backyard rituals

They were the same rituals every night.

The neighborhood pack would gather together as the evening meals were finished. One of the older kids would assert themselves, and take the lead. Everyone put a foot forward to make the circle. No one wore shoes.

The Lead’s finger would light on the person’s foot next to them, and pause - while they considered what to cast in their attempt to manipulate Destiny. The rhyme had to have class, especially the first one of the evening; no eenie-meenie-miny-mo, or engine-engine-number-nine. When a chant was settled on, the ritual began - Three-six-nine, the goose drank wine, the monkey was dancing on the streetcar line…

The finger flitted from foot to foot around the circle, moving with syllabic syncopation from toe to toe. Each word was musical, each word carried its own mojo, and each word became heavier and heavier as the rhyme progressed - The line broke, the monkey got choked, and they all went to heaven in a little…row…boat.

The finger stopped with the final utterance. The weight of the decision bore down on the big toe of the person to be eliminated. A foot reluctantly removed itself from the circle. They were Out. They would not be It.

Then, the lead passed. The next person became the chosen one, and the process began anew. As demanded by the audience, a different incantation was chosen and cast - Early in the morning, late at night, two dead boys got up to fight…

Round and round and round. We laughed as One. We were madcap accomplices in a deconstruction of Logic. We were the founders of our own Theater of Nonsense - …back to back they faced each other, drew their swords, and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard the noise, and came and shot the two...dead...boys.

Another foot withdrawn. The lead passed. The next player considered their repertoire of choices.

Icka bicka soda cracker…Icka bicka boo…

My mother and your mother were hanging out the clothes…

They were the same rituals every night.

- The Fool
- photo by Doris Power