Flyin’ To Ya

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Descended stairs
to the concourse
where piano played
a moving chorus
and he brought me
to tears
with Hallelujah.
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
always cry at
Cohen’s
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah!

The sun’s not up
this Christmas morn
yet round the world
praise, “Son is born!”
As with the teeming throngs
we’re flyin’ to ya.
Flyin’ to ya,
Flyin’ to ya,
all jammed in aeroplanes
and flyin’ to
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ya.

Though sting of tears
may mist my eyes
My heart still sings
joyous reprise:
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah.

Flyin’ to ya,
Flyin’ to ya.
Not angel’s wings
just aeroplane
that brings me to ya.
Brings me to ya,
brings me to ya.
Halle-ay-ay-ay-lu-u-juah

“Love is not a victory march,”
you cleanse my soul,
uplift my heart
(Hope you knew that.)
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah!

Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah.

Perspective and Praise

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I posted the following on Facebook:
“I can abhor Trump without demonizing his followers.”

This garnered 111 comments from friends, mostly rants demonizing the “other side.” (Le sigh!) In response to my friends’ rants I shared my poem “Base and Blind” to which my friend Tom replied, “I’ve read a lot of your writings. That may be the best.” Tom’s comment got me thinking about my writing from a different perspective, a perspective not of recording and sharing my thoughts, feelings and opinions but rather how my scribblings may be judged by others, a topic I only consider when dealing with extremely sensitive subjects. For the most part I write me with the unspoken invitation of, “Hey, y’all! Here’s what’s going through my head. Wanna see?”

Self-expression, rather than good, better, best (Or for that matter, bad, badder, worst!) is my priority, not the judgement of my readers. (Though I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I like “Likes” and LOVE comments.) Tom’s comment got me thinking about how my writings are viewed by me versus readers.

I started writing poems for friends decades ago and quickly learned that most people find poems about themselves FABULOUS! Sending someone a poem about them is almost sure to garner glowing praise but the praise tends to be shallow. They’re not evaluating the poem’s content, structure or ability to hold interest they’re just thrilled somebody (ME!) wrote about them.

When receiving praise from the subjects of my poems I try to remember a language lesson my tenth grade teacher MS Lyons delivered back in 1976. She warned of vapid, subject based accolades that do not reflect the quality of the writing but rather the predispositions and prejudices of the reader. MS Lyons explained that sometimes people who love kittens find any and every thing kitten praise worthy. Bad paintings, bad poems, horrid prose, doesn’t matter, if it’s kittens then they’re smitten. I love being told that something I wrote is good but praise based on subject rather than content, while appreciated, is given very little credence.

I try to evaluate my writing based on whether it works or not. Does it get my point across, does it keep the reader’s attention, does it put images in readers’ heads, is the spelling and grammar correct and therefore not a distraction? Throw in some fun alliterations and a few rhymes to make the writing fun and I may have written something I find praise worthy.

Last in my goals is word length. In today’s society a 500 word essay is considered long, a circumstance of which I am aware but rarely act on.

Base And Blind

Oh, we the righteous do decree
that all shall see the world as we
and if you dare to disagree
we righteous shall mock and shun thee

If you support the evil side
with widest brush we will apply
the taint from which can’t run nor hide:
We know the truth as testified

Inquisition not just old Spain
for we righteous bring back its reign
our instruments your blood will drain
as condescend and spew disdain

There are two camps, one wrong one right,
and you the wrong we right shall smite
for paradise, bombast, cordite
we know sole path from dark to light

Don’t speak to us of your concerns
contemptibles we righteous spurn
just get on board, backward slatterns
or be cast in bubbling cauldron

We know your hearts, we know your minds
your very souls are hateful kind
repent your sins, you unrefined
for all you are is base and blind

Blind to the truth of your cancer
that we can rout, we are the cure!
You are disease, you base adders
we righteous know how to skewer

We’ll call you out, though haven’t met,
for there’s no room for your dissent
and if you dare to share mindset
our wrath shall be your epithet

Oh, we the righteous do decree
that all shall see the world as we
and if you dare to disagree
we righteous shall mock and shun thee

Love of Ours

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The moon appeared in splendor, big and bold and bright,
watched her with my darling and felt my heart take flight.
Sky above Atlantic moon shared with sky of stars,
to south circled Saturn, red hued gave hint of Mars.

