Halloween

Tonight the spirits hoot and they howl

Those ghostly things now on the prowl

Skeletons banshee’s ghouls are around

Scary things and things unsound

 

Tykes are bound to appear at the door

All decked out in special décor

Pirate’s princes and monsters appear

Some to amuse but some to cause fear

 

Neighbor please don’t be afraid

It’s just a silly masquerade

Give them a treat but ask for a trick 

Just to see if that get it real quick

 

 

Let’s hope there’s no hooligans or louts

Just good little boys and girls who are scouts

Remember they’re someone’s daughter or son

And tonight is their night for candy and fun

 

Copyright © 2017 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved Revised

The Little Wizard Willow

Intently facing her tiny frame wriggling on her chair

This pug-nosed doll engages in ardent analysis

She twiddles her precious necklace in excitement

As she relates to me of its magic power

As I realize she profoundly believes it is magic

I am spellbound by this little one’s sincerity

And to think my charming companion is my offspring

And to discover she believes it   Is this not magical?

 

Copyright ©2018 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved

This poem was inspired by a visit to my precocious, precious great- granddaughter Willow

 

Pfizer and Merck Are Here to Help You !!

The drug giants are creating new remedies and pills

That stop all those aches those itches and chills

Now a new panacea high up in the list

This fix for your ailments should never be missed

With the ungainly name of adalimbubabab

Its here from our medicos for us sick folk to grab

It can cure pneumonitis, colds and psoriasis

It can stop in its tracks that dental nightmare candidiasis

Just a few side-effects that they want you to know about

It can cause spots before the eyes or aversion to sauerkraut

Call the Doc If your feet start to tingle and swell

Or if you get an urge to scream and raise hell

You could be lucky with this miracle drug called adalimbubabab

Or you could be one who unfortunately ends up on a slab

 

By the way if you cannot afford this medicine Astra-Zeneca may be able to help

Copyright © 2016 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved



Fireflies

 

 

In lieu of sleep a wee romance

Your dazzling fluorescent love dance

You flick a light switch in your game

You hopped up fellow for some dame

And some six legged damsel for a guy

This tiny love has made me sigh

Enchanted was I in this fairy tale

This age old story of male female

So out my window in the dark I see

A playlet of itsy bitsy lovers for me

So sparkle the night with your tummy

And as a couple you remain chummy

 

Copyright ©2018 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved

This flight of fancy inspired by the poets experience watching a swarm of fireflies put on their light show out  a window one night and the fact that a chemical reaction takes place in their abdomens that lights them up and its purpose is to attract a  mate                                      

Growing Old

 

When you’re old and got the Greys

And your head does often nod

Just remember the old days

And the paths that you once trod

 

When it’s hard to rise up fast

Because your strength has gone away

Just remember the old days

When your muscles were in play

 

When your sight is growing dim

And the small print’s hard to see

Just remember the old days

When your eyes were floater free

 

When your teeth are not your own

And some things are hard to chew

Just remember the old days

When your teeth didn’t need that glue

 

 

When your pace is growing slower

And your steps no longer sprightly

Just remember the old days

When you danced about so lightly

 

When your hearings not so sharp

And the volume’s turned up high

Just remember the old days

When hearing aids didn’t apply

 

When your taste and smell fades fast

And you‘ve lost your appetite

Just remember the old days

When you’d feast to your hearts delight

 

When your aches and pains are here

And you pop so many pills

Just remember the old days

When you had few doctors’ bills

 

But don’t forget the new days

And take good care of your health

They’ll become the old days

And that’s a kind of wealth

 

Copyright © 2010 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Rifle Range

One of the most important parts of my story is the time I spent in the Army. It was here that I grew from a smooth-cheeked boy (I didn’t shave yet) into a man. As my father voiced over the hysterical weeping of my mother when I told my folks I had joined up. “Let him go. Maybe it will make a man of him”. Here is one of those unforgettable moments of that time.

