Ribbons & toes


For the Christmas of

my sixteenth year,

I wanted one thing over all else.

It was my most brilliant idea, too.


So much so, I went straight to

the place of my parents work,

and bounding in,

immediately declared that

I wanted a new car for Christmas.


My dad and mom both stopped working,

and looked over at me.

My mom put down her coal shovel.


“Why do you think you deserve a new car?” My mom asked.


“Well, I said, thoughtfully,

“all of my friends have new cars.”


But my mom was clever and

prepared for such an answer.

“If all of your friends

were to jump off a bridge,” she asked,

“would you?”


“No.” I replied.


“All right,” she said.

“But would you for a new car?”




That Christmas morning

I awoke to find a long

red ribbon tied to my big toe.

What’s this? I asked myself.

Could it be?


Excitedly, I got out of bed

& began to follow the ribbon as it

led me out of my room.


The ribbon led me:


down the hallway,

into the living room,

past the Christmas tree,

into the foyer

out the front door,

over the moat,

across the yard, and

into our driveway (!)


Where it then


up and around a tree,

before …


going back across the yard,

over the moat,

through the front door,

into the foyer

past the Christmas tree,

through the living room,

down the hallway, and

back into my room.



to my great disappointment,

I discovered that it was

tied to my other toe.







The circus

I remember the Christmas

when the circus came to town.

A few of the kids in my class

skipped school

to see the show.


There was a murmuring

in class as

those of us remaining

began to notice the

growing number of

empty desks.


“Skipped school to see the circus?!”

We whispered among ourselves.



However, the next day,

many of the desks

remained empty, and

our teacher told us that

our classmates were

in the hospital suffering from

severe poisoning,

but they would be OK.


Furthermore, she explained,

it wasn’t the circus that

was in town,

but a home that was being

fumigated for insects.



there was


in class


“A home being fumigated for insects?!”

We whispered among ourselves.


To me





The bigger they are, the harder i run.


A watched pot never boils,

it only becomes

really self-conscious


Each time I watch the film,


I see something different


Before getting assistance at a

magic store,

you should have to take a number.

Any number.


Representing myself in court

would be like

having a really good

looking fool for a lawyer.



“good old fashioned horse-sense,”

stops at eating hay.


What is the point of owning an

infinity pool,

when I know I’ll never live long

enough to get its full effect?


Though they are called,

‘disposable’ lighters,

it doesn’t get any easier

the more time

you spend with them.


It seems like the dinosaurs had it coming.




Happy Thanksgiving!


“Big Cats in Humboldt”

by Mary Cellini

©2020 all rights reserved


Circus Wars

Lo! The ‘great’ war

between the two

circus companies was

about to commence.


The Ringmaster called for

the clowns,

he called for the geeks,

he called for the flying elephants


the ferocious lions.


“Suit up and arm ye-selves,” He cried.

“We’ll teach those second-rate interlopers!”


Several hundred yards away

the other circus was fast asleep.

Unaware of their

impending doom.


Cried the Ringmaster,

“Bison Bob’s Wild West Vaudeville & Indian War Battle Reenactment Show,

will rue the day

they ever heard

the name,

Col. Beauregard ‘s Famous Flying Traveling Circus & Side Show Supreme of 1873!


At that moment,

the strongman wheeled out

the mighty circus cannon,

and aimed it across the river,

toward the location of the

rival circus.


A hush fell among the circus crowd.


“Fire” Said the Ringmaster.


Boom went the cannon!


Aaaaaghhhhhhhhhhh! cried the human cannonball.




The gargling man

My pre-school years

were spent at the Torino apartments,

in San Carlos, California,

which was about a full days journey outside

of San Francisco, by ocean liner.


Those years total some of my

most beloved child-hood memories,

even if, after all this time,

they are less whole memories

than they are just

unconnected fragments of things

that I am fairly certain happened to me.



I can still remember

few people from

that apartment building.


There was Josh, he was my age,

and lived in an apartment upstairs

from ours, and Josh had

more monopoly game board money

than anybody I had ever met,

before or since.


There was Mette,

who was a little younger than myself,

and my most complete memory of her

was that she always seemed to have

a couple of lego pieces handy,

if needed,

and, indeed, some-times they were.


Then there was the Gargling Man …

He loved in our building, as well,

and he was the great mystery of

my early days on this planet.


“… And the Gargling Man gargles.

Gargling his life away.

How many times

did he gargle to-day?

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 …5 …

(from a 19th century French children’s jump rope song.)


Now there two schools of thought on the who and what of the Gargling Man.


It could be that,

in the design of the apartment building,

his bathroom was close to my bedroom,

and so, it goes to say,

the only time I would have been aware of

his presence was when he was in the bathroom,

getting ready for work,

or, preparing for bed.

