(An original poem)

This season near the end of year
Should ring in joy instead of fear
Should sing with music velvet clear
And not the cries of pain we hear

Should fill our hearts with hopeful cheer
Should bring the dreams we’ve dreamed right near
Should towards a better future steer
Instead of drifting who knows where

Yet through these storms we persevere
And cling to those we hold so dear
A toast to life, to all down here
On this small world, on this New Year

© 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved



We’ve not become so civilized as to end war:
But we’ve become too civilized to win war.
We decry the necessary brutality that war summons
taking pains to avert another Dresden,
While our enemies lop off heads;
and, laugh at our Geneva Convention vanity,
from urban redoubts behind civilian kryptonite.

They are not hypocrites like us,
who pretend that war has rules,
lest we not feel good about ourselves.
Perhaps it is that the wars we have
chosen to fight of late, are not of survival.
Perhaps they have been mechanisms
of greed to oil the economic wheels.

Perhaps we would recover the strength of will
to see war clearly, if the threat were existential.
Perhaps we would then deploy at war
the fullest, most brutal measure of our power
adhering only to the one honest rule of war,
should we be dragged into its madness –
that immoral slaughterhouse –
“Win by whatever device necessary.”

Knowing that afterwards, it is the victors
who will order rules, the vanquished
will be charged to have violated.

© 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved


A Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Paula Marantz Cohen, “We Are All Quants Now,” (9/13/14) related this story. A 7-year-old girl was working on a drawing.  “That’s good work,” her babysitter encouragingly said. “Are you proud of it?”  The girl responded, “I’m not sure.  I’ll bring it to school and see how many ‘likes’ I get.”


We no longer measure qualitatively, nay.
How do we measure value today?

Life is measured by how much we own
and not by how much we’ve grown.

Art is measured by how much is paid
and not by the beauty conveyed.

Books are measured by how well fame sells
and not by what truths the story tells.

Music is measured by the downloaded plays
and not by the lilt of a haunting phrase.

And self-worth is measured by the “Likes” I receive
and not by how I, my own self, do perceive.

Yet adding up all we can own and can count
However large the number or great the amount.

We end up with nothing of value to share.
Of meaningfulness these days
the shelves are quite bare.

Our values are vicarious
made to dive or spike
by those who do or do not
click on the “Like.”

© 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved


This post is not a parody song lyric but is an original poem dedicated to the memory of Alice Herz-Sommer who passed away on Sunday, February 23, 2014.   She was 110 years old having been born on  November 1903.  A Czech pianist and music teacher, she had been deported from Prague along with her husband and son to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt and later to the death camp, Auschwitz..  At Theresienstadt, she participated in staged concerts the Germans allowed to be put on as part of a strategy to deceived the Red Cross and West about conditions in the camps.  She and her son were liberated by the Russians in 1945.  I wrote this poem after a Miami Herald article in 2010 reported her to have said the music of Chopin saved her life.  A documentary film about her life, “The Lady in Number 6; Music Saved My Life,” has been nominated for an academy award.


My fingers seem ignorant of the pain
Dancing over the notes
The lovely notes of
Chopin’s etudes

Did he know they would keep me alive?
Did he foresee the need to ward off the dread?
No, he could not have
His soul was pure

They were not, and
Did not feel the tie
Of beauty to life
Of that I am sure

They broke my bones
Trying to humiliate me
With fear from the stench
Of the dead

And they would have succeeded
But for the notes
Eternal notes
They could not burn from my head

© 2010 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
All rights reserved