Remember the joys of a day off,
A work-free day,
Or a three-day holiday.
But now time off
Is just more time on your hands...
When time's a glut on the market,
Time to lament what we once could do,
But can't do now.
Time was good for hobbies once...
To garden, to read, to cook, to paint...
Things to do
Between parties and shows and sports and dinner,
The major pleasures
Take a day off.
Are you kidding me...
Give me something I can use.
A town on the Hudson
And the Sing Sing Kill...
A haphazard maze of knotted streets,
Overlooking the river and the Kill...
A steep hillside of houses
That huddled together,
Held on to each other
To resist sliding down to the river...
With doors that opened
Onto downhill sidewalks.
But steep as it was,
Living was better on the hill
For the top hats
Who moved there
From the gorge and the creek
And the rough river bank.
The town eventually fashioned a street grid,
But too late for Tider Banks' horse
That lost its footing on wet cobble stones
On Trade Street
And skittered downhill
Unable to right itself
And caved in the front
Of 242 Peter Wozen Street,
A sharp-angled alley
At the bottom of Trade Street.
The neighborhood pretended nothing happened...
Carted the horse away,
Fixed the front of 242,
Bought a new horse for Tider Banks.
The rest on the hill knew to stay mum,
Since there were several pairs of reprisal eyes,
Keeping the secrets of the hill
On the hill.
Though somewhat later
Street lamps and city assessors
Shined lights on things that happened
Up on the hill,
Overlooking the Kill
*A creek, riverbed or water channel carved by a river.
Young son Ned
And his parents inked
The Treat of Ned's Room,
Wherein Ned was given sovereignty
Over his room...a no-go zone...
In exchange for keeping it kempt.
But four times a year
His parents could open the door a crack
To let in a trained treaty canary
For a one-minute medical fly-around
With test strips affixed to its legs
To measure oxygen levels and toxic mold.
After a minute the canary was trained
To tap with its beak on the door
To be let out.
Only this canary,
Like many coal mine canaries, never tapped
And was found several minutes later, unresponsive..
Toes to the ceiling...
Well beyond resuscitation.
Word travels fast in the canary community,
So no other volunteers came forward
To fly into Ned's room.
The treaty became then null and void...
A predictable loss for bi-lateral family negotiations.
Brilliant or tasteless,
The brewers of Coors Light
Are plugging their brew
As the official beer
Of Saturday morning...
Waffles and beer,
Scrambled and suds...
A pint with the papers.
Then likely, too,
They'll extend the brand
To Sundays as well...
The day of rest...
The official beer of going to church.
God forbid we don't pop a top
Before mass in the morning.
We drifted to Stiffy Watson's backyard
For mumbley-peg, yoyos and Mallomars.
Stiffy's dad was Stan Watson...
Born Stanislov Watinowski,
Once Eastern Europe's premier knife thrower
And mumbley-peg champion,
Who showed us the finer points of his craft,
Until a knife he threw at a peg in the ground
Careened off a rock
Back to his throwing hand,
Which he grabbed reflexively.
After the accident he was called Lefty.
(Respectfully, we called him Mr. Lefty.)
He lived off his disability check
And the generosity of a company
That made extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
Stiffy, who once was called the "Mallomar Kid",
Spent a month in a straight-leg cast
For a sprained knee.
So, friends being friends,
We nicknamed him Stiffy.
Her friends called Stiffy's mom "Lady Mallomar,
But we called her YoMama,
The High Priestess of yoyo practitioners,
Giving yoyos a churchly underpinning.
In the heyday of yoyos
She was credited with inventing 17 yoyo tricks
And is still the world-record holder
For "Walking the Dog" at 37 feet.
A leisurely winter Sunday brunch,
Now of sated memory,
Even moistened-finger crumbs were gone.
Our empty plates were swept away,
So, she asked,
Now what'll we do?
Do about what?
We're done eating,
Now what do you want to do?
We can't take a walk...
Too cold and a wind.
A movie, she asked.
We've got movies to stream, waiting at home.
Nah, I'd feel pressure to learn
And I'd rather be lazy.
She brightened...I've got an idea.
Let's go downtown
To the place we found for baklava
And take some home and watch a movie.
A half-hour subway and a four-block walk.
Then a four-block walk and a subway home?
And you know as well as I
That you'll want a couple at the bakery
And a cappuccino with it.
Then it's dinnertime by the time we get home.
Right, she said,
Then we'll order in pizza
And watch a movie.
Big enough to be fungoed into the outfield,
Cast its shadow on my deck,
Wings beating in a blur.
It hovered like a Sikorsky,
Darting within four feet of me...
Still short of menacing distance.
I neither retreated nor swatted
And we kept the threat level at Defcon 5,
But not ready to enforce territorial ambitions...
For the bee, rights to a plant
With a promising reservoir of nectar,
And, for me, having breakfast on the deck.
Neither of us moved precipitously enough
To startle the other,
So we forged a man-bee understanding,
Allowing each of us our pleasures.
Commodities once back-burnerized,
Have emerged now front-and-centerized.
And fearing we'll run out of them,
We're overstuffing closets with them.
Normal times, oh, how we miss you,
As we go about hoarding bathroom tissue.
*The unexpected hoarding habits during the covid pandemic.
Miss Cavort in the Snow,
An Ojibwe lass
With whom a French trapper had his way,
By promising her a few otter pelts And French lessons. She got the pelts,
But he disappeared into the woods
And was long gone
Before any but the word
Passed between them.