Sweet lovely, languid hours twilighted into night,
final days of summer, watch Selene’s arc of flight.
Sky of brightest azure transformed to smoke, then black:
Contrail pierces Luna, bleeds not from the attack.

On a strip of island gentrified beachy homes
laid out in grid pattern, dominoes wait for storm.
To everything a season, slipping into fall,
bright moon keeps on shining, reflection for us all.

No light does she emit, yet symbolizes love?
Both barren and frigid, why look we to above?
There’s love all around us on Earth verdantly rich;
warm hearts, human grappling, let souls entwine in tryst.

Selene with your magic you do naught but mock me;
ever cold and distant, yours is deadly beauty.
Beauty cold and distant? Without cal’rie of heat?
Never can compare to two hearts that as one beat.

Lover’s peaks and valleys, the heat of passion’s kiss,
these from Selene missing, let’s long remember this.
Give me flesh and sinew over a billion stars,
though reflection’s lovely rather have love of ours.

Solo Rider

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Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

Longed for adventure, I needed to fly,
so I saddled up and went for bike ride.
Seems dark and dreary had entered my soul;
to cure winter blues knew I had to roll.

A lack of daylight and excess of mead
hitched my giddy-up so went out biking.
Goal was a roll with friendly peleton
alone at start line where have riders gone?

There’s strength in numbers, there’s value to herd,
camaraderie and to heights we’re spurred.
That’s all terrific but none of it counts
cuz on my group ride my solo-ness taunts.

Day was not tempting fact I must admit
cool temperatures and steady fine mist
but it’s been observed we don’t go to war
with army wanted as we roll forward.

Whether it’s warring or withering sky
weather’s the weather when time for bike ride.
The mail must go through in sleet, rain or snow
out in the drizzle this male man did go.

The wind was blowing to that must confess
a forty knot gale made my bike skittish
but I persevered and I fought the wind
as I cycled from home to ride begin.

Incredulous stares and a few horn honks
affronted my eyes as Klaxons did taunt
but I soldiered on despite wind and rain
I knew peleton would ease stress and strain.

Five miles I traveled by bike to get there
arrived wet and chilled at parking lot stared
expecting to find riders at the start
found I was alone it tore at my heart.

I shrugged my shoulders and inhaled deeply
made the decision to ride solo-ly.
Cursing the weather, resenting lost mates
I went for a ride turns out it was great.

Despite the weather, the wind and the rain
horrid conditions, fact I’m not quite sane,
ride on bicycle beats sitting around
but on next group ride hope lost mates are found.

Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

Tony Kneel: “Daisy, Daisy,” part 2 of 3

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At the end of our ride I bid farewell to Jack, approached Nicolette and exchanged numbers. We agreed that I’d peruse the Potomac Pedalers rides and see which one fit best. I explained that I’d be riding the tandem solo to the ride start so we’d almost certainly do a ride that originated in Ashton or Olney. I didn’t explain that we’d have to start close by because I was carless, the reason wasn’t relevant, and Nicolette smiled while Geoff scowled as they drove away with their bikes atop their BMW 733i.

I cycled the five miles from Sherwood High to home, put the tandem away, (it was my most expensive possession) showered, grabbed some food and, since it was Saturday and I didn’t have to wait until after 11:00 for rates to go down, phoned Jean.

“Hey, baby,” I said into the phone, “how you doing?”

“Good,” she replied. “Just getting some last minute wedding details planned. You’re still planning to make lasagna for the rehearsal dinner at Marie’s, right?”

“Yep. Lasagna Florentine. Gotta Popeye it up.”

“Great. We can go shopping when you get here. You’re driving up with your folks?”

