Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Bronco John was homeless, a man of the street.
He'd raced rats for years, and always got beat.

Then one day he'd had it with all of the rules,
And dismissed from his life the material tools,
To get by on handouts, like french fries and tea,
He'd yell out to no one, "At last, I am free!"

Bronco bought his clothes from a second-hand store,
Leather shoes for a five bucks, a wool coat for more.
And when he grew lonely, way deep in his mind,
He imagined a girlfriend no one could find.

Her name was Puff, the invisible friend,
Poor Bronco, some said, had gone round the bend.

In late spring and all summer Bronco slept in the park,
A hollow tree on wet nights, kept dry by the bark.

Cold autumn nights were, for Bronco, the worst.
And then came upon him, December the first.

The first snow was brutal, almost did him in,
When he tried to keep warm in a large garbage bin.
It was so cold outside there was no one around,
No people with coins, no one to hound.

So food was a problem, as well as the frost,
One mean old scrooge said to Bronco, "Get lost!"
When he tried to walk into a cozy cafe,
To keep both his hunger and frostbite at bay.

For Bronco not only never paid for his tea,
But he'd take a chair for Puff, who no one could see.
And if someone ungraciously sat down upon her,
He'd jump up, arms flailing, and yell "Bloody Murder!"

Money was tight, goodwill at a low,
So the news that came next was, for Bronco, a blow.
The local soup kitchen had run out of cash,
And so, for the homeless, no Christmas Day bash.

No turkey, no stuffing, no pudding or cake.
There was no give this year, just a whole bunch of take.

For the first time in years, poor Bronco was scared.
He was freezing and starving, and nobody cared.

Then arrived Christmas Eve, as cold as they come,
With nowhere to go, Bronco felt like a bum.

Peering through a shop window, all his favorite things,
Sweet biscuits and chocolate -- God, how the wind stings!
Yuletide decorations and pretty colored lights,
Dates, nuts and mincemeat--such marvelous sights.

Bronco pushed through the door, and out of the storm,
Shopkeepers be damned, he just had to keep warm.
He looked back to the window and out at the snow,
It would only be seconds till they told him to go.

A Christmas staff party was well under way,
With eggnog and rum punch to brighten their day.
Bronco crouched in a corner, biding his time,
Then a stop clerk passed by -- and tossed him a dime!

The shop clerks were merry, and plastered by drink,
One fat lady even gave Bronco a wink.
The staff disappeared one by one out the door,
Leaving poor Bronco alone in the store.

Counters stacked high, with goodies and treats,
Being locked in this shop sure beat walking the streets.
Bronco munched some milk chocolate, what heaven, he mused,
It was time to make up for a season abused.

He plugged in a heater, basked in its glow,
All fuzzy and warm, he was ready to go,
Off to the record stand, for something to play,
Bing Crosby's White Christmas, there was little to say,
As tears ran down Bronco's rough unshaven cheeks,
He went back two thousand and eighty-seven weeks,
To a Christmas he'd had when he was a boy,
With a loving mom and dad, and a Santa Claus toy.

He remembered their fir tree, its ornaments of glass,
Carolers singing and a cheery midnight mass.
Bronco stood up, looked around the large store,
Eyed the fake trees standing near the back door.
"This one will do," Bronco reached for a tree,
He tallest and fullest he ever did see.

He decked it with candy canes and garland of gold,
With red bulbs and colored lights, and then, feeling bold,
Closed his eyes, made a wish, and reached for the top,
Crowned the tree with an angel, it took only a hop.

"Just like I remember," Bronco said to no one,
The tree was aglow, not a branch left un-done.

He went searching for presents, cigars and fine candy,
Some perfume for Puff and a bottle of brandy.

For his feet, leather slippers, and two stockings to hang,
And he paused while outside the old church bells rang.

"Puff, it's midnight!" he cried. "Merry Christmas we two."
Said Puff, "Thank you Bronco, Merry Christmas to you!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


When Papa Duke was about ten years-old, at a New York barber shop he encountered baseball great Hank Greenberg.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Aleksandre Isayevich Solzhenitsyn.

