Poems of Friends

Chucky’s Choice

For Clare

Chucky the Chipmunk, while scouting around,
Discovered a small, secret Cookie Jar Town.
“What ho,” muttered Chucky. “These mushrooms are tough.
They’re harder than bricks. Such inedible stuff.
But I do see a place where a hole can be dug.”
And he tested the soil with some scrapes and a tug.

This town was a playground of cookie jar houses,
A barn, and a teepee the right size for mouses
And chipmunks, of course. He did not use the doors.
He just dug underneath and created new floors,
Which toppled the buildings and left them askew.
Wreaking havoc was something he knew how to do.

Then Chucky heard noises, a soft humming sound,
And he poked his wee nose from his hole in the ground.
A large head with gray hair sprouting out of the top
Appeared much too close, and he paused in mid-hop. 
Its big mouth had a curve. He knew not what it meant.
Were those teeth going to eat him? He hid by the tent.

Not a tent, not exactly. But he didn’t know
That the tent was a teepee. No matter, he’d go
Pack his bags and move off to a quieter place
Where the chances of seeing a rather old face
Were not part of his day. Or his night, for that matter.
One leap and he left with a soft little patter.

He didn’t look back as he sprinted away.
It was good moving weather, this fine sunny day.
Farewell, little Chucky. I’ll miss your small frown,
But I won’t miss the havoc in Cookie Jar Town. 

By Susan Engle, Copyright 2021

Poems of Friends

Great Places A to Z

“Hey, I know my letters!” yelled Albert one day.
“O yeah? Are you sure?” Zelda started to say.
“I’ll tell you my favorite places to be
And great stuff I like,” Albert said, “A to Z.”

A is for airport from whence people fly
To visit Australia or France or Mumbai.

B is for bathtub, all bubbly and hot,
Where I can get squeaky when spotless I’m not.

C is for city with people en masse.
And C is for country with cows, trees, and grass.

D is for desert where sunsets supreme
Show colors so thick you could eat them with cream.

E is for elevator. It’s such fun
To push all the buttons in rows, one by one.

F is for forest with creatures unseen
And sunlight in rays piercing through the thick green.

G is for garden, all weeded and neat.
New carrots with dirt are delicious to eat.

H is for home, O so cozy and warm,
A place meant for resting from testing and storm.

I is for island, surrounded by sea.
If you love to swim, it’s a great place to be.

J is for jungle, all luscious and shower-y,
All much overgrown-y, insect-y and flowery.

K is for kitchen where everyone meets,
Makes jokes and tells stories and giggles and eats.

L is for lake and the loons living there
Who call for their mates in the soft evening air.

M is for mountain, majestic and craggy,
Where mountain goats’ coats get all matted and shaggy.

N is for nursery, just up the stairs,
Where mothers and dads sometimes sing us our prayers.

O is for outside where we love to play
By the creek, on the swings, up the trees, in the hay.

P is for playground, all covered with friends.
It’s always too soon when our afternoon ends.

Q is for quasar, a kind of black hole.
I wouldn’t go visit if Mars is your goal.

R is for refuge, a good place to hide
With feelings of sad, mad, or quiet inside.

S is for school where we learn the three “R’s”
And all about lizards and singing and stars.

T is for there, which is someplace not here,
Sometimes very distant, sometimes very near.

U is for universe, vast, deep, and wide.
We could travel forever and still be inside.

V is for valley where food can be grown.
Folks yodel their messages when there’s no phone.

W is world. All this big world around
Will soon be at peace, not a war to be found.

X is for xebec, a great place afloat.
Just in case you’ve not seen one, a xebec’s a boat.

Y is for yurt, a small house with a dome.
If you were a nomad, you might call it home.

Z is for zenith, that star’s path up high.
Or a great big success we can reach if we try.

“So Zelda my friend, did I do it all right?”
“Yep. You certainly did. Now let’s both say good night.”
“But it’s only lunchtime,” smiled Al, “about noon.”
“Well, we’ve sure traveled far!” Zelda yawned. ”See you soon.”

Great Places A to Z PDF

Poems of Friends

Dara of Deeds

There once was a land
That lay empty and green
Under blue sky and warm summer breeze.
It was patiently lying there,
(Land often does),
Whisp’ring riddles and singing to bees.

Then one morning, a rumble
Was felt on the land.
It came from a wandering crowd.
And heading them up
Was a tall man in robes
Who was also exceedingly loud.