“Uhm, maybe?” I responded. “We’re all coming so I should have plenty of people I can catch a ride with. Maybe John and Brooke. Guess what I did today?”

“Heard from a school in Atlanta!?”

I exhaled heavily. “No. Sorry. Nothing yet. No. I went on a group ride with Jack on the tandem.”

“Oh. Yeah?” Jean responded non-committed. Jack was not one of her favorite people.

“Yeah. Potomac Pedalers? The bike club? We rode the tandem.”

“Cool. Have fun?”

“Yes. I’m looking forward to tandeming with you in Atlanta. Had a gal express interest in a tandem ride with me and so next week I’ll probably ride with her.”

“Oh, yeah? Somebody you know?”

“Not really,” I replied. “We’ve been on rides together, but we haven’t talked much. She usually hangs with her body-builder boyfriend.”

“Oh. Cool! Well, have fun! I got stuff to do. Talk to you later?”

“Absolutely. I should be home tonight. Call you around ten?”

“Perfect. Love you!”

“I love you, JPT. Later,” I said, waiting for her to hang-up before disconnecting.

I consulted my Potomac Pedalers newsletter and found a ride that started from the Olney Theatre and called Nicolette. Geoff answered. “Hi. Is Nicolette there?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Tony Kneel. I’m supposed to arrange a tandem-”

“Nikki!” I hear Geoff call out. “It’s the tandem guy.”

Nicolette gets on the phone, we agree to meet at the Theatre on Saturday the twenty-fourth and go about our days.

Saturday May 24th brings another beautiful not quite summer morning to central Montgomery County. I cycle to the Theatre and find Nicolette waiting with Geoff who scowls. “Hey!” I say, “how are you this morning? You have water bottles?”

We place her two bottles in the stoker’s waiting cages and we three sign the ride log. I explain the basics of being a tandem stoker and then we’re off, heading northwest toward Old Baltimore Road. It doesn’t takes long before the ride group splits into a slightly smaller faster portion, and a larger slower part. Nicolette and I leave Geoff behind in the slower part as we motor through the mostly rolling byways of rural northern M.C. With nearly twice the horsepower but almost no additional aerodynamic drag, tandems allow riders to go faster on flats and fly downhills, with the flip-side being a more precipitous slowing on ascents.

Peter’s Seventieth

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Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and indoorWe all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Neverland far away, yet ever is it nigh,
ADA accessible, as we all can fly.

Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.
Not too far from Dubuque, in eastern Iowa,
is where I lived longest, tall corn and short soya!

I too am an orphan, I too am four of five,
play made me remember times long ago slipped by.
Sarah captures nicely Midwest mid-century,
Wendy, John and Michael, Jane and Hook all family.

First we lost our mother and then we lost our dad;
only one not present when our Royal Dame passed.
Ten years span of siblings, eldest turns sixty-two
all love one another; I’m liberal in the room.

Spread out cross the nation, triangle of vast size
from D.C. to Memphis hypotenuse inscribes.
Though great is the distance hearts are our winning suit
for love of family for all’s an absolute.

Known to act a fairy, flit merrily around,
though the years weigh heavy life still holds me spellbound.
Here’s to sister Peter, my John and brother Mike,
Jane’s our youngest sibling, I will Captain our flight.

We all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.

Marktschreier Tagebuch: June 7, 1939

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Louisa shared with me the great fear she had carried as she cared for her mother. Fear that the consumption that spread from her father Friedrich as her mother cared for him would spread to her as she in turn became caretaker; that a wasting death would be her future should she stay and perform her daughterly duties.

It was her father who was first stricken with consumption and Louisa watched as her mother Louise tenderly cared for the man who had regularly beaten them both. Louisa watched as Friedrich passed on his consumption to Louise before passing on and Louisa, certain that she too would share the slow wasting fate of her father should she stay, remained at her mother’s bedside as thoughts of abandoning her mother in her time of greatest and final need played in her mind and preyed on her soul. She stayed; confessing to me that her decision was more from lack of options than out of love.

