About Don Royster

Don Royster has spent many lifetimes accumulating adventures from a multitude of galaxies. Some of his magic carpet rides have taken him to Japan, the Phillippines, and Texas. Gifted with an insatiable curiosity, a love for creativity and a strange sense of humor, he has been a student, and still is, of everything from A to Zen and back again. Along the way he has written poems, stories and novels about his many adventures and travels. His latest adventure is the blog, Uncle Bardie's Stories & Such.

Big Nose, Mommy & Me

Have you ever wondered what a baby thinks as he’s looking up at you with those baby blue eyes? Perhaps we can imagine.

It’s all about me. It’s true. The world revolves around me. Ask Mommy. She’ll tell you.

“Isn’t he handsome?” Mommy says. I am in my crib. Her face is above me. She smiles her large smile. I love her smile. It makes me feel warm inside. I giggle.

“He’s not so hot,” Brother looks through the bars of my crib. He has big eyes. Big ears. A big nose. His big mouth smirks at me. I look at him. I frown.

“You be nice,” Mommy says.

Yeah, Big Nose, you listen to Mommy.

“I am nice,” Big Nose says.

I stick out my tongue. I spit. Pooh on you.

“Now, now,” Mommy says to me, “ignore your brother. He doesn’t have a clue. It’s great to have a little brother like you. You’re just darling, you know that? Yessir, goo goo ga ga.”

I do know that. I’m back looking at Mommy. She has the most beautiful face in the world. Cut it out, Mommy. You’re tickling me. Please, you’re tickling me. Mommy stops the tickling. She pulls the blanket over my shiny new body.

“Look at him,” Mommy says to Big Nose. “Isn’t he wonderful? And that smile. Who couldn’t love a smile like that.”

See, I told you. The world does revolve around me. And I’m wonderful too.

“What’s so wonderful about the little turd?”

I frown. Mommy, he called me a bad word. Well, he’ll be sorry. I’ll fix him. I’ll fix him good.

“Don’t talk like that. Just look at those … toes.”

“Pee eww,” Big Nose says,

They turn their faces away.

Sorry, Mommy. That was meant for him.

“The little turd just pooped a big turd. Guess his turds are wonderful too.”

They both face me again. Mommy reaches down to unpin my diaper.

“Like your poop don’t stink. I’m here to tell you that was mild compared to yours.”

I knew it. Even when I poop, I’m wonderful. Why would she change my diaper if I wasn’t? I smile at her. Then I giggle.

She smiles back at me. “You’re absolutely adorable, you know that?”

I do know.

Neruda

April is National Poetry Month. Here’s a story to celebrate the month.

The first class of the second semester of American history was filling with college students and would be full soon. Michael’s eyes slowly looked around the classroom. A few faces he knew, but most he did not. There was one in particular he’d never seen before. Across the room in the corner was a blonde, an older student in her early thirties like himself. She had a pony tail and an orange sweater. When class was over, she gathered up her things and left quickly.

The next time he saw her in the class she wore green. Her hair hung loose and fell to her waist. She sat in the same corner alone and away from her nearest classmate. On her desk, her laptop and her books walled her against any intrusion from her fellow students.

After the class, he overcame his hesitation and walked over to her. She was pushing her laptop into her backpack. “Do you come here often?” Michael asked, pouring what little charm he could muster into his words.

She gave him a look that said she didn’t much care for his charm, then she said, “Not sure if I do, but my hair does. ”

Not able to come up with an entertaining comeback, Michael said nothing. His eyes followed her as she rushed out into the hallway. His mind raced for a way to stop her and engage her in a conversation. He had nothing. This was not a good way to start off a relationship with a woman he wanted to have a relationship with. Not a good way at all. This wasn’t even a good way to keep one going. Hopefully he would come up with something next time that gave him a half-ass chance.

