I am biting into an apple;

You have a spoon of carrot.

You are the kid, saith Madrid,

Of my friend Melissa Barrett.

You are supposedly one today.

You need some assistance to eat.

You are the kid, saith Madrid,

Of Melissa's husband, Pete.

You have most likely forgotten

By the time you're reading this rhyme,

That you, as a baby, were possibly maybe

The greatest kid of all time.

You sat in the midst of a blanket.

You sat on a plastic seat

And pointed like Julius Caesar

At me and Melissa and Pete.

And when I got to the airport,

My watch could not tell the time.

I solemnly noted its crystal was coated

With baby saliva and slime.

I am wishing you happy birthday.

I am blessing your big round head.

With a hug to your mother or else to the other

Parental attendant instead.

Goodbye, my young friend, I am going.

But you are no baby for tears.

You are the kid, saith Madrid,

I'll be blessing for thousands of years.

Birthday Poem for Noni Vivian Chelko, 6/18/19.

Child, I must say who I am.

A chopped-up pig is a ham.

A chopped-up cow is a beef.

I shall say who I am and be brief.

It’s I who constructed those drawings.

With all of their comings and goings.

A reactor gets hot at its core.

Last time that we met, you were four.

I have since found a job here in Texas.

Our motto is “No one respects us.”

The waiters say “No, Sir” and “Yessir.”

And I have become a professor.

My passion is bottles of ink.

A mental event is a think.

A slice of white cheese is a slice.

I tell everyone here you are nice.

I told all these boys you are good.

A section of pine is a wood.

A unit of mud is a dirty.

I’ve known your mom since she was thirty.

She may even have been twenty-six.

A beagle and chow is a mix.

A jacket and tie is a clothes.

These couplets are right on the nose.

These couplets must come to an end.

Long poems are apt to offend.

So, remember me, tiniest Chelko.

From your fingers right up to your elbow.

From your octopus up to your squid,

I’m signing Sincerely, MADRID.

Avi Poem 5/26/19

A section of milk is a quart.

Your poem this year will be short.

There is hardly a need for these pomes.

To the left of the lawn is the gnomes.

To the right of the king is the queen.

Our records show yóu are fourteen.

Are yóu still artistic and verbal?

A division of tea is the herbal.

A unit of bird is the dove.

By now you are tortured by love.

When I was fourteen it was awful.

A section of shelf is the novel.

A victim of trap is a mice.

You can write me if you need advice.

I am good, for I always write back.

A portion of print is a stack.

A chapter of spring is a snow.

What else shall I tell you? Don't know.

This poem is over, goodbye.

An "A" and a "V" and an "I."

An "H" and a "Y" and the rest...

Goodbye now; I wish you the best.

Birthday Poem for Roma Cady Macpherson Wilson 
2 January 2019, 
ætatis suæ XV

On beauty we must pay a tax,

no matter how much we’re earning.

If God gave the swallow nothing else,

he gave it swiftness in turning.

A boyfriend is a solemn thing.

His brain is bad; his clothes, mismatched.

In Ghana, Death is a skeleton, too,

but the ears are still attached.

Its ears are still attached, but that

does not mean you will hear it.

If you are an eat-by-myself type of girl,

you will not see a spirit.

Prizes are reserved for the defeated.

Punishments go to the winners.

Leopard skins are rare, and so

are never worked by beginners.

The plumber has come with equipment

to undo the emotional clog.

The lizard does not eat pepper 

and sweat break out on the frog.

If a rat gets a hold of a fufu,

he will eat it; he does not steal the pestle.

The souls of all tormentors are soft

like the lead of an artist’s pencil.

A boyfriend yields a lesson like

“The Death of Ivan Illych.”

A snake is like a rope, and yet

you don’t use it to tie up a package.

The ukulele is a hollow fruit.

So, shake it and savor the sound.

Trees are a net: they stop bird bones

from ever reaching the ground.

Who stands wide awake in a darkened room

is apt to give people the shivers.

When a bird has a long enough bill, it has

no need of crossing rivers.

You don’t sit there making rope in front 

of the animal you’re trying to catch.

And no one teaches an Egyptian cat

to look in a calabash.

Mother to child, and girl to boy,

the influence is corrupting.

When a hunter comes home with mushrooms, he’s 

not asked for news of his hunting.

No child looks idly in the pot; 

she expects to be given something.

If the fool knows nothing else, he knows

all about his plantain dumpling.

The Tathāgata never reflects.

The Tathāgata never thirsts.

By the time the fool has learned the game,

the players have dispersed.

