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Long Beach, CA

Children's

The Elemenopee!

My daughter, when I was only three
There was one thing only that I feared
Naptime and the Tooth Fairy
Okay, that’s two things
I couldn’t count then, don’t blame me

But when I was four, I discovered
Through some heavy reading
And some soothsaying
And some pieces of a dream
(Pieced together through telepathy)
A dreadful reality
A great beast:
The Elemenopee!

They said he had sharp teeth
Well, not “they” exactly, 
I just knew some things about him:
I’d found some tooth fragments, you see, 
And some tracks in the woods
Which, clearly, were monstrosities
Oddities which made me sure
The great beast lived just outside my door

I knew, too, he had jaws strong as ox-bones, 
Claws long as ostrich feet
And the way he galloped
Well, he was tall as a tree
A tall tree, too, not some shortie
And, judging by all the lemons shaken, bruised, and fallen
He had a taste for citrus and, thus, terrorized our garden

The Elmenopee, I’d heard,
Had been filmed, but I’d never seen the prints
And, in any event (it was said), they showed nothing
Which should surprise no one
The greatest beasts always have invisibility
And other powers right dastardly

He’d been seen in the woods or gliding on a lake
But when push came to shove, he always got away
That’s the nature of his way--
The Elemonopee!

I knew I had to find him
So one bright, blue morning, I set out to try
Mom cried, of course, but then, knowing I would not be denied
She made the most delicious peanut butter things
And a mug of Kool-Aid
And three lemon cookies I could wear as rings
And with fanfare and singing
I pressed forward, toward glory

It was a long hard day
Through woods that turned to bog
It seemed that way, anyway,
(Though some would say, later,
I just tripped in the stream)
All I know is, when the sun was going down
And I was hot and tired and cross
I spotted him

That’s when all my fears breathed out
And I couldn’t reign them in
I’m too much a man to pretend
It wasn’t that way (a real man can say what frightens him)
But then…when he saw me?
Tea and crumpets and cream

Yes, he invited me to tea!
And so we sat over a nice Earl Gray and...
Oh, you say that’s brave?  Well, yes, I guess so,

In its way
(Honestly, I've never thought to say)

I sat there with The Elemenopee
And we talked about law and politics and poetry

It’s all true, by the way--
The teeth, the bones, the invisibility
But the truth less told? 
He’s a softie, he is
Just a dear and silly thing
Shy, with bashful sensitivity

He said people were always chasing him
But never got to know him
And he cried when I left
Said I was such lovely company
And couldn’t I stay for another pot of tea?
But mom had promised tater-tots
So I left him there, bereft

I never saw him again, which I regret
But I’ll always have the memory

Of The Elemenopee
Crying and sighing
Waving goodbye and smiling

I’m telling you this because, should you ever see the boogie man,
Should some dark shadow crash behind you
It’s good to remember that the great beasts
Usually have soft underbellies
And, in some cases, a weak spot, too, for tea

With a touch of honey

So maybe just think of a monster in his underwear
Or sorting out his laundry
And it will help you remember
The great ghouls are the greatest misunderstood
And...

Oh, what happened after?  Well, we went on a tour
Nation-wide (two states it was, on either side)
For some reason I can’t find the brochure
But it was wild, and we had a great time
After each show, we’d go bowling

And where is he now? 
Retired
On some Tahitian beach, strolling and
No doubt, drinking lemonade with lime
Having a grand old time

Oh, that dear beast…The Elemenopee