The next time he walked into the class late. There she was over in the corner in her usual place, her laptop open, her books stacked on the desk. She typed fast on the keyboard. He dropped into the chair at the desk beside hers. She glanced over at him and gave him a leave-me-alone look. Her eyes matched the blue of her dress, then they went back to her laptop screen.

At the end of the class, he leaned over toward her, parted her books and asked, “Would you like to go dancing?”

She showed him her ring. “I have a husband.”

“We can take him along with us. He might even learn a few new dance steps. I’ve been told I’m a good teacher.”

She shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Before he could come up with something for that comment, she was gone.

When he saw her again in class, he sat at the desk next to her again. Asked, “Just coffee then?” She was in her orange cashmere, her hair in its pony tail.

“Coffee always leads to sex,” she answered.

“Then don’t take your coffee with cream or sugar.”

“I only drink it black.” She opened her laptop cover.

“Never heard of black coffee leading to sex.”

“Now you have,” then she went to her notes. But this time she smiled.

At the end of the class, she turned to Michael. “You like my hair?” she asked.

“Very much.”

“That settles it. I’m cutting it and dying it green.” She seemed to be enjoying herself.

“Can I show you some trees?” he asked.

“What would you want to do that for?” she asked.

“So you’ll know what color green to dye your hair. You can tell from the leaves. Besides I like trees.”

She sighed the kind of sigh that said that she might enjoy the trees. She packed up her laptop, then said, “Let’s go. And no tricks. I’m on to you. Understand?”

“I thought you were,” he said, following her out of the classroom.

Walking out onto the campus lawn, he pulled up beside her and said,”We could be soul mates, you know.”

“I’m afraid not. My last three soul mates I killed off. And I don’t want to be guilty for a fourth death. I’m like Maggie on ‘Northern Exposure’. Guess that’s why they call me Maggie.”

Michael had a name for her now. “I’m Michael.”

A few days later, she was not in the classroom when he arrived. He went to their corner, unpacked his laptop and summoned up his notes for the class. The professor arrived and took his place at the podium.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have some news,” he began. “Maggie Street, one of our students, will not be with us today. She is in the hospital. The police are holding her husband for questioning.”

A stunned silence swept through the class.

“It’s pretty clear what happened. Her husband came home last night. Took out a .45. Walked into the house. Shot her in the head. She’s in a pretty bad shape. Not sure if she will live or die. Give her your prayers if you do that sort of thing. Otherwise send some good thoughts her way.”

For the next week, Michael waited in the waiting room in the hospital everyday after class. Late in the week just before visiting hours were over, a woman in her late fifties walked over to him. Her hair was gray. “I’m Adele.” She offered him her hand.

He stood up, took her hand and said, “I’m Michael.”

“You know my daughter, Maggie?” she asked.

“I do. We are in the same class together.”

“Thank you for coming. I’ve seen you here every day for the last seven days.”

“How is she?” he asked.

“She woke up hungry as a bear this morning. The doctor says she will be fine.”

Michael went to say something, then stopped himself.

“She has no brain damage, thank God,” the woman continued. “With a lot of work, she will be back to normal. At least that is what the doctors say. It’s a miracle.”

Michael breathed his relief.

“Would you like to see her?”

“No,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure…you know, that she was going to be okay.”

“Well, she is. And thank you,” Maggie’s mother released his hand. “I have to get back to her.”

That night alone in his tiny apartment Michael wrote a poem, the first he’d written in a long time. He wrote:

“I dropped the poems into my bag.
They were Neruda, and only Neruda.
I went to show them to you,
but could not. I could not.

When I see your face,
I think Neruda.
When I see your hair, your lovely hair,
I think Neruda.
For you are the summation of a poem,
of all the poems of Pablo Neruda,
and only Neruda.

When I first laid eyes upon you,
it was like my first kiss.
It was as if I was reading
Neruda for the first time.”

My song

I’ve always wanted a song. When asked what song did I call my own, I have been known to respond jokingly, “Nowhere Man.”

It wasn’t because of the lyrics. If I had listened to the lyrics, I would have known that wasn’t me. I just liked the title.

