Dad painted our house one June when I was about 5 or 6. He painted it white, and it took several weeks, painstaking perfectionist that he was, all white, with green trim, and every inch free of runs and neatly cut in as if the paint was laid with a ruler. Then he resodded the front lawn but it rained and rained for days after he’d skinned the old grass and he had to put the sod on hold. Meanwhile there was this huge pile of mud in the yard, an irresistable chocolate earth playground. Soaked, squishy, mud pie packing and mudball rolling big ol’ pile of forbidden mud. Quite forbidden. Which made playing in it all the better.
Where or how I got my imagination I do not know, but I suspect it was a giant jape the angels played on my poor mother and father, because you know what I saw when I was six and looked out there at that giant heap of mucky clay? A pitcher’s mound. And I imagined I was the greatest hurler of all time…I WAS ……
“Nice arm, young fella,
Do you think you oughta stop now?”
Mailman Joe grinned at me.
No way, I thought, winding
Up and firing another juicy mudball.
I’m Joey Jay, after all,
Steely-eyed Redleg facing down
Those Brooklyn Birds – SPpla-at!
Try and hit my aloysius curveball
You pinstriped rat! 5 year old boys
Throw curveballs in their minds-
I had the best bender any ghost batter
Ever faced, even the mailman saw that.
I stood in drizzling mist, early June in ’59,
Proud and tall (tall in my own mind)
And blurred another mudder at the wall.
Someday, I thought, squatting to squish
Another dripping glob, Daddy will turn on
His radio and there I’ll be – chucking
Blazing fastballs – one and two and three!
Enthroned in favorite chair, beer in hand
Dad will yell “SHUT UP!” point at box,
“I want to hear my boy for once!”
The mudball kid, with his aloysius curve -
Granted audience with the Frightful Man!
(What really happened now)
When you’re 5, with accordioned socks
And everyone else in the world is tall,
You’ll get your frightful audience alright,
If you fire mudball strikes against your
House’s freshly white and painted walls.
I love the zoo. Now is a great time to go see the polar bears. I love the zoo in winter. No one else is there. That is because they have more sense than I do. Some exhibits are closed, of course, but lots are open. Polar bears, and penguins and wolves. Even reindeer. Really. Real live reindeer. I tried to talk to them but they pretend not to be able to. Sometimes you can find a Lion to Ride.
Sometimes its fun to give a glance to the giant funny elly-phance. They huff and puff and give great blows from their funny pachydermal nose. And even if the only thing you see is a marmet chirping happily…
Don’t Feed the Animoes!
At the zoo, I never feed the animoes
Afraid they might eat my feet or my noze
Striped Tigers are snacking behind too-tall fences
They bolt down their food until it’s past tenses
Lion’s are gnawers – I don’t want any closer
Being lunch for a lion isn’t good for composure
Hippos are hippy, and fatty, and huge
But the thought of us in the potamus doesn’t amuze
Those horny ol Rhinoze – how grandioze
Who’d want a nocerus to step on their toze?
After a while, we got to the ‘dile
A child for breakfast would make that croc smile!
Now speakin of lunch I can hear a low rumblin
All this walking and gawkin has my tummy a grumblin
So, lets take out a samwich and pull up our chairz…
But I’m keeping an eye out for those darn Grizzly Bearz!!
Its Christmas Eve and the stockings are flung through the air by the stairs,
and the dinner is burning and so are my heirs,
its another year past and they don’t get my stuff,
Like the gifts neath the tree aren’t really enough.
Its snowing outside so the scene is all set
For that one to show up that I’d knew I’d forget.
They’ll have a big package all trimmed with a bow
Can I re-gift real quick so they won’t ever know?
Here’s my wish that everyone who might read this has a Merry Christmas, a wonderful time with the people you most care about and a tummy full of ham or turkey or punkin pie….
When you were little was there the terror of the night? With claws and big saucer sized green glowing eyes – you know – the horrid Bedley-snatcher! Every night I would moan a bit to myself as Mom and Dad tucked me in knowing there was no reprieve from the terror that lay ahead. Complaints would only bring the admonition to “be a big boy, now, Chuckie” and maybe Mom would smooth down my unruly bangs a bit but I knew neither would offer to stay and keep that monster out from under my bed. I think the darn creature came out of the vents from the attic but really, I’ve never been sure – I only know that the only defense against him was to curl up under the blankets and wrap ‘em up as tight as possible – nothing peeking out! Bedleys can’t get through blankets, don’t you know. So I’d snuggle thinking of…
The Bedley Snatcher!
My bed is warm and blankety,
Its underbed that frightens me,
Where dreaded bedley-snatcher lurks
with greeny claws and evil smirks.
The rules are clear…when woe! is I
and Bedley-Snatcher frights are nigh
Then mumble prayers real fervently!
“R Father who Art’n’Hebbin, Don’t let me
Die before elebbin, and if I die before I wake
Please let me keep my garter snake”
(God and little boys have this understanding)
Screw up eyes in squeezed-shut scaredom
Tent head and eyes – don’t unbare them:
For it’s a fact which all boys know
Bedley grabs whatever shows!
Now…quake and shibber, lay ensconced
in blanket shields for just a nonce,
He’ll shake your bed and moan perhaps
but soon will leave you to your naps.
If all else fails, leap up and RUN!
Just dash it all, and have some fun
Skitter me sliding down the hall
then jump in bed ‘tween Ma and Pa!
Chuck Elledge 2001