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Ode to Independence Day

With thanks and apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, author of “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas”


’Twas the day of the Fourth, when all thru' the park

Not a creature was stirring — not a chirp, not a bark;

The bunting was hung on the bandstand with care,

Old Glory was limp in the hot, humid air.

The children were napping, a blanket for beds,

While visions of fireworks danc'd in their heads,

And Mom in her capris, and I in few clothes,

Had just settled our brains for a hot summer’s doze —

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the chaise to see what was the matter.

Sunlight on the breast of the dry brown grass,

Gave the luster and sheen of new foundered brass;

Then, what to my wondering eyes should alight,

A legion of choppers, red, blue and white,

With a little old gnome, so tanned and cool,

I knew in a moment it must be a ghoul.

More rapid than eagles his bikers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:

“Now! Harley, now! Honda, Indian and Ironhorse,

“On! Yamaha! Suzuki! And Kawasaki, of course.”

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the shelter the bikers they flew,

With their bags full of sparklers — and cherry bombs, too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard a big bang

As the gnome lit his fuse along with his gang.

As I covered my ears, and was turning around,

The little old man approached with a bound:

He was dress'd all in black, from his foot to his head,

And his clothes were so tarnish'd, they filled me with dread;

A bundle of rockets was flung on his back,

And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly

That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

Set all the canisters; then turn'd with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose

And giving a nod, on his Harley he rose.

He cranked it to life, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —

Happy Fourth of July, and do it up right.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.