solely for strategic reasons.
People were worth saving, but only
In the name of “national interest.”
Human life alone never qualifies.

Repeatedly refusing to acknowledge ugly events,
We find it easier to delude ourselves with flimsy excuses.
From cowardice and selfish motives,
The world always passes the buck.

Those who commit the acts bear primary guilt.
There are monsters who renounced their humanity.
Those who merely acquiesce
Cannot avoid the sin of complicity through silence
And refusal to act.
Moral liability cannot be escaped on a technicality.

The white linen suit was late asked the key to his long success.
With candor he replied,
“I always told them what they wanted to hear.”
Shakespeare wrote of this man and his kind,
“The prince of darkness is a gentleman.”

History

From ancient times,
Kingdoms were hereditary.
The first time around,
Mistakes were allowed.

Caligula practiced excess.
Rome learned its lesson well.
The job was passed to Nero.

Weimar surrendered to the swastika.
Il Duce crushed the helpless.
Fifty year ago, we should have learned
From our mistakes.

The Gulags sequestered millions
Mao “re-educated” billions.
Other malevolent leaders
Exploited and plundered
The people they ruled.

The answer was bigger and better
Guns to keep the world safe for democracy.
Killing continued in the name of G-d
And other self-serving causes.
We still face ethnic cleansing and rape
As tools of war.

We are getting better
And we are getting worse.


 

If They Ever Let Me Go

If and when they let me go,
I won’t know what to do first.
To get it right
I must retrace my steps
From many years ago.
To move forward, the past must be relived.
While painful, there is no alternative.

If they ever let me go,
I want to choose my own clothes.

If they ever let me go,
I want to cook for myself.

If they ever let me go,
I hope to fall in love.

If they ever let me go,
I will be a pilgrim exploring a new world,
A little boy at the candy counter,
Deciding how to spend his last dime.

But by then, my last dime
Will barely be worth a nickel.

If they ever let me go…..


 

Life

For other prisoners, each day they do
Gets them closer to their next life.
Each day I do get me closer to the end of
The only life I have.

Others think about what they will do when they leave.
They plan.
They hope.
They think about girlfriends and wives.
I just grow old.

The sentence was life.
The exact words were,
“The balance of your natural life.”
Since that day so many years ago,
My life has been anything but natural.

The judge’s words left me numb.
At first, the true weight of his words
Was beyond my grasp.
I wasn’t ready to understand.

Appeals and a different political atmosphere
Left room for credible hope.
Then politics and the courts slowly changed.
The historical clock began to move counterclockwise.

I woke up one morning and the pretense was gone.
Surrender was not complete, but I know.

They told me I was lucky to be spared.
What do they know?
They are not wrong.
They are dead wrong.

That morning, I woke up
To discover the truth.
I am buried alive.


 

My Demons

Confinement means a life alone.
Contact is limited with family and friends.
Visits are short, even for the lucky few.

But your main partner is conscience.
Learn to like him
And tolerate him.
He won’t be ignored
And you cannot kill him.
He’s always in the mirror
Calling you a fool.

Alone at night,
In my little box,
I am forced to recall my many mistakes.
I am made to review a lifetime of regret,
And lost opportunities.

I’ve learned the lessons
And reviewed them repeatedly.
I will never forget.

I ask them where they were before the fact.
They watched the whole time,


Poll

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TV Report on Zeke’s case

It has been more than 20 years since Ken Rice filed this in-depth report on Zeke’s case. 20 years since Zeke’s judge and prosecutor both labeled his trial “A Miscarriage of Justice.”

And 20 years later, Zeke is still in prison, serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.

 

Quotes

"Clarence . . . Clarence Miller did this to me." George Wilhelm's dying declaration to police, February 9, 1976 (T.T. 1528).

". . . Goldblum was not the individual who inflicted the fatal stab wounds on Mr. George Wilhelm." Dr. Cyril Wecht, Coroner of Allegheny County in letter to Board of Pardons, September 1, 1994; Henry Lee, Ph.D., report dated February 25, 1997.

"This is the one case in 21 years [as a judge] which seriously troubles my conscience about the result." The Honorable Donald Ziegler as quoted in Michael Bucsko, Judge Haunted by Dying Man's Last Sentences, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 5, 1995.

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