Saturday, February 2, 2013

Shadow Play

image borrowed by bing

Shadow Play

“Alas! Must it ever be so? Do we stand in our own
light, and fight for our own shadows forever?
---Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton

Today, Punxatawney Phil, the “seer of seers”,
(supposedly) awakened from his winter slumber
and emerged bright-eyed from his burrow
at Gobbler’s Knob and made his 127th
prognostication--and after not seeing 
his shadow, predicted that spring (might)
come early this year. 

Performing this feat in front of 20,000 people,
this being the weekend--many of them
wearing top hats & tuxedos.

There is a seamless thread for this sacrement
to other animal predictions of the weather,
stretching back across the shoulders of centuries;
tied to the Romans, and the Catholic ceremony
of Candlemass. The early Germans decided
to use the European hedgehog as prophet--
when a large population of Germanic folks
first settled into Pennsylvania, they found
a profusion of groundhogs, so the honors
were lovingly transfered to a new rodent.

In 1886, Phil was first called Br-er Groundhog,
and they relocated the ceremony to the Knob
in 1887. Like Superman & Lassie, Phil is ageless.

There are, of course, several usurpers out there
coveting his notoriety & throne. 
Staten Island Chuck in New York State.
General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, &
Wiarton Willie up north in Ontario.
“They are all just rodent pretenders”
reported the Inner Circle.

Phil has been manipulated by media whores
for decades, and he seemed content with this;
During Prohibition, he threatened 60 more weeks
of winter if he couldn’t get a stiff drink.
In 1958, after Sputik & Muttnik, he was dubbed
the official United States Chucknik.
In 1981 he wore a yellow ribbon to honor
the American hostages in Iran.
In 1993 he starred in a movie with Bill Murray.
In 1995 he appeared on the Oprah Show.

It is said that Phil is never “wrong”
with his predictions, just sometimes
“less accurate secondary to freak circumstances”.
That sounds too much like the incessant patter
I used to hear from my stepfather.

Glenn Buttkus

February 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets-poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Claudia said...

ha...the early germans..and we don't even have the groundhog thing over here..what a shame.. less accurate secondary to freak circumstances...that would describe the predictions of some politicians as well..just saying..smiles...

Manicddaily said...

Ha! I smell a rat!

This is very funny, fun history - and it is actually a legend I rather enjoy. I am sure that all kinds of patterns could be traced in animal behavior - perhaps viewers should forego the top hats! k.

Brian Miller said...

haha 60 more weeks if he couldnt get a drink...we are in the ice age...neat history man...i wonder how many times he has been right, you know...

marousia said...

I enjoyed the threads running through this piece said...

I always feel a little sorry for the years "Phil" - dragged out of his cozy den to be displayed by the top hatted folk. But heres to an early spring! K

barbara_y said...


Myrna R. said...

Some good, pertinent history here. Very creative. Cute that you included the patter of your stepfather in this.

lucychili said...

Bravo for Phil =)