Perfect Poet’s Pizza Crust

Jingle’s Perfect Poet? Whoa!
Let’s celebrate with pizza dough!
I haven’t tried this recipe
As yet, but it looks good to me.
I got it from a commenter
On Runner’s World’s site, who’s sure
His version of an easy crust
Is better than the one discussed
Ad nauseum by posters who
Complained the magazine’s had too
Much salt — 12 times too much, in fact —
For which the author was attacked
Mercilessly, though, to be fair
You’d have a lot of crust to spare
If you put in a quarter-cup
Of sodium, then baked it up.

So, here we go. Ingredients:
2 Cups bread flour — that’s ’cause, since
Bread flour has more gluten in it,
You can stretch and pull and thin it
And it won’t rip quite so much;
A subtle but important touch.
3/4ths of a cup of Water
If you’re starving, make it hotter
So the dough will rise more quickly;
Cooler, if your tummy’s prickly
And you’d rather wait, then bake it.
2 teaspoons of yeast will make it
Rise, though it be slow or hasty.
2 teaspoons of sugar — tasty!
1 teaspoon of salt — no more
(We covered all of that before).
One tablespoon of olive oil
Tops it off — don’t skimp and spoil
Everything by skipping this:
It takes the crust from good to bliss.

Mix the sugar, yeast and water
By themselves — you hadn’t oughter
Add the salt ’til later on;
Let sit until there’s foam upon
The water, then put in the salt
For Ph balance. (Not my fault:
Blame chemistry if you can’t wait,
But take your time, and you’ll do great.)
Next, add 1 cup of flour, then
The olive oil, which will blend
Much better if the flour’s there
To help the oil and water share.
Then, add the second flour cup
And use your hands to mix it up
Once it becomes too heavy for
A mixing spoon to do the chore.
At this point, if it’s sticky, throw
A bit more flour in the dough:
It should be soft and hold its shape,
Not sticky, so your hands escape.

Now, oil a bowl and plop the dough
Inside, and let some oil flow
Across the top, then cover it
With plastic wrap and let it sit
Atop the counter (in the fridge
If you’d prefer to wait a smidge).
The yeast will cause the dough to rise,
And when it’s doubled in its size
(About two hours, give or take),
Get your oven set to bake
At four hundred fifty degrees
(That’s Fs; two hundred thirty Cs)
While you set out a pizza pan
And roll the dough as best you can
Into whatever shape is kneaded
(Get it? Good, I won’t repeat it).
Top it with your favorite stuff,
Then bake it ’til it’s brown enough
To suit your taste — 10 minutes, plus
Or minus, works for most of us.

That’s it! You’re done! This whole adventure
Yields about a 14-incher
(Measuring across the pie),
So says the Runner’s World guy
From whom I copped this recipe.
Come on, let’s try it out and see!
Who’s with me? Dare you place your trust
In Perfect Poet’s Pizza Crust?
If it turns out to be sublime’s
Antithesis, at least it rhymes!

Oh, right: Rhyme Me A Smile, you’re it!
You’re certainly a better fit
For this award than I could be,
So that makes you my nominee!

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In the Underbridge (Part IV)

(Continued from Part III)

“So, what should I wish for?” asked Fletcher. “A pony?”
“Where would it live?”
“In my room!”
“That’s baloney!”
Elena reminded him, “Mommy would make you
Take care of it. How many days would it take you
To realize ponies in houses don’t fit?
You’d both end up buried in hay and horse–”
“Quit!”
Fletcher cut off his sister mid-sentence. “Point made!
No ponies. Ooo! How ‘bout a samurai blade?
Or a flamethrower!”
“Fletcher! I think you should wait
Before making your wishes. The risk is too great
That you’ll make the wrong choice and regret it forever!
A wish chosen hastily never works. Never!
“How do you know?” Fletcher asked. “Have you tried it?”
“All stories with wishes have strongly implied it.”
“Implied it, shlim-schlide it,” scoffed Fletcher. “I wish
You would let me decide for myself!” With a swish
Of its tiny green tail, Fletcher’s turtle said, “Granted!”
“Wait, what?”
“Your first wish,” said the tiny enchanted
Reptile. “You’ve made it yourself, as requested.”
“You see?” crowed Elena. “I knew you’d be bested!
But you wouldn’t listen to me, so you’ve wasted
Your first stupid wish from that turtle you tasted!”