Louisa whispered that as Friedrich’s death approached she came to realize that her mama prayed not for her father’s recovery but rather for him to pass, that Louise longed for release from the tinpot tyrant who ruled their tiny roost as only a clucking strutting cock certain that he had been cheated by his wife’s pregnancy can, that Louisa, born a seven pound seven ounce “preemie” on February 25, 1924, had likely been the only reason for her parents’ August 10, 1923 wedding.

When Louisa spoke of her parents’ death I revisited with her tales of how my cousins Ivy and Sairy came to be under my father’s care, of the birth of mein halbbruder Floyd, all relatives that I know are of my generation but whom I cannot help but think of as aunts and an uncle.

Though two-score-years separate me from my three closest relatives I have nearly as full an understanding of the hardship of death by illness that haunts Louisa. I told how Papa had left Duluth and settled at Fort Snelling where four years later cholera took Augusta and left Papa a widower caring for three young children. How Papa managed to push through his grief and quickly marry Oneida Eades, a seventeen year old widow from Mankato where Papa, Mama, Ivy, Sairy and three year old Floyd then settled and where I was born twenty-seven years later.

As Louisa wove her tale of woe my mind slipped back twenty years to June twenty-eighth, the date of daughter Dreux’s birth and Hazel’s death and then leapt forward a decade to the monstrous action that took Dreux’s life. I again told Louisa a tale less than truthful, a recital tenuously tied to reality but more disambiguation than illustration, whitewashing for her my experience with death, destruction, and depravity.

Marktschreier Tagebuch: June 6, 1939

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An orphan. Today Louisa told me she is an orphan, both parents taken by tuberculosis. Our vast land, a land where we are labeled as freaks, where treatment and cure can be purchased, shrugged as they were consumed by disease. Rather than save them our world of dust, disease and destitution placed the care of the parents squarely on the narrow shoulders of their child.

Without the means required for medical treatment Louisa’s parents suffered the slow and painful fading of consumption, and Louisa, upon whom her mother’s care fell entirely, feels a failure. Why? Because her tender ministrations without medicines was doomed from the start. Her parents, barely thirty years of age, died for lack of treatment. But fear not: Hope, which was extinguished in this dear child’s heart, has been rekindled by our human salamander; a boy constantly wet behind the ears.

Louisa, orphaned just as Joad is a virtual orphan. Joad, left parentless from Druex stealing  my beloved Hazel with her birth and Joad sealing our fate with his actions. Oh, the fate of we Marktschreier men is sealed but I am determined that I, sure as the stars course through the heavens, will have a hand in determining Louisa’s fate.

Recap Dad’s Birth Year (In Verse)

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Limping duck was Calvin Coolidge
the year that MLK was born,
Popeye opened jar of spinach,
Trotsky from Politburo thrown.
Arrested Frances Orlando
dressed in male haberdashery,
canine Buddy, seeing eye-dog,
was the first USA had seen.

Chicago’s bloody Valentine
delivered by Alphonse Capone,
meanwhile in west South Dakota
plan for four smiling faces grown.
San Francisco’s bridge was Golden
as Herbert Hoover took the reigns
(October would be frightening
as from skyscrapers did men rain.)

Belgium gave us Audrey Hepburn,
Babe Ruth married Claire Hodgeson,
Lindbergh jumped the broom with Murrow
and Yasser Arafat was born.
Anne Frank came into existence,
eleven years stayed German free,
born was Valerie June Carter
whose marriage to Cash made a scene.

Television was invented
same year foam rubber first appears,
Jackie B who’d marry J.F.
serve as First Lady bout three years.
Radio Amos and Andy,
first US roller coaster scene,
Berlin Nazis clashed with Commies,
MOMA modern art was seeing.

Grace Kelly, Princess Monaco,
Edward Asner, Mary’s Lou Grant,
Transatlantic Cable broken,
Richard Byrd’s airplane South Pole went.
Edwin Lowe created BINGO!
nudists got naked, NYC,
Guy Lombardo played “Auld Lang Syne”
Hugo sci-fi literary.

