Pepperoni Joe!


Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe!

Hey look, it’s
Pepperoni Joe!
He is the
fastest in the land.
He’s packing
Up his trusty pizza train
And setting up his plan.

You know that
When you order up
He’s gonna
Have it to you quick.
He’s packing
Up his trusty pizza train
With crust both thin and thick.

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe!

You know he
Clicks along the track,
And then he
Clacks up with a screech,
And all the
Pizzas slide on forward
So they’re just within his reach.

He checks the
Address on his list
And hurries
Up there with a cheer
And rings the
Doorbell twice and yells real nice:
“The pizza train is here!”

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe!

Now one day
Pepperoni Joe
Just got so
Hungry on his route
That he ate
Every single pizza slice
Without a second thought!

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
Now where’d my pizza go?

He chugged on
Up to my front porch
And rang the
Doorbell nice and neat
And said “I’ve
Got a plan, see, I’m your man.
You’ll get your pizza treat!”

He tossed some
Sugar, salt, and yeast
And then some
Water in a bowl
And mixed it
Up with flour for half an hour:
P. Joe was on a roll!

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe!

He let it
Rise then spun it high
And then he
Sauced it with a smile
And added
Sausage, cheese and anchovies,
A pepperoni pile!

He opened
Up the oven door
And did a
Dance upon the floor.
“Now let that
Pizza pie cook up on high
For ten minutes or more.”

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe.

So when you’re
Hungry for a slice
And want it
Fast and that’s a fact,
Just call the
Pizza train and once again
Old Joe has got your back!

Chugga-wugga pizza train,
It’s Pepperoni Joe.

It’s P-E-P-P-E-R-ONI
Pepperoni Joe! Hey!*


*”Hey” is optional but recommended

Inside and Out (A Lament)


These layers we build, unbreakable, bound up in billions of reasons and values and things
That motivate from the inside and out
(For out of the heart comes evil)
We convince and cajole and cook down our opinions
Into slurries unfit for human consumption
Then stick tubes down throats
And make each other swallow them.
We say and we shout and we speak and we spout,
But no one listens.

What comes from inside has good reason to hide,
But what’s evil is counted as good now and forever, amen,
God help us.
In our society the from-depths rejects bubble up – inside and out
To those who don’t need our theological solutions
Our hell-bred confusions
Our tactful exclusions.
This is intentional, damned,
And the best of intentions when bred from deception
Are violent.

Where is love?
Where is the give?
Where is the heart that, transformed from the outside and in, give-loves, love-graces, mercy-lives,
Brothers and sisters, forget these places
Within that we hold,
These high places
Of our old, old hearts,
Grasp not, oh weary heart, let go
And let God,
And let grow.

Forgive us, our Lord,
Have mercy.
For we have none.

The Archaeologist


His brow, it’s taut with focus deep.
Who knows what secrets this place keeps?
The stakes are high and thus require
Determined dimpled chin and mind;
Nothing keeps his focus so.
What treasures will he find?

The finger, slim and nimble, creeps
Down passage long and knuckle-deep.
He snags it, pulls it, draws it out
From depths unseen by human eyes,
And holds it up for all to see:
The treasure that no money buys.

This little blob, he made this heap.
It’s stuff of him, his fruit to reap,
There’s nothing like it anywhere,
Not east nor west nor north nor south.
He transfers nimbly to his thumb
And pops it in his mouth.


At best we mumble.
At best we stutter.
At best our half-hearts desire to desire
And need to need.

And your mercy listens,
And your Spirit hears what You define
And in Christ our words are clear to you:

Maybe they only amount to “help.”

But this is true:
That here, here, is nothing.
And You, You, are everything.
And your help is swift,
And it’s rarely what we want it to be.
But it’s always what we need it to be.

Henrietta McFlub and the Great Rainbow Caper

raccoonHenrietta McFlub was a minnow. Like most minnows, she was small and relatively drab.  She all but disappeared in the shallows of Cricket Creek, where she lived with her family. This was considered a good thing by the elders of the minnow community, since minnows make excellent meals for any number of hungry animals. Mud was a good color for hiding.

However, Henrietta had more important things to do than hide. She made colorful outfits out of wild flowers, leaves, and grass. You may think that minnows don’t need outfits, and you would be right. But they enjoy colors just as much as you do. At this point in the history of Cricket Creek, colorful clothing was very popular.

Henrietta was an expert. Bonnets, neckerchiefs, overalls, evening coats and gowns all flew from her sewing needle in brilliant colors as the seasons shifted – late summer goldenrod,  autumn russet, purple coneflower in the spring.

On that fateful September day, it might have been advisable for Henrietta and her friends to have gone with a basic color like mud or scum green, but I will leave you to decide.

Henrietta and her friends Bip and Flicker were playing tag that day in a quiet, shady pool. Henrietta was wearing sunflower yellow, Bip had vest of indigo borage, and Flicker wore a hat made from a particularly bright green leaf Henrietta had found. Flicker was “it”, and had just darted after Bip in a threatening manner when the the world became a rainbow.

