Poetry; Mother’s Day Tribute

Gretchens USO desk

Mine to Hold — A Collection of Verses

Created by Gretchen Rickel Wolf in 2004 — Compiled by Elsa Wolf in 2018

At an advanced age of ninety-two, my mother could no longer see well enough to read or write due to complications connected to Macular Degeneration that began in 1994.  She could recite the verses she created over and over without a single word out of place without reading from a text. Eventually, she painstakingly recorded them in a melodic tone that truly conveyed her intended feelings. In the end, I transcribed them into the written word. She was not able to review the transcript, so the proper sentence breaks are based on her recorded inflections; (her life 1913-2005).

GRETCHEN BEGINS — An Introduction

These verses are mostly lighthearted and nonsense, except for the first two and the last three.  A Land Far Away and A Woman Speaks express a point of view.  As for the last two;  A Memory, and A Lament for Joe are in honor of my husband.


I dedicate the recording to my daughter whose interest, encouragement and love have inspired me.


On a hillside, a boy lay in a land far away from his own under an apple tree. Its blossoms white shinning in moons silver light.

Awakening now from a sleep, which had been long and deep, he knew not where he was or why he was there or how long in this place he had lane.

And from whence, oh Lord oh Lord, came his terrible pain.

He wanted now only to go back into a sleep, which would be long and deep for there would be no pain – but sleep came not as he thought of another place and another time under an apple tree.  Its blossoms white, shinning in the moons silver light.

And of the girl who had been with him there.

The girl with the long, fair hair –  she was so gentle, her face so sweet.

But then, with a startling suddenness, he knew where he was now and why he was there.

For a time during the night all had been still and quiet, but now once again great streaks of light were flashing high in the sky and from the mouths of the cannon came the thunderous roar.  Yes, he knew where he was now and why he was there.
It was the War.

And the blood from his terrible wound and that of his children, and his childrens’ children was seeping deep into the earth of a land far away from his own.

He put out his hand as though to touch once more the girl with the long fair hair
She was not there in this alien land so far from his own   He was alone. And all around him, the moon’s light grew dim as death walked up the hill to him.


Women of the world today – relax.  It would seem that for your self-esteem you wish to be just like a man and do everything just as he can – how strange, men and women were meant to be different, don’t you know.  You diminish your womanhood and all that you do and all that you could when you wish to abandon your ways and take on those of a man and so desperately need to do everything just as he can.

I am a woman, but I feel no desperate need to drive a tank or achieve military rank and a fighter pilot I am not.

And I don’t expect to beat at basketball a man who is eight or ten feet tall.

And I am not upset that I have not yet been sent to be president of Harvard, Princeton or Yale – there are some things in this world which are still essentially male.

I am a woman.

I have a good brain, which I like to use.

And there are hundreds of ways to do it from which I can choose, but I feel no need to compete with a man. In some things I excel in others he does so as well.

And then there are all those which we do and achieve together.

But I am me and he is he, and that was natures plan for a woman and a man.

We complement each other.

We do for and care for one another.

Man is my friend, my love, my husband, my father and my brother.

And I need him, and he needs me.

And that is the way it has always been, and shall forever be.


Oh, the more I have heard of the old-fashioned times, the more I feared they were very weird.  The sign of the hex was on sex, and that was the day when women raked hay and got their milk out of a cow – somehow –  instead of a carton like now.  And their eggs they got, not at the store, but… oh, what a chore from under a hen in a chicken pen.  And there was no Internet or television set, so you would need to open a book and read! Uch!  And there was no thermostat, so you never knew where the heat was at. And pity the poor teenagers in all the world they were so alone, there was no telephone –and how would you feel if you had no automobile and you had to walk to school – oh how cruel!  Oh, yes, the more I have heard of the old-fashioned times, the more I feared they were awfully weird….


It makes me very sad and also mad that so many of you girls out there today think that men are all so bad – it’s not true, I want to tell you most of them are really very nice – so why don’t you give them a chance once or twice.  Get rid of your resentment, and stop thinking they are all bent on sexual harassment. For instance, should a man of your acquaintance to you sometimes say, “Wow, you look really great today!”  Don’t jump to conclusions. Stop having delusions and obsessing that you are being harassed. What the man meant was a compliment not sexual harassment.  Yes, most men are really very nice –  bad they are not and I like them a lot.


(Based loosely, very loosely on Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’)

When to your house you do invite a guest to spend the night, it is not nice into little pieces him to slice until he is dead in his bed.  But, Lady Macbeth had delusions of grandeur which she sought to achieve with a dagger.  For she had long since known that if the King, that old bore, exists no more, she and her husband would sit on the throne.  So, the King she did invite to their house to spend the night, and she slaughtered him dead in his bed. But poor Lady Macbeth she did not know what trouble it would make or what a problem it would create.  For on her pretty little hand she had a spot she could remove not – tis true t’was of blood royal blue “Out, out dammit spot, out, out dammit spot!” she cried, and she cried.  Lysol and Clorox and Tide she tried, but the spot she could remove not.

