Poem: A Good Education

MJ Auditorium at Gardner

At the Middle School two driveways down the street,

Hollywood safari vans tote tipsy tourists and King of Pop-culture purists

to contemplate like jurists the Michael Jackson Auditorium, whose much-lauded eponym

was sleek and slim, and boyishly indiscreet.

At this school, Russian parents take parking spots and umbrage,

when their children start to bleat

about the Czech (or Slovak?) wreck teaching home ec with no respect for Moscow discotheques, who expects to check classwork bereft of facts about the colossal crime in Crimea carried out by the usual suspects.

To my American neighbors, it sounds like the indirect vivisection of Vladimir Putin’s next election. Dollars and cents, rubles and shekels.

Garbage cans moved. Emotions operatic. Blissful harmony, discordant static.

Who’s more entitled, the white men born between borders or the white men with connections to the Kremlin? No one’s starving. No one drives a Gremlin.

When the SUVs and minivans . . . → Read More: Poem: A Good Education

Poem: Mind Your Business

angry mother puppet

When the angry mother of two successors to her gene pool

behaved with an absence of cool

failed to set a good example for her precious offspring

neglected to teach them the importance of thinking

about others

as though they were sisters or brothers

not competitors at a shrinking trough

she was at that moment a suckling sow

and knowing that this was known and henceforth always would be

by those who had seen her dereliction of parental duty

she lashed out at the one most aware

of her pugnacious absence of care

yelling almost screaming but not from sheer bliss

instructing onlookers to mind their own business.

Poem: Respect Your Elders

I REFUSE to Listen to Anything

Stubbornness wants to be a virtue, aspiring to be thought of

as a mark

of good character, nearly related (as if by marriage) to the better

qualities Determination and

Stick-to-itiveness. Stubbornness, however, is not Determination nor even Stick-to-itiveness.

Stubbornness is an affront to Nature, an insult to Evolution,

an honest admission of stupidity. I do declare to the world:

“I will not

progress! I will not make


I shall stay stuck where I am.”

Why do you fear change? Why does your dog have mange? Why were you not coached by

Red Grange? Why can you not never will not ever?

Because. Or put slightly differently, because.

And, also, I am older than you are.

For now.

Poem: Scandal

oedipus painting

IN MEMORY OF EUGENE KONIK, born February 27, 1936. R.I.P.


And although I don’t share your candid misanthropy

I understand and I am sorry.

Father who left us all too soon

I understand and I am sorry.

Our species, the one you claimed to despise, having peered inside yourself and

all around the carousel, having seen dazzling cruelties

reckless greediness



worse than rodents – the worst we’re capable of inflicting on ourselves and

those we claim to adore

like they were our firstborn son, the one that will always be first, the first in the family

to go to college

and see the Loire Valley

and lose a wife.

Father who left us all too soon

I understand and I am sorry.

This morning, walking into the sunrise, something you liked to do —

now I like to do, yippee! hurrah! yahoo!

to be . . . → Read More: Poem: Scandal

Family Problems

family problems

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, where thousands died and hundreds-of-thousands more were left homeless, almost everyone I spoke to asked the same question: My Filipina wife — was anyone in her immediate family affected?

Everyone was greatly relieved to learn that, no, none of my wife’s immediate family members were harmed by the storm. To these kindhearted and compassionate inquirers, the absence of death, injury, or property damage to my wife’s closest relatives was a great relief, a kind of silver lining to the dark cloud of death that descended on her birth country. By some sort of strange spiritual calculus, it was understood and taken for granted that blood relations are intrinsically more important, more valuable to us, than everyone else – with the exception of those who are welcomed bloodlessly into the family through adoption and marriage. . . . → Read More: Family Problems

Sanitary Mafias

The Godfather of hand kisses

Opportunistic petty criminals, the kind that go after old lady pocketbooks and unattended bicycles, generally aren’t very organized. They don’t have thorough long-range plans and an extensive network of colleagues to help coordinate their heists. Most unsuccessful criminals are desperate loners, independent contractors of malfeasance who can never stay one step ahead of The Man.

The ones that have their act together, the ones who run their illegal enterprise just like a profit-seeking business would, we call “organized crime.” Various mafias — the Italian, Russian, Mexican, Jamaican, Serbian, and Salvadoran chief among them — have earned our grudging fear and respect for their organizational discipline and managerial excellence. These mafias know what they’re doing. They’d be on the cover of Fortune if only what they were doing was legal — or at least as legal as gaming the energy markets and flipping a distressed homeowner’s property just . . . → Read More: Sanitary Mafias

A Modest Proposal For Solving Our Gun Violence Problem

a properly armed child

Guns are not the problem. People are not the problem. Young people are the problem.

They don’t listen. They play awful video game simulations of mass murder. They shoot six-year-olds.

And no amount of background checks or ammo-clip restrictions will change that. There’s only one way to solve the gun situation, one way to bring peace and civility back to our public areas while also not trampling on our inalienable American right to bear arms (as outlined with great clarity in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America).

The maintenance of civil order in our fragile society rests on a rock solid foundation of family discipline. A child who disrespects his parents must be removed from society. Permanently. So that other children will see the importance of respecting their parents.

The only political solution left to the fundamental problems in our society . . . → Read More: A Modest Proposal For Solving Our Gun Violence Problem

A New Definition of Family

An Old-Fashioned Kind of Family

If you wish to align yourself with a mindset that no one will dispute and most will acclaim, proclaim yourself a paragon of “family values.” Earn a reputation as a “family man.” Put “family” before self. Found a right-wing Christian political bribery machine and call it “Focus on the Family.” Do whatever it is you want to do with your life, but remind everyone that whatever it is you do with your life it’s all about the family.

Repeat the word. Family. Say it clearly and often. Family.

Is there anything better? Is there any concept more sacrosanct? Ah, how we love our children and how we love our parents. They’re more important than anyone or anything in the universe.

Family: the folks we can trust and love, celebrate and forgive, rescue and remember, support and adore and abide. Family is the . . . → Read More: A New Definition of Family



Quantum physics and String Theory are difficult concepts to grasp, even for adults. So how to explain the mysteries of the universe to a child? Kevin Zarem, a father of two girls, makes a stellar attempt in his book Entangled: A Father’s Spiritual Quest through the Mysteries of the Mind. Simultaneously scientific and lyrical, anecdotal and journalistic, “Entangled” is the best explainer of the unexplainable we’ve seen. No, we here at MichaelKonik.com still don’t really get how the grand enigma of Consciousness, Time, and Space works. But thanks to “Entangled” we comprehend better than ever how much we don’t know.

On the Death of a Child


A daughter has died.

She was also a wife and a mother and a sister. She was 41. She follows to the grave a brother, who died in a car accident when he was 18.

What does one say to her parents? How flimsy and impotent words seem in the face of these outrages, when the natural order of life has been confused and perverted. For anyone who hasn’t suffered the incomprehensible losses this family has endured, it seems preposterous to offer comfort and encouragement. What qualifications or insight could we have? Only they, we imagine, fully understand the intense grief that accompanies the death of a young son. And now the pain of losing an adult daughter. It’s really almost too much for words, too much for any parent to bear.

I have no explanations. I have no answers. I don’t understand. No doubt . . . → Read More: On the Death of a Child