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Bob the Donkey Sorts the Stamps

by Kat Henak

(First place Ė adult competition)

Dedicated to Bob Mather -

Donkey stamp collector extraordinaire



Sighed Penny, a fickle bird sorting her stamps,

"Iím tired and Iím bored

And my wingís full of cramps

And just sitting here gives me a pain in the groin!

These stamps! How I hate them!

Iíd rather sort coins!

Iíd be a numismatist, do what I pleased,

If I just could find someone to sort all of these!

If I could find someone, Iíd fly awayĖfree..."

Then Bob, the old donkey, passed under her tree.


"Hello!" called the bird on a whim and a thought,

"Iím busy and tired. I see that youíre not.

Would YOU like to sort all the stamps in my lot?"

But the donkey just laughed.

"Why now, isnít that dumb!

You know that I have no opposable thumbs.

My hooves would just dent your collection, you see.

And how would I ever get into that tree?"


"Oh, pooh," answered Penny, "Iím sure youíll do fine.

So your limbs have no thumbs? Yes, well, neither do mine.

Just handle them gently. It shouldnít be tough,

Cause youíre certainly gentle and patient enough."


"I canít," Bob replied.

Said the bird, "You can too!

And you know that Iíd do the same favor for you.

I wonít be gone long. Iíll be back in a jiffy."


"Alright," said old Bob, "but it seems a bit iffy...

Since you want a break, then go off and have fun.

Iíll stay here and sort your stamp lots till youíre done.

Iíll sort them quite gently. Iíll try, anyway..."

But Penny was gone. There was no more to say.


"Now the first thing to do," mused the donkey, "Letís see..."

As he piled up stamp albums under the tree,

"I must fashion these stamp albums into some stairs.

Itís the only way Iíll reach those stamps way up there."


Then slowly,


Gently he clopped

From the base of the tree

To the stamps at the top.


Old Bob grinned with pride like a heavyweight champ,

And he sorted

And sorted,

And SORTED those stamps.


He sorted all day

And he filed and he counted.

He sorted all night

And he hinged and he mounted.

The clock ticked and it tocked

And it struck and it toned!


"This is so very boring,"

The poor donkey groaned.

"I wish sheíd come back.

This is so slow and tiring.

Letís face it, these stamp lots just arenít that inspiring."


But Penny, by now, was unreachably gone

In a backwater shop known as Markís Coin and Pawn

And the bright, shiny coins had so dazzled her eyes

She gave up stamps entirely. (What a surprise.)


So Bob just kept sorting them, hour after hour.

The sky became cloudy. It started to shower.

And then came the hailstorm...and poor Bob was pelted

He sheltered the stamps from the ice that had melted

And vowed as the ice balls bounced off of his flanks:

"Iíll keep sorting stamps and I wonít ask for thanks!


I told her the truth

And the truthís what I told.

I made her a promise,

And that Iíll uphold."


So poor, bruised Bob sorted

Two days and two nights,

And the bird did not come back

To set things to rights!


Bobís friends gathered round

And they hooted with glee.

"Look! Look! Bob is up

Sorting stamps in a tree!"


They laughed and they frolicked.

They called him a nerd.

"That donkey thinks heís

A philatelist bird!"


They laughed till they cried. Then they all dashed away.

Poor Bob was quite lonely. He wanted to play.

But he gritted his teeth, and continued to say:


"I told her the truth

And the truthís what I told.

I made her a promise

And that Iíll uphold.


Iíve got to keep trying

For just one more hinge!"

But poor old Bobís troubles

Had gone on a binge.


For as Bob was sorting,

So faithful, so kind,

Four farmers sneaked cautiously

Up from behind!


He heard the menís footsteps!

He turned with a jolt!

They wanted to rope Bob

Like he was a colt!


Did he run?

He did not!

Bob stayed up in that tree

For he valued his word

More than his being free.


He just glared at the farmers

As if he would jeer:

"You can try if you want

But Iím not leaving here!


I told her the truth

And the truthís what I told.

I made her a promise

And that Iíll uphold."


But the men dropped their ropes!

They stood quite open-jawed

In amazed disbelief.

They were shocked. They were awed.


"I donít get it," they said.

"Itís a wonder to me

But what kind of donkey sorts stamps?

In a tree?"


They each shouted suggestions:

"Heís stupid!"

"Heís lazy!"

"Psychologically deviant!"

"Well, I say heís crazy!"


But they all then agreed it was wonderfully funny

And they sold him to their local stamp club for money.

They sold poor, tired Bob with his stamps and his tree.

He was shown at stamp expos for people to see.


They showed him at SESCAL and NOJEX and STAMPSHOW,

At MILCOPEX, WESTPEX, St. Louis Stamp Expo.

They showed him at AIRPEX and BALPEX and NAPEX



Poor Bob kept on sorting, each place he was sent,

Though he wondered where Penny, the fickle bird, went.


"I told her the truth

And the truthís what I told.

I made her a promise

And that Iíll uphold." day

They showed him way out in Waupun

Right next to a shop they call Markís Coin and Pawn.


"Oh, goody!" said Penny. "Looks like fun to me!"

(Sheíd already tired of coins now, you see.

And much more than that, she completely forgot

Why she left poor, poor Bob in his horrible spot.)


So she flew from the shop

To the stamp show next door...

"My goodness!" screeched Penny,

"Iíve seen YOU before!"


Bobís head jerked up fast with relief and surprise,

When the stamp heíd just sorted caught both of his eyes.

Bob let out a hee-haw of amazement, delight,

As he held the stamp up to the fluorescent light.


What a catch! What a find!

Bob cried out, "Look here, Penny!

Come look at my stamp! ITíS AN INVERTED JENNY!"


"Itís MY stamp!" shrieked the bird, "And youíd better return it!"

(She liked a reward. She just hated to earn it.)

"Get out of my tree! Get out now, while you can!"

"Just wait," warned the expo security man.


"You say theyíre your stamps. But heís had them for ages.

Would he work so for you? Were you paying him wages?

Do you have any proof in support of your claim?

Now, come on, Mrs. Bird. Tell me, what is the game?"


Then Penny said nothing, for Penny was scared.

She didnít have proof, for she never had cared.

The man stood in silence, then just shook his head.

"I think they are all Bob the donkeyís," he said.


The philatelists gathered to marvel and cheer

At the stamps Bob had sorted for one-quarter year.

And all were quite happyĖexcept maybe PennyĖ

That after such work, good old Bob got the Jenny.


For he sorted stamps still, when the bird didnít come.

(And he did it without an opposable thumb!)


He told her the truth...

(Now itís just getting old.)

Well, they sent Bob home happy.

Our story is told.

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