The girl is fifteen, and sight unseen,

I gave her all I had.

All plants are medicinal but you do not know

and say this one is bad.

The ice cubes fight to get to the top.

They’re pushing and shoving, aggrieved. 

She who does what is not usually done 

perceives what is not usually perceived. 

Poem on 10/23/18, Camilla One Week Old

Good morning, tiny baby blob.

Uncle Tony’s on the job.

Uncle Tony saying hi.

Mama knows the reason why.

Mama knows and mama nurtures.

She is happy with her purchase.

Who can number all her kisses?

No one knows nor even guesses.

Someday, when you read these lines,

Think about those former times,

When your every yawn and sneeze

Was sure to fascinate and please.

Birthday Rhymes for Margo Lucy Macpherson Wilson, 9.14.18

Whippoorwill or weeping willow:

one is a bird, the other a tree.

Two weeks into September, and so

it’s time you heard from me.

Tumbling tumbleweed, mumbling mouse:

one’s in the grille, the other the house.

Time is passing and I’m afraid

you’re in sixth grade.

Fidgeting flower and Vulture Peak:

one is a mountain, the other a pest.

It’s all I can do to suppress fatigue,

and so I take a rest.

Chicago saguaro and sorrowing snake:

one is a meal, the other a font.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s trying to make

you clear your mind of Kant.

Comma and colon and question mark:

two in the middle and one at the end.

Plummeting monkey was heard to remark:

“I understand you’re ten.”


Rhymes for Dina Naomi Nathan :: one today, 6/25/18

Some kinds of birds are hoppers.

Others will break into a run.

It’s the twenty-fifth day of June:

Today you’re 1.


I saw a petrified tree in Yellowstone.

We have no such trees around here.

You were born on exactly this day,

Last year.


A bison will savor a dust wallow.

For a male bison, a wallow is heaven.

Your mother’s name is Sharon.

Your dad’s Evan.


Antelope are not all that interesting.

They look away and act all indignant.

I took a long walk with your mom

When she was pregnant.


The western tanager is a kind of bird.

It’s a rainbow from its nose to its knees.

Your dad’s on the roof fixing the gutter.

Your mom reads Chinese.


I saw a couple of black bears in Yellowstone.

Everyone finds them entrancing.

Last time I visited, I saw a video

Of you dancing.


We hit a tumbleweed with the Honda.

It exploded into toothpicks! That was fun.

It’s the twenty-fifth day of June, now.

And suddenly you’re 1.




Rhymes for Noni Vivian Chelko :: six today, 6/18/18


I now contrive

to stir the mix:

no longer five,

she’s all o’ six.


This lit-tle chick

with attitude,

she puts a pic-

ture in a tube.


She puts a field

below her foot.

The tube is sealed;

the stamp is put.


We move along

a crooked track:

the thing is wrong;

the tube comes back.


O Richelieu

and skating rinks!

She fits in-to

her dainty pinks!


Her pinks are red;

they raise alarms.

Above her head,

are both her arms.


A lit-tle crown,

a frilly ruff.

She settles down:

she’s had enough.


And possibly,

all down the aisles,

are fam-i-lies

of crocodiles,—


are unicorns,

and on their butts,

a horse performs

the you-know-whats.


And you-know-which

is on his head!

But here’s the hitch:

he’s gone to bed.


And only now

the tube arrives!

We must allow

that both our lives


have changed since when

the tube was sent.

The days are ten

that came and went,


and years contrive

to play their tricks:

you sent at five;

it comes at six.


And all the angels 

gather ’round.

They shift and change

without a sound. 


They watch as tape

and tube are popped:

the angels gape;

their hearts are stopped.


And out the hole

is something new:

a sacred scroll

for me to view!


These lines to you

your mother reads,

and serve, it’s true,

no other needs


than on this day

to wish you well:


on carousel. 



Rhymes for Elsa Diaz :: eight today, 6/13/18

Elsa Diaz, turning eight.

How’s she feelin’? Feelin’ great.


How’s she doin’? Doin’ fine.

Next year she’ll be turning nine.


Elsa D. should have a look!

Draw a picture, read a book.


Read a book and turn the page,

Raise the curtain on the stage.


Stage is set and table too.

Label fastened on with glue.


Ladle, ladle, little soup!

Spiral into loopty loop.


Elsa Diaz, be as good:

Comprehended, understood.


Elsa Diaz, be as fast:

Top and bottom, first and last.


Bottom got ’em, last and first:

Final verse is not the worst.


Final verse is this’n here:

Love enough for all the year!






