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Poem by Sidi Mahtrow

A Special Christmas Gift

Most gifts come wrapped or maybe
Too awkward to be,
Are left standing in the corner or lying unwrapped under the tree
But this special gift was different, to be delivered on bended knee.

The giver had planned this gift for nearly a year
For the recipient always took his gifts and put them away
Until the ones he had,
Were worn out or “used-up” as they say.

So Joyce planned this gift very carefully and told Dad
That this gift he would have to help with so please don’t get mad,
For it was too much for her alone with all the driving and shopping
Seems she wanted him to sit very still and let her do the? un-wrapping?

She took out the box that she had carefully packed quite full,
And the white enamel pan that was to be a part of it all.
“Sit here, in your favorite chair, the cane-bottomed one,
Get comfortable for this will take a while and I hope it’s fun”

Then she put on one of Mom’s aprons, tied in the back
Filled the pan with water, planning her attack.
Dishwashing detergent, mild and without smell
Was the next thing out of her box of tricks that she had planned well.

Carefully she untied the laces on the shoes that he wore
Shoes that were well polished, just as if from the store.
Next off came the white socks one after another
Until Dad’s feet were there for all to see without any cover

It seemed Joyce intended to give Dad’s feet a bath,
Not such a big thing but certainly on a different Christmas path.
He grinned down from his seat and went along with the play
Filled his pipe with Prince Albert and was content there to stay.

The cleaning soon over and that signaled an end
But Joyce had another trick up her sleeve as we soon learned
Shooing away the small kids that came in to see
What was happening to Grandpa and the gifts, under the tree.

The feet were clean, as clean as could be
And a good buffing made the nails sparkle like lights on the tree
Dad, said, “Thank’y, I really am surprised
That you had planned this for a old man who’s grown old but not wise.”

He stood to leave, and Joyce said, “I’m not through.
I’ve got another gift for you.
So sit and be comfortable as I am just beginning.”
And she took out more tools from the box’s inner lining.

A pair of clippers that would do a farrier proud
Were in her hand and she knelt before the feet
Knowing that the mission
Was going to be hard to complete.

She nipped and nipped some more
As toenails flew and fell to the floor,
Going from toe to toe removing just a bit, here and there
She slowly wore away the year’s growth found there

Sometimes stopping and using a bit
Of warm water and detergent the stubborn hooves to wet
Until they were softened and yielded to her touch.
But very carefully, she didn’t remove too much.

Ten toes got her blessings and the long nails, no longer there
And underneath white skin was exposed to the light’s evening glare.
Then, a file that would make a machinist jealous, she took from her pack
And carefully resumed her attack.

The edges were made as smooth as a baby’s back side
And only then was she finally satisfied,
She said, I guess you/ve been trimmed like the old gray mare
And need to put on your shoes to get a bit of fresh air.

Into her sack which she tossed in the box,
Went all the tools that she had used for the attack.
So I guess one could say, “twas the night before Christmas” and be right as rain,
For a special Christmas gift was the Daughter-in-law’s Plan.


A Mullet Is Not A Fish?

So said the smart talk back in 1916.
For an out-of-work lawyer pickings were lean.
For clients; some local fishermen
Had their day in court, once again.

Tho th’ lawyer served without recompense
He needed to prove to the judge their innocence.
Not guilty was the verdict to be won
Of fishing during the closed season.

These six young commercial fishermen
Were known to sell fish through thick and thin.
They had been caught fair and square
And summoned before the judge to appear.

It could not be disputed
That the fishermen had mullet netted.
And that the season for catching
Had closed before their going fishing.

As an aside. Many’s the time they had treated
The lawyer to a fine meal of mullet they had netted.
So it was that the lawyer had paid close attention
To cleaning in the mullet’s preparation.

To the casual observer, a fish is a fish.
But mullet are not like other fish.
For one, they are mostly caught in seines or nets
As they are difficult to catch on a hook to be set.

They are bottom feeders on grass and morsels
Such as small oysters, snails, and mussels.
And because of their appetite for what they find,
They have a gizzard; by nature designed to grind.

