Happy Imp Day!

In the year 1439 in the Bohemian forest on January 2nd, King Sabrian declared the second day of every year “Day of the Imps”, in honor of the Imp king.

The human kingdom of Mansfield paid tribute to the Imp kingdom of Monello, by celebrating a day of mischief and prankish behavior.   There was a small twist in the celebration, however.  Unlike April Fools Day, people did not play pranks on one another but instead on themselves, to the amusement of any witnesses.

Historically, it was to give imps a “day off”, so they wouldn’t have to work for the outcomes they sought.  Instead of planning, setting up and playing tricks, they could drop by and poke their heads into people’s lives, and be entertained for free.

Some people did mundane things on Imp Day, like switching their sugar and salt- thereby ruining their tea and anything they baked.  Others did more elaborate things, like throwing eggs at their own cottages, or “accidentally” forgetting to park their horses, thereby losing them to the surrounding forest.

The mandate was that whatever prank was pulled, it must be something good-natured and funny to an observer.  For imps can make themselves invisible, and you never truly know when they are not there.  But if you pull a good prank on yourself, you’re likely to hear a stifled chuckle off in the distance, since it is said imps can sense impending laughter.

So the appropriate question is: how will you celebrate Imp Day?


Poppa Wilson’s Apples

Poppa Wilson's Apples

“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”  My grandfather, Poppa Wilson, would always create some cryptic game with us grandkids.  It was always fun and it always taught me a lesson I’d as soon remember as forget.  It was my birthday, and we were gathered at his house for the celebration.

One thing you had to know- there was never a right answer with Poppa Wilson. And there was never a wrong one, either. He was the ultimate Devil’s Advocate, disagreeing with any physicist about which colors actually comprise the rainbow, and disagreeing with the pope himself about the flight patterns of angels.

But never call him a “Devil’s Advocate”, per se.  You see, he fought the Devil to a standstill in Venice once, an occasion that caused him obvious angst.  He’d always tell us that he’d tell us that story someday, but he was already pushing 93 years of age.

He stood there in the hallway in his plaid newsboy cap and plaid jacket, hand over his breast pocket, covering the shape of whatever was inside.

“What if I don’t guess, Grandpa?”

“How’s that?”  His ears were probably waxed shut for a decade.  His Einsteinian moustache looked like mouse whiskers as he crinkled his nose.  His nose crinkling was involuntary and endearing.

“What if I already know what’s in your pocket and don’t have to guess?  Then do I still get what’s inside?”

He had a look of mock pain as he backed up.  Poppa Wilson made believe he’d just been shot, hand still on his breast pocket.  “Now, you know that knowing something is cheating, don’t you?  Just like studying for a test, that’s cheating.  How could you ever get a wrong answer if you already know it beforehand?  It lowers your odds to zero, and anything having zero odds is simply not fair.”

Grandpa liked banter very much.  He used it to teach, he used it to play, and he did it better than anyone else I’ve met.  Sometimes when a person wants to be on a roll, you just need to push them to get going and let gravity take its course.  So I baited him.  “I disagree.  I think knowing is better than guessing.”  When you jockeyed an argument with Poppa, you never really knew what your own opinion was.  Or his, for that matter.  All you knew was that he disagreed.

“Why, it goes against nature, son.  There’s no such thing as knowing anything.  The natural world guesses, don’t you see?  One day, it guessed me and you right into existence!  Maybe to you I look like a dotty old goat, but I’ve read a couple of books.  Scientists say atoms pop into and out of reality all the time!  So when the teacher asks you, ‘what’s one apple plus another apple?’ you just tell her, ‘Hey!  There’s no way I can know that!  One of the apples might disappear suddenly, or another apple might show up out of nowhere.’”

I laughed at that.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the oversimplification of quantum physics or because he forgets I’m in college, where we don’t add apples.

He patted his jacket pocket and smiled in between nose crinkles.  He added surprised blinking to his endearing involuntary tics, apparently.  “Well?  What’s in my pocket?”

I told him.  “I saw you putting your car keys in your plaid jacket last night, Poppa Wilson.  And I overheard you telling Grandma that you’d be giving me your car for my 18th birthday.  My ears aren’t as bad as yours, you know.”  I smiled at him.  Something about his good nature rubbed off on you.

He uncovered his hand from the jacket.  Then he laughed at me.  “Right answer, wrong pocket.”  His jacket- this jacket, didn’t have a pocket.  It must have been new, but it looked so much like the other one.

Grandpa reached into his right pant leg and took out the key to the large American automobile in the driveway.  “There’s no way of knowing something until you find it out for sure, my boy.  Until then, all you have is your best guess.”  He dropped the key into my stunned open palm, crinkled his nose, and then walked over to the couch.

The Ugly Witch, by Joseph Barone



One day through the forest of the Wayward Wood,


A prince rode his steed and wore a dark hood.


