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