Pivotal nineteen-twenty-nine,Francis
techno and sociology,
this was the year of Father’s birth
far reaching changes Dad did see.
Expectations of the father
visited on daughters and sons,
bedrock through years we counted on
from mortal coil transitioned.

At times we would see eye to eye,
while others we stood toe to toe,
but through happiness and sorrow
kept searching for Esperanto.
A great language universal,
a means for both to speak and hear,
thoughts we failed to communicate?
Hearts always held each other dear.

Wishing you a happy birthday,
you who have sailed to great beyond,
beyond reach of conversation
we’ve no more means to correspond.
I choose to believe you hear me
out in mighty, vast universe
I’m transmitting, you’re receiving
with recap Dad’s birth year in verse.

 

 

Marktschreier Tagebuch: June 5, 1939

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I finally spoke with Louisa! Truly spoke with her, not merely an exchange of greetings. This morning her bearing screamed of a great burden borne which goaded me to truly speak with her. Her concern is not for herself but rather relatives in Oklahoma. She fears our never ending Dust Bowl of devastation will spell the end for an uncle and aunt clinging to their Oklahoma homestead by their fingernails, nails she fears will rip and fail under the never ending onslaught of God and Nature.

With brain flustered and heart yearning my tongue began speaking, not of the dire days in which we live but rather of the past. I can only conclude that Louisa’s appearance, her build and bearing so evocative of the vast multitudes that grew strong in the once fertile soil of Minnesota, we transplants of das Vaterland, we of the common heritage of Eltern oder Großeltern who came as pioneers to claim and tame the northern plains, put me in mind of mein papa Thomas Marktschreier and his frau Augusta Victoria, of the hardships and deprivations they overcame as they journeyed to Duluth from Dachau in 1848.

I did not correct her as she called me Bebee, my clown name rather than Robert, and I rhapsodized to Louisa tales of my father and his frau escaping the Bavarian and German tinderboxes ripe with revolution before the strike of flint immolated the Old World. I told how Papa and Augusta, freshly arrived in America, made their way from New York to Duluth where they faced and overcame great obstacles. How, as second wave pioneers, they arrived after Cousin Noah and his wife Ham had removed the larger stones from the fields and provided them with safe if spartan accommodations. I told a tale of hardship and triumph and as she left me Louisa’s shoulders were slightly less slumped.

I fear in my desire to comfort Louisa I edited heavily, never mentioning how upon their arrival Papa and Augusta discovered Noah and Ham lay dead and buried, their homestead sold to pay creditors and the meager remainder going to the Wainwrights, the neighborly family who had taken in my cousins Ivy and Sairy, Noah and Ham’s children. I chose to weave an uplifting and hope filled tale of victory rather than narrate the chronicle of pain and woe that is real life.

As I lie alone tonight fantasizing of her I pray God’s forgiveness for my lust but not for my lies. Children deserve to sip from the chalice of hope before drowning in the well of despair.

Odds Are Good

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Step right up and don’t be shy,
just live once before you die,
Grab the gusto while you can,
screw six feet separation!
Call like barkers carni show,
trumpeting to basest low,
pack ’em in like they’re sardines,
thin world’s herd of human beings.

Eat and drink and be merry,
odds are good won’t be buried.
Social Distancing’s no fun,
balls to walls down here in scrum.
People dying every day
I say screw ’em, lets go play!
Nancy boys and mama birds
quarantine’s dead, ain’t cha heard?

In the bars and on the beach,
crowded churches where they preach
Do unto, that Golden Rule,
pack the stadiums and schools.
I ain’t sick just bored as hell,
ever hear of George Orwell?
Fake News! Hoax! It’s all a lie!
Partied last night, did not die.

Step right up and don’t be shy,
just live once before you die,
Grab the gusto while you can,
screw six feet separation!
Call like barkers carni show,
trumpeting to basest low,
pack ’em in like they’re sardines,
thin world’s herd of human beings.