“How ‘bout here?” he cried out.
Then he answered himself,
“What a brilliant idea! My word!”
And he called out to people
To follow behind
Very close so his thoughts could be heard.

This baron, Sir Worthington,
Grabbed his valise
And way up on the top of one peak,
He settled and sat.
Then he opened his mouth,
And from then on did nothing but speak.

“O noodles and poodles,
O fruit flies and fleas,
Stretch up with your minds unto me.
For green cheese is gumptious
And fairies are fluttering
Flutes on the shores of the sea.”

Many folks gathered near
And were soon stuck like glue
By the words that rolled by down the hill.
But others decided
To try out the east
Where a hillside lay empty and still.

Far down at the bottom
Of hill number two,
Young Dara of Deeds made her camp.
Smiling and waving,
She welcomed the folks
To make friends and make plans round her lamp.

“What is needed,” she asked
Women, children, and men
“To help us all prosper and grow?”
“We need houses and schools.
We need farms, orchards, pools,”
Came the answers she’d wanted to know.

“Now, tell me the names
Of the work you all love.”
And people signed up, two by two,
To take on the jobs,
All the science and arts.
Each one knew what they needed to do.

That night, folks on hillsides
Slept under the moon,
Dreaming dreams. But as weeks flew ahead,
One hillside sat spellbound.
The other worked wonders
‘Til one day, an East Hill child said,

“Look, Mama. Look Dad.
Over on the West Hill.
Are those clouds or balloons or large birds?”
Sir Worthington’s lectures
Had filled West Hill heads
With the Gas of Continuous Words.

For days, weeks, and months,
All the folks in the west
Had done nothing but listen and eat.
One by one, the whole hillside
Was floating aloft,
Ribbons tied to the earth and folks’ feet.

What a sight! Dara rushed
To the hill, calling out,
“Are you happy? Content? Need a hand?”
“Bring us ba-a-a-ck. We’re so seasick,”
They called from the sky.
So she pulled each by foot to the land.

Then, bold as you please,
She took Worthington’s hand
And led him to work that he loves:
Spouting words that make gas
So all festivals have
Floating rubber inflatable gloves.

Now the land ‘neath the sun,
Once so empty and still,
Is exploding with bustle and laughter.
Dara’s life of good deeds
Had infected them all
And the hills rang with joy ever after.

Dara of Deeds PDF

Poems of Friends

The Crimson Balloon

O the man in the moon
Loved a sweet red balloon
Who lived on the shore by the sea.
“Do come nigh! Oh, come near,”
Wooed the moon. “Crimson dear,
Loose your string now and come marry me.”

“Oh balloon red and sweet,”
Cried the clams at her feet,
“Take care, for you weren’t meant to fly.”
But the crimson balloon
Loved the man in the moon
And raced off through the star-sprinkled sky.

“I’m untied now. I’m free,
And I’ll soon marry thee,”
Cried sweet Crimson as faster she leapt.
But her love and the height
Burst her heart in mid-flight.
The moon gathered her fragments and wept.

O the man in the moon
Loves his sweet red balloon.
He sings songs to the sun of her light.
And in autumn, the moon,
Longing for his balloon,
Hovers low and burns red in the night.

The Crimson Balloon PDF

Poems of Friends

Deward’s Dilemma

Big Deward the Dump was a mite bit upset.
Over long years, his diet of trash
Had been growing in items he’d rather forget,
Things that made him break out in a rash.

“How I long for an eggshell, a rind or a crust
That I used to enjoy by the ton.
Most the things in me now don’t digest, or they rust.
I am fasting ‘til something is done.”

With those words, Big Deward closed up his large mouth
And refused all the garbage that streamed
From the east and the west and the north and the south.
Heaps of cast-offs just piled up and steamed.

Many garbage truck drivers tried all kinds of tricks
To get Deward to alter his ways.
But no joking or patting, cajoling or kicks
Changed a thing. His fast went on for days.

At last—weakly—he posted a banner up high,
Right where all of the people could see.
And it said, “If you don’t want Big Deward to die,
Please recycle the trash that hurts me.”

“Recycle? What’s that?” asked a man at Town Hall.
Some kids heard him and held up their hands.
“You just use things again. Make a dish or a doll
Out of plastic or bottles or cans.”

“I can turn all the plastic to t-shirts and swings,”
Yelled a man who could weave and make toys.
“We’ll make bottles and cans into all kinds of things,”
Offered others. And soon all the noise

Of recycling ideas reached way out of town
To the ears of Big Deward the Dump.
And he tore down the banner while swallowing down
The edible trash in one lump.

