ESCALATED

“We’ll bring it up later,”
We said about our underwears
Then we left the pile of’em
On the bottom of the stairs,

And on the step above’em
Rolled neatly into pairs
We left a dozen socks
And three brushes for our hairs.

On the 4th step from the bottom
My stack of comics went
Right below my sister’s piggybank
Chock full of Lincoln cents.

A tennis racket and mobile device
Were on the next step up.
Three picture frames followed, two candelabra,
Then one antique porcelain tea cup.

Mom don’t love when we put stuff there
We don’t get what’s the matter
Though to climb up the steps
The way that they is
We sure could use a ladder.

BOBBY’n’DOAK

It may seem there’s no mixing
Leather and feathers
But this here’s a tale
How those Misfits got together:

To Bobby the Bull
Doak Mockingbird said,
“Say, what’s with those spikes
sticking outta yer head?”

To Doak with a chuckle
Bobby replied,
“Those’er my mighty longhorns.
They can’t be beaten’er tied!”

Said Doaker to Bob,
“Is that the case?
I thought they were a bird bench
Attached to a face.”

“Buzz off, little bird,”
Bob said with a sneer.
“Your best interest is not in
messin’ with this here steer.”

“I have no intention
of making a mess,”
said Doak.  “All I’d like
is a safe place to rest.”

“Then I recommend, pilgrim,”
said the giant beef beast,
“that you go so far west
that you reach the Far East.”

“No thanks,” laughed the bird.
“This is my home.
From the Red River Banks
To the Gulf Coast’s white foam.”

“Well I reckon from horizon,”
said Bob, “to horizon,
Around here I’m in charge.
That can’t be surprising.”

Above Bob’s head Doak floated,
Attempting to land,
While angrily the longhorn
Pawed his hooves in the sand.

“On the ground,” said the bird,
“All would agree:
You are king ….
But in the sky? I think you need me.”

“About as much,” said the bull,
“As beauty queens need pimples.
Longhorns don’t need mockingbirds
It’s simply that simple.”

“You mean not even if,”
The dancing bird inquired,
“Mr. Long’s horns were on
the wrong side of barbed wire?”

At that a latch clicked.
The sound made Bob frown.
He knew what the bird had done
Without looking around.

“Okay feathered friend,”
Bob hissed, shaking his head.
“Tell me again what you want.
What was it you said?”

At that moment an unlikely
Friendship was born
Between two Texas strangers,
The mockingbird and longhorn.

From their bond the bigger buddy
Got a latch-lifting pal,
Who if need be could free Bob
From a pen, without fail.

And L’il Doak was now backed
By the strongest force on the prairie.
And that freed the bird
To always mock and be merry.

Once their forces combined,
Their Texan statures would grow.
And how it all happened?
Partner, now you know.

 

SPINNING THE GLOBE

Our parents filled
Our house with traditions
From First Day School Photos
To Birthday Cake Wishings,

Easter Egg hunting,
Super Bowl gatherings,
July 4th bunting,
Dad’s New Years Toast blatherings.

Among all of it Christmas
Came with the most:
An Elf on the Shelf,
Those chestnuts to roast,

Stockings and trimmings,
Caroling, punch
For my sister with the Christmas Eve birthday,
a brunch.

They were all great
But each year the best
Was what kicked off our annual
Red and green fest.

It took place the night
We put up the tree
Then with tinsel and lights
Made it bright and shiny.

We added the ornaments:
Bells, candy canes,
Small wood nutcrackers,
Cool metal trains.

Then those gorgeous glass globes,
Too many to count,
From the trunk to the star,
An amazing amount.

Mom loved them so
They were her cherished prize,
It was tradition just seeing
How they glimmered her eyes.

All but one, every year,
The last left in the box.
Spotting it, Mom’s eyes and
Smile thinned like a fox.

We all sat to watch,
Dad was included,
Knowing Christmas couldn’t start
‘Till this moment concluded:

Mom removing the final
Gorgeous glass globe
And carefully lifting it
Beside her ear lobe,

She made like her fave
Doc Gooden on the hill,
Kicked her leg high
And fired a pill

In our open brick hearth
Where shattering mixed with flames
Made us cheer as if Doc
Just tossed a perfect game.

