THE LION-LAMB BRIDGE

Every year on the 16th
Of the 3rd month
Just before noon
Two dear old friends meet,

A baton passing tag team
Without whose exchange
The long march from winter
Could not be complete.

The first to arrive
Wears a top hat and tails,
Holds a chair to keep big cats
Tuned like a clock

The next at all times
Will take wools over wolves
And is expert at how to
Keep tight-knit, a flock.

They are the Shepherd
And Lion Trainer
And March is the moment
Their paths come together,

To smoothly transition
Best as can be done
The fierce-cranky-cold
To the pleasant-warm-weather.

Standing halfway between
February and April
These two get the Lion
To shake with the Lamb,

And say these magic words,
“Hocus-pocus-snowkiss-crocus:
Now spring us from winter,
AbbraCalendar-zam!

Some years their spell
Has an instant effect
Others it works
As if on delay,

But quickly or not
On the journey toward summer
The Lion-Lamb Bridge
Is the only way.

And to navigate it
Needs the Shepherd and Trainer
The duo that meets
Every noon, March Sixteen.

How lucky we are
For their teamwork each year
Making the March
Wacky Weather Swap clean.

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.

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.

 

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 COLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

It fell from a cloud
It fluttered around
From tree branch to garden,
All across town.

It hit the ground,
Was kicked back up
And floated onto
The wing of a duck.

A quack and a flap
Launched it again
On a skyward ride rarer
Than a tooth in a hen.

The view it had during
These falls and rises
Was chock fulla fun,
Adventure, surprises,

The real life kind sweeter
Than cookies or cake
That shows how cool it is
To be a snowflake.

flake

FOR REALCICLE – This is a photo of an actual snowflake, captured by photographer Douglas Levere. To see more incredible images from his snowflake gallery, click here.

MALADY and HARMONY

Each year the seasons germs and frost
prompted scores of fret
in the world famous Busskill singers,
The No Waiting Room Quartet.

They said, “It’s simple, really,
when we’re sick we just can’t sing
Any more than a slinky can
Slink stairs on a broken spring.”

So when the duo Cough’n’Sniffle
put The Quartet to the test,
it would quiz right back with a three pack
of Juice and Soup and Rest.

And when its Song of Winter
became a four-cough-harmony,
The Quartet tuned up a dose of health
with cords of Vitamin C.

Because the No Waiting Room Quartet
was not content waiting around
under blankets doing nothing
when there were songs to be sung about town.

KNUCKLE CHATTER

My fuzzy gloves that are fingerless
Send me palms over knuckles with digital bliss
On the winter days I’m earwax picking,
Scratching backs, guitar licking,
Pinching jacks, popping pimples,
Cleaning braces, poking dimples,
Tying laces, tickling bellies,
Needle threading, tasting jellies,
Rabbit foot petting, booger flicking,
Yo-yo twirling, paper football kicking,
Portraying a Shadow-Squirrel, snatching a donut hole,
Lapping cookie dough trails from Mom’s mixing bowl.
But when it’s really cold outside and time to shovel snow,
Mittens that cover my fingers are what I wish I had in tow.

knuckles_edit

WALKY TALK

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TO SEE THIS WALKOPHONOUS POEM & COLLAGE AS PART OF THE #STELLER STORY IN WHICH THEY WERE ORIGINALLY POSTED, CLICK HERE. 

If my footsteps,

(Fall crunch: over leaves)

Were able to talk,

(Winter crisp: on snow)

The sound of their words,

(Spring slosh: through puddles)

Would depend when I walk.

(Summer scratch: sandy toes)

SCOOP

Dad says what we got’s magic snow,
That somehow made our driveway grow,
That somehow made him say words that
He swears he doesn’t really know.

Dad says that each new inch that falls
Lengthens the driveway by ten feet,
That if we left right now, perhaps,
Some time next year we’d reach the street.

Dad says the thing we need most now
Is a summer-style-sun,
To melt some of this magic snow
And make our driveway a walkable one.

Mom says that sounds great but while we wait
A pass with the shovel may be in order.
Dad hears and looks nervous before blurting out,
“But I can’t! Don’t you know? I’m a magic snow hoarder!”

scoop_drivewaypic_edit

WINTORY LAP

On the shortest day of the year
The sun takes an extra long lunch,
So long it doesn’t end until
Almost the next day’s brunch.

Head lights and night lights get lots of action
The day of the year that’s shortest.
While that day more than any other is for
golf clubs and lawn mowers the boredest.

It seems like it should be relaxing and yet
There’s always so much around you,
On the year’s shortest day, falling as it does,
Right about when the holidays do.

Still songs like “Oh, What a Night” or “Thank
the Lord for the Nighttime” spread cheer,
Of how happy folks get after early sunset
On the shortest day of the year.

shortest_edit

Among everything else it is, the shortest day of the year is half a calendar away from its cousin the longest day of the year.

CHRISTMAS CLOUD COVER

Christmas night rain
Was causing trepidation
For reindeer who worked
Through precipitation.

There were no good galoshes
To cover a hoof
And also give traction
To walk on a roof.

A red nosed windshield wiper
Had not been invented
A slicker for antlers
Nowhere could be rented.

So wet Christmas Eves
Rudolph would fear
Along with his team
Until finally one year,

They became so distracted
Checking the weather
Their boss caught wind of
His team’s ruffled feathers.

Mrs. Claus heard and said,
“Let me ring a friend.
I bet once and for all
Their concerns we can end.”

A couple weeks later,
It was early December,
A large package arrived addressed
KRINGLE TEAM MEMBERS.

As he opened it Saint Nick whispered,
“What have we got here …
SAINT ELLA UMBRELLA’S
REINDEER RAIN GEAR’?!?”

“Just in time,” said Mrs. Claus
walking in, “it’s arrived.
Ella said she could help.
I knew that was no jive.”

The Reindeer Rain Gear
In the box was a boon,
With it on Santa’s team
Hoped they’d face a monsoon:

Water tight goggles,
Impervious slickers,
Treaded hoof booties,
Fur sealing knickers,

All there among Saint Ella
Umbrella’s tricks,
The Reindeer Rain Gear
For a wet Christmas fix,

Thanks to Mrs. Claus
And the power of friends,
Since that year the reindeer
Viewed rain through a new lens.

WINDING DOWN WINTER: A Steller Story from Hamilton, NJ

The remarkable GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE is like no place I’ve ever been.  Part museum, part botanical gardens, this indoor/outdoor art gallery contains the realistic and abstract, the sublime and ridiculous.  As remarkable as the space looked during my visit, I left thinking that I could probably enjoy entirely different experiences of it in the spring, summer, or fall ; in the early morning or by the light of the scattered lampposts and landscape lights.  So large and diverse is the installation, that every trip there seems as though it would offer something unique.

On the afternoon I spent at this world class exhibition — tucked into a quiet, central New Jersey town between Trenton and Princeton — the plants on the snow covered landscape were still shivering, but doing so with their leaves turned optimistically toward the sun.  The scenes produced by the intersection of the natural and man-made artwork on that Eve of Spring inspired my latest STELLER STORY, readable by clicking on the photo below.

Click the photo above to view scenes from the Grounds for Sculpture.