And poor old Macbeth, lord of the manor, was quite taken by surprise by his wife’s enterprise.  He had a bit of a conniption fit and took a whale of a slug of ale, “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” he would shout, as he staggered about.

Then he went and sat in a tree from where he did see witches three stirring up for him a most unusual stew.  Not the French cuisine he was used to, but more of a witch’s brew.

Of leg of lizard – fillet of a snake – tong of a tiger – the webbed wing of a bat – eye of newt – foot of a frog – Tail of a dragon and a toad.

When this recipe Macbeth did see, he did not feel well, and out of the tree he fell.  And as quick as he could, took a whale of a slug of ale.  But, oh no, there was old Banquo who not two days past had breathed his last – great friend to the King he had been, so he too got slaughtered dead in his bed.  With eyes all aglow and blood spurting from the hole in his head, down the street he went Macbeth to meet.

Now of all the things in the world Macbeth feared the most was a ghost – so off to the woods he did flee, to hide behind a tree.  But when he got there, he thought he did see that all the trees were walking about.  Yes, t’was true all the trees were walking about as Birnam Wood to Dunsinane came, and Macbeth did not know what to do, so he took a slug of ale, and thus fortified he cried, “Now off I must go to the war I can delay no more.”

He shook his fist in the air, his cheek he did bare, and onto the battle field he did stagger.  Brave was he and bold, waving his dagger at his foe of old old… Macduff the tuff.  But Macduff soon got rough and on that very same day, without delay, he did send Macbeth to his end. And that is the tale of the life of strife and wow of the lord Macbeth our noble hero.


Peter Rabbit had a very bad habit. Every night, just at dinner time, he raced across the peak to his girlfriend Molly’s place.

One day his mum said to him, “Peter it’s not right that every night you race to your girlfriend Molly’s place. They are just about to dine, and Molly’s mother who is very polite must say to you, “Oh, Peter won’t you stay and have dinner with us tonight?”

“Oh mum,” said Peter, “don’t get all uptight, it’s alright, cause I too am very polite to Molly’s mum, I always say – yay, its okay, sure I’ll stay.”

“Oh, dear – oh, dear, are there no manners anymore?” Peters mum would deplore.

“Listen mum,” said Peter, “every night to Molly’s place to dinner I gotta go, cause her mum cooks different from you, don’t you know.  Mum, do you remember succotash stew?”

“Oh yes Peter I am afraid I do, I do.”

“And mum, carrot surprise?

“Oh, yes, what a shame, such a nice name, but something in the recipe book I think I must have mistook.”

“And Mum, cabbage casserole?”

“Oh, Peter all that icky sticky goo.”

“And Mum, sassafras Soufflé?  And Parsnip pate?”

“Peter please, no more, no more!  For I am off to Paris, France.”

She tied on her bonnet, kissed Peter goodbye and out of the house she tore not to waste a moment more. She hoped into her plane, slammed shut the door, stepped on the gas – the engine did roar. And off she flew to L’Ecole Cordon Bleu in Paris, France there her cooking to enhance.


In the light of the moon, one could see the prune in the tree, said June to Harry, “When do you think it will come down?”

“Oh, I do not think it will,” said Harry to June, whom he did hope to marry soon, but the prospects did not look good. For when they met each night in the light of the moon, so far apart they stood. But why?

Because Harry was shy, said June to herself– it would be so much more fun if between us the space was considerably less, possibly none. Their conversation was becoming such a bore. June thought she would be able to stand it no more. Each night she would say to Harry, regarding the prune… when do you think it will come down? And Harry would say to June, “Oh, I do not think it will.”

But then in October when the weather grew colder Harry got bolder. One night in the light of the moon he did drape her cape over June’s shoulder. He was so close he got a good dose of her perfume and into a spin his head went.

He looked deep into her eyes, and to his surprise, he found he was a guy who was no longer shy and very soon after that they did marry.

Harry and June in the light of the moon under the tree with a prune.


History, as you will soon see, is to me a mystery.  I want to know why Caesar divided all of Gall into parts of 3 and who cut down the cherry tree and how was it found that the earth was round and did Napoleon is as rumored really say to her, “not tonight Josephine” – I wanted to know if Napoleon could actually be so mean.  And as to the President of the United States – the one who acted mighty funny and therefore got sued a lot of money will he, old Bill Clinton, now go down in history best remembered for his very special most unpresidential and favorite activity?  And will the oval office, once a place of great respectability and dignity, now go down in history as some sort of amusement parlor?  Filled with fun and games and dames and where the president of our nation found frequent recreation as he brought disgrace upon this long time-honored place.


I called the waiter over and asked him to please remove the alligator from underneath my table because my lunch, I was not able to eat, with an alligator on my feet.

“Are you an alligator hater?” asked the waiter.

“I will talk to you later,” she said to the waiter, “right now just please remove the alligator.”

“But madam he seems quite content, and I do not have his consent.”

“Let’s have no more conversation,” without further hesitation; I said to the waiter, “please remove the alligator.”

