The Beetle and the Gnat

“The sand is very sandy,” said the beetle to the gnat.
“Well that’s a very silly thing, for everyone knows that,”
The gnat retorted to the beetle, who’d dug a beautiful hole
At the very very very edge
Where the ocean had taken hold
And filled the hole far sooner than he ever could have told.

The beetle stood so very still and then began to cry.
Seeing such great sadness, the gnat thought to reply,
“I’ll help you dig another, if you’ll only let me try.”
For the gnat was very sorry for the beetle’s predicament
When faced with miles of sand, just where should he begin?
Why, by the boardwalk! Yes of course, the gnat decided so
They took their shovels and their pails and began to heave and throw
The sand into the air, where it landed in a pile
And grew so tall it seemed to them to be a hundred miles.

It grew and grew until the sun disappeared from view
It grew and grew till moon and stars could not be seen, tis true!
So dig they did for several months
Till England’s shores were seen
And France was next
And Italy
So far away from home
That soon the two unhappy souls put down their pails and hoes.

“A hotdog I would like right now,” said the beetle to the gnat.
“Oh do put on some sauerkraut,” and with that the gnat did shout
“But they are far away, you know, on the ocean’s other side,
Where first we started shoveling,” and both sat down to cry.

“I wish the stars and moon would shine their brilliant, dazzling light,”
“I wish we’d never dug a hole before thinking what was right,
For had I thought ahead back then I’d never have proceeded
To dig so much and so obscure the light I cherished near us.”

The beetle did agree with this, and thought it could be righted
So in the night they blew and blew,
The sand fell left and right
And in a day or two or more
The stars began to shine
And soon the sun did light the dawn and with this they did smile.
“Let’s just hold hands, sit down again, and dream of piles of sand!”

©2016 Ellen Kostroff

I Just Want To Kill Myself


walks but is dead
been dead many years
even before her eyesight started going
blaming blindness for her downfall

to her entire life from birth to a walking death of 97 years
she waits
no expectations
nothing to make her whole
and so it is with her children
two unformed worthless lives
i am one of them

i, the epitome of nothing
wish i was in the womb and aborted


Oh GSD! How I Love You! said the Weimaraner


The Weimaraner and the German shepherd were the very best of friends
Hand in hand they strolled the land, far and wide through forest glens.
Then one fine day, from east to west, as clear a day could be,
Something, unbeknownst to them, was decidedly not right
And being very fearful, they fell into a fright.
“If you so please, and if you might, look far into the distance.”
And the Weimaraner huffed and puffed, as he spoke with much insistence.
Now the German shepherd, young and foolish, took care to do what pleased
So carefully she turned her head, as she began to sneeze
For she was prone, as you must know, to various reactions
And even with the right precautions
Her nose began to quiver, her body shook and quaked
Her head went back, her legs a jumble, and quick as be began to tumble,
Rolling past the Weimaraner, fast as a summer breeze.
“I say, that little gal of mine is getting rather sassy,”
Though none was there to hear or care, or his brilliant words to pass to.
His legs unfolded, and then his ears, and they began to flap,
Such a sight he was, as he flew past streams, and over the treetops,
For though they did intend to, without warning they did land too
Smack in the middle of a herd of cows, mooing softly while eating lunch,
Munching grass, so brilliantly green
With shades of chartreuse and violet, it seemed
That the cows were confused or possibly drunk
Though ranting and raving they were never mean,
But would stand and complain, in a long steady stream,
About family and friends and the Queen of England.
“It’s futile to talk to cows, and quite out of the question.”
So the friends declined, and in no time, slipped away with much discretion
As off they ran, hand in hand
Such a pair of friends you never saw
On to adventure, bound to explore
From the tip of Maine to the Florida Keys
And on to England and France if you please
With a stop in Amsterdam and Italy too,
They even ate chocolate in Belgium, it’s true,
Then back to the States for a loud how-DE-doo.
The Weimaraner and the Shepherd ran and ran with grace and with ease
Laughing with joy, and an occasional sneeze.


Happy Seasons and May Holiday Lights Glow So Bright!

Oh It’s Hard

#7Part I
Your rules
My life
I bend my knee
Genuflect, genuflect
Praise God! How many rules you make in God’s name
God’s virtue everlasting
By your rules.

Say what?
God speaks to you and we obey
Dear God
I too am a supplicant
Am I not worthy of your voice in my ears?
Aligning the world to your ways

There are no interlopers
Just you
But no
Just me
You see, you don’t exist.
How silly people are
So needy
They find existence overwhelming without a guiding hand
The effort to be without you
I am, therefore I exist
I don’t—need you
You are a contrary to my existence.

