The Good Part

The parties are ending
The carols are sung
The reindeer are wending
The stockings are hung
The evening is waning
The cider is hot
Somewhere they’re complaining
In our house we’re not


Writer’s Block

I’m thankful for the opportunity
Bestowed upon me each Thanksgiving Day
To quote myself before my family
And friends. But I still don’t know what to say.
I love that we don’t argue, scream, or fight;
That politics and sports don’t spoil the meal;
That most of us would choose a quiet night
To one in which we slur the words we feel.
I’m thankful that I’m looking forward to
Our late-November gathering of clans,
And that the trope of kin-without-a-clue
Has never reared its head: We’re family fans.
The difficulty is, it’s always thus.
Are there new ways to say I’m glad we’re us?

Career Days

I played a Pops concert tonight.
The program featured quite delightful
Tunes from shows both classic and
Contemporary, and a man
Who played the trumpet next to me
Opined there was a time when he
Was forced watch some animated
Feature films that he just hated,
Not excepting those whose themes
We played tonight. It’s strange. It seems
His kids and mine enjoyed the same
Productions, but where he would blame
The animators for the time
He wasted in their movies, I’m
Just grateful for the inspiration
They bestowed on my relations:
Both my kids are now employed
In fields like those we all enjoyed
On weekends when they both were young;
They’re bursting now with songs unsung
And stories yet unanimated,
Which I’d not anticipated
When we played the DVDs
Again again (when they said please).
I’m glad my kids are artists, and
I hope they’re glad I understand.


For thirty years, today, I’ve worn this ring
For thirty-nine months more I’d wished it so
I’m baffled that you chose to do this thing
Yet far more grateful than you’ll ever know
Because of you a daughter and a son
Both call me Papa (okay, that’s on him)
You said “I do” in front of everyone
And now we proudly gaze, as one, on them
This happy married man and family
Exist because you took a crazy chance
On someone who did not deserve you (me)
And taught this two-left-footnik how to dance
I love you more than freckles love the sun
And if it’s up to me, we’ve just begun

First Ones Up

Slanting yellow light
Footie PJs, sleeping bag
Mostly dry inside

Pad across the house
Past the picture window pool
Toward the sound of food

In a storybook
Eyes that twinkle mean you’re safe
Even far from home

Scottish plaid nightdress
Orange juice and buttered toast
We’re the first ones up

Holiday Letter 2015

Hey, you made it! Please, come in!
Take off your coats! How long’s it been?
A year? No, really? Wow. That long?
We must be doing something wrong
If we don’t make a point of being
Sociable with those worth seeing,
In which glitzy company
You all belong much more than we.

Gesundheit! Do you need lysergic–
Er, ascorbic— What? Allergic
To the cat? No wonder July
(As in “Andrews”) seems unduly
Drawn to you. It’s like they sense
You’re running low on histamints
And rush to fill the yawning void.
Or, cats enjoy when we’re annoyed.

Iain, can you fetch a tissue,
Why, yes, our eldest issue
Made it for the holiday!
He’s storyboarding in L.A.
At BixPix, where he’s working on
Their Emmy-winning Amazon
Show, Tumbleleaf. If you’ve got Prime
And little kids, it’s worth your time.

He’s also part of Mirth Machine,
Whose YouTube stuff you may have seen?
Yes, he’s the “Uncle Iain” of
The online show we’ve come to love.
If you’re a fan of girlish screams
And chocolate sauce, expect your dreams
To come alive with every show!
(They’ve just gone on hiatus, though.)

We’re also happy to report
He tried the Collins family sport,
Triathlon, this past September.
Somewhere deep inside, the ember
Of a three-sport athlete burns
In Iain’s chest; before he learns
How to extinguish it, we hope
To shove him down that sweaty slope.

Siri, did you see who’s here?
Siri’s in her final year
Of college at DePaul, where she
Directs and does photography.
‘Cause college isn’t tough enough, her
Double major makes it rougher.
That Type-A personality
She clearly didn’t get from me.

And so, of course, she finds a way
To exercise ‘most every day
(Assuming good intentions count).
She must have done the right amount
To finish a half-marathon
Because she did just that. Right on!
She even let me share the fun–
A very hot thirteen point one.

Then, this autumn, she appeared
Onstage as crowds of children cheered
Her acting and her violin
In Esperanza Rising. When
She wasn’t in the spotlight, she
Helped run the show as its A.D.
(Assistant Director, that is).
She rocks at that performing biz.

I could laud the kids forever,
They’re so talented and clever,
Like their mother. What? I’m sorry,
Yes, of course she is! Oh, Kari,
Look who’s here! When they arrived.
I cornered them, but they’ve survived.
I didn’t even get to tell
Them Iain ran a half as well!

Kari’s still a teacher’s aide
For Salem-Keizer, getting paid
For tying shoes and wiping noses,
So she says, which I suppose is
True, but all her years of teaching
Means there’s lots of kids she’s reaching.
She’s amazing with the tykes!
(But it’s the part-time work she likes.)

I still service information
Down at DOJ. Elation
May not strike me every day,
But mostly I like work okay.
Eight or ten more years until
Retirement. I can. I will!
‘Till then, I’ll write and swim and run
Before and after work, for fun.

Hopefully, your year has been
More likely to have raised a grin
Than turned your smile upside-down–
There’s been a lot of that around,
But don’t let’s dwell on what we’ve seen.
Instead, a toast to oh-sixteen!
May Joy and Peace be all our lot!
(Unless Trump wins. Then, probably not.)

Designated Turkey

Movies and TV have taught us
Family holidays breed stress.
I’m inclined to say that’s not us:
“Relatively dramaless”
Would be a fair description of
The vibe that dominates when we
Converge upon this table. Love
Instead prevails, and harmony.
We’re also told that every clan
Has one whom eccentricity
Has taken to its bosom, and
If you can’t spot them, then you’ll see
Them in the mirror. If that’s true
The dearth of weirdos, freaks and cranks
Around this table means that you
All know it’s me. For that, my thanks
I’m glad to give. To be a part
Of such a loving group of folk
As this enhappifies my heart.
I’m truly blessed, and that’s no joke.