Twenty-Three Skidoo

One night while walking in the woods
Watching the fireflies flying,
I heard the most unhuman screech;
As if someone for help were crying.

I looked to my left and I looked to my right,
But nothing there could I see.
And then a voice from out of the night:
“Over here, my friend, look at me!”

And then I saw two glowing eyes
So small looking up from a log.
I moved closer, reached down, and to my surprise
I had picked up a talking frog!

“Are you a prince?” I asked, “A king?”
Then came his sad reply:
“No, my good man, I am not such a thing;
“Just a poor, lonely frog,” he sighed.

“But I need a friend and I see you do, too,
By the way you hang your head.
So, follow me to the land of Skidoo —
Oh, yeah, and just call me ‘Fred’.”

He gave me directions to get to Skidoo.
Through woods I sped like a rocket,
Looking for this land he’d called Skidoo
With Fred the Frog in my pocket.

Then I was halted, to knees did I fall;
Before me stood Skidoo so proud.
Its beauty struck like the bricks of a wall;
Its parapets sliced through the clouds.

The city was bathed in a warm golden light,
So soft and wonderfully pure.
And the guards who watched from its castle heights
Stood proudly with sturdy grandeur!

But once inside the city walls,
The city’s true beauty I saw.
No one but animals lived there at all!
My heart all but burst of the awe.

“And what do you think of our city now?”
Fred asked me with a smile.
“I think I had better just sit down
And take in this beauty awhile.”

A smiling squirrel walked up to us
And said, “Fred, you are late.”
And though he was angered, he didn’t cuss;
In Skidoo no one seemed to hate!

“I’m sorry,” said Fred, “But my friend here
Was so struck by the charm of Skidoo;
Though now he is ready for our tour
And we shall follow you.”

They took me past Fun Avenue
Where beasts all did nothing but laugh.
And there at Twenty-Three Skidoo
A lion talked with a giraffe.

And we went past the School of Fish,
While it rained cats and dogs.
I giggled a little when the rain finished
At the song of four baritone frogs.

Bees hummed by, and birds flew high.
What weird kind of family they were!
Elephant with trunk, mouse without eye —
And me — All welcome here.

“There is only one being unwelcome here,”
Fred explained to me.
He is Ozzie the Owl whom we all fear.
He lives in Black Magic Tree.

No sooner this had Fred me told
Than we heard a swooshing sound
Of a big black bird so very bold
For a mouse meal swooping down.

Out of Skidoo I fled like a rocket
Then tripped and hit my head.
My last thought was of Fred, who’d remained in my pocket
And then … I was home in bed.

I reached in my pants — on an impulse, I guess —
And found this note with great happiness:
“I’m sorry you go caught in our animal plight;
Yet, I hope that you’ll never forget
The sights that you saw, my friend, last night.
And remember the friends that you met.”

— 1968