Glory be to God!
Glory be to Man!
Glory be to blood spilled in the name!
The name is one!
The name is all!
I am—who am I.

Not so if there is no God
But there are so many
And that, dear friend, is the problem.

Part II
In this time of blood and warmth
(Meant I good tidings and cheer, how blood poured forth, cannot be told)
So I repeat (repent?)
In this time, good tidings to you,
When love abounds (why not year round?)
I wish that all were gathered near
In joy and much convivial cheer
This time bodes well (though ill can seem)
For jackets downed (the geese do scream)
Fat woolen socks warm our feet (the sheep, now sheered, are prime meat)
This said, we gather round the fire
(the trees cry out as they expire)
Ah, what a sorry state it is
When joy is but one half
the other undermining
So is the way we have conspired
To hide the misery created
Behind belief that God inspired
Our indignation of people fated to expire.
So be it.

A Christmas tale is in the making
The deer, so charming to our eyes
Starves, as winter’s cold sets in and snow abounds
Too deep to forage in the land.
Death overtakes us all.

Merry Happy Chanukah and Christmas

Chanukah and Christmas Greetings

The duck and the pigeon

The duck and the pigeon met by chance
Stowed away on a boat to France
They hopped a truck parked at the dock
Then drove to Montmartre and on to Chartres
And while they journeyed to Par´e
They each told stories of their families.

Arriving in Paris, they leapt from the truck
The pigeon danced wildly with the waddling duck
What a funny sight these two birds were
Walking the streets, looking in stores
Seeing the dazzling wares galore.

“That hat would make a lovely present
To match my sister’s new-born pheasant
And for my mother I’ll get a pot
She loves to bake and cook a lot.”
“That’s great,” the pigeon did chime in
“My wife will like that shiny pin.
And for my brother I’ll get suspenders
And for my sister, a pair of book enders!”
So off the duck and pigeon strolled
From street to street and boulevard
Admiring everything in sight,
They did this long into the night.

The happy pair had a grand old time
They visited the countryside again and again
To see where grapes were grown and then
Where Van Gogh painted and even Cezanne
Before returning to Par´e
To take a train to the ferry
Where their journey home would begin
Loaded with presents for family and friends.

September Stickball


Along the sidelines they stood,
while the sticks flailed wildly,
boys running screaming round the sidewalk-chalked bases.

We were only girls, unwelcome to the rhymes and rhythms of the male psyche,
as testosterone rode high in these ten-year-old men.
We cheered and screamed, blew kisses and taunts,
giggled madly and pulled down skirts,
afraid to be noticed
yet afraid not to be.

Our fathers soon came home
some in high spirits, others in despair.
Soon words registered–angry, sad, laughing,
Then mothers called us to dinner.
Sticks and balls dropped,
arguments about who won and who owed what,
while we picked up our school books, and ran down the street,
to set the table and serve dinner,
while our brothers boasted about their prowess,
taking their princely places at the table.

%- ) (:-)

Alas alack and near and far
i run and trip— the ground is hard
my feet are sore my hands are scraped
my knees are weary
i sorely ache
what good is this, i cannot say
to exercise is such a chore
like scrubbing floors
and kitchen sinks
and even places that sometimes stink.
oh woe and wishful thinking all
a cup of coffee i do recall
is what would please my very soul
instead of feeling oh so small
while mother cleans my cuts and scrapes
you’d think ’twas seven, not 48
or nine or ten, or 52
it doesn’t matter, i feel like two.
so come tomorrow, i’ll try again
to run with grace and ease— count 10!

no dog waiting

I always forget that there is no dog waiting at home. Always. And surprised, each time, then saddened, as my expectations vanish, as the air, or the ghosts of dogs past. What is wrong with me?
He is not here, not the last one, or the one before that, or the one before that…but they all hang around, tempting me to believe in their existence. And why not? How comforting, when the wind howls and the rain hits the roof so hard you keep a lookout for leaks, yes, as if they were here, to protect, to comfort. Each time, each and every time, I steep myself in delusions of comfort, safety, blissful ignorance, when there is none.

After the realization…

So you enter your house, put down your keys, head to the stereo, select a jazz CD, get a drink. Does it matter it’s only 2pm? No. Time and wine are independent of each other. Each time you indulge is a new experiment. The first drink you had when the bottle was brought home was sufficient. The second day, also, one drink was sufficient. After that it increased. Two on the third day, three on the fourth day. Today is the seventh day. Today I believe I have lost all hope of maintaining anything resembling a reasonable intake. Today I am about to finish my third glass. Today I have discarded caring, lost all empathy for myself, lost all reasonable connection to the outside. Today, this moment, I am going downstairs to refill my glass.
Heaven help me.


I am a copy of myself
Just offer me a cigarette
And though you know I do not smoke
I dare to say I will not choke.

Now this is very odd indeed
I run and run and run with speed
This makes me feel that I am free
For trouble seems to follow me
No matter where or when, you please
I usually begin to bleed.

Make no mistake (perhaps just one)
Mistakes are rarely very fun
Avoid temptation to reply
I say this, but I don’t know why
So if you are inclined to write
I hope to find that you’re polite!

Love Endures

Tell me when autumn comes
For I must leave, you see
Tell me when the first leaf falls
For I must set you free
Tell me when the rose withers on its thorned crown
For when the rose has lost its hue I cannot comfort thee.

I leave though I am pained at thoughts
Of seeing you no more
I leave though grieved I am at circumstances
That carry me off shore.

Oh, tell me now, before I go
That you still love me so
Tell me, quick, as winter nears
That your love shall endure.


Flesh to Earth

I weep for one who cannot hear
But nonetheless I weep
The tears seep through my hardened heart
Into my swollen breast
Shattering my mind apart
That I may still find rest.

Soldier, ride from battle, ride
Broken mind and soul
Ride until the heavens part
And swallow, one and all.

Weep, weep, weep and then
Turn into the wind
Till rain and tears are one, my love
And flesh to earth becomes.
Loneliness dissolves to tears
Sickness eats my heart
Eyes that sorrow blinds
And the world slips apart.

In death are we not made whole?
For who can say this is not so
Can testify to life beyond
If there be one, then let us go
If there be none, let the dead rest
Free of pain and sorrow’s weariness.

Lament not the passing
Yours draws nearer each hour.

Nearer is mine
So near your asking holds it
Mine, trivial to the world around
I would dissolve this union of flesh to bone
Could I hold to my resolve
Left with promises unfulfilled
Life continues
So seemingly even
Smiles correct
Heart drawn and quartered

Oh, had you not asked!

It’s 9° with a Slight Chance of Snow

oil painting from the Sand Lake Ambulance collection – for sale

Cold settles cruelly in your head
It chases you quickly into bed
You cover every part you can
Yet still it clings, so unwelcome.

Open the cupboards
And there it is
Hiding in corners
And dishes and things.
Take off your gloves
And it appears
Slip them back on, and whoosh! Disappears!
Open your coat, it rushes back in
Wrap on a scarf, add on a hat,
And so you presume that is that!
It’s crushed for a moment,
Put in its place
But then it strikes back
It lashes your face.

Oh, cold, how I wish you would go, you must know
I shiver to think of all the snow
That lingers behind as you exit the scene
It stays for a week, sometimes longer it seems.

‘Tis very annoying to shovel so much
I’d rather be drinking from a tea-cup
And savoring winter on the inside
Watching through windows, people slip and slide
While laying about, safe and secure
Dreaming of summer spent at the shore.

Ah! Snow!

oil painting from the Sand Lake Ambulance collection-for sale

Ah! Snow!
Those tearful winds do blow and blow
Blow round and round
Above the ground
And only they know where they’re bound.

Oh! What wonders are!
No snow did settle on my car
But seem it did to parry first
Then hurry with determined bursts
And blow and blow determinedly
Into my neighbor’s yard, you see!

‘Tis sorry I be for his grief
To shovel snow, so many feet
But next time I shall not escape
From winter’s rage and stormy fate.
Yet pleased I am that for today
I may remain in bed and safe!

Oh, That I Was Shakespearean

In France they liked me yesterday
Today it was the USA
Tomorrow who knows where they’ll be

Oil painting part of Sand Lake Ambulance collection for sale

Oil painting part of Sand Lake Ambulance collection for sale

As long as they do follow me.
I know it’s been some time since posting
But that should not indict my hosting
Just say hello, I’ll say adieu
Should you so like me, I shall too
Though rhymes be silly, fractious things
I hope they put a smile on wings
That take you soaring, flying high
For miles and miles up in the sky.
Oh, that I was Shakespearean
Your heart would open up and sing!

I Saw It On The News


It’s 5°

I start to freeze–

December always makes me sneeze.

My body shakes from nose to knees

And I begin to cough and wheeze.

Then January starts the year

With Polar Bears in bathing shorts

Madly running on the beach,

Diving into waters deep.

Now blizzard warnings warp my mind–

You better not delay.

