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A Poem For Mother’s Day ©
One Spring morning Papa Bear tiptoed into Baby Bruno’s play room and said,

“ Tomorrow is Mother’s day.” Bruno was not surprised. He said, “ I know. I have a
present for Mama.”
“ What is it?” Papa Bear asked.
“  It is a surprise.”
“ Still!” Papa Bear peeked around. “ Is it large to be hid in a jar?
“  Yes. ”
“ Then it is still in the house?”
“  No,” Baby Bruno answered slyly.
“ Something you can eat?”
“ If you are that hungry.”
Papa bear thought over it and scratched his head “ Give me a good hint, Bruno!”
“ Papa it is a surprise. The present is not for you.”
“ I know it is for your mama.” Papa bear got a little annoyed. But he threw up his hands and said, “ I have to go out. Be good.” Papa Bear hurriedly went out.
Baby Bruno went to Mama Bear and said, ” I must go out!”
“ Is it far in the woods?”
“Oh no mama!”
“ Are you onto meet someone?”
“Yes,” replied Baby Bruno,” Nothing more I can tell.” Mama Bear eyed her son quizzically.” There is some secret I suppose.”“ Is there?” Baby Bruno retorted mysteriously and ran off. He headed towards the cabbage patch to call out.

“ Rusty, Rusty It is me, Bruno!”
“ What is it now?”
Badger the poet came out dressed slovenly and he had sheaves of paper stuffed in his gown. “ I am in the middle of it!” He examined the ink stains on his hands.
“What do you mean?”
“It says what it is meant to say,” Rusty said a little out of breath, “In other words I am half way through the poem.”
“ You ought to read the poem to appreciate my difficulties!” Rusty said moping his face, “And my den is so small I can’t even trot my words without hitting the ceiling.”
Badger the poet took a sniff and said, “Glorious day!“

Immediately he rummaged in his pocket to take a piece of paper out. He read

“Mama, when I smell
honeysuckle in bloom/ your name I recall/…
Rusty relished his own work to remark, “Pretty neat
uh?”
Baby Bruno looked at the poet in wonder, “You thought
of honeysuckle while the cabbages grow overhead?”
“ It was difficult Bruno, but a poet like me writes to please.” He looked at cabbage heads and said,” Go on with your vegetable lives!” He snorted in disgust and
added, “My poem is for mothers wherever they may be!”

At this baby Bear took offense. He tugged at the sleeve of the poet to say, “You are writing this for my mother in particular!”
“I know,” the badger replied, “You paid me five hazelnuts in advance.” He added, “ Come away from this rather prosaic world.” The badger took him to the river’s edge and said, “Here I shall complete the poem. With a winding river in front of me.”
The poet hurriedly scribbled and after checking all the scraps of paper he faired it out on a scroll.
“The poem is complete,” the badger announced in glee. “ Read it to me!” the bear was eager to hear.
Rusty cleared his throat and read loud and clear:
“ I dip my pen in rivers of ink, Mother
For this day isn’t just another;
Mother’s day I ring in with a song.
Chorus:
Mama when I smell honeysuckle in bloom
Your name I recall/ Ah Mama Honeysuckle!
“ Stop! Stop,” baby Bruno shouted. Rusty peered at the bear, “Poets do not generally take to interruptions.” He said matter-of-factly.
“ My mother is not called Honeysuckle.”
“ What is it then?” “ Mama Lisl Drago”
“ Are you sure she will not change her name?” Poet Rusty wondered loud,

“Honeysuckle has more force and sweetness than Drago.”
“ I agree, “ baby Bear replied,” but we are talking of Mother’s day, and my mother in particular!”
“ I guess I will have to change my poem here and there.” Rusty said with a sigh,

“After all you are paying for it.”
“ You said it!” Baby Bruno grinned.

 

 

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why write

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ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. THAT WAS ALL. AND SIXTY CENTS of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 Bat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out of the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she cluttered out of the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One Eight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

“Give it to me quick” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 78 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please, God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was with out gloves.

Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice-what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet, even after the hardest mental labour.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. I his dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise-shell, with jewelled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

The End

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Some years ago in a village on the outskirts of a forest lived a poor family. He and his wife were childless. But their anxiety before it could turn into despair was soon over. One morning the folks saw the cut out of a stork on the garden patch festooned with pink ribbons. “It’s a girl!’ they said and folks soon dropped in to wish the proud parents for their good fortune.

The baby was as fine as any child born of sturdy parents with all the good features that sit well in an angel.

The girl had flaming red hair and she made all heads turn. When she became ten, her grandmother who lived in a mansion sent her a cape among so many other gifts that were costly. But the cape was special because she had stitched it herself and spoilt her eyes in the bargain. But it was worth it, she said when she next came visiting in her red cape.

The cape fit her so well she was called Red Riding Hood.