Or, …


And this is my particular school of thought,

maybe the Gargling Man was just always gargling.


Which is correct?

No one can say. 


My mom swears

I am totally exaggerating the entire thing,

in particular this next part,

which she claims I

“cut from whole cloth”.

But I know what I saw.


For this one time,

I happened to be coming out

of my apartment,

when at the exact same time,

the Gargling Man was coming out of his.

Startled, I took an immediate step back.

For there he was,

as tall as a tree,

head cocked slightly back,

mouth wide open,

minty smell.



I squeaked a hello.

He glanced, nodded,

and said, “Hng-gar-o”.


I swear that is true.


But then, just like that,

one day the Gargling Man was gone.

I’d lay in my bed at night and

listen for the tell-tale sounds,

but there were none.


And for our time left remaining in the building,

a part of me continued to wonder … and worry.


“What will become of the Gargling Man?”

I would ask my dad.

But he would just look at me funny and say,

“I have no idea what that boy is talking about.”


Then, I guess, I forgot all about it.


That is, until one night,

many years later.

I was much older,

having just returned home for Winter break from college.


I happened to be up late,

watching a popular late night host on TV,

and the announcer said,

“Next up, actor, Mike Lookinland.”


But I must have mis-heard him,

because for a second,

I thought the announcer had said,

the ‘Gargling Man’.


And for that one moment in time,

I was so fucking proud.

Scan 9

the author, at about that same time.

Up the chain

I once joined a UFO cult.

My initiation was, surprisingly,

very brief


I signed some papers,

was fitted for a robe,

the leader said a few words,

and then I was immediately


a small dixie-cup of poison.



I didn’t know what to do.

I was aghast.

I said, hold on, one minute, folks,

I thought we built towards this!



“Taughannock Falls”

by Mary Cellini


Trefology’s on the moon

I dreamt that I was an astronaut

on the moon.


There I was, in my moon-suit,

searching for moon-rocks,

when what did I find,

stuck on the bottom of my space-boot,

but the most curious thing

I had ever seen on the moon,

a pirate treasure map!


Buried treasure on the moon?

But where?


It seemed too fantastic to be true.

Was I dreaming?

I asked Mission Control to pinch me, to be sure,

but they said my suit was not equipped

for remote pinches.


Too bad, I thought.

But, no matter, anyway,

because my life as an inter-stellar explorer of new worlds was about to get

a whole lot less boring.


Imagine, only 48 hours earlier,

I had landed on the moon,

without a dime in my pocket,

and, now, by an incredible twist of fate,

I would return to earth,

with enough treasure for a million dimes

and a million pockets.


But it was not without resistance, as

NASA urgently pleaded for me

to ‘get my head on straight’ and

return to earth immediately,

or risk being stranded on the moon



Return to earth without my moon-treasure?


There was treasure to be found!

But where?


Three weeks to the moon-day, later,

I was no closer to finding the treasure

than I had been at the start.

But it was then

I noticed something …


Printed on the flip side of the treasure map,

was the second

most curious thing

I had ever seen on the moon:

a children’s lunch menu!


Suddenly, all the pieces began to fall into place:

the crossword puzzle,

the find-a-word,

Captain Hardee’s ™ suggestion

I ask my parents for

permission to use crayons.


“Good Lord”, I said to myself.


“This is a children’s placemat!


Oh, woe is my tale, dear readers.

What had I done?!”

My hunt for moon-treasure was over.

My spirit crushed.

I was tired, deflated, stranded

and hungry.


And it was right about then, an order

of Captain Hardee’s ™ chicken fingers

was starting to sound pretty good


I grabbed the placement

and put it in my top space-pocket.

“NASA, I think I will staying a little bit longer”, I said, confidently,

to no one in particular.

Above me the lights flickered.


There was a Hardee’s to be found!

But where?



our first adventure outside since March



A dog’s life

It was in late-August,

the day my sister and I

returned home from summer camp

and our old dog Pepper was not

at the door to greet us.


Our father sat us down

and solemnly reminded us

that Pepper

had been with the family

since before we were born …


But then, seeing our faces,

he stopped and

thought for a moment,

and then explained that while we were at camp,

he had sent Pepper

to live on a farm upstate,

— a magical farm!

One where she could play all day long

and live a life of ease.


And, most importantly, he concluded,

it had been mostly Pepper’s decision.


We were suspicious, but

then mom appeared

and presented us with a surprise: 

a puppy

we named,

Pepper 2.


And suddenly, once again, all seemed right in our world.


That is, until, later that night,

just a little past our bed-time …


The phone rang.

I answered.

It was Pepper.


She barked & whimpered

into the phone.

“Pepper is that you?” I asked.

“Are you ok, gurl?”



I heard a human voice say,

“Get that receiver away from Pepper!”

And then the line went dead.


It was then I knew our father had lied.