Poetry

Christmas Eve in Brooklyn

by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
Da whole house was mellow,
Not a creature was stirrin’,
I had a gun unda my pillow.

When up on da roof’
I heard somethin’ pound,
I sprung to da window,
To scream, “Ay! Keep it down!”

When what to my
Wanderin’ eyes should appear,
But dat hairy elf Vinny,
And eight friggin’ reindeer.

Wit’ a bad hackin’ cough,
And da stencha burped beer,
I knew in a moment
Yo, da Kringle wuz here!

Wit’ a slap to dere snouts,
And a yank on dere manes,
He cursed and he shouted,
And he called dem by name.

“Yo Tony, Yo Frankie,
Yo Sally, Yo Vito,
Ay Joey, Ay Paulie,
Ay Pepe, Ay Guido!”

As I drew out my gun
And hid by da bed,
Down came his friggin’ boot
On da top a my head.

His eyes were all bloodshot,
His b.o. wuz scary,
His breath wuz like sewage,
He had a mole dat wuz hairy.

He spit in my eye,
And he twisted my head,
He soon let me know
I should consider myself dead.

Den pointin’ a fat finga
Right unda my nose,
He let out some gas,
And up da chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh,
Obscenities screaming,
And away dey all flew,
Before he troo dem a beatin’.

But I heard him exclaim,
Or better yet grump,
“Merry Christmas to all, and
Bite me, ya hump!”

Pillar of Light

My grandmother was the strongest woman I’ve ever met. She lived in Vandergrift, PA – a steeltown that subsequently struggled after WWII. Depression, war, house fire – life was NOT easy with three daughters after her husband collapsed and died on the steps of the steel plant after a sunday shift. She went on. I always admired her humor and her iron will, which I saw clearly in my mother. She was such a survivor. I’m certain her spirit lives on.

Emily Rowe-Snyder


Pillar of Light

Within my heart there is a room
where you shall always live,
a place that I will visit
when thanks I wish to give.

For strength that knew no boundries
for love that had no fear
for arms forever open
to draw her loved ones near.

Faith that was unshaken
by adventures manifold
Fire unmistaken
in stories often told.

Ashlar of our family
keystone of our world
always there to listen
as our lives unfurled.

She built a mighty edifice
against eternal night
within us now, her strength remains
as pillars of pure light.

MDW 1/4/01

For my Grandmother

My cousin Joe, whom I mention in other places, read this at my Grandmother’s funeral. I heard a recording of it and he did it real justice. I could tell he was terrifically moved by it, as was intended – I’m certain the audience was too. I’m deeply indebted to Joe for doing that since I was unable to attend and this was my final elegy to her. Whatever our differences may be, he has my undying thanks for that act. No small task and he did it with great honor. Thanks Joe. I’ll never forget that.

Classified

If you’ve never heard this song by the man who made the song ‘Convoy’ famous, you’re in for a treat. Same ‘storyteller’ style but very fast, complicated ‘lyrics’ (it doesn’t really rhyme) and hilarious story. Get a copy of the MP3 from somewhere, then sit down and TRY to follow along. I dare ya. How he managed to remember this entire saga is a feat unto itself. Definitely transcends the typical Country/Western genre.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little grey mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little grey mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Weeck! which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and cried Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets, but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim.
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I’d have been twice as brave if I hadn’t been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We’d have been three times as brave, we think,

And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little grey mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

Ogden Nash 1902-1971

The Tale of Custard the Dragon (pdf, 12K)

Elegy for my Aunt

Echoes

So close we share blood
your sister my mother
lives intertwined
our families blurring together

In the wheel of faces
yours is brightly lit
always smiling
always kind

Echoes of you stand near
children of your heart
adoring husband – his arm bare
yet you are here

I hear your voice
speaking through your children
and they hear the echo too
your face in their mirrors

Gentle heart I wish you well
I was proud to know you
and more proud
to be family

For my Aunt Bobby
MDW 2006

Recess

When I first started communicating with Marilyn (who was to become my wife) I realized that I had found someone who really spoke to my inner child, which had faded to a near-wraith after seventeen years of marriage to an alcoholic.

Just and True

My father was not always my best friend – he still isn’t. However, he did give me a lot of good advice and was as good a father as he could be. He never lied to me or backed away from a challenge in life. Here’s my thanks for that.

Just and True

When I was a young man
my father spoke to me
in words of measured wisdom
he tried to make me see

That life is hard and painful
a place to serve and work
to always do my very best
and never turn or shirk

and if I did the best I could
rewards would come to me
for nothing in this life he said
would ever come for free

As I grew up I questioned this
as young men always do
until I learned the hard way
that what he said was true

The upward path is always hard
and shortcuts mean defeat
cause no one likes a liar
and no one loves a cheat

But on that path you find the friends
that make your life worthwhile
I hear you now George Parker
I hope this makes you smile!

The only thing I really own
is what I learned from you
Always do your very best
Be always Just and True.

with love for my dear father
your son Douglas

6/97 MDW

Illustrated PDF (200k)

Thousand Suns

Thousand Suns

There is a fire that burns
with the heat of a thousand suns
I have walked through this inferno
Shadrach is my name

Like the sun in the sky it burns
silent but relentless
now the fire is within me
Meshach is my name

Honor tends this furnace
blows the coals white-hot
no impurities survive here
Abendego is my name

Every atom of my being
sings this fierce paean
I have lived to tell this tale
Douglas is my name

To my friends I beckon, come close
let the furnace protect you
To my foes I beckon, come close

The fire still burns

With the heat of a thousand suns.

MDW 1/95

Illustrated PDF (44K)