“Now Christmas time’s back,”
to us exclaimed my Mother.
“And we’ve broken one globe.
Let us not break another.”

In our family everyone’s a bit
Different from the rest
But no one in our house
Disputes which tradition’s best.

TO ARMS

What a year it’s been for elbows,
Such an age to be alive!
When we germ-free mid-arm hinges
Like no other time have thrived.

While our hearts go out to handshakes,
palms and fingers – What a run!
There’s a new joy in the world:
It’s we elbows having fun.

Sure, in the past we did get bent
At other extremity fuss.
While we were tucked away in sleeves
No one would humor us.

But humerus heaven it’s been of late,
Leading goodbyes and greetings.
Everywhere you go an elbow is
Central to folks’ meetings.

It’s the joint I think you would agree
Keeping the world spinning.
Like never before there’s no one
Who can slow the elbows winning.

Nope, no Tommy, John, or Macho Man,
No arm patched coat or sweater
Has ever had an elbow that
Has ever had it better.

MOMMY MATH

Mom helps with math
And is usually good
But subtracting sometimes
She takes more than she should

Like when I take ten
Candies out of our jar
And she says “Give them ALL back!”
That’s taking too far.

So I say, “If you take one
Then I’ll have nine.
Not great, but a difference
I guess will be fine.”

Then she says “I think
That I’ll take all ten now.”
That she ever passed math this way
I don’t know how.

JACK SNIFF

Jack Sniff
With his nose
In he hales
And out he blows

Scent-detecting
Far and wide
From Jack Sniff
No smell can hide.

Hounds called Jack
When they were – welp!
Investigating and
Needing help.

Jack would come
And in a jiff
Solve the case
In just one whiff.

Folks asked Jack
‘Do you feel stuck?’
‘What I feel,’ he said,
‘Is luck.

‘That Sniff’s my name
and as you see
smelling to me
comes easy.

‘Rivers versus
themselves swimming
have a hard time
ever winning.

‘That’s why I, Jack Sniff,
always stay
with a heart full
of smelly play.’

RETURN OF THE ROUND TOP

Shift attention from the whales
Disregard the Barrier Reef
There’s a new endangered species
Needing focus and relief

At one time its abundance
Rivaled all the Earth’s insects
But nearly never now does one spot
Sweatshirts with classic crew necks

Where hoodies have not overrun them
Vests nip at their cuffs
So crewnecks get almost no love
On streets, beaches or bluffs:

For their nifty circle collar
For their lack of drawstring knots
For the Farmer Tans they gift
(If Farmer Tans are what you want).

So sing a song for crew necks
Say a prayer that they’ll come back
The Return can happen slowly,
starting on the discount racks,

Until more than Moms and rowers
Sport’em and help lift the hex,
on the classic crew neck sweatshirt:
comfy, harmless, unisex.

THE BIG DOG – A Tweed Typewriter Short

Zo is the canine king of the block. Until the morning he moseys down a different street and discovers a new world view. A humorous story for lovers of pups, Albany, or pups from Albany.

NOTE: This story was published originally on this site as a poem only, then again in Steller Stories format. To see the progression from script to screen, click here.

THE IRON HOG STREAK

East of Ohio
West of New York
Lived an old hog,
The “ground” kind, not the “pork”.

Yes, a groundhog he was
By the name of Phil
In the town of Punxsutawney
Living under a hill.

Known to all as “The Iron ‘Hog”
For his unbroken streak
Of predicting if winter
Would have six more weeks.

Well, one year just as
His big day drew near
Phil’s “Iron ‘Hog” streak
Was in danger, he feared.

That’s when Philippa Aliquippa
Elsewhere in PA
Heard her phone ring
The night before Groundhog Day.

“Hello there, Pippa?
It’s your old pal Phil
Here in Punxsutawney
And feeling quite ill!

I tried not to call
I tried to hold out
But it’s nearly tomorrow
And my health is in doubt.

Shadowed or not, a groundhog must be here
Shadowed or not, a groundhog must go!
To sort out the seasons,
So everyone knows!
Tradition … the streak …
To put on the show!”

Philippa Aliquippa
Detecting desperation
Said, “Phil, if you’re extending,
I accept the invitation!”

