’Twas a dark, stormy night ’fore the day of my birth,
while Mamá, cold and hungry, was wand’ring the Earth.
Her stockings hung loose, full of holes, worse for wear,
and she hoped some kind Saint would soon notice her there.
As she begged door to door, often told not to grouse
(my Papá died and left her without home or spouse),
she sought a warm place to deliver this elf;
still safe, warm inside her, I’d soon show myself.
Her footsteps left prints on the new-fallen snow;
they showed where she’d been but told not where to go.
Her clothes were in tatters, she had but one blouse,
and not enough food to feed even a mouse.
She paused by an inn for she’d heard the old story:
ten minutes of fame became legend and glory.
The innkeeper offered his barn, “for a fee,”
so that wasn’t the place—not for her, not for me.
But obstacles never deterred her bright eye,
and her mind, like a hurricane, took to the sky.
She soon found a sleigh out behind an old shed
and a bag full of hay she fluffed into a bed.
And then, in a twinkling, before she turned ’round,
though dressed in no furs, I arrived with a bound!
But a wink of her eye and a nod of her head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
“His eyes, how they twinkle! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks glow like roses; cold nose like a cherry.
He has a broad face and a little round belly
so empty and cold that it shivers like jelly.”
She whispered these words while pursuing her duty;
to love and to nurture this new-foundling beauty.
No long winter’s nap—she must suckle this lad.
I’m sure that’s the best night that I’ve ever had.
But we couldn’t nestle all snug in warm beds—
no visions of sugar-plums danced in our heads.
Mamá in the sleigh held me close in a sack,
and at least for one night I had nothing to lack.
As the sun rises late on a cold winter’s day,
so Mamá, when she woke, quickly sprang from the sleigh,
but she paused, with her fingers alongside my face,
and said, with a nod and a voice full of grace,
’ere resuming her search for relief from our plight,
“Happy birthday to us! What a wonderful night!”
There’s barely a trace of Nick’s story but these.
Part II, “Life’s a Humbug,” had caused such unease
that the editors of all the weekly gazettes
were harangued by their readers with outrageous threats.
Though we wait for the outcome of Nick’s life empory
(ne’er told in Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”),
we fear, as the sergeant from Penzance would say:
“Well, it’s too late, now!”
Perhaps, someday, we may.
Who’m I If Not Me?
If I write yours, then I am you.
If you write mine, then I am two.
That’s surely not what we should do
for I’m sure I’d obscure the view
intended. You might be offended
and your readers seek amended
poetry from you, not me,
that’s written how it’s s’posed to be;
but otherhanded, should you choose
attempts to write while in my shoes,
our readers all are sure to lose
their confidence and doubt your views,
and some might even write reviews
quite raving (although not good news),
the paving of a downhill road
in hopes, perhaps, that they might goad
good sense upon our backs, the load
enabling our return, by measure,
to that richer, fuller treasure
when you’ve writ what you should write
and my words come from my insight.
“Vive la différence!” wise Greeks say
(when speaking French) for we know they,
like Germans, Turks, Italians, too,
learn languages in their purview
where borders tangle one-another,
severing each one from the other,
though their accents might lead you
to hear the meanings with a view
that makes some phrases sound askew—
so sometimes should we not eschew
the use of foreign phrases, fraught
with accidental accents caught
upon our tongues and feeble ears
which bring us pained or laugh-filled tears
across the years as we read verses
(most fulfill us—some need hearses)
that growing hordes of would-be bards
have tossed about; some great with shards
which cut to quick twixt meat and bone,
but others, better left alone
which should be ashed or cemeteried,
words which better had not married
thoughts to pen then ink to paper,
lacking even dullest rapier, unfit
to fulfill their caper, out of wit
and not a bit of beauty or of soulfulness …
But clearly, you see, I digress;
these aren’t the words which you’d confess
and write, unless, of course, you’re me—
then I’d ask you,
“Who might I be?”