WHY (A Poem From My College Days)

Because stars twinkle on a clear summer night

And birds sing at the gentle break of dawn.

Because Jackson Browne sings at the Meadowlands

And Woody Allen makes me laugh.

Because I make people laugh.

Because a drive to the country is so different

from a drive to Manhattan.

Because great writers have written

And great singers have sung

And great painters have painted.

Because I haven’t done those things yet.

Because there are places and cultures and ideas.

Because the world is my birthday present

And so much hasn’t been discovered yet.

Because all the world’s a stage

And because people want to talk to me.

Because of the alpha and  the omega

And Nirvana

And  truth, knowledge and bliss.

Because bits of frustration are the seeds of growth.

Because a hug is not really a scary thing.

And drums have a powerful sound.

Because cool grass feels neat between my toes

And pastels are beautiful colors.

Because popcorn tastes good without butter

And  there’s orange juice in oranges.

Samson and Buster


Samson wanted to play. Samson always wanted to play.

Buster wanted to sit. Buster liked to sit. He felt very peaceful when he was left alone to sit. He especially liked when there was an empty box to sit on. When he got tired of sitting, he could scratch the box and sharpen his claws.

Buster sat peacefully on an empty box. A blur whizzed by. Samson had a bottle cap that he found on the kitchen table. He swatted it across the living room. Samson followed in a flash. He almost toppled on his side as he ran.

“It was so peaceful before that little guy got here,” Buster thought.

Samson stopped playing with the bottle cap. He padded toward Buster and looked at the box curiously. He wanted to find out what it was like to sit on that box, too. So he hopped up next to Buster.

“Hsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!” Buster snapped, bearing his teeth. He looked like he was smiling. He stood and stepped off the box as though he didn’t really mean to hiss. He backed up a few steps and sat straight and tall. Then he shook his head and walked away. There was another box behind the sofa. That one had a hole cut in it for Buster to hide in. He would go there for a while to find some peace.


Samson climbed onto the sofa to see where Buster had gone. Then he jumped on top of the box Buster was hiding in. Buster was startled, but he didn’t move. Samson crouched at the edge of the box and stuck his paw into the hole.

“M’ow!” Buster said quickly. It was only a half meow, but it worked. Samson pulled his paw back. There had to be a way to get Buster to play. He decided to go explore the attic and come back later. Maybe then Buster would play.

There were so many boxes in the attic! Most of them had lids or were sealed shut. Samson climbed from box to box and pawed at the ones that weren’t closed tightly. One box had no lid. It was filled with books and old toys. Samson picked up a small cloth doll in his teeth and carried it across the floor.

Then Samson saw a tall metal cabinet. The door was slightly opened. He dropped the doll and stuck his paw through the opening. There were clothes hanging in there! He could swat at them and try to pull them down! He did this for a while, but he couldn’t get anything down.

Finally Samson decided to take a short nap. He curled up in a ball on an old mattress. But he never fell asleep. As soon as he shut his eyes, he heard paw-steps on the attic stairs. Buster wanted to see what Samson was doing. He looked at Samson curled up on the mattress. Then he saw another mattress leaning up against the wall. Buster sat straight and tall and looked up at the mattress. There was a window right next to it. He could see out the window from the top of the mattress! So Buster jumped up. He landed on top of the mattress and looked out the window.

Samson was curious. He saw that Buster had spotted a window. He wanted to see out the window, too. Samson trotted toward Buster and the window. Could he get up there, too?

“Hssssssssssssssssssssssssss!” Buster said as Samson jumped up. But Buster hardly moved when he hissed. Samson wondered if Buster would swat at him and try to knock him down. But Buster just sat up and backed to the edge of the mattress. He left enough room for Samson to land.

They could both look out the window!

Buster and Samson sat together. They watched the cars driving by on the street below. They watched the birds fly from tree to tree. And they watched as their buddy, Mike, came home from work.

Now Buster and Samson knew it was time to stop looking out the window. Mike was home. It was food time! Buster raced Samson down two flights of stairs to the kitchen, just in time to hear the lid pop off their favorite cat food!

Samson and Buster ran to their bowls. They enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner, side by side.

The True Story of Nippy

Matthew shuffled happily into the kitchen. He was hungry and so was Nippy. They had been in the yard searching for worms. It had rained last night, and there were lots of worms wriggling in the grass. Matthew didn’t touch the worms. He wanted to, but he thought it was better just to watch them.