Henrietta found herself swimming in a whirlpool of vivid reds, blues, greens, yellows, purples, and oranges. Before she could blink, she felt something she didn’t understand (the feeling of flying, she later discovered) and everything went black.

Finn Chitterack trotted along the road, carrying a suspicious lumpy bundle and looking very pleased with himself. His bright eyes flicked left and right down Cricket Creek, but it wasn’t clear if the raccoon was keeping watch or looking for an audience. He had bagged his loot only moments before.

He skipped forward, leaping high over roots and rocks and humming a tune that sounded remotely like Wabash Cannonball. Finn had a dream. He was making that dream happen, bundle by bundle, and the closer he got to the dream, the more excited he became. And the less likely to watch where his feet were going.

The root reached right up to grab his ankle and down he went, ripping a hole in his sack and unleashing a stream of jelly beans into the shallows of Cricket Creek.

Henrietta could see pinpricks of light in the blackness. Bip and Flicker slipped close to her side. There was about an inch of water in the bag from the hasty scoop, and the friends pushed out a small pocket apart from the weight of the beans. They huddled there, waiting, listening. There was a rattling of metal on metal, a rusty creak, a bump and a dull skittering.  A hole, held closed before, appeared in the side of the bag, and through it she saw a shaft of light for an instant. The rusty creak again, followed by a darkening final clang. Silence.

The water was steadily seeping from the bag.  Henrietta knew she had moments before they couldn’t breathe at all. She dipped under, took a deep breath, and struggled out of the bag, followed by Bip and Flicker.

Finn didn’t mind a little water. He figured his loot would dry off by the time he got back with his last load.

He clambered down the ladder and leapt to the path below. Dusting the rust off his paws, he looked up at the giant goblet of goodies. This water tower had stood by Cricket Creek for as many years as the Hill ‘o’ Beans Candy Factory, and probably more. Visions of paddling round a sea of candy beans, gobbling as he went, played past his eyes. It was almost full. It was almost time. He could almost feel the sugar coma in his face.

Henrietta and her friends heaved themselves over the piles of strawberry, grape, and lime jelly beans toward what looked like a giant wheel. She hoped this opened the exit hatch she had seen.

Mr. Chitterack was no more than twenty paces down the road when an ominous creak reached his ears. He turned, slowly. The tower had creaked, to be sure. He took a step forward and shaded his eyes.

“Again!” called Henrietta.

“I’m losing water!” Bip groaned as he coiled and sprang.


Flicker slipped and skittered down, gasping on the slope. Bip and Henrietta landed on the spoke, and the ceiling of the tower became a star field of colors as sunlight poured through the heap.

Finn Chitterack stood and watched years of candy beans waterfall into Cricket Creek. He sat and watched his beautiful, transcendent trove float lazily down the river toward the dam. He lay back and watched the cerulean sky, pondering life and its many mysteries as he listened to the steady rush and plop of beans falling into the river.

Henrietta and her friends understood what it meant to fly.

Shortly after the torrent subsided, Finn had determined to leave a life of crime and become a vicar. He stood long, looking at the creek, and picked up four beans that had fallen by the wayside. He ate them one by one, with great reverence, then slung his empty sack over his shoulder and trudged away up the creek path.

For weeks after, the more human types along the creek marveled at the sweetness of the water. Folks near the dam told tales of a rainbow of colors cascading from the gates (which no one believed because the colors immediately churned into an unassuming brown).

And everybody commented on how fast the minnows were swimming.



(this awesome person drew this)

(to be read with growls and grumblings)

One day DROOGLE woke up with his tummy RUM-DRUM-GRUMBLING.

So DROOGLE ate a leathery weatheredy boot that was (barely) missing an owner. But DROOGLE was still hungry.

So DROOGLE took a bite out of a flippy flappy book (down, DROOGLE, down!) But DROOGLE was still hungry.

So DROOGLE gobbled a rubbery flubbery tire, from a car that had (almost) no need of it. But DROOGLE was still hungry.

So DROOGLE munched on an dingy wingy swing set that was (slightly) unoccupied. But DROOGLE was still hungry.

So DROOGLE crunched on a squeaky creaky boat. The owner had (recently) discarded it. But DROOGLE was still hungry.

So DROOGLE swallowed a tooting scooting train whose passengers had (just) left. But DROOGLE was still hungry.

DROOGLE downed three chugging, tugging tractors that were (quickly) left alone by three farmers. But DROOGLE was still so very, very hungry.

DROOGLE was sad, because nothing stopped his chubby, fuzzy tummy from RUM-DRUM-GRUMBLING all day long.

Then, DROOGLE saw a gleaming, steaming present from the (terrified) townsfolk.

DROOGLE sniffed and whiffed.
DROOGLE picked and licked.
DROOGLE ate every last tasty-basty bit.

THIS was what DROOGLE wanted all along. If only DROOGLE had known!

DROOGLE was full of yummy scrummies.
DROOGLE sat back and patted DROOGLE’S roly-poly tummy.
DROOGLE started snoring snoozily.

And the townsfolk fell asleep too, and slept (almost) mighty-tighty all nighty long, until early in the morning when…


(Also, seriously, check out Josie’s stuff on Facebook and Instagram. You won’t be sorry.)