Trial Balloon

The Cremation of Frosty

Posted at 6:00 AM on December 14, 2009 by Dale Connelly (22 Comments)
Filed under: Poetry

Last week we heard Debby McClatchy's musical setting of the Robert W. Service poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee", by request from Cynthia.

I've always loved Service's dark humor, and it got me thinking about another wintertime story that could benefit from his ominous, creepy tone.

There are weird things found on the icy ground
when the children play in snow.
And the local streets offer eerie treats.
This is something they all know.

In suburban yards you will find the shards
of these games and what they cost.
But I do not say much about the day
that I made a man of Frost.

He was big and white with a pipe stuck right
in a mouth that seemed to float.
He had coal for eyes and his nose likewise
was a button from my coat.

But one crucial part made the trouble start.
A silk hat I found by chance.
When it sat on top something weird went "pop"
and the dude got up to dance.

To my knees I sank in a chilly bank
as I watched the ice go wild.
I was quite afraid as it laughed and played.
And then terrified. It smiled.

As it thumped around (How I hate that sound!)
I knew all the fault was mine.
I had rolled his base and I built his face.
A cursed, frosty Frankenstien.

Next my heart went cold as the monster bold-
ly said "now let's have some fun."
He was made of flakes, so to kill him takes
something more than just a gun.

Then he thumped away and I heard him say
he was going straight downtown.
I stayed right behind as I racked my mind
for some way to bring him down.

To the village square he raced unaware
of the holiday patrols.
On these roads so slick, he'd be picked up quick,
like a sack of donut holes.

But he wasn't collared though one cop hollered
to "stop" 'til he was hoarse.
True, the demon paused, but our traffic laws
are not evenly enforced.

Now to disobey is one certain way
to get pounced on by the coppers.
In a moment more we had squads galore.
The sky thundered with their choppers.

Beset from the air by the searchlights glare
I sensed how the creature felt.
Under all those spots, pounded by those watts,
he began to slowly melt.

Though I'd packed him tight, in the heat and light
his torso was getting thin.
The eyes sank away and I cringe to say
that his frosty skull caved in.

But the beast talked on. And my snowy spawn
had this final threat to speak.
As he waved goodbye he said 'Don't you cry,
I'll be back again next week.'

There are strange things done in the name of fun
by the tykes who play in snow.
You will not forget what you soon regret.
That's the way it tends to go.

I am haunted still by the winter's chill
and the burden I was tossed.
To have won renown as that kid in town
who could make a man of frost.

Have you ever built something out of ice and snow that made you proud?


Comments (22)

brilliant, Dale! wow. we're not worthy, we're not worthy.
as youngsters, we built snow forts out of hard blocks of snow , cut in nice squares with the help of my Dad. warm and fun to build. cold to sit in.

off topic: Donna - do you see the Wintergreen outerwear ad on the RH page ever? i'm almