He wouldn’t have loved her whole,
but when he became half a man,
he loved her wholly,
for she was willing to be
his more able half.
In the worst of times,
she wanted to set their life on fire,
drown his sorrows with gasoline or
punch hers into confetti,
for the entire picture was too painful
to take in all at once;
in the best of times,
she forgot the worst of times.
He took a vow,
she took an oath.
Though his wife was difficult,
& her terminal patients were
they remained steadfast,
but when his wife left him
& a particular patient passed away,
he found refuge in the nurse,
as a wife with but 1 patient:
In the valley of the dollhouses
there lay the site of the Calico Critters’ Lumberjack Festival.
When the Hopscotch Bunnies decided to participate
alongside the Eager Beavers
rather than fell trees,
they were needed on the roofs
to get better reception.
When 10:10 met 8:20,
an annoying, perky sort,
told 8:20 to turn his clock face frown
taking his advice,
cleaned 10:10’s clock
with his longer hand,
so that it took a minute
rather than an hour,
making 8:20 feel like an a.m.
rather than a p.m.
Mr. Gherkin always found himself in a pickle,
Miss Cherry, a jam,
but these 2 accident-prone soul-mates—
1 sweet, 1 sour—
had never met until they were joined
in sandwich-style matrimony
by the pregnant bridezilla.
Mary Katherine McFeeney
of Washingham High School,
Class of 1988,
had been a “Who’s Who?” in her heyday,
but Hellen Devlin,
the girl who’d watched M.K.
since their freshman year—
becoming an unofficial M.K.M. scholar
& penning the M.K.M. Fictionary—
had wondered why & how
“the girl most likely
to spread more than good cheer”
had ever achieved such acclaim,
for M.K. had never known what was what
who was on first . . .
& second . . .
giving the word “Homecoming”
a whole ‘nother meaning.
Born a “Children of the Damned” blond,
The Girl grew up believing
that she became invisible
whenever she closed her eyes—
only to realize that with invisibility
but as she grew & her hair darkened,
she actually got brighter,
that is, until she became nostalgic
for her happy-go-bumpy childhood,
& she reverted to the bottle,
lamenting the dark roots
that were just a branch
of the Black Irish part
of her family tree.
He had a face for radio,
she, a voice for print journalism.
They were only 10’s,
if they were added together,
so they married not up
but equal to one another—
with her writing what he said
& him saying what she wrote,
they lived fair-to-middlin’ ever after.
When Sticky Fingers Sal & Pickpocket Pearl
were strolling out of Curl Up & Dye,
Sal, distracted by a Grammar Nazi on strike,
slipped & fell into a plot hole.
Pearl, always quick with her hands,
reached into the man’s pocket
& stole the ultimate weapon—
his dangling modifier.
She held it down for Sal who,
even after her rescue,
just wouldn’t let go of it.
He was a tautogram,
she, an anagram.
They were socially-awkward individuals,
for he got his tongue all twisted,
just as she was all mixed up.
He was White Wine,
chilled to perfection;
she was Red Wine,
perfect as she was.
Then along came
all fancy & bubbly in her flute
& saying to Red & White
that they were mere
lunch & dinner accompaniments,
whereas she was the star
of holidays & weddings.
But then she met Beer,
who was enjoyed out of the tap,
& the can,
& she realized that his fans
would enjoy him
from any vessel.
He was holy water,
when he consumed her,
he was no longer a man of the cloth
but a man without his clothes.
He was the turkey at every Thanksgiving,
she, the ham at every Christmas.
When they decided to cook up something together,
they ended up with a little meatball,
full of spice & spunk.
The parents still reigned supreme, however,
for they could be enjoyed cold as well as hot.
He was nice
(but too nice to other men’s wives);
she was naughty
(but only with her husband).
Neither considered themselves
above the other,
for they were both
on very important lists.
“Look into my eyes on purpose
& don’t repeat after me,”
she often said to the little girl
who didn’t move mountains
but built them,
even as she would someday
No two snowflakes are alike,
& she melted in her mothers arms—
not the designer label her mother had hoped for,
but the special label
that made her love her all the more.
motherhood was spent
smacking tags on clothes in the store
& plush animals at home,
on spinning pennies
& Minnie Mouse by the tail,
on “crashing the checkers”
of Connect Four,
only for the tray to be filled up again
with what she called mustards & ketchups.
Though such activities became
the payoff was in her daughter’s smile
that lit up her face like a gloriole
& with the laughter that filled a room
When Rachel Larsen was awakened
one smoggy, Christmas Eve night
by a conductor of an air & noise polluter,
she boarded The Solar Express—
renamed to keep the EPA off their backs.
When little Rachel reached Santytown,
having shared chai tea & gluten-free crumpets
with the other ragamuffins,
she saw all the toy factories
belching carbon dioxide like a charcoal grill;
she had a vision of the ice caps melting
at the The North Pole
so that The Solar Express
had to become a monorail
to navigate over the rising sea levels;
she envisioned Santa and his “little finds,”
moving from a cave to a Jetson-style house,
for the land below had become
too polluted to even harvest
all the plastic from the ocean
to recycle into plastic toys.
Santa Claus was the happily drunken,
who was productive but once a year,
his disgruntled elves having done all
the real work
but forced to stamp “Made in China”
on their handiwork.
When Santa found Rudolph,
the ne’er-do-weller North Pole pub dweller,
& praised the boozer for his snoot—
cherry-red from pint after pint of snootfuls—
the other reindeer,
willing to show him the 12 steps,
welcomed him with open antlers.
However, after Rudy continuously
made an icehole of himself
at every G-rated reindeer game—
trying to impress nonexistent female reindeer
(save Cupid, who had shot herself with an arrow
& was in love only with herself)—
the other reindeer,
fearful of an FWI (flying while intoxicated),
made sure that “Ruddy”
went down in history
by making him history.
When he was a young’un,
he’d watched his momma kiss Santy Claus;
when he grew up,
he’d watched her kill Santy Claus
for runnin’ Granny over with a John Deere,
marking Bama Montgomery’s last Christmas in Dixie.
This son of a sawed-off shotgun,
whose child support had come
in the form of recalled toys
that had washed up on Misfit Island—
which had been a “Dirty Santa” thing to do—
knew what he had to do.
But, rather than throw Momma from The Polar Express,
he threw her under the city bus
& staked his claim (courtesy of ancestry.com)
to the snow-white tundra & its 70, pointy-eared dwarves,
where he was stuck making crappy toys for Beall’s
& dreaming of a green Christmas.
He measured his time in semesters,
she, in trimesters.
His work was in bettering himself
even as hers was
in raising a child
who would want to do just that.
A Rock is a Hard Place to Sleep
She’d brought the Precious Moments snow globe
that played “In the Good Ole Summertime”
& the ladybug that turned the ceiling into a celestial night sky,
in her swirl-pink bathrobe,
scented with Dove,
so that when the sounds
of the Interstate overhead
vanished into thick air,
& the lights were turned out
in the shabby shelter
that was their 6-week purgatory
for being poor,
it would be just like all this homelessness business
was but a bad dream.
After she lost her son,
she tried to live everyday
with her daughter
to the fullest—
tried to capture every memory
in 1000’s of words
& in 100’s of pictures–
but found that in trying
to document it all
at such an incredible
level of intensity,
those moments of
she found that the future—
some of which may or may not
was stealing from the present
that she tried to hold on to too tightly,
for it so soon became the past.
Though her teachers taught her
to read & write,
it was her parents who taught her
to love it.
She had spent her childhood
pretending to be invisible,
only to learn in her adulthood
that the magic cloak of invisibility
was simply to be homeless.
Dad was a roughhouser,
Mom, a reader;
their child had the best of them,
for she could throw haymakers like a girl—
better than any gamer’s—
& could appreciate the stories
that packed sucker punches.
She’d imagined future memories
of taking care of them someday,
for they had taken care of her.
Though her child had made her
want to better herself,
Mom & Dad had made her
into a person who could.
Dad gave me strength,
but Mom gave me resilience
so that I was unbreakable.
As a little girl,
she had looked back
to see her mom,
looking back at her.
As an adult,
it was not behind her,
but above her,
that she looked—
whenever she shared a memory of her
with her own child,
whenever she spoke to the stone
that bore her name like a commandment,
whenever she made Dad proud.
If you weren’t really an adult
till your parents were gone,
she would be happy to be
a child forever.