Winds will howl all through the night

To drive the snow away

And bury cars in six-foot drifts

While all you do is watch and wait.

So open up your pantry doors

And see what lies inside.

Your larder looks a bit up-tight

It hasn’t food to last the night–

It’s just a case of fight or flight!

Get going while there still is light

Subway Love


To Massi


problems and worries
one on the other
way too serious
why do I bother
so reading is better
than writing right now
but thanks for inquiring
I’ll try a lot harder.

You Light Up…


oh my, look at me light up!

Parked Cars in NYC

No spaces found. You’d think
cars would be anathema in this town
of subways running 24/7, and car thieves prowling round
Mercedes lining every street
BMWs looking oh so neat.
You’d think they’d smarten up,
but not in this town.
In this town they run around, cell phones held out,
oblivious to sounds
of footsteps, and I wonder who will lose
Shattered glass tells tales of thieves
and late-night news weaves stories of grief–
cellphones ripped from unsuspecting heads.
New Yorkers.
Stupid, for growing up on these streets, nothing’s ever left to chance.
You know better living here.
Tuck your jewelry in your blouse, turn your rings around. And sneakers.
Can’t outrun the bad guys in heels.
So jack my car–I have insurance.


Snow, sleet, rain and wind–
tonight is New York City’s time of umbrage
and discontent, whipping through streets,
screaming stormy weather in its path,
thunderous winter loosing electricity from her skies.
Streets slick, people wearied from the pounding snow
slow their steps, lest they fall–
this night creeps on till morning light
brings promises of sunny skies.

Snow is black in this city of endless life,
as cars roll by, buses filled with diesel fuel,
trains and dogs and people crushing it to hardened masses
the pristine flakes, now turned into a city’s detritus.
Images of white are cast in the mind
or painted apartment walls, with childhood memories lost in dreams.
The city’s snow has always been black.

A century before
when coal belched forth and sooted streets enveloped her
people, suffocating all. Black then
black now.

Our city was never white
once the white man stepped on shore,
the Dutch first to claim the tip and strike her into streets of mud and foulness
from her bowels released.
Count plagues and fever many,
as sewage and garbage, human waste and trash polluted waterways,
illness felled the poor, the rich fared better but not more so
that all succumbed to dysentery’s toll,
and 3,500 die of cholera 200 years later
while city bankers run money instead of water
through New York’s streets.

Perhaps snow is white in New England,
or in the land of Robert Frost,
or in Wyoming or Ohio,
but not here.
City dirt covers streets and parks alike,
there is no remedy,
so many in so little space continues unabated the grayness
cast from sky to street.
Even a summer’s heat bears no brilliance.
So odd that sometimes sky blue bears radiance unforeseen
as in that day more than a decade past
when death in contrast made a city gray and black as night.

David Bowie Revisited

I fell down
It wasn’t far
But in that distance life shot past
with indeterminate speed
I was the moon, falling,
David Bowie gliding to earth
Lost in a desert
Alien to myself as to all around
I grabbed a midnight Pan Am and headed to New York,
Landed in Idlewild,
Memories not yours.
You, the simple one I used to be,
After all the searching
Found life was only what I needed.
Shadows crawled out from the walls,
Dreams of freedom being mine
As you fell into cracks and crevices so small
That hopes of retrieving you were insane.

Sentenced: The NYTimes: January 22, 2013


103 years, Judge Ingram said,
as Weberman lowered his head,
charged with crimes of acting out,
found guilty, on 59 counts,
child sexual abuse, towards a 12 year-old girl.
His religion could not excuse,
his heinous acts, his moral turpitude,
an unlicensed therapist upon an unwitting soul.

“I would cry until the tears went dry,”
the victim sighed with head held high.
Now 18, married, she moved away,
her home in another place to stay,
for society still perverts the crime
to wrong the woman victimized.

Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes got it right,
wresting power from the powerful,
letting law see the light,
so victims will know their voices are heard
and justice once more rises at dawn,
to challenge the dark, one day at a time.

Subway in NYC

The trains pass, crowded with humanity,
a woman, crushed against riders,
with hair askew and packages in hand,
grabs hold the car’s gleaming pole,
struggling for space
as a myriad of hands,
unrelenting, begrudge her safety.
Out the window more trains pass,
each bears burdens of day’s woes,
work undone, promises broken,
jobs lost, some won,
though weariness surfaces in all–
the city takes its toll.
The woman exits, with little relief,
her evening a reflection of her day,
as cook and clean fill the hours,
till slumber calls
and sweet caresses of dreams obscure the city’s madding screams.

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