Then off to Punxsutawney
From Aliquippa, PA,
She set out for a surprise trip
On Groundhog Day,

And at old Gobbler’s Knob
Still dark before dawn
Pippa met Phil
On the calm, moonlit lawn.

In between sneezes
He talked through each step,
Then one at a time
Had Pippa review it
She listened and nodded
And played along well,
Keeping to herself
That there was nothing to it.

Then as the sun rose
And a buzz filled the town
Pip and Phil peered out
From below the ground.

“Any questions?” he asked,
“Any last minute stuff?”
“Yes, I’m really” Pip said
“Craving marshmallow fluff.”

She smiled then giggled then laughed,
Phil did not.
“No worries, Pux-pal.
This old i, I can dot.”

Then upward she climbed
And outward she went
And spotting no shadows
Away winter she sent.

A top hatted fella
Then held Pip aloft
There were cheers and snapshots,
In his den, Phil joy-coughed.

That was the year partnership
Saved old Pux Phil
When the Iron ‘Hog Streak
He could not solo fulfill.

Still the problem was solved
In time for Groundhog Day
The Philippa Aliquippa
Turned Punxsutawney Pippa way.

oN transformatioN

Never forget the fella

who sits after M, before O,

without him, my friend, you’d be fried,

all things nice would feel like ice: cold.

Happy sand would be sad,

every band would be bad,

and bananas, like sheep, 

simply baaa.

So respect that letter,

just one past halfway,

who keeps windows from being widows,

everywhere, everyday.

MIGHTIER, INK

When an old forgotten pen 

in a pocket is discovered

A fresh opportunity 

has been uncovered,

To unlock and empty 

the full idea cage

Onto an endlessly 

possible page,

To draw a new door 

Where before none had been,

Such a find is more precious than 

Finding a ten.

THE LEMONADE LINK

We kids wanted to open
A lemonade stand
Smack dab on the corner
Of Flagstaff and Grand.

But when we arrived,
Supplies all in tow,
Right there on our spot
Was a telephone pole.

Should we relocate?
Give up our plan?
Set up mid-Flagstaff?
Or further down Grand?

No way, we kids said.
That corner’s our goal.
So what if they just….
Moved the telephone pole?

Could that even happen?
Not if we don’t ask,
We agreed then proceeded
To take on the task.

We filled out the forms
Began a petition:
“The Lemonade Kids
Seek Pole Reposition.”

We carried the papers
To City Hall
“This isn’t a thing
we’ve considered at all,”

Said the Receptionist,
Mayor and Clerk.
“Well, I have!” said the Bureau Chief
Of Lemon Work.

“Lemonade was around
long before those phone wires –
which the need for, admit it,
will quite soon expire.

“Look to the future,
These kids are our link!
Invest in their vision:
Wireless lemon drink!”

The Receptionist, Mayor
And Clerk were dumbfounded.
And though trying to hide it,
We kids were astounded.

Our once barely crawling
Lemonade stand
Suddenly had grown legs,
Sprung up and ran.

With a stamp and a seal
And a chorus of “Aye!”s
Our motion was granted
Right before our eyes.

What-if became why became how then
KAPOW!
On the corner of Flagstaff and Grand
We sell now,

Where that telephone pole
Did not go to waste,
After we chopped it up
Into seats for our place.

A place people stop
To sip a cool drink
And to hear the old tale
Of the Lemonade Link.

THE VERY FABRIC OF PETER COTTONTAIL

The life of Peter Cottontail
Would not have been the same
If Leather was the fabric
At the start of his last name.

Imagine Naugahyde or Burlap
Where “Cotton”’s always been
And how Pete’s kid-soft-lap-snapshot-biz
That would so badly spin.

How would Pete be received as
Satintail or Denimtail?
Would then on a motorbike
He ride the bunny trail?

If those pastel egg deliveries
Came from Peter Polyester,
Around Easter lots of sketchy feels
Might every springtime fester.

Yes, the life and times he’s mastered
Might have truly faltered
If Peter Cottontail’s old tailor
His name even slightly altered.

LEAPS and GROUNDS

The tulips are up.
Why? What do they know?
That the Groundhog was right?
That we’re done with snow?!?

