My kids call me “Shmoo,” not knowing the Shmoo
was my favorite childhood toy. They like the sound,
which rhymes with “Lew.” As invented by Al Capp,
the Shmoo was squat, blob-shaped, its expression
benign, its eagerness to please unqualified.
Look at it hungrily and it sacrificed itself,
tasting like chicken or steak according to
your preference—and thus destroyed the world
economy. I forget what happened next;
perhaps Li’l Abner saved us.
An actress and a novelist I knew both had
the same friend, married to an architect
whose name was the same as my real name.
(Architect, in fact, was my childhood ambition.)
The friend was Al Capp’s sister.
Coincidences like that give shape to this
indifferent universe, where we wander
lost, hungry, essentially alone,
searching each day for meaning or direction
or a kindly Shmoo to look after us.
(Drawing by Joseph Yeomans)