When I arrived at Fort Dix, NJ in the summer of 1947 for my basic training, one of the first things that happened was when I was issued my rifle. the M1. 30 caliber, 9 rounds capability with an 8 cartridge clip and one in the chamber. , and with gas operated bolt action.. We were taught to take it apart and rapidly put it back together again, probably faster than anything I had previously done in my life. We also learned to clean it and to care for it with a special love that only the Army could teach you. I would actually take it apart and use near boiling water and soap to clean it, thoroughly dry it, apply oil and reassemble it. Now what would I do when I was in a fox hole, no boiling water available there.

One time we had to crawl while live fire was being shot a couple of feet above our heads. I pressed my terrified self against Mother Earth so hard I plugged up the barrel of my M1 with mud. I would have been defenseless in real combat

No matter what, you had to learn to load and shoot the blessed thing. You had to qualify with it, as they said. This would occur on the Rifle Range. , A huge outdoor affair with places to shoot from and targets to shoot at.

         Now qualifying on the M1 for me was an important and anxiety ridden experience. I imagined being sent home packing, with my tail between my legs if I couldn’t qualify. One basic problem was I was seriously nearsighted and I didn’t have my GI glasses yet. As a matter of fact I had tried to join the Navy with a pal of mine but they found I needed glasses and at the time they only took you if you had uncorrected 20/20 vision and so I crossed the hall with another pal and joined the Army. They accepted me and said the Army Medical Corps would eventually make eyeglasses for me at the medical dispensary where I would be sent for Basic Training. The process at the rifle range was one squad would be firing on the targets several 100’s of yards away, while one of the other squads would be down below the targets in pits putting up signs so that the instructors and the shooters could see how well they hit the targets. We had these signs on long poles we held up after we looked at the target and saw where the bullet went. I remember a bull’s eye was a big cross and if you humiliatingly missed the target completely, a red flag was waved. These were called “Maggie’s Drawers”. I saw more than a few of those after I fired my rifle. Of course the target was a blurry object to me. I was really worried.

What if I failed? Would I really be kicked out of the Army? I do remember sitting with an instructing officer assigned to us He would keep score on a sheet with a pencil. I voiced my fears to him. He asked, where are you going after basic? I said the Medical Corps, I think. He said what are you worried about. You won’t need to even qualify with an M1 to be a Medic. I think he was a Medical administrative officer himself? It was a kind and comforting thought.

This is how I managed. I had a pal in one of the squads that worked in the pits while my squad fired at the targets. His name was Harry Kiakis and he was from Worcester. I will never forget him because he was also nearsighted but he had glasses already!! As I was marching back from the pits Harry’s squad would go by on the way to the pits and he would hand me his glasses as I would hand them back to him as he returned to shoot again. Well it went like this. We had to fire from different positions. The standing, on one knee, the sitting, and the most useful, the prone position. You lay on your stomach and propped your rifle on your elbows. This, by the way, was how I got my (M1) eye. This occurred the first time that I fired it. The recoil or kick jammed my thumb painfully and violently into my eye and left me with a first class shiner.

I can still picture it. All of us lined up in the prone position facing the targets and then over the loudspeakers/ “Ready on the Right!! Ready on the Left!! Ready on the firing line!! Commence firing!! Now with my borrowed glasses I saw less Maggie’s drawers and even a few bull eyes.

The culmination of all of this is. The next morning we are all lined up for roll call after breakfast and they are passing out the medals for the Rifle range. The top one is Expert, then Sharpshooter, and finally for those who simply qualified, Marksman. I get my Marksman and just before we are dismissed there is one more announcement. It is” Private Franklyn, report to the dispensary, your new glasses are ready!”                                         Revised from 2005 version

Copyright © 2017 by Mike Franklyn

All Rights Reserved

Friday Night Chicken

As I have said when I look at my childhood behind me I find so many of my memories center around my mother’s cooking and baking and her largess with food; the smell of her bulkies baking, the sound of her chopping herring in a wooden bowl. Or grating onions on a hand held metal grater and the sight of her wiping her red tearing eyes on her stained apron, or holding red meat over the gas jets to drive out the blood and thus make it kosher, afterwards to place the meat by the sink drain and pour coarse crystals of rock salt all over to further draw out more of the forbidden blood.