How the people rejoiced as they carted away
Ev’ry smidgeon of synthetic scum.
Now they annually celebrate Deward Dump Day
Chewing biodegradable gum.

Deward’s Dilemma PDF

Poems of Friends

A Traveler’s Tale

A-hiking o’er the mountainside
Midst fog and gloom and wood,
I came upon a little man
A-weeping where he stood.
He beat his breast with heavy hands
And sighed, “She’s gone for good.”

Great tears splashed down from one small eye
And, ach, his nose was red.
His hair flew wildly ‘round his face
As if to flee his head.
I bent to offer comfort, but
“She’s gone,” was all he said.

So down I sat and pulled a great
Big hankie from my vest.
The troll reached out (he was a troll)
And held it to his chest
Then wiped his eye and blew his nose
And moaned, “I should have guessed.”

“Guessed what?” I ventured quietly,
For soon I hoped to hear
The fellow’s tale to lighten thus
His load and offer cheer.
“My precious love, my sweet, sweet love
Is gone fore’er from here.”

“Full two months past,” the troll went on
“I met a lovely thing
So delicate and fair of face
And amethyst of wing!
She was a fairy of the glade
And made my heart to sing.”

“Alas, the Fairy Queen herself
Grew jealous of my joy.
The loved that danced throughout the glade
She threatened to destroy.
‘Be still! Be sad! Be gone!’ she screamed,
‘You ugly hag troll’s boy.’”

“Before the queen’s words left her lips,
My fairy love so dear
Began to turn a pale, pale green,
To shrink and disappear.
The Fairy Queen laughed long and left.
And thus, you see me here.”

Again the troll began to cry.
His tears splashed on the ground
And lo, from down beneath his feet
There came the sweetest sound.
“I’m here, my love,” a lilting voice
Did gently echo ‘round.

Small heart-shaped leaves and slender stem
Sprang forth from earth below.
A bud appeared and, wondrously,
A flower began to grow
Until a purple blossom shaped
Like wings swayed to and fro.

And as it swayed, it touched the troll.
His ruddy face turned white.
“This is my jewel,” he cried, “my gem,
Transformed before my sight.”
That gloomy wood, that foggy glade
Shone gently gold with light.

I left him there, the little troll
So lately I had met,
And if you come to where I stood,
You’ll see him standing yet
Beside his flow’r, his lovely flow’r,
His precious violet.

A Traveler’s Tale PDF

Poems of Friends

Carrie and Harry

There once was a plant
Who grew in a pot
From a little seed tended by Carrie.
She loved his green leaves
And fuzzy blue flowers
And gave him her favorite name: Harry.

Harry was happy there
In his red pot
Near a window, so round and so sunny.
And every night,
Carrie would tell him good jokes
That he usually thought were quite funny.

Then one Sunday morning,
Carrie found out
That one of her buddies was ill.
She thought and she thought
About what she could do.
Write a verse, make a card, send a pill?

She talked with her mom
Who just happened to be
A wise and wonderful botanist.
They thought about presents
That would be the best
To help friends feel better, not rottenest.

“Now this might be hard,”
Her mom said out loud.
“But your friend would get better with Harry.”
And Carrie remembered
That plants could be helpful
In sickness. “Well, maybe,” said Carrie.

You see, Carrie knew
What some people don’t.
To keep sickness from getting much worser,
Plants can breathe out
What people breathe in,
And this miracle works vice versa.

She shed several tears
And paced up and down
Before giving dear Harry away.
To whom could she read
And who would smile back
At her jokes at the end of the day?

Yes, Carrie took Harry
In his red pot
To live on a new window sill
Where Harry exhaléd
Some sweet oxygen
And he helped her friend stop being ill.

This friend was so grateful
He took a small seed
And grew a new plant of his own.
Then he gave Harry back
To his smart, funny friend
Who would no longer tell jokes alone.

Carrie and Harry PDF

Poems of Friends

Fire Chief O’My

The station was quiet.
The crew polished brass.
The steam from Joe’s chili
Fogged up all the glass.
Nearby, in her office,
Her work piled up high,
Sat Fire Chief Nelly
O’Mally O’My.

“I’ll catch up on papers’”
Thought hard-working Nell.
“No building’s on fire.”
But just then the loud bell
In the firehouse clanged
As it called all the crew.
And they jumped in their boots
Hats, and coats. Nell did, too.

