[HEY READERS! While I am on vacation this week, busy yourself with the following poem which I wrote and now read every year out loud at the Thanksgiving table — usually while carelessly swinging a bottle of booze. WARNING: Grab a tissue... this one's a tearjerker!]

When I was but a tiny lad, no more than five or six,

I received a most enjoyable pet, which was never spayed nor fixed.

He wasn't a pooch, he wasn't a goat, a rat, a fish, nor yak.

My pet had wings (O, marvelous things!) and a beak with which to quack.

A duck! A duck! O, wonderful luck! How very happy am I!

I shall name him "Quacky"—a drake both handsome and shy.

I'll hug him, I'll kiss him, I'll call him sweet names, and never shall we part.

I'll always love my Quacky, from the bottom of my heart.

And so the days passed (some slow, some fast) for my ducky pal and I.

I would take him to school for "show and tell" and feed him mulberry pie.

And when the class bullies would beat me up, my duck would make them pay!

He thrashed 'em & bashed 'em & smashed 'em, and then, would peck my tears away.

In winter I dressed him in scarves and hats, and we skated on frozen ponds.

In spring we picked flowers, and summer (for hours) we rolled on freshly cut lawns.

But then came November (it hurts to remember), and father offered a deal:

"I'll trade you a puppy, or even a guppy, to make Quacky our Thanksgiving meal!"

I was hurt and confused (and of course I refused!), and firmly put my foot down!

My father said, "Fine! The duck we'll decline!" and left without another sound.

Waddling into view, Quacky said "Phew!" and rejoiced over these newfound facts,

Yet ignored the suspicious, and oh-so malicious sound of Papa sharpening his axe....

On Thanksgiving Day, as we sat down to pray, I quickly peeked at the spread.

There was gravy, and Jell-O, and dressing and... Hello! Quacky both well done and dead!

My pet was glazed with a creamy béarnaise, and then things went all amuck.

I went berserk! I lost my head, and dashed out the door with the duck.

My family and friends were in hot pursuit, screaming, "That's our dinner, you fool!"

But I couldn't be caught, and ran like a shot to throw Quacky in our neighbor's pool.

Kersplash! He went in, and so was the end to Quacky, the King of the Birds.

And good-bye I said to my duck who was dead, with these final heartfelt words:

"O, darling duck! O, delightful duck! O, dainty duck! O dear.

Yours was perhaps the wackiest quack a human could ever hear.

But now your beak is silent. I'll hear your quack no more.

You've departed the ocean of life to waddle a distant shore.

"A duck! A duck! O, wonderful luck! How very happy was I!

And so I named you 'Quacky'—a drake both handsome and shy.

I hugged you, I kissed you, I called you sweet names, and thought we never would part.

I'll always love you, Quacky. From the bottom of my heart."