He strode away, far far from his castle,


Away from the marriage which he thought was a hassle.


A wife betrothed to, not chosen by, his hand,


To rule alongside him one day all the land.


When he chanced to ride past a maiden near a brook,


Who wept so loudly and violently that she shook.


“Excuse me, my lady” he approached near the stream,


“But those tears coming down make your eyes gleam.


What is the meaning of all this sadness?


Surely you can find a reason to rejoice with gladness?”




“I’m sorry good sir, that you must see me this way,”


She cried aloud.  “I’m not having a good day.


You see I’m a witch and my coven cast me out.”


His eyes widened.


“What is that all about?”




At the question she wailed til it subsided to sobs.


“I apologize if my question is a burglar that robs-


If I’m overstepping by asking, if I’m being nosy.”


She shook her head. 


“My my, your cheeks are quite rosy.”


“No sir I do not mind if you ask me my trouble,


Especially not after they burst my bubble.”



“What bubble is that, good lady, good witch?”


“That I’m ugly of course,” she said with a twitch.




“Indeed, with many a gruesome flaw.”


At that the prince dropped his jaw.  “Come again?”



“I never fit in with the looks of my sisters,”


“Thank goodness,”


“They were able to land so many misters.”


“Is that so?”




“I haven’t a wart, a crooked nose or even a bulbous chin!”


“Thank goodness again!”


“Without such beauty, in life I cannot win.”


Depressed, she sat down near the stream bed


And left the hooded prince scratching his hooded head.



“Their skins are all vomit-green and bumpy,


Mine is smooth and in no way lumpy.”


“And that’s bad?”


 “My teeth are all straight and white and even,”




“I can’t get them yellow no matter how often I clean them.


Their disgust and disdain powers their magic”


“You see, I find that quite tragic.”


“But they don’t- they’re happy and successful and active-


My sense of humor and personality are so unattractive!”



The prince removed his hood and went to where she sat


She looked at his crown and asked, “what is that, a hat?”


He took her in his arms and gave her true love’s first kiss.


He looked into her eyes and said, “What?  Is something amiss?”


“Why did you kiss me, stranger?  What did you do?”


“The witches must have put a spell on you,


To make you blind to how beautiful and wonderful you are,


Your light and your smile outshines any star.


It would be my honor if you rode with me.”


“Where are we riding?” she asked with glee. 


“Away from something?”


“No.  Towards it.  Let’s go!


Together we ride, together we glow.”



And onward they rode and were happy ever after- no less,


And lived in love as prince and princess.


I’m Invisible, by Joseph Barone


I’m Invisible, I’m Invisible! The girl I like doesn’t see me.

I’m invisible!  What a thunderous woe it is to be me!

When I see her I melt

Like ice cream in summer.

If I told her how I felt

It might turn into a bummer.

I hope she likes me too!

Or learns my name at least.

Or notices my smile too,

Or says hello at least.


When I see her I always get nervous

The butterflies in my stomach all a-circus

Juggling and clowning and running and clowning!

She makes me smile, she gives me pain,

The ache of love is such a strain.

It tugs my heart ‘til it’s a noose,

And every bit of strength has broken loose.


I love her laugh and her beaming smile

I wish she would talk to me a while

We can chat about her favorite things…

Like…peaches…dolls and…rings…?

I could look into her eyes,

Her beautiful green…blue…brown eyes?


Maybe I don’t know her as much as I think…

Maybe I don’t- doesn’t that stink?

I know she’s never a mess,

I love her striped…polka dot dress?


What is it about her that I love?

Her eyes, her smile, all of the above?

Through some hard thinking, I think I see

That maybe she’s the one invisible to me.


Love can be selfish, love can be kind

But maybe it’s a road I have to find!

I think each and every one of you would agree,

I have to see her before she can see me.

The Aspara Goose, by Joseph Barone

If you ever were looking for something to do
Head on over to the Veggie Table Zoo.
There’s a wide variety of strange creatures
With less than ordinary features.
There’s Arty Choke, a jolly fellow
Except when his leaves turn yellow.
Further down is DJ Spin Itch, so green,
Big and strong but not so mean.
Best buds are Brock Coalie and Collie Flower
What they lack in size they make up in power.
Walter Cress is married to Ginger,
Hush though.  Both are sensitive, quick to injure.
Let us look to the far corner, there we go-
Entertaining as always is dear sweet Po Tatoe.
But what’s this?  A cage is open, a creature’s on the loose,
The sign says it’s the dreaded Aspara Goose!
It might be small, but it’s very mighty
It makes even some grown-ups frighty.
But don’t be scared of this stem,
I guarantee you it’s a hidden gem.
It might stink and it might smell,
However it gets along with everyone so well.
You’ll have a good time, there’s no excuse,
When you’re with the dreaded Aspara Goose.