They turned on the sirens.
Their lights sprinkled red.
The fire trucks pulled up
To a flame-circled shed.
High up on the roof
Shook Ted Smith and son Cy.
“Aim the hoses! Bring nets, team!”
Called Fire Chief O’My.

Now Nelly was worried.
The flames rose up higher.
It seemed Ted and Cy
Just might die in the fire.
The crew battled on
With brave Nell helping, too.
She fed faith and strength
To her firehouse crew.

Old Ted Smith and his son
Jumped to safety that day.
All the smoke disappeared.
All the fear drained away.
“Well done,” cried the mayor.
“You saved Ted and his boy!”
“That’s our job,” smiled the chief,
Her heart racing with joy.

Back at the station,
The fire trucks were cleaned.
The firefighters polished
‘Til everything gleamed.
Chief O’My praised her workers,
Each one of her men.
Now the danger was done
And the town safe again.

The firefighters glowed
With the praises of Nell.
Spoons dipped in Joe’s chili,
Ears aimed toward the bell
That would summon anew
All the crew with the cry,
“There’s a fire. Call Chief Nelly
O’Malley O’My!”

Fire Chief O’My PDF

Poems of Friends

Wild, Wild Wally and the Magic Loom

In the dark, dark land of the dukedom of Mmadd
Lived big creatures all stringy and hairy.
And the loudest and largest and maddest of all
Was old wild, wild Wally D. Clarey.

Old Wally was quite in the habit, you see,
(As were all of his Mmadd fellow creatures)
Of yelling and whining and hard’ning his heart.
Shades of anger marked all of his features.

Gentle folk from outside of his kingdom so dark
Sometimes strayed by mistake ‘cross the borders.
But they didn’t stay long. Or were ne’er seen again
By their mothers, their sons, dads, or daughters.

One Wednesday, Wild Wally was walking along
Through a typical afternoon shower
When he noticed a hut hidden back in the leaves
By a rosebush just starting to flower.

“I ain’t never nohow seen that hut in the trees,”
Thought Wild Wally. “It shouldn’t be here.”
With wild earsplitting shouts, he galumphed toward the door
When a magical song reached his ear.

Now that song wasn’t loud. But it somehow stretched out
To Wild Wally beneath his loud roars.
And his heart, which was almost as solid as granite,
Was pulled, very gently, indoors.

The room that he entered was soothingly dim.
There was just enough twilight to see
A few bodies as stringy and tall as his own
Sitting, standing, or on bended knee.

All the Mmaddites were watching and humming along
To a rhythm embracing the room.
This soft beat was produced by a plump little creature
Who worked without pause at her loom.

Wild, Wild Wally had kept his new anger inside
From surprise at the most odd surroundings.
Now, all of a sudden, his heart creaked and groaned,
And his strong hairy arms began pounding.

But just as he bellowed his best angry roar,
All the threads in the loom started glowing.
Wally’s pounding was stilled by the sight of the weft
From which sparkles and star trails were flowing.

“I am weaving,” began the sweet voice at the loom,
“Bonds of friendship and love with each heart.”
The room shone with the light of her words and her work.
Wild, Wild Wally felt happiness start.

And the happiness warmed him. It grew and it grew
Until Wally’s face cracked with a grin.
And you wouldn’t have known Wild, Wild Wally D. Clarey
If you’d been his kith or his kin.

Thus the creatures stayed on, warmed and tamed by the light,
And absorbed all the love that did shower
From the loom of the lady whose actions and song
Helped each stony heart soften and flower.

One by one, every creature in Mmadd made his way
To that magical house in the gloom.
And as years passed, the dukedom of Mmadd changed its name
To the Land of the Love of the Loom.

And Wild Wally? “What happened to him?” you might ask.
“Is he really not angry and mean?”
Well, he married the woman who weaves and who loves,
And their home is at peace and serene.

Wild, Wild Wally and the Magic Loom PDF

Poems of Friends

Take Me to Australia

Australia has water
On every single side.
If you looked on a globe you would think it was maybe an island.
But it’s not.

Australia is bigger
Than Texas or Peru.
In fact, it is almost as big as the whole U.S.A.
But not quite.

Australia’s first people
Are aborigines.
Their dreams are important, and some play the dijeridoo.
But not all.

Australia has mammals
That only live right there.
While in nearby New Zealand, there once were no mammals on land.
Except bats.

Australia is someplace
I’d really like to be.
There’s so much to see there—koalas and dingoes and emus.
Shall we go?

Take Me to Australia PDF