We return to the courtroom of the Judge
Where the game officers refused to budge.
So in providing his defense,
The Lawyer placed the judge on the fence.

He asked the Judge, a question hard;
‘Do fish have a gizzard? ‘
And answered his own question;
‘Don’t think so.’ Ask anyone.

To the Game Warden’s surprise,
On this the case rested, which was most wise.
The Judge considered; Only one other species
To his mind had a gizzard and they aren’t fishies.

He recessed the court and went to the grocery store,
Where in the poultry section he found galore,
Fresh chicken; whole and in parts,
Plus chicken livers, gizzards and hearts.

It was obvious that the mullet was a relative
To chickens, turkeys, duck and other avi.
The Judge so ruled that mullet are fowl
And therefore catching mullet he would allow.

‘Of course another court must decide,
If mullet can be caught on th’ tide,
During lent, which is the season
When only fish should be eaten.’

‘Not guilty of violating Florida’s fishing laws.’
It was decreed in this Court of Laws.
At the next mullet fry, you can safely bet,
The judge was there with appetite wet.

In a small community,
All are included with impunity
Even Judges; and Game Wardens
Tho, don’t have that many friends.

This tale helps to keep ‘Old’ Florida alive and safe from the reach of those whose vision is limited by the reach of their pocketbook. The article on which this poem is based was published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune November 24,1998, about Pat Whitaker who as a trial lawyer convinced a Tampa judge that mullet was not a fish, in 1919.

Another fish is said to have a gizzard. The gillaroo trout has evolved this feature as an adaptation to its diet: mainly invertebrates of the lake bed, including a high proportion of freshwater snails and crustaceans. The thick muscular wall is used to grind up these very tough food items. However, many other forms of trout can develop a similar thickened stomach wall when feeding for a long period on similar foods. see: http: //

A Chicken Is Not A Bird

A chkn na be a byrd
Acord’n folk lvn in flori da
Kep’n and own’n be difernt
If be a tigr or sknk kept
An’ a’ th hair cutn shp r paloor for trm
Word is one’s pets is one’s own prblm
So be it, tha list of crtures kept, grws lngr by da
Cept’n when are feral, as n dog and ct stray
Thn becms nuher mat’r
For nebors blathr.

Whn pkins gd, thn no problm
But whn pks in yr flwr bd, much to be mad then.
Frm tm to tm thngs gt out of hnd ‘n
Complnts ‘n words for cert n.
So Gvrmnt coms to soln
Of problms b’for problms xst for som.

But na be a ckn a byrd?
Cuse if it be a byrd,
Thn it lv in a byrd sanctry free
An can na hunt, na hrt, na molst byrdees
So wa to du?
Mybe pas law that sy to you,
‘Chkn na be byrd’
Thn ok to hv fer Sundy Dnr n vite Prechr for Holy wrd.
N hisn wfe cuse good Chrstn man and wom’
Enjy, chkn in fryn pan.

So law pasd that say chkn not a bryd so
They mst sty a’ home an’ na go.
Howsome evr, bryds (an chkns also) cnt rde
An thy kpt do n wh’ brds an chkns do bst to feed.
Which be to go whr God low such,
Which fr mst prt is nxt dr’s grdn and frnt prch.

So Bartow Flor da hird a chkn ktchr
To gathr up dose brds and tk to the cntry sid, u betchr.
Tha’s nic but brds (scuse me – ckns) got oth id
An flew coup, so to say, or fle.
An those toke out side cit lmts make it home just
Lk homn pgns and r thr for supr like norml ckns cum to rost.

Yu ake how solve mstry of chkns?
Smpl. Persons who compln’d aked to lv town
Now Bartow got pln’t chkns an gud ppl all rnd.

Well, maybe Robert Burns writing in his Scottish dialect, might have considering the plight of the good folk of Bartow, Florida. Maybe not, but Benjamin Franklin thought we had too many ltrs in the alphabet and suggested the number could be reduced to seventeen


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