(Continued in Part V)

In the Underbridge (Part III)

(Continued from Part II)

“Whoa, wait, you what?” Fletcher tried not to squeak
As he spoke, standing, trembling, shin-deep in the creek.
“Who said that?” Elena asked, combing her hair
With her fingers to weed out the vomitus there.
“Three witches?” asked Fletcher. “Is that what you said?”
The turtle replied, with a shake of its head,
“Is it witches, or wishes? Which one wears a hat?
That’s the one I don’t mean. Let’s be clear about that.”
“Did that turtle speak?” asked Elena, astonished.
“It’s magic!” said Fletcher. “Now, hush,” he admonished.
“The word where you ask for a thing to appear
Or to happen–or not–that’s the deal. Are we clear?”
“That’s a wish,” whispered Fletcher. “You say I’ve got three?
Are you sure? You can honestly do that for me?”
“Well, I think so,” the turtle said. “Maybe it’s four?
No, it’s three…I think. Nobody’s licked me before!”
“Elena! Three wishes! For me! You believe it?”
She nodded, although she could scarcely conceive it.
Three pennies dropped, then, with three audible plunks:
Those wishes were hers, if she hadn’t blown chunks!
If she’d licked the turtle way back in September,
Three wishes! She thought, “From now on, I’ll remember:
Those hours I’ve spent tossing cookies were wasted–
Creek-dwelling creatures should always be tasted!”

(Continued in Part IV)

In the Underbridge (Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

For as long as they’d lived there, the children had played
In the Underbridge. It was a magical glade
Full of fairies and cupcakes, or dragons and Jell-O,
Respectively, for the young maiden and fellow.
No one else knew of their hideout, except
For one creepy old, smelly old vagrant who kept
Crawling down there for shelter from showers and wind:
The Occasional Hobo, whom they called a friend
And who bragged of his shower-avoidance success;
The last time he’d had one was anyone’s guess.
His quest to keep out of the wind was quixotic,
However, because he produced an exotic
Effluvium which he released like a sneeze
Every time he bent over–a portable breeze.
He wasn’t there now, though; the sibs were alone
And the Underbridge world completely their own.

“Can you help me undo this darn strap? It’s too tight,”
Asked Elena. Her brother replied, “Serves you right!”
But he did as she asked, as she’d known that he would,
Because, quarrels aside, they were both pretty good
At supporting each other as siblings and friends;
There was rarely much light between fights and amends.
With her helmet set safely aside on a perch
Shoulder-high in the shadows, they started their search
For the turtle Elena had vomited on,
But soon they’d concluded the turtle had gone
To wherever it is that a reptile goes
When it’s sodden with sick from its tail to its nose.
They turned every moss-covered rock on its head
But their labors revealed no concealed turtle bed.
“Oh, fine,” muttered Fletcher, still stabbing a stick
Into random mud puddles. “Now, what do I lick?”
Then, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a tiny, green, scarlet-eared turtle. “He’s here!”
“No, he isn’t,” Elena said. “Really? No way!”
But he was. (Or she was–it’s not easy to say.
For most, turtle gender’s a toss-up at best,
But as long as the turtles know, heck with the rest!)

Fletcher scooped up the turtle before it could scurry
To shelter, and rinsed off the worst of the slurry
Of creek mud and slime from its belly and back,
Then he stuck out his tongue as Elena said, “Gaack!”
“Hey, watch it!” said Fletcher. “At least turn your head!”
She tried to reply, but she hiccupped instead.
Though his sister was paler than library paste,
Fletcher lifted the turtle and gave it a taste!
“Reminiscent of chicken!” he started to say,
As Elena got sick in a violent way.
Fletcher leaped back to avoid where it landed;
He didn’t cry out…but the thing in his hand did!
Mellifluous, liquid, impossibly old,
Through the Underbridge hollow the turtle’s voice rolled.
“Good sir,” quoth the turtle, “as Lord of the Ditches,
Creeks, Streams and Small Rivers, I grant thee three witches!”

