Folly Of Youth
I couldn’t wait to grow up and escape
from the nightmare of childhood.
Safely sequestered in a secret cellar hiding
place in Maspeth,
with fusty smelling mattresses and pillows,
Passover green glass depression dishes,
pots and pans, pup tents for scout camp,
fishing-rods, tackle boxes loaded with
Creek Chub, Pfleuger and Paw Paw plugs.
I hid from the malevolent Wehrmacht,
3400 miles to the East, but to a frightened
eleven year old still too near.
Parents never knew I’d hide away for hours
lost in Walter Mitty day-dreams,
making believe I was all grown up:
driving a load in a bulging Mack truck,
crawling out of a foxhole to hoist the flag
on Iwo Jima, piloting a Spitfire in a do or die
dog fight, climbing
glittering icy blue crest while I puffed away
on dried corn silk in a Douglas MacArthur pipe.
Half way through a frigid February night
a Boa Constrictor of black smoke slithered
up stairs; sure I’d set the house on fire I begged
father to call for help, but he was such
a considerate gent, he wouldn’t disturb
neighbors until we could no longer breathe.
When firemen finally arrived, an overheated
condenser furnace fan was the culprit.
Under the waning light of a yellow moon
I hurriedly ditched my stash of corn silk and pipe
Eventually I did grow up and was tapped by Uncle Sam
to soldier at
the barracks filled with smoke, everyone lulled
into the folly of smoking, listening to the “Donkey
Serenade” and little Johnny’s fervent plea:
“Call For Phil-ip Mor-eese.”