Poem for Roma Cady Macpherson-Wilson, 2 January 2018


The horse is suddenly vertical.

He almost stepped on a snake.

You are turning fourteen today:

It’s Winter Break.


The snake’s skin is made out of paper,

Like a tiny magazine foldout.

You’re in the middle of eighth grade:

It’s freezing cold out.


The sea turtle scrambling seaward has to

Content himself with a maybe.

The last time I ever looked at you,

You were a baby.


All sea birds enjoy the privileges

Accorded the high and the flighty.

I’m not fond of handing out homework,

Yet I hope you’ll write me.


The elephant is her own shower head:

She can lock it and load it and drench.

In an earlier version of this poem,

The first line was in French.*


Aristotle was a subtle marmoset.

He invented the enthymeme, he did.

So, please lemme know if you need anything.

Signed with love,—Anthony Madrid.



* It began:

                    Alors, ma bichette

                    I’m not done with you yet…





Poem for Matthias James McDonough Howell, 12/31/17


The iguana is a rocky planet:

He gets his heat from the sun.

It’s the thirty-first day of December.

Today you’re one.


The eagle refuses to sell:

She’s considered an implacable holdout.

It’s the thirty-first day of December.

It’s freezing cold out.


The bull is an able attorney:

He can settle your case for a fee.

Your mother is a good friend of mine.

Her name’s Marie.


By the time you’re reading this poem,

The iguana, the eagle, the bull

Will all be in animal heaven unless

The parking garage was full.


The ostrich is proud of her feathers:

She’s busy, so she has to run.

It’s the thirty-first day of December.

Today you’re one. 






Birthday poem for Margo Lucy Macpherson Wilson, 9.14.17


Today, the DOUBLE DIGIT.

Tomorrow, the COMMON APP.

The Lay of the Land is immidget-

-ly clear when you look at a Map.


Today, the DUAL CYPHER.

Tomorrow, the Campus Green.

A Tooth for a Tooth, and an Eye for

What others consider obscene.


May every TRANSACTION be memorable,

Margo, the Day of your Birth.

For you’re surely the greatest Ten-Year-Old

To be found on the Face of the Earth.





Six Stanzas Written on Delta Flight 48 to NYC
24 May 2017 :: for Avi Hynes


Avenue! Avenue!

Twelve years old.

It's something new but haven't you

Already been told?


It's something new but that's the way

The kid turns twelve.

It's Friday into Saturday

So help-a yourself.


Slaughter-pole and water-pole

And whudja wanna do?

We're taking out the casserole

In Lincoln Park Zoo.


In Lincoln Park and pink and dark,

Piano out of tune.

The archer ’bout to miss the mark—

A rabbit on the moon.


Rabbit on the moon base!

Camel in the sun!

Take a nap at noon, face

The rhododenderon.


I'm at an end, I'm pressing SEND,

I praise the mighty day.

We all intend to recommend

The twenty-six of May.



Birthday Poem for Gabriel River Hynes
Nine Today, 14 May 2017


The kid is nine:

open the wine,


dig in the fork,

and pop the cork.


Pop the cork

and pour a glass:


forty-eight yards

on a forward pass.


Pabriel, Gabriel,

Riverboat Hynes


held out a fork

to count the tines.


Count the tines:

it’s sevens and nines,


Gabriel, Pabriel

Riverboat Hynes.


Middle o’ May!

and it’s Mother’s Day:


others will say it’s

OK, it’s fine,—


if the kid is nine,

we open the wine:


he’s getting his,

so I’m getting mine.


And the poem ends

on the very next line:


The poem ends

on the very next line.


Birthday Poem for Mira Buffam Reddy
Eight years old today, 13 April 2017

It seems to be true,

what I’d only heard:

that eight-year-old Mira’s

turned into a bird.


It seems to be true,

what I’d only guessed:

that Mira bird, Mira bird

sits on her nest.


Whenever the Mira bird

stands on one leg,

there starts to appear an

immaculate egg.


The heart of that egg

is nucleic mystique.

And the Mira bird’s picking

her little brown beak.


Oh it seems to be true,

what I heard on the boat:

that eight-year-old Mira’s

turned into a goat.


A little white goat

with a bell and a bleat

and a great roaring foursome

of shoes on her feet.


Now a little white goat

will stick out her pink tongue

and baa in complaint

if she wanders among


the children, the farmers,

the milkers of goats,

for Mira don’t like their

unmusical notes.


Oh I think it may be,

if it’s not a mistake,

that eight-year-old Mira’s

becoming a snake.


Is she eager to do it?