T'was his birthday yesterday.

He stood up to the bastards.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010


On this day seventy-four years ago, King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

Friday, December 10, 2010


PAPA DUKE's portrait of his mother-in-law, Ida STANLEY, born this day in 1901.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


PAPA DUKE must have been thinking of Picasso and Lorena Bobbitt when he painted this one...

Monday, December 6, 2010


It was nighttime around me, the wee hours, I think,
Nature had called, so I'd left my warm bed.
An alien being popped out of my toilet,
A big-eyed bald midget, the color of lead.

"Don't call your dad, he'll say it's a dream,"
Said the alien to me, "Things are what they seem.
I've come a long way," he continued to say,
"It took me three years, five months and a day.

"I'm space-lagged, hung-over, and now dripping wet,"
Said the alien to me, "but I'm so glad we've met!"

I was too numb to shout, I was too shocked to run,
"It's time," said the alien, "time to have fun."

He jumped from the toilet and ran out the door,
Leaving puddles of water all over the floor.

Out into the hallway, and down fourteen stairs,
This fast little creature seemed free of all cares.

"C'mon down here," he hollered, looking straight up at me.
"What I need most right now is a mug of hot tea!"

I followed down to the kitchen, set kettle to boil,
As my new friend, the alien ate aluminum foil.

He drank the hot tea, threw it down in one swallow,
Then motioned to me, as he walked I should follow.

Out into the yard, a night sky full of stars,
The Big Dipper, a half-moon, plus Venus and Mars.

The alien looked up, he oo-hed and he aa-hed,
He said, "This is fantastic... if a trifle bit odd."

He seemed quite confused, as if in a trance,
Then he twirled around, as if trying to dance.

"I thought Earth had four moons, and a night sky of green,"
Said the alien, befuddled, "It's the first time I've been.
I need a vacation, and that's part why I'm here,
Some fun and adventure—and maybe a beer.

"Let's throw a party, catch a few rays,
I haven't got long, just a couple of days.

“But I do have a mission, traveling all the way here,
To learn about something you earthlings call fear.
If you assist with my quest, you dear little boy,
At the end of my visit I'll give you a toy."

"My fear," I said slowly, "is a bully named Rick.
I fear him so bad, my stomach gets sick."

"But why," said the alien, "what makes you afraid?"
"You kidding?" said I. "It's tough in fourth grade.

"What with homework, and fifth-graders calling us names,
And a bully named Rick always spoiling our games,
I spend half my day staying out of harm's way,
Rick calls me 'that dork-face who’s probably gay'."

"But why?" asked the alien. "What will he gain,
By embarrassing you and causing you pain?"

"You'd have to ask Rick," said I with a smirk,
"But he'll probably just call you a bald midget jerk."

"Will I feel some fear?" said the alien, eyes wide,
Feeling close to his goal after such a long ride.

"Rick will make you so fearful, you'd rather be dead."
I then said goodnight, and returned to my bed.

The alien was gone, when I awakened next day,
I trudged off to school, feeling less than okay
Cos I knew Rick would be waiting, with plenty to say.

And there he was -- Rick! -- with my alien friend!
Oh my God, my heart stopped, this is the end!

I felt so much fear, I thought I would cry,
No, the fear was much worse, I was going to die.

"Confront your fear!" yelled the alien to me,
"The worst thing to do is turn round and flee."

So I stood there, I did, my eyes looking at Rick,
Wondering what he'd do first: hit, spit or kick.

I kept staring for hours, without making a sound,
The silence was eerie as I firmly stood ground.

As for what happened next, it still makes no sense,
My fear was all gone, I felt serene, not tense.

Then Rick finally blinked, he went his own way,
The alien winked, said, "It's a wonderful day.

"If we only stop fearing, the things that we fear,
they'll haunt us no more, and they’ll just disappear."

Just as he promised, a gift he did give me,
No toy, but a lesson, which now set me free.

From that day on forward, I feared nothing at all.
I walked and I talked like I was seven feet tall.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Today is the birthday of America's iconic comedian/filmmaker.