Some three years later she went visiting. Her grandmother lived far enough but Red Riding Hood adored the old woman who made so much fuss about her. Everytime. Besides the grandma lived in circumstances so different that it was a special treat. She could swim in specially heated pool and enjoy the comforts of a well stocked larder and above all love of her grandmother made it all forget the world outside.

Once she went with a custard she made for her and knocked at the door of her mansion. There was none but the grandma. Strangely enough she was invisible but for her overcoat. “ Red Riding Hood how well you look!”came the voice.

“ Thank you,” The girl was surprised to see her covered up. “What happened Grandma! You look a mess!”

“There was a break in.”

“Oh I am here. Let nothing worry you.” she said concerned.

“What have you got in your hand?”

“ Custard.” said Red Riding Hood handing her.

“Oh Grandma!” Your hand is hairy as of a man!”

“There was a break in.”

“But I don’t understand,” exclaimed the girl, “What has it got to do with your hand?”

“Where is the key to family safe?”

“Grandma you know it too well to ask.”

“ Oh Grandma you have a gun in your hands.”

“ Oh it is to shoot you with” said the voice, “and put the blame for the murder on you.”

( from French fairy tales by Charles Perrault)

benny

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You see me here, grown old and feeble. I have been squeezed dry as many who sit staring vacantly and my past keeps coming, recurring nightmare of the waking time.

In my time I was nurse and my oath ringing before me every time I took rounds. But routine takes away something from each and what have I in return? Nothing!

I was a nurse sent to care the old senile hags  in institutions where I worked. I worked to go higher and raise a family that shall be proud of me.

I was also young. I worked while my skin glowed and full twenty years made me curse my work every minute of it. None found me cross or less than my professional image I set for myself.  My smile and my teeth all well cared for made even a smile passed for truth. My body hygiene and appearance impressed my superiors.

Every day I signed the register and took my wards through their paces.  Did I enjoy it? To tell the truth, no Oh no.

I cursed the hags in their diapers. I ladled porridge spoonsful into their dead flaccid mouth wishing they would choke. But for the money that I made I would have thrown the whole filth I daily cleaned on the matron’s head. A battle-axe who never smiled at us nurses nor at the imbeciles whom we cared for. Oh when the director and trustees of the Bethesda Old Home came trooping in she smiled. As on cue we four nurses smiled and trooped the well fed starched straight-laced bible carrying Samaritans to their car. They earned the places in heaven and we kept our jobs.

It was not that we hated the old. Caring them was not of the same league as caring our mother or children. But tell me how long one can bring out her best under all provocations? The old who left under our care just didn’t care for our lot. For them time just stood still. Whereas we walked our line whether we fell short paying mortgage or could not afford an affordable education plan for our young. Our wards just sat in their wheelchair to be moved about and expected clean up the mess they left. OhI hated it. I do not regret it even for a moment. I stoically converted our frustration into work that was all.

As I am in this Home for the Aged do I care? Oh no. Now the nurse, a poison pill has her lipstick all wrong and hair  tucked in her cap,- she tells se is a Goth!, and she finds me as her millstone. I sit all day staring into TV and the nurse need not even see me twitch and squirm in pool of my own filth. She knows it by closed circuit beeps that warn her. Only she switches it off so she can rifle through her fashion catalogues or text message her boyfriend. My calls to ease my distress she treats as mere nuisance and she has learned to swat away as I did in my time. That is routine for you. I know she finds work just as I found: a A filthy business.

This evening the night nurses are planning a pillow fight for the entertainment of us,  inmates. And we are all watching the nurses fight it out. It is playful and it goes spirited and when all the feathers fly helter-skelter,  it is our secret night of horrors. All the feather fluff smelling of urine and shit would need mop after and some hard work. But we are the thing, morons laughing at our own cruel world we only let get this far. This night as hours tick by we only feel our private horror.

We see nurses have just shed their clothes, appearances of civility are gone. They have taken us back when we were as full as they.

Work was filthy for the peaches, the juicy young twenty something and they are us all in their ugly shapes, jeering at us.

Ah now they lug us into the heap of filth and dress us with cunning care, as chickens! It was a costume I never dreamed up! Hideous Jezebels are not done with us yet. As we scramble from mass of bodies, and pulled by hands to teeter and fall back with thud, there are screeches of merriment. There is a professional photographer who is creating a video diary. I know this age even our shame titillates some creep. We shall be in YouTube. It may be a viral hit among the viewers. 

I wept at the injustice of it. One of my tormenters leaned over and pulled out a feather from my toothless mouth to say,’ Nothing personal Martha, Work these days is still a four letter word.’

Now we are a spectacle and our carers have no excuse that they are kept short on money. They make money on us.
Work is still the same soulless aspect,- the world taken through a shredder of hell just gives some compensation for it. Money they call it. 

benny 

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Jamie the water rat- Series

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Puss in Boots ©

(Sorry this story continues in the Wow-Wow Tales published through CreateSpace.com – b)

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