I’ve thought about Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” Love the song but it’s one of those pick-my-rear-end-out-of-the-dirt-and-get-on-with-it songs.

It does that. And it does it in aces. But I can’t say that it is a song that defines me.

Then I heard Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer perform his “Footprints in the Snow.”

I chanced upon the song by accident. I had heard that Keith Emerson had committed suicide. To honor this great musician whom I had loved in my youth, I went back and listened to several of their albums, then I found Footprints. At first, I thought maybe Greg had written it for Keith–and that may be so. I found it on the 1992 “Black Moon” and began to re-evaluate. Maybe Greg composed this song for one of his children. Or a lover.

But there seemed to be more to it than that. At least, for me. Over the years since that 2016 night, I’ve listened to Footprints hundreds of times. Wasn’t sure why I loved the song but I loved the song.

The other night I pulled it up and listened to Footprints once again. And it hit me. This is a song about my relationship with myself. It’s a struggle of trying to come to terms with that relationship.

“First time when you looked at me
You tried to hide but I could see
A special beauty in your eyes
Passion flying like a spark
Like an arrow to the mark
I feel it sting my jealousy

Before you know there’s footprints in the snow

Desire like a river flows
Where it comes from no one knows
It isn’t heard, it isn’t seen.
Love just like a flower grows
And then God only knows
It comes down like guillotine

Now I feel the rain
of love torn by a hurricane
One night eclipsed the sun
How deep still waters run

How deep they go like footprints in the snow

Take my love into your brest
Commit my spirit to the test
You will see him like a knight
His armour gleams
We’ll fly upon his angel’s wings
Above the clouds in rainbow rings
We can sail a ship of dreams

If you will take my hand
We can cross this desert made of sand
We can break in through the ice
And feel the wind of paradise
We’ll feel it blow our footprints in the snow

Anytime you feel alone
Just raise your hand, pick up the phone
Take in my number, there I’ll be
If one day your stars won’t shine
I will give you some of mine
Cause they could fall so easily

We both know there’s footprints in the snow.”

Do you have a song you claim as your own? What is it, and why?

Why did God give me one big mouth to stick my two feet in?

Another Uncle Bardie lyric. This is what a country song should really sound like.

My wife is divorcing me
My girlfriend is mad as hell
Got run over by my truck
My dawg bit me in the tail
Lost that lottery ticket
And its six numbers to win
Shot myself in the toe
Hurt like all kinds of sin

CHORUS:
Cause I drank that moonshine
That cornlikker’s getting to me
Oh, that sweet shine of shines
Sure made a man out of me

Went myself a cow roping
Tipped some cows on the sides
Rustled up some of that beef
Pushed ‘em into my double wide
Bull saw me in the pasture
Bull took a liking to me
Now I got a big ole hole
In that place I cannot see

CHORUS:
Cause I drank that moonshine
That cornlikker’s getting to me
Oh, that sweet shine of shines
Sure made a man out of me

BRIDGE:
Why did God give me one big mouth to stick my two feet in?
I’m a-thinking the mouth is lonely and needs two good friends

Got myself some Jesus
Off to the church I went
Down came the big ole steeple
They said it was an accident
Now I’m six feet under
My grave is double-wide
My mouth’s full of dirt
Toes pointing to the sky

CHORUS:
Cause I drank that moonshine
That cornlikker’s getting to me
Oh, that sweet shine of shines
Sure made a man out of me

The Coronavirus Blues

The lonely vending machine
He’s sitting in the corner
Waiting for the coins to drop
Nickels, dimes and quarters

But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
To drop
But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
For the slot

There’s a washing mahine
Standing in the laudromat
Waiting for the dirty clothes
Stained with mud and chocolate

But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
To drop
But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
For the slot

And the slots off in Vegas
They’re waiting for a handout
From the unlucky many
Who are down for the count

But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
To drop
But there ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
There ain’t no coin
For the slot