Two Charms Against Stress by
(7 Stories)

Prompted By Stress

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The first charm is the card above, which was made for and given to me by my fairy godmother, Lenora Perkins.  Lenora taught me to shrug off stress.  She never prescribed anything to anyone.  I learned this by watching her.

If a situation aggravated Lenora, she’d stop, compose herself, stare into space for a few seconds, to understand and master both the experience and her emotions, and then…she’d shrug, you know, hunch both shoulders a little toward her ears, lower them.  Then she’d shake her head, slow and thoughtful, and then she’d move on, usually commenting on something she found cheerful.

If the source of aggravation was an arrogant, pretentious person, she’d fix them with her stare, and then signify her recognition of them by making a classic gesture.  She’d place one forefinger below the tip of her nose and slowly push her head back until it attained haute haughtiness, which was both a mirror and a sharp rejection. Then she’d lower her head, shrug, shake her head, and either walk away or begin a cheerful, unrelated conversation with a by-stander.

In the Blandings novels of P G Wodehouse, there is a character named Uncle Fred, who says his mission in life is to “spread sweetness and light.”  That was Lenora.  She was brilliant, sweet, and exuberant.


The second charm is a poem written by Marion Mackles, a third grader at PS 61 in New York around 1970.  This poem appears in Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry, by Kenneth Koch.  The phrase “swan of bees” is correct, and wonderful.


I saw a fancy dancy dress

hanging on a fancy dancy window

of red roses you could call it a red

rose window I put it on and I

danced to a swan of bees I put

it on a chair of rock and I looked

at the sky of hand I put on

my fancy dancy dress I fell

asleep and I had a dream

of a blue sky of roses and a

house of daisies


and I awoke and it was true

I saw everything I saw

sky of roses house of daisies a tree

of orange a book of apple and

I loved it all and I lived with it for

the rest of my life


Profile photo of Zeque Zeque

Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Two wonderful antidotes, Zeque. I will take note and try them myself. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    That poem really made me smile, as did the description of the delightful Lenora. Some people seem to have that magic ability to spread sweetness and light, and if we don’t have the good fortune to be one of them, then knowing one of them is a real gift.

  3. Thanx Zeque for sharing your godmother Lenora’s wisdom, and the charming poem by a 6th grader and her “swan of bees “!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    I love the poem, especially the “swan of bees.”

  5. Brava for finding two effective ways to counter stress!
    And ultimate bravissima for bringing that old Kenneth Koch book to the attention of Retrospect readers. i had it on my shelf until it fell apart a few years ago. I used it to get preschoolers to craft poetry, or at least, a couple of lines of poetry. His approach was truly inspirational, and I’m so happy to discover another Retro writer who harkens back to that volume.

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