Why (a poem)

“Why?” is that question that every parent dreads.
That question burns a hole in our heads.
“Why” is asked after ever thing we say
“Son, go put your toys away.”
….and we brace for the inevitable “why?”

“Because I said so!” is never good enough
This answer only makes us look tough
Raising kids is not that rough
They’re only trying to build trust

Freedom to ask and question
Not everyone is allowed
Definitive answers shouldn’t make us proud
They only make us feared and sound loud

It’s essential that we question “why?”
How else will we learn to run, jump or fly
What? Critical thinking need not apply??
You must ask yourself, “why?”

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Phryne the Peahen (2013)

This is a short kids story I wrote back in 2013. It’s inspired by real folks, an “Ah-ha!” moment which was followed by an unusual rush of inspiration.

Phryne the peahen sat glumly on the ground. She was sad because her feathers were drab and brown. She saw her brothers strut their stuff; their majestic plumage caused such a fuss! She longed for beautiful plumes to wave above her head. “Why should the boys have all the fun and not me instead?”

Phryne went to visit Angelo the fox in town. She often did this when she was feeling down. Angelo’s father was a draper and dyer of cloth. Phryne admired Angelo. He was kind, not a toff. He wore bright clothes made from the brightest hues. Angelo was a great friend and rarely ever blue. He saw Phryne’s face and her gloomy mood. He asked what was wrong and was their anything he could do?

Phryne cried, “Why and I so drab and brown?? I want colorful plumage to flaunt about town! I was meant for greatness, to shine like a star. I feel this deeply, with all of my heart!” Phryne pleaded, “Can you help me, Angelo?” With such despair in her voice, how could he say “no”? Angelo exclaimed, “Why yes, Phryne! Yes I can!” and with that he hatched a great plan.

Angelo’s plan was to dye Phryne’s feathers bright shades of green and blue. It seemed like the most logical thing to do. Only the best and finest dyes would he choose! Though the process was quite tedious, Angelo took great care. This process was quite arduous! How on earth would Phryne fare?? She fared very well despite it taking hours. With her new look complete; she was a radiant as Spring flowers!

Graciously thanking Angelo, she headed back to her house. As she left, she thought, “No wonder he has such joy and bounce. A person’s outward appearance is what really counts!” But Phryne’s colors didn’t last long, which made no sense! She wore them for such a short stent. You see, Phyrne was met by an unfortunate event….. One day, caught in the rain, she received a very through rinse!!

Phryne, in great distress, eventually made her way back to town. She must see Angelo since she was, once again, back to brown. On arrival she was surprised by the sight she found. In the short time that passed, the Foxes’ shop had almost closed down! To make ends meet, Angelo’s father were forced to sell! The bright fabrics were gone, the brightest dyes as well! Inside the shop, only the dullest hued fabrics remained. To Phryne, it all looked rather sad and depressingly plain. Then Angelo mentioned he’d sold his clothes—the most fashionable of the day! Phryne felt so sad for the Foxes, she didn’t know what to do or say.

Yet, through all of this, Phyrne noticed, the Foxes still radiated pride and grace. Angelo was rarely seen without a smile adorning his face. Phryne was baffled, confused and forlorn! How could the Foxes be so strong? Did the Foxes know something that she didn’t? Phryne feared she had things all wrong. Phryne couldn’t contain herself any longer. She was bursting with curiosity! What is this strength, this driving force she simply could not see?? So she asked Angelo, “Why aren’t you sad and wearing a frown? With all my finery stripped away, I’m very sad…and very brown!”

Angelo smiled and said, “My joy comes from my soul. My strength comes from within. I’ve learned to be happy with myself and love me just as I am! You can take away my fancy clothes but the real me remains. Without all my finery, I’m handsome just the same! This was true; Phryne only saw Angelo’s bold adornments but ignored the natural beauty he possessed. This lack of observation left her feeling very shallow and remiss. Angelo told her, “Things on the outside don’t give me my bounce. My secret isn’t a secret! It’s the heart of a person that counts. Dwelling only on our flaws causes us to be misled. We must see the goodness inside ourselves instead.”

After a few moments of thought and in the back of her mind, Phyrne could see the goodness she had inside! She too was very thoughtful, giving and kind. How could she have been so blind?? Now, feeling lighter inside than ever before, Phryne didn’t think of her old colors anymore. She was able to see she was a beautiful brown! There was no reason for her to wear a frown. Over time, Phryne’s happiness grew by bounds. She was no longer sad and rarely ever down. Now, when she went out on the town, she strutted about in the new confidence she’d found!