It’s still February,
They’re shaking my nerves.
It’s been warm this week
But March weather curves!

Suppose they keep rising
Up out of the yard
And one night a frost
Descends on them hard.

The head start each bulb
Will have by then got
Could in one cold flash
Become all for not.

Which leaves me to wonder ….
About flower brains,
And the speed and direction of
Flower thought trains….

Are my tulips digging
Toward their own demise?
Or are they well informed
As they reach for the skies?

I’ve watched and I’ve listened,
My ear to the ground,
But so far there’s been
Not from them one sound.

Loose lips may sink ships
But these tulips don’t speak,
Except by the rise
Of their eager green beaks,
Out of the dirt
Propelled maybe by knowing:
This year’s nearer to flowers
Than it is to snowing.

 

BIRD BRAINS

It’s great to be a bird in a town
where the lawns are always mowed
Whenever I want an earthborn snack
there’s never a long way to go.

While my country cousins
love their cornfield
I say, all those tall stalks
keep the good stuff concealed.

Here the grass stays short
so the worms can’t hide,
There’s so much to choose
I can hardly decide.

So complain if you want
of the noise from the mower,
And its belches of smoke
with their grassy odor,

I’ll stand by relaxing
while all down the street
My lawn obsessed friends
find me something to eat.

ARM CONFLICT

A new snow-ski Vest
I got from my mom
I’ve heard nice things about it
Except from my arms.

“We just bet,” they both say,
“That thing is the best,
If you’re a belly,
A back or a chest,

“Sealed in from the chill
Inside puffy armor,
Not two nude kazoos in
Full vibrato arm-brrrr.

“While you think it’s real smart
a ‘lightweight sleeveless jacket,’
we brothers-in-arms say:
Vests are a racket!”

“I guess,” said the Vest,
“About as much as gloves,
And long johns, wool socks and
Those things ears call ‘Muffs.’

“Pipe down out there, Arms,
Save your noise for the beach.
The value of vests
Seems well past your reach.”

When my snow-ski vest’s on now,
My Arms roll their eyes,
The chips on their shoulders
Big and undisguised.

All they talk about’s summer
And how it’s the best.
Wonder how they’ll like
My new water-ski vest.

 

THE GRAY SHAKE EXPRESS

On every other ride
of the Nantucket Rail
the caboose is the front
and the engine the tail,

When in a straight line it goes
then backs up straight,
Club cars of sightseers
and seafood, its freight.

So much saved steel!
All those safe dunes!
All the time saved to ‘Sconset
AND back by noon!

See Lighthouses, Windmills,
Cisco in your pail,
on the Commonwealth’s finest
The Nantucket Rail,

Like no other train,
it drives forward and back:
A steam-powered pendulum
Criss-crossing ACK.

KID WARNING

Caution: children
Are out on the loose
Boiling up ways
To deep fry your goose,

Everywhere lurking
Hiding scheming
Believing they’re harmless
Is crazytalk dreaming.

Caution: children
Prowling about
Quiet at songtime
At bedtime they shout,

Listening always
Except when you ask
Too busy plot hatching
To complete your task.

Caution: children
Don’t think they’re not smart
They’ll come for your wallet
And leave with your heart,

You cannot afford
to ignore the sign
Not if there’s 1 out there,
Let alone 9.

Whatever the number
They’re all worthy foes
How many are watching
Nobody knows,

So caution: children
When your spirit they’ve torn
Your body they’ve wearied
Don’t say you weren’t warned.

YOUR DAY

This day may be like
None ever before,
When a who-knows-what ceiling
For you is in store,

When a leap in the bay
From a motor boat side
Is only the start
Of your who-knows-where ride,

Today may be when
You write your first song,
A number so good it sounds good
On a gong!

You might tour a city,
Paint portraits pretty,
Learn who-knows-what game,
Write jokes that are witty,

Cook from a new page of your recipe book,
Decode that mistake you feared would stay mistook.
Just after that where next this day may go,
If you play your cards right, who-could-possibly know?

Maybe fishing with brother,
Or soccer with sis,
Or the last chapter of
“The Great Adventuress.”

Today’s who-knows-what ceiling
Is … well … who can say?
Only you because this
Is going to be your day.