Or doesn’t she wanna?

Now eight-year-old Mira’s

become an iguana.


The iguana is often

ashamed of her wings,

and goes into hiding

whenever she sings.


Iguanas are secretive,

cunning and sly,

don’t want you to see ’em,

when they’re gonna fly.


Oh I think it may be!

I believe it’s the truth:

that Mira Iguana

has only one tooth.


I think it’s the case,

for I saw it online:

she’s just like a fork

that has only one tine.


I heard the report!

I sat through the news!

and eight-year-old Mira

took off all her shoes.


She spread out her wings,

she brushed her one tooth,

and polished her bell

with the ardor of youth,


and put out her tongue,

with an egg on her plate,

for today she has traveled

from seven to eight.


Poem for Amelia, age 4

I get it, I got it, I feel ya

I’m writing this out for Amelia


Singles and triples and doubles

Her friend is a penguin named Bubbles


Doubles and triples and singles

Cheetos, Doritos, and Pringles


Some of her, more of her, all of her

Her brother’s a penguin named Oliver




The Little Ramayana, April 13, 2016


The day is just begun, the clock

   is standing at eleven.

MADRID is very good, so he’s

   ascending into heaven,—

rewriting the RAMAYANA,

   while MIRA’s turning seven.


There is a little MIRA, who

   has often heard the tale.

She knows the crown will tend to go

   to first-born handsome males.

But this is where the story’s always

   going off the rails.


Unfortunate! the good old king

   has made a solemn promise,

which Queen KAIKEYI wants fulfilled,

   lest he be thought dishonest.

The people all get so upset

   that everybody vomits.


KAIKEYI wants the first-born son

   to light out for the trees,

the better that her own dear one

   enjoy the royal ease.

But RAMA’s wife and sidekick beg:

   Can we go with you, please?


And so where once they pillows had

   are only mossy rocks.

And dishes that had been delish

   are only fit for fox.

And where their shoes had been of silk

   are only gruesome socks.


And meanwhile on the other end

   of all this cosmic spectrum,

the demon monarch RAVANA

   plays vina with a plectrum.

He rules by warlike stratagems—

   ’cuz nobody expects ’em!


He soon gets wind a lady and

   a douchebag pair of brothers

are wandering the woods alone—

   they’re not with any others.

Two stupid human mortals who

   were born from different mothers!


The DEMON KING sets out at once:

   his gross erotic errand,

a trick quite in defiance of

   all substantive and gerund.

A deer runs interference while

   he steals the girl to MARYLAND.


Now, RAMA was a perfect son:

   he was to peace inclined,

and when he lost his kingdom, he

   was easily resigned.

But now his SITA’s gone, the man

   has nearly lost his mind.


The only thing to do in cases

   anything like this

is mass a MONKEY ARMY to

   put right the thing amiss,

befriend a monkey General, and

   ignore all prejudice.


It’s true a MONKEY ARMY has

   a number of small vices.

They like to smash up vineyards and

   they haggle over prices.

People think they’re bears ’cuz they

   are not among the nicest.


But, meanwhile, back in Baltimore,

   the DEMON KING abuses

everybody’s patience; SITA

   sturdily refuses.

He begs, he pleads, he yells at speeds

   that frighten off the Muses:

he’s pretty good, but goodness knows

   Pure Virtue has its uses.


Here HANUMAN stands up ’cuz he

   with indignation trembles.

Resolves on leaping oceans cold

   as Michigan Decembers.

(But why he doesn’t fetch back SITA

   nobody remembers.)


He leaves her there in wicker chair

   and leaps back in a smidge.

He tells the others: “There’s no time

   to take apart the fridge!!

It falls to us, O mighty host,

   to build a GIANT BRIDGE.”


Across the waves they pitch a road,

   an arching steady structure—

and, waging war on Baltimore,

   they rip it up and rupture,

with RAMA leaping to and fro

   at this important juncture.


The first-born son and demon king

   can smell each other’s breath.

With weapons sharp, they slash away

   as if on crystal meth.

’Til Rama throws down Ravana 

   and TICKLES him to death!


“The war is done! It sure was fun!”

   the happy monkeys cried.

Yet, shockingly, the perfect son

   is not quite satisfied.

He wants to know if Sita has,

   uh, anything to hide.


The perfect man, who once had been

   expelled all hot and sweaty,

kicks out his wife, and she, fed up,

   sinks down into the jetty.

The tale is not uplifting, though

   its atmosphere is heady,—

But that’s the way the story ends,

    dear Mira Buffam Reddy.