My Pet

A seventh-grader named Wayne left a comment on my blog Thursday night. He’s writing a report on me for school and wanted to know how I started writing poems. I’ve gotten a handful of such requests from kids over the years and they always make me smile.

Here I am, just a regular Joe, sitting at my laptop, unshaven, in a T-shirt and sweat pants, pounding out whatever copy I can to pay the bills. But because my name is in Kids Pick the Funniest Poems attached to a handful of goofy poems, to a generation of kids I’m a dapper poet laureate in a smoking jacket, relaxing in an overstuffed leather chair at an exclusive men’s club, lifting a glass of sherry and trading witticisms with the likes of John Keats and Robert Frost. Love it!

I have five poems in this wonderful little book. Do your kids a favor and buy this book for them. They'll love it!

I know that when I was a kid, if an author I admired had responded to a letter from me with a few kind words in a brief note, I would have whooped and hollered and run around the yard in circles until I passed out from joyous exhaustion. So I always enjoy responding to kids right away and helping them with their reports however I can.

In responding to Wayne’s note, I thought back to all the silly song parodies I had written in grade school. I would sit at the counter that separated our kitchen and family room and painstakingly type out my own versions of Snoopy and the Red Baron and Strangers in the Night on an old manual typewriter that would be in the Smithsonian today. I still have the little book of songs I so meticulously assembled and stapled together.

But I also liked to write more serious things. I remember writing My Pet for an assignment in Mrs. Hunter’s fifth-grade class. I got an A, and my parents proudly shared it with some of their friends. My Pet was an ode to the final hours of one of my beloved pet chameleons. I still remember checking on Mickey as he lay motionless in his cage, his shallow breaths finally giving way to silence.


My pet was dying.
He could not make a sound,
Except for the thump-thump-thump
Of his heart,
And the gasping of air.
He could not move, he just lay there,
We tried to warm him, feed him,
We tried to get him to drink,
But he would not.
He would just lay there, slowly,
Painfully dying.
We just sat there, trying to bear
The sight of him.
We tried to help him again,
But he would lay there,
Still gasping for air,
In his terrible misery.
The minutes passed,
One minute, two minutes.
I could not look,
I could not bear it.
I went out of the room,
Not caring to look.
Minutes later I came back,
And there he lay.

Me, my best friends Kerri and Scott, and my chameleon Shammy. Oh, happy days!

Click here to see all my posts featuring my life stories.


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14 Responses to “My Pet”

  1. Angelina Says:

    Love this post and picture of the younger you. So cute!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Aw, shucks. Thanks, Angelina!

  3. Kate Says:

    Nice tie tack!

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You are a mean guy, Kate! Shammy was the bestest pet in the history of the world!

  5. Erin Says:

    Very cute! I’m glad you respond to kids’ inquiries right away. I would like to see that picture with Kerri & Scott recreated in present time!

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    That’s a good idea, Erin! Why am I not surprised?

  7. Kerri Luecke Says:

    GREAT PICTURE PHIL “Kippy”!!! What was Scott doing down on the ground! He could not have been afraid of Shammy…:-) ! I certainly look like I am having a fun time, our smiles are priceless. Remember, that I had pet chameleons, and a horn toad too. Those were the days. Kippy, do you remember searching window wells to find salamanders!

    I am with Erin on this one…I think we should recreate the photo shoot in the present time. It is always great to see old friends…

    Good talking to you and your Mom, Phil…give her a hug for me! xxxo

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Oh, yes, Kerri, I have very fond memories of window well searches for salamanders. Loved that! In fact, I wrote in my journal five years ago:
    “Coming up toward the building on a blacktop path, I couldn’t believe my eyes! A salamander guy! Just like the ones we used to find in the window wells in White Bear Lake! What a cute lil’ guy he was. Instantly, many happy memories came flooding back and I felt like I was a kid again. He kept plodding along until he bopped his nose on my shoe. I bent down and said hello and he ambled away.”

    Yes, it would be great to recreate the photo of you and me and Scott. But just us—there’s no substitute for Shammy, the best chameleon of all time!

  9. Suza Francina Says:

    Great photo —just can’t help but make people smile back… what a sweet, sensitive young boy you were/are…

  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Aw, shucks, Suza. Thanks!

  11. MamaRed Says:

    Hey Phil…what a wonderful gift and I’m soooooooo glad you choose to be a support to this young man. That, in my opinion, is one of the greatest gifts you give … sharing what you’ve learned and where you’ve been with others!

    love and light, hugs and blessings

  12. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thanks, MamaRed! Yep, it’s all about sharing, encouraging and inspiring!

  13. mel Says:

    Mr. Phil Bolsta,

    My first ‘literary’ creation was a short poem about mother’s day when I was in grade school.
    During my high school days, I have been fortunate enough to become a member of our school paper, Trailblazer as contributor. Then on my fourth year I finally became managing editor. I was also a member of our high school yearbook staff.
    I can still remember the times when I have the time, passion and inspiration to write poems, narratives and short stories even speeches and declamation pieces. I felt elated whenever my creation was published or praised.
    Those were the days when I wasn’t working yet. Now that I have a Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm kind of work, I don’t have the luxury to write anymore.

  14. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yikes! Monday to Sunday? You mean you work seven days a week, Mel? I hope you can change that if changing it is what you want to do. And I hope you can return to doing what you love to do—write.

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