                        A related experience begins with my mother giving me a fifty cent piece to go buy a chicken at Shane’s poultry yard and a quarter to give to the old Rabbi who will slaughter it ritually making it kosher fare. I hate this! I whine and wheedle, trying to get out of it but to no avail. My mother tells me this week we can’t get to Water St in Worcester to go shopping and Karsh or Rafers charges too much. Money in those days was in short supply and we needed this chicken for tonight’s Shabbes Friday night dinner. With the admonishment to get a “fettinge” (fat chicken) so she can make “Schmaltz” (rendered chicken fat), I drag myself out of the house first taking an old bloodstained burlap bag from a porch closet and proceed to Shane’s poultry yard. Shane, a tall, swarthy, lanky man who said little, didn’t have a poultry yard as such. No, rather he had a garage, empty of a car these war years. It housed a multitude of smelly, clucking, hens scurrying around the feces covered floor in this dimly lit place. Now one of the worst parts of this trip is about to occur. I tell him what my Ma wants and give him the 50 cents. He grabs a panic stricken, flapping, shrieking bird after several attempts and instructs me to open the bag. Of course, I am terrified of this struggling creature that seems to sense it’s terrible fate. And so I keep backing away and almost drop the bag. He yells “effnen the bag, effnen the bag!! (open the bag). Finally he manages to thrust the desperate thing inside the bag and I tightly close it at the top.

Now the second part of this ordeal begins. I must walk a half-mile through the streets of the East Side of Fitchburg to get to the Rabbi’s house and through the inevitable gathering of “kids” in the neighborhood. It doesn’t take long for a jeering crowd to gather to follow and taunt me with cries of “hey chicken plucker, Hey Mikey, the chicken flicker” where ya goin”. Red faced, with humiliation I keep my eyes downcast and try to ignore my tormentors. They continue to dance around me with their barbs and insults. In addition to this agony, my arms are getting sore, achy and tired. You see since I’m deathly afraid of that live kicking and scratching animal in my bag. I’ve been trying to hold it away from my body, but I get tired and so I drape it over my back but as soon as I do it starts to squirm and thrash about. This forces me to hold it at arms length until my muscles begin to burn and ache again. Thankfully the crowd drifts away by the time I climb the hill and turn into the street on which the Rabbi lives.

I finally reach my destination. The Rabbi lives in an ornate, big white house similar to many on the street- probably a former mansion once owned by a Yankee industrialist in the last century. After I ring the bell, I hear footsteps and the rabbi appears. Rabbi Shragowitz is wearing his black suit minus his vest and Caftan, his long black coat . His black fedora is perched on his head and he is smacking his lips from his interrupted lunch. The Rabbi has wire-rimmed glasses, ruddy cheeks and sparkling blue eyes framed by a bushy white beard. He smiles and I think how he looks just like Santa Claus. How can an orthodox Rabbi look like Santa Claus? We’ve done this so often that I silently hand him the quarter and he mutters, in Yiddish, which I don’t really speak but understand, to go to the back yard where he’ll meet me.

He is standing on the back step when I arrive. Again, uneasily, I open the bag and he removes the frantic being. He pulls out a gleaming straight razor, bends the chicken’s neck back. He then pulls out a few feathers and slits it’s throat, bends its head back more so that the severed windpipe pops out, dripping blood. He quickly says some Hebrew blessings and tosses the still kicking hen into the yard and simply opens the door and disappears. Now the wait begins. I cannot just pick up the chicken and put him in the bag and go home for although he is dead, he is not immobile. If I prematurely try to pick him up he will jump and kick and quiver and startle the devil out of me. After several efforts I finally get his inert carcass in the bag and go home. Next is the unpleasant task of plunging the body into a pan of hot water making it easier to tear out his feathers. After my mother will singe off the remaining stubs over the gas stove, before she eviscerates him. I can still smell the burning flesh when she did this. In spite of this experience, I look forward to the unborn eggs that will be in my chicken soup on this Friday night Shabbat.