“What would you like for lunch?” Mother asked.

“Grilled cheese and an apple,” Matthew chirped. “It’s Nippy’s favorite.”

Mom smiled. Nippy was Matthew’s hamster. Mom didn’t think Nippy was real.

After lunch, Matthew told Mom that Nippy wanted chocolate pudding.

Mom placed a bowl of pudding on the table. “You can share this with Nippy,” she said.

When Matthew’s brother Timmy came home from school, Matthew and Nippy were coloring.

“Can I color a page?” Timmy asked.

“When Nippy is done,” said Matthew.

Timmy made a funny face. “Nippy can’t color. Nippy isn’t real,” he said.

Matthew didn’t answer.

When Dad came home from work, it was time for dinner.

“Nippy isn’t hungry,” said Matthew.

“He keeps talking about that hamster,” Timmy said. “Tell him to stop. Nippy isn’t real.”

Matthew looked sad.

Dad said, “Don’t worry about Nippy.”

After dinner, Matthew went to his room. He wanted to play with Nippy. But Nippy wasn’t there.

“I think Nippy ran away,” Matthew said to Mom.

Timmy made another funny face. “How can Nippy run away? Nippy isn’t real.”

When morning came, everyone was busy getting ready for the day. Matthew didn’t want to get up. Then Dad came to the door. He looked surprised.

“Nippy is on the phone,” Dad told Matthew.

Matthew rubbed his eyes. He made a funny face.

“How can Nippy be on the phone?” Matthew asked.

Timmy heard Dad and came into the room too. He was smiling at Dad and Matthew. “You better get the phone,” he told Matthew. “Nippy will want to play with you today.”

Matthew laughed. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll talk to Nippy.”

When he got to the phone, there was nobody there. Matthew made another funny face.

“Maybe he got tired of waiting,” Timmy said.

Dad went to work, and Timmy went to school. Mom and Matthew went out to play in the yard.

“The grass is dry now,” Mom said.

Matthew stood still for a short time. Then he laughed and made a funny face. He pointed to the swing set. “I’m going on the swings with Nippy,” he said.

Mom smiled as she watched Matthew run to play with Nippy. It didn’t matter to her that she couldn’t see Nippy. She was happy that Matthew had Nippy to play with.

Poetry, Frost and The Road Not Taken

Writing Poetry

This week, I decided to enroll in a poetry writing class. I haven’t done any kind of creative writing in almost ten years, and I’ve written only a handful of poems in my life (all of them when I was in college). I thought tapping into this new creative outlet would be fun and challenging. I got the idea in yoga class (of course) when my teacher read some poems. So, I go.

There are essays to write in this class, and the first was to describe a favorite poet who wrote at least 40 years ago and tell how we imagined this poet would influence the kinds of poems we write.

Well, I don’t really have a favorite poet, so I focused the essay on one of my favorites classic poems, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost.

Two Roads Diverge and I Write An Essay

I suppose I’m not alone in admiring Robert Frost. I like that his poetry shows how something that at first might seem very simple is really quite profound.

The wonderful thing about this particular poem is there are so many possibilities for the journey it describes. I suspect a lot of people read it and conclude that taking the road less traveled was the right choice, because it led to some wonderful experiences that would not have happened otherwise.

But we aren’t really told what happens to the writer on that road less traveled. Reading and absorbing a poem like this opens up a world of ideas about the journey of life. Any one of us may think we can explain our present circumstances based on a choice, or perhaps a set of choices made in the past. But we can’t know with certainty that it’s better to be unique and go against the status quo?

Yet something inside us (at least something inside me) romanticizes the possibilities of travelling in a different direction.

Maybe our fascination with the road less traveled is due to the predictability we imagine will be the result of taking more traveled paths. Once the path is beaten, so to speak, we are more likely to know where it leads simply because more people can tell us what to expect.

If you look at life that way, you realize most new discoveries and advances come only when people take risks and choose less traveled roads.

I know I’m not exactly addressing the topic of describing a favorite poet, but I think the kind of poetry I will write will be in line with my ideas about Frost’s work.

My preference is always to say more with fewer words, which may be what draws me to poetry in the first place. Words are limiting, but they are still the best tools we have for communicating.

Truly artistic poets can give great power to few words. The shorter poems usually speak to me the loudest.

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