Marktschreier Tagebuch: June 4, 1939

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Our nation is dust in the wind and I burn for her. I burn for a child turned woman a scant 365 days in the past. I burn as no grandfather should. Oh, not my grandchild. No flesh of my flesh nor blood of my blood. No. She is Hazel reincarnated.

What pleasure does a man at the end of life treasure save fantastical fantasies of self-indulgence? I can no more have Louisa than Jesus will create a Lazarus of Hazel, but this girl, this woman, this treasure at the crossroads, this golden idol who looks beyond her love’s deformities and loves what is within, this tabula rosa that causes my heart and soul to weep while simultaneously providing palliation for my ever tormented form. This is Louisa’s power.

If ever there was a carbon copy of Hazel it is Louisa. Hazel, dead a score of years less a score of days brought back in the flesh! A living, breathing reminder of the wife I had so briefly, whom I loved so fully and who merged as flesh with my flesh and soul with my soul to create deformity. A deformity whose very birth extinguished Hazel’s life, a foul product of the same merging that had previously produced the perfect son, a son whose growth condemned me to the pseudo-life of a carnival barker, a hawker of deformities, of abnormalities, reduced me to Beebe the clown, to a life populated with companions that constantly pull on the scabs of my grief.

Ah, Louisa, how I burn for you. How you torment me with your love for another and your self-imposed imprisonment. I burn not just with lust but with shame. Shame because a child has achieved what I have not. You see beyond a monster’s hideous to eye and touch exterior and love what is within while I failed in even the most basic fatherly duty of nurturing and protecting my Dreux.

Will you too fall prey to our great Ring Master or will you break the chains your beloved and I bear? Chains forged by our jailer and savior the interminable Mister Flip?

New World Rain’d Bring

We prayed for rain,
skies opened up!
Had no idea
sailboat shallop
would be lifeboats
to which would cling,
each for ourself-
New World rain’d bring.

For forty days
and forty nights
our croc tears poured
till highest heights
mere stepping stones
for giant’s feet
needed span gap
seven league boots.

No middle ground
and mind the gap
for deafening
is thunderclap
accompanies
blitzen’s quick flash
as lightning strikes
turned dreams to ash.

A puff of smoke,
immolation,
as swift brush fire
sweeps all nations.
With slash and burn
gone’s compassion.
Thrown overboard.
Flagellation.

Sins of fathers
visited sons.
Idle worship,
golden calves run.
All rue the day
we prayed for rain
then rejoiced as
down torrents came.

It’s too late now
stop petition.
We brought down this
interdiction.
Will our reign end,
shall we all drown?
Have we no hope
find solid ground?

So oft been warned
watch what wish for,
our djinn’s released
to great sorrow.
He granted wish,
but not our wants
and with own words
till death does taunt.

For forty days
and forty nights
our fear was stoked
gluttoned on fright
and steps we took
delivered us
to blazing pyre
we were promised.

We prayed for rain.
Skies opened up.
Had no idea
sailboat shallop
would be lifeboats
to which would cling.
Each for ourself.
New world rain’d bring.

Cinquante Annees

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Nineteen-seventy
package heavenly
brought forth upon Earth
child who grew in worth.
Yvette, langue Francaise
dear, sweet crepe Suzette
lovely as can be
reigns so royally.

She of face and form
surpasses the norm
dans l’esprit et l’âme
rivals Solomon.
Giving graciously
rules amicably
in Court Sips & Scripts,
cracks her velvet whip.

Polaris, North Star,
she outshines by far.
Dog Star, Sirius?
She causes to blush
For know can’t compete
Yvette’s sweetest mete.
Reigning in splendor
Golden ‘Versary.

Fifty years she’s graced,
fifty years been blessed.
Homage now I pay
Blessed Queen of May.
Verse hyperbolic?
My praise it is not.
She’s earned every word.
She’s draft that besots.

Apologies for my terrible French!