The Poem Gnome
By Mike Stevens
Darby Grillshank was so looking forward to a T.V. dinner, a six pack, and reruns of ‘The Chick Detective’, starring the woman he most looked up to in the world, Donna Springer; she was perfect; long blond hair (he found himself wondering if the carpeting matched the drapes! Oh boy, he got a lot of laughs, not to mention, mileage, out of that baby!), the whitest teeth ever seen, and one hot body; plus, she was super-smart, solving seemingly impossible cases at around the 55 minute mark of a 60 minute show. He knew it was written that way, but you couldn’t tell him that Donna Springer, as Wanda Justice, P.I., wasn’t that good! He unlocked the front door, and started to walk into his single wide mobile home, located smack in the middle of Green Acres Mobile Home Park, when he saw the piece of paper sitting on dining room table. Not again! Lately, he’d been finding poems everywhere; poems which he didn’t remember writing. How had they gotten there? He didn’t remember writing them, but maybe he should cut out the beers with dinner? One or two shouldn't effect his memory, but he was getting older.
He went to the refrigerator and grabbed one of his two remaining beers from what he had thought was a 6-pack, another example of his Swiss cheese memory, and made his way to the taped-up recliner that served as his T.V. watching chair, and, more often than not, his bed, after he fell asleep, and woke to an infomercial for making magical meatloaf by adding edible WD-40, or something for a product you didn’t even know you needed. He clicked on the television, opened one of the beers, and started reading what he must have written. What? It wasn’t written by him; humor like that was beyond him. In fact, all humor was beyond him!
Look at him, Mr. Doofus, looking around in confusion, which, come to think of it, was his normal state. He thinks I’m just a wooden gnome, and doesn’t see me as anything else. If only he knew I long to be recognized for my brilliance. Is it so impossible that a 2-ft. tall wooden gnome could be an amazing poet? But, like my friend Rig, the clay yard gnome says, to let him see me as anything other than a gnome would not be smart. Well, when I think of it that way, the thought of a brilliant poem gnome does sound crazy, like something the far right wing of a certain American political party. Talk about out there! I’ll just keep writing poems and leaving them out to be found.
Darby was thinking about the mysterious appearing poems, when he left for work at the gun store he worked at; how much longer he worked here was a big question. The current president thought he had everybody fooled as to his true intent, but not Darby; no sir; you had to pull harder than that to pull the wool over his eyes!
As he went to his work station, Darby’s mind was churning. First, he hated poetry, it was impossible to understand; and secondly--err--there was no secondly; the s**t made no sense, wasn’t that enough? A poem about his feelings? Okay, how’s this?
“The gap between me and my feminine side, is like the Grand Canyon, very fricking wide!”
Now that was a poem he could understand! He couldn’t explain where they came from, or who had written them. Maybe someone was breaking into his house while he was at work, not stealing anything, leaving this sugary bulls**t, and leaving before he got home. Naw, that sounded crazy! But still, what was the solution?
What makes for a good poem? Beautiful, thoughtful lines? Free flowing ideas, no matter how limp-wristed they sounded? Of course, being considered a male wooden gnome, he should be thinking manly thoughts. But, on the other hand, he wasn’t expected to even BE capable of thoughts, period. It was pretty good cover, actually; he could touch on subjects, that had he been a real person, he could have never gotten away with. Take his latest poem for example, it started out:
“Flowers of joy spread their pollen of hope over a grateful world!”
If he had been a real guy, lines like that would make every guy who thinks of himself as a long-haul truck driver view him with suspicion. But, because he was a 2-ft tall gnome made of wood, no problem!
Here was another mysterious appearing poems, “Flowers of joy...” what was this crap? The poem was signed this time, Woody Short. Woody Short? He didn’t know anyone by that name. Who in the hell was sneaking in here and leaving this flowery crap?
The more he thought about it, the more upset he became. He poured out his heart and soul, granted, they were both wood, but that didn’t mean he felt any less. It just wasn’t fair; others received accolades and praise from everyone, but because he was staying anonymous, he got none, nothing. The longer he thought about it, the more he was sick of toiling in obscurity. He was through with staying anonymous, he wanted credit for his brilliance.
A couple of days later, Darby again got off work, again unlocked his front door, and again, there was a poem sitting on his dining room card table:
“The following poem was written by me, the wooden gnome sitting on the living room floor...”
The poem followed, but Darby didn’t read any more. "Say, what kind of bulls**t is this? How stupid does someone think I am? he mumbled out loud.
A few minutes later, after going to the bathroom, he was walking by the dining room card table when he noticed a new piece of paper. What? He scooped it up and read,
“This isn’t bulls**t of any sort. I wrote it, the wooden gnome sitting under the window in the corner.”
Darby whipped his head around and stared at the gnome, who waved! This can’t be! he thought. He was suddenly extremely frightened. He ran to the gnome, and carrying it like a grenade, opened the front door, and gave it a mighty heave out into the yard.
I’m airborne! The crazy bastard has air-mailed me! Clark, the Wooden Gnome thought to himself. Suddenly, and from a great height, he saw a wall of green coming up to meet him, and then the hard surface sent him bouncing and spinning into the garden, As he came to an unceremonious stop up against a tree, the pain which racked his body was almost unbearable. To top everything off, it was pouring down rain, and he was getting soaked!
Darby watched as the gnome disappeared into the wind, rain, and darkness. He was finding it hard to believe the little gnome had written any poems, but it had waved at him, and he had acted out of fear. Something strange was going on, and Darby was determined to find out what!
A few minutes later, after running out to the mail box, man, was it ever raining, he came back through the front door, and felt his adrenaline surge, for there, on the dining room card table, was a note. He picked it up, and it was dripping water. The writing was very hard to read, but he could make out,
“Souring on gossamer wings, until brown and green rushed up to meet me; spinning flight, into the murky rain, I at last came to rest against a poplar tree, and as I glanced around at a suddenly crazy world, I resolved to scribe my adventure...”
The writing continued, but Darby could kept flashing back to seeing the wooden gnome arcing out into the wind and rain and darkness. He knew it was impossible, but...