“But madam this I cannot do for I am an alligator hater, I will call the zoo, and they will come and do this thing for you.”

“No,” I cried, “do not call the zoo it will take them too much time to come and do. I am getting very hungry, and my lunch is getting very old and cold.”

“Waiter,” I said, “at once remove the alligator.”

“Madam I will call the zoo for you.”

Now I was getting very mad that the service at this restaurant was so bad that you were not able to get a waiter to remove an alligator from underneath your table.

So, myself, by the tail I did pull him out.

He looked all about and finally spied the nasty waiter, the alligator hater.

He chased him round and round, and finally caught him, and ate him up for lunch – crunch, crunch.


Now Kitty was a girl who was very, very pretty.

She had the most adorable little nose and wore the cutest clothes and a poet she wished to be, but at home, she could not write a poem because of the telephone.

All day long it rang and rang with Bill and Phil, Larry and Harry, Mat and Nat, Don and Ron, and so on, and so on.

Oh, how immature she thought they were.

Don’t they understand; I am a woman intellectual and not an object sexual.

And don’t they know, that if you wish to write a poem, you must be alone and not talk all day upon the telephone.

So from her home to a distant meadow, she did go, which had no telephone. She was alone, and there she sat down to write a poem but soon found herself in a situation very tight, for if a poem you wish to write you must meditate and concentrate. And now Kitty could not meditate or concentrate because of a great big problem of which she had. If she was not at home to answer the telephone would Bill then call Jill – Larry call Mary – Mat call Pat?

And when she thought of all of that, she very quickly hurried home to answer the telephone instead of writing a poem.


Mini Moose was on the loose looking for her little papoose who jumped off the back on her back it was time for his juice and time for his nap and time to be rocked on his Mummies lap.

Oh, where or where could he be, she looked in the cookie jar. He was not there under his chair. She did moo, and she did bellow.  Where, oh where, is my dear little fellow. He was such a good boy, his mum’s pride and joy – not like his dad, Mickey Moose the Bad. Who was very ferocious.

Baby moose was quite precocious on the day he was born. He had said to his mom, “Mom when can I go to c-o-l-l-e-g-e? I wanta acquire knowledge.”

And at last, when she found him, he was sitting on a stool attending classes at Moose Country Day School.


On a nice day in May Tim came to town from down on the farm to spend the day.

He said to the man at the parking lot can I park her here?  “Why of course,” said the man “We would be glad to park a horse.”  Tim kissed Bess goodbye, told her he would be back not to worry he had a lot to do but he would sure try to hurry, then he went on down the main street of the town where he had his boots all polished and shined to be more refined and then he made a stop at the barber shop where they cut his hair in a nice new style and when he looked in the mirror he did smile for he thought himself so much more handsome than when his mom went chop, chop, chop all over his head and then some with his new haircut and his boots all shined up Tim went on down to the main street of the town where Tony’s Bar and Grill he dropped in to see his girlfriend Lill and have a nice lunch so Lill served him a big bowl of chili and a drink of Gin and that was a real neat treat because back down on the farm amongst his own kith and kin he’d never ever have a drink of Gin, that would be a great big sin.

Tim paid his bill, said good bye to Lill and on down the main street of the town he went to buy his Mum a birthday present, now most boys buy their Mum perfume, but Tim decided on a nice new broom.

It was getting late, but Tim went on down the main street of the town to the fishing tackle store to buy some bait from his old pal Hal.  They had a big bear hug and hearty handshake, and they laughed, and they joked about what each one did when he a kid.

Then Tim had one more stop to make so on down the main street of the town he went to the candy shop to buy Bess a great big sugar-coated lollipop, and then he had to hurry back to the parking lot before Bess did think she had been forgot. He paid he parking ticket at the gate and there came Bess at a great rate galloping down to meet him and to greet him she whinnied, and she neighed she tossed her head around and pawed the ground just to tell Tim how glad she was to see him.  He put his arms around her neck and held her close for a moment or two.  And then how much they loved each other, each one knew.  Tim was soon in the saddle – they were together – and into the sunset homeward the boy and his horse did travel.


Oh, darling, you were so amorous when you told me I was so glamorous and luscious and delicious and wouldn’t I please be yours. I didn’t say yes, but I didn’t exactly say no — your dark eyes did so plead as you told me how desperately me you did need — your voice was filled with emotion as you spoke of your devotion and said you thought you’d go mad if me you soon didn’t have.  You expressed your passion in such a romantic fashion – you laid a long-stemmed red rose on my lap and put a kiss in the palm of my hand and closed it tight in yours and softly you whispered couldn’t it be tonight?  Oh, darling, you don’t understand.  And I said, “oh, yes I do” because I love you too.


So many things you knew and of so many things we fought and talked, but then there were the moments when there were no words were needed or spoken when we let all the world pass us by when beneath the moon and under the sun there was only you and me. But now my love, the time has come when all between us is said and done, so as Shakespeare said to Hamlet I say to you, “goodnight sweet prince.”

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