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Humor December 2012

Strictly Humor

Frost on Your Nose, and Other Poems

By B. Elwin Sherman

The holiday season, however, has a way of bringing poetry into the warming innards of our hearts, or as the poet might say, its “cockles.” (For the record, should the need arise, I’d want my heart surgeon well-versed in mitral valve repair, not cockle heat.)

At the risk of alienating those dedicated readers who are lovers of rhyming verse, I must still admit that I’m not a big poetry fan.

There, I said it, and already regret it.

Let’s be clear: I’m not a poet, but I have written poetry. As a humorist, this is akin to bragging that as a licensed driver, I’ve never been in a demolition derby, but I have driven across the country in a smoky and banged-up VW bus.

The holiday season, however, has a way of bringing poetry into the warming innards of our hearts, or as the poet might say, its “cockles.” (For the record, should the need arise, I’d want my heart surgeon well-versed in mitral valve repair, not cockle heat.)

I must also confess that I feel the same way about poetry as I do about opera. My dear late wife Judy loved opera, and for her sake, I always tried to fire up my cockles over it, but I never could. I once told her that I couldn’t understand why, if a jilted Don Jose had to stab Carmen, he felt it necessary to do so while overdressed and singing in French at the top of his lungs.

Sometimes, living with a humorist is hard work.

I did once try my poetic hand at writing funny greeting cards, but soon discovered that there wasn’t a big demand for “Non-Occasion Cards For The Casual Acquaintances In Your Life.” For instance:

Happy Sixteenth Of December. Remember?
I Think That I Shall Never See, A Card Appropriate For Thee.
My Heart Was Shattered, Not That It Mattered.

The folks at Hallmark, at least the ones with cold cockles, did not see the humor in it.

Still, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without poetry. What kind of Yuletide would it be without that old chestnut “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” when families everywhere gather up the cherubs for its traditional reciting?

“The Santa suit hung by the chimney with care, in case good St. Nicholas came down all bare.”

That may have been the first rhyming sacrilege of my boyhood musings, forever ruling out any poet laureate awards. Perhaps if I’d cut my assonating teeth on “The Road Not Taken” before I discovered The Cat In The Hat, but as this poet is fond of paraphrasing: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I … I took the other one.” I’d belabor the differences, but there’s no point now in dwelling on my life’s what-ifferences.

As you can see, I settled in the middle, somewhere between what happens when Robert Frost meets Ogden Nash in a prize fight, and the referee is Dr. Seuss.

For my money, children always make the best poets because of their innate gift for the literal. Consider this gem, co-written by a friend’s two grandkids: “We have a pretty mother, who loves our little brother. All day long he picks his nose, and then Mom cleans his booger clothes.” Beat that, Mr. Frost.

If I do find myself fancying the poetical, I sometimes wax heretical, doing terrible things to the great rhymes of our times. Today, I still can’t take a shower without murdering Dorothy’s Scarecrow’s ditty: “In my thoughts, I’d be keener that I’d come out all the cleaner if I only had a drain.” I don’t belt it out in French and stab myself with the shower brush, but it does have a cleansing effect on the denouement of the day.

Countless other humorists have reinvented “Twas The Night Before Christmas” through the ages. One website features a list of 839 versions alone, with a treatment for every disposition --- hillbillies, bowlers, dieters, dirty dancers, marching bands, Trekkies, windsurfers, immigrants --- even paintballers.

Yes, paintballers. “When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, that Johnny got ready for Santa to splatter.” Or, from a computer geek: “The hackers were all snug asleep in their beds, as visions of access codes danced in their heads.” Or, from a Grateful Dead fan: “With a paunchy old driver, all spaced-out and hairy, I knew in a moment, it must be the Jerry!” You get the idea.

So, this holiday season, I thought I’d reach back into the inspirations that began in my sing-songy childhood vault, and leave you with a poem destined for greatness. Ready?

There once was a season of cheer, and you can always get there from here. But, don’t pick your noses, the poet supposes, unless your Mom is ready with a change of clotheses at the end of the day because she loves you even when you’re covered with boogers and your poems don’t rhyme or come out right in the shower at the end.

With a rumor of humor, have a safe and happy holiday season.

 

Senior Wire News Services syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from and apologizes to Bethlehem, the “poetry capital of New Hampshire.”

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