(Continued in Part III)

In the Underbridge (Part I)

Spectacular day! Sky of blue! Clouds of white!
But a squirrel had arced a transformer last night
So the power was out on that whole side of  town.
Even cellphones were dead ’cause their towers were down.
And the cable? It goes without saying that it,
Well, it went, without saying the least little bit.
Since Fletcher’s computer’d been totally bricked
By a virus that sneaked in through something he’d clicked,
All the games that Elena and he would have wasted
Their day with were worthless. How bitter life tasted!

Then something went THUMP! Or perhaps it went *ping*?
Kerplooey? Ka-pow? Biddy-bum? Ba-da-bing?
What it sounded like, really, is quite hard to say,
And it happened inside Fletcher’s head, anyway,
So Elena, though sitting there right by his side,
Didn’t hear it, and couldn’t have heard if she’d tried.
But Fletcher had heard it, whatever it was,
And he sprang to his feet with a shout! Then, because
He had stood up too fast and his vision went sparkly,
He stared at his sister as through a glass, darkly,
Then sank to his knees as his eyeballs rolled back
In his head…’til an open-palmed, right-handed smack
From Elena revived him. He gathered his wits,
And he drooled on her. (When he’s excited, he spits.)

“Fletcher! That’s gross!” cried Elena, disgusted.
“I’m telling! When Mommy hears, you’ll be so busted!”
But Fletcher ignored her weak threat, ’cause he knew
That the number of players in that game was two:
If Elena told Mommy he’d drooled on her dress,
He had oodles of incidents he could “confess”
In which he was the victim and she was the bully,
A tattle-tale stand-off she understood fully.
With mutual total destruction assured,
The thought of her running to Mom was absurd.
And anyway, Mommy was gone for the day.
“We should–” Fletcher stopped. “What was I gonna say?”
“How should I know?” Elena quipped, blotting her hem.
Repartee of that sort was routine between them;
The Algonquin Round Table, renowned for bon mots,
Couldn’t top them on topics like Drooling on Clothes.

“Oh, yeah,” Fletcher wiped off his chin. “You remember
That turtle we found in the creek in September?”
“The one that you double-dog dared me to lick?”
“Which you didn’t.”
“I would’ve! Except I got sick.
“You can say that again! You threw up on its shell!”
“Oh, that’s right,” said Elena, not feeling so well.
As she took a deep breath, trying hard not to retch, her
Big brother jumped up. “Come with me!” shouted Fletcher.
“I’ll bet it’s still there! If it is, and it’s clean,
Then it’s my turn to lick it!” Elena turned green.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Plus, it’s probably gone!”
Fletcher said, “Then we’ll find one you didn’t puke on!
Please, Elena? I’m bored, and it’s something to do.”
And Elena said, “Fine,” because she was bored, too.

So they left. Fletcher locked the front door with his key
And began running down to the bridge. “Wait for me!”
Called Elena, still strapping her bike helmet on.
“Cheese and crackers!” said Fletcher. “I thought you were gone!
You don’t need your bike! The dumb creek is right there!”
He fixed on his sister a petulant glare,
But Elena secured her headgear, then straddled
Her saddle and rode by, completely unrattled.
“For crying out loud,” muttered Fletcher. “How lazy
Can one person be? Look, we’re here! That was crazy!”
“You’re jealous,” Elena said, “only because
I can ride and you can’t!”
“No, I’m not!” (Yes, he was.)
“Don’t worry,” Elena said, sweetly, “I’ll teach you,
And then we can race! And I’ll try not to beat you
Too badly in front of your friends, if you’re nice.”
Fletcher stuck out his tongue, and she stuck hers out twice,
And he tightened the strap of her helmet until
She cried uncle, then both of them slid down the hill
To the small rocky beach where the creek water swirled
In eddies and pools in the Underbridge world.

(Continued in Part II)