Sincerely Yours, Irvin Feld.

Ringling program.

I wish my memory would shut up.

It is not a reliable narrator – either of my past glory, or my past shame.

And it grows less selective and discriminating as time slips by.

I would prefer a Buddhist silence in my head, so I could sit and meditate on the Greatness of the Universe, and the Nothingness of Existence.

But willy-nilly the old experiences creep into my mind as I sit in my cruddy old blue recliner, with the upholstery worn to a whitening nub; so I succumb once again to writing them down for posterity (or “posterior” as Stan Laurel once said).

I’m remembering come-in with Ringling Brothers.  The twenty minute warmup before each show where the clowns went through their paces as the audience straggled in to find their seats and grab something sweet from a passing candy butcher.

Over the years I came up with a number of solo gags to keep myself busy out on the track; the crowds were too distracted to react very much to my shenanigans, so I didn’t feel like going out of my way to entertain them.

On occasion I would simply do some ‘carpet clowning’.  This meant going into the audience and improvising with the people.  I carried a large silk handkerchief, so whenever I spotted a bald man I’d stop to polish his dome and then check my makeup in it.  Good for a titter or two.  Or I’d bring along a peacock feather to tickle someone behind the ear two rows down.  Also good for a chuckle or two.

Then one day my muse kicked in, and I invented the perfect carpet clown routine.  I blew up a large red balloon, ran a bent paperclip through the knot, and attached it to a spring clothespin.

I stealthily attached the clothespin to the coat tail or back of the blouse of passing audience members, and then watched serenely as they would amble on, unaware of the cargo they were now carrying behind them, which would bounce softly up and down on their keister.  People around me, who observed my sly machinations, grew hysterical as they tried to stifle their laughter.

The payoff came when my victim sat down.  BLAM!  They’d pop the balloon.

It’s not often that a man can take such complete satisfaction in his work as I did with that clown gag.  It got so I began to look forward to come-in, instead of kvetching about it like everyone else in clown alley.

The only centipede in the clown white was the constant demand of audience members for me to autograph their circus programs.  I should have been flattered, but instead grew irritated at how often this interrupted my balloon caper.

I tried ignoring these requests, but soon discovered that the popcorn-munching townies didn’t take kindly to that; they had paid their admission price and by golly they wanted their money’s worth – which included my autograph on their program!

But once you sign one autograph you are inundated with a dozen other requests – and there went my chance to stick a balloon on a fat lady’s butt!

I grew so resentful of these interruptions that I began signing the circus programs with the name of the owner of Ringling Brothers – Irvin Feld.  I’d usually write something like “I hope you spend a lot of money here today.  Sincerely yours, Irvin Feld”.

I must have signed his name in hundreds of circus programs.

That would have been back in 1971.  The Blue Unit of Ringling Brothers.  So check your program from that season, all you circus buffs  If you find my counterfeit scribble in it, you’ve got yourself one heck of a collector’s item!



The Speeding Ticket.


(Inspired by a story on the Jordana Green Show)

In this modern day and age, when speed is idolized,

And sluggishness is spoke against and commonly despised,

There are those who guard against undue acceleration;

I mean the cops who stop you and give out with a citation.


They do not care what kind of car you may be navigating.

They do not take excuses or believe your frantic prating.

Their hearts are made of granite and their beady eyes are tearless;

Immovable, implacable – their dedication’s fearless.


Over many years they have collected from my bag

Coin enough to carpet their police station with shag.

Do not think I grumble – my respect for them is hearty.

(But I wonder if my cash helps fund a birthday party.)


And I have to wonder if a speeding ticket will

Stamp out my desire for great haste, with all that thrill.

I was born to rocket through mortality, I think;

And anyone who holds me back is just a crummy fink!


Poverty: The One in Ten.

second harvest

(Inspired by an interview on the Jordana Green Show)

I’m the one in ten that people think does not exist;

The one who lost his job and finds it now hard to subsist.

I delivered papers till the weather froze my car.

I have had to make a feast from one granola bar.


I have told my children that there is no Santa Claus

When the bank met my request for assistance with guffaws.

We lost the house last April and have bunked with distant kin,

And I discovered that the world treats poverty like sin.


The wife no longer goes to church – she can’t afford to dress

The way the other ladies do; she now has godly stress.

‘Tomorrow will be better’ we have chanted ev’ry day.

But the wolf is at the door and settled down for a long stay.


I’m the one in ten, the neighbor you have barely met;

Struggling to keep my head above a sea of debt.

If I seem a little mad, please do not blame yourself –

It’s just that mac and cheese is all they had at the food shelf.    



A sniper is a person who takes aim with cold precision

On a target dedicated to a blunt collision.

Their marksmanship is brilliant and their cunning is breathtaking;

Their discipline is solid while their soul inside is breaking.


To train a man to kill in such a calculating way

Is deemed quite patriotic, if it’s for the USA.

But if a foreign sniper clips our soldiers or commander

That’s a diff’rent story which will raise our blazing dander.


Glamorizing violence has Hollywood portraying

Snipers as our heroes, which is pretty much dismaying.

As the taint of lobbyists for guns expands and worsens

I begin to think we have been shooting the wrong persons . . .



The Minnesota DNR.


(Inspired by a story by Doug Smith)

The Minnesota DNR is like a fairy tale;

Without the magic sticker they will toss you into jail!

If you a just a peasant from another state who tows

A boat through Minnesota, they have trolls that grab your nose.


They will not let it go until you spin some golden yarn,

Or guess their middle name or agree to paint a barn.

Yes, the DNR has witches who do flit about the skies,

Peering down your chimney and then snitching all your pies.


The purpose of this sorcery ain’t hard to comprehend;

The laws are made to emulate a Kingdom of Pretend,

Where princesses and ogres caper round ten thousand lakes

And ev’ry bureaucrat leads snowmen out to find more flakes.



Paean to Jordana Green.


(I was on the Jordana Green Show Monday evening; we hit it off like a couple of old pals.  She will be reading my topical poetry on her show from time to time, so naturally I had to compose a little something in her honor.  NOT brown-nosing, you understand — just a little gewgaw to show my appreciation . . . )

There’s Minnesota nice, and then there’s Minnesota NICE;

Jordana Green’s the second – she’s a gem, to be precise!

She read my verses on the air – and bade me do the same.

Is it any wonder she’s achieved such rampant fame?


Of course this is sheer flattery, as fulsome as can be;

But poets have been doing it all down through history.

You catch more flies with honey than with sour tropes indeed.

And blathering on ‘CCO is all the fame I need! 


AmeriCorps Journal. Part Three.


Since I had a bunch of balloons left over from the previous week’s project, I decided to use them all up this week to encourage the children in the Sharon Elementary Science Club to explore the mechanics of human respiration.

After giving it some mature thought and reflection over the weekend, here is what I presented my future Einsteins with on Tuesday afternoon:

  • We started out by briefly discussing the famed fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Almost all the students knew from the get-go that Holmes was a dazzling detective, but that is about all they knew of him.  (I guess Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not required reading anymore – if it ever was.)  So I had to fill them in on the Art of Deduction, and how they, as scientists, would need to sharpen that skill in order to profit from the upcoming experiment.
  • As always, I assigned someone to be our secretary, jotting down observations and discoveries as they occurred to the members of the Science Club during our activity.
  • I led a short discussion on the gases involved in breathing; we inhale nitrogen, oxygen, and argon – and exhale the same three, although in slightly different proportions, along with carbon dioxide and water vapor.
  • Once that was established I passed out a balloon and a jelly bean to each Club member, with instructions to drop the jelly bean into the balloon and blow it up and let the air out several times, and then shake out the jelly bean to see what, if anything, had happened to it.
  • There followed a general bedlam for two or so minutes as Club members blew up their balloons the first time and discovered, much to their delight, that a jelly bean inside an inflated latex balloon sounds amazingly like a stampeding herd of cattle when rattled around.
  • After they got THAT out of their systems they settled down and performed the experiment with a serious single-mindedness.
  • They discovered, among other things, that the jelly bean removed from the balloon was now wet, sticky, cracked, slimy, a lighter color, and no longer smooth but rough.

Now I led them in a discussion as to WHY this had happened to the jelly bean; what was it inside the inflated balloon that had caused the metamorphosis?  From the Club members own notes I quote their responses, verbatim:

  • Shaking the balloon caused the changes.
  • Carbon dioxide was responsible for the changes.
  • A few students admitted that they had spit into their balloons, and that undoubtedly had been the cause of the change.
  • A few students thought it was the water vapor from their exhalations that had changed the jelly beans.
  • One student, by the name of Slade, declared the entire experiment bogus and of nil effect unless we also dropped a jelly bean into a balloon and left it uninflated to see if the same changes would take place. I allowed him to proceed with the challenge, and he had to admit that the jelly bean did not exhibit any of the characteristics of the beans that had been inside the inflated balloons.

And finally, a Club member by the name of Jasmine declared that she was going to try to get a drink of water out of her balloon after blowing it up and letting the air out enough times to distill a pint of water vapor.

I look forward to hearing how her experiment went next week!

The Senate Subcommittee.


A Senate subcommittee is a squirrely sort of form;

It doesn’t follow any kind of reasonable norm.

The members get together for debate, or forty winks,

And doesn’t give a hoot what the opposing party thinks.


Perhaps the Subcommittee on Green Apples will decide

It wants to change the subject to “Effects of Dry Rip Tide”.

Or maybe they will vote to change their name to something chic,

Like “Republicans for Ethics While Line Dancing Cheek to Cheek”.


A rose by any other name, as Shakespeare often said,

Will fool the public easily and keep watch dogs misled.

If I were in a Senate subcommittee I would steer

The title to a label giving joy – such as “Free Beer”.

Happy Bubble Wrap Day!


January 26, 2015 is

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day! In the late 1950s, an American engineer named Al Fielding and a Swiss inventor named Marc Chavannes created Bubble Wrap. They were actually trying to come up with a textured, plastic wallpaper, but soon realized that their product had huge potential as a packaging material.

Fielding and Chavannes formed the Sealed Air Corporation and introduced Bubble Wrap to the public in January of 1960. Today, Sealed Air is a global Fortune 500 company and produces enough Bubble Wrap to stretch from the Earth to the Moon each year.

Did you know that in the past, Sealed Air has sponsored an annual Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors? Kids competed to create the most innovative product using Bubble Wrap as the primary material. Past winners include a floating garden, a cell phone cover, a swing for children with movement disorders, and a transformable kite kit.

To celebrate Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, join a social media group for Bubble Wrap fans or enjoy popping an entire roll of Bubble Wrap bubbles!

The Bakken Debacle.




(Inspired by an article by Lee Schafer)

The Bakken is Devonian, with shale and dolomite.

It broods beneath the surface of the prairie day and night.

It poisoned wells in North Dakota with its fossil sludge,

But now the farmers like it better than a pan of fudge.


For oil is got from fractured seams within its bosom hard;

 It often retails for much more than even spikenard.

The farmers leased their land to corporations seeking balm,

Then took prolonged vacations on the beach and under palm.


The prairie, once forlorn and blank, soon blossomed like a rose,

As derricks and the fracking crews great riches did expose. 

The money came so easy and in such great piles of dough

That no one minded nine months every year of frozen snow.


But in far off Arabia, and other foreign places,

Potentates were angry and showed sour swarthy faces.

“Yankees get their oil from US, and not from their own land!”

Said the bitter foreigners; “Independence we can’t stand!”


And so the OPEC nations sent a glut of bargain oil

Into the pipelines of the world, the Bakken to despoil. 

With oil retailing for about ten dollars to the barrel,

The prairie once again becomes deserted and quite feral. 


The pumps have stopped their pumping, and the roustabouts have left;

The farmers must grow wheat again – the banks are all bereft. 

The Bakken waits and hoards its riches for another day,

When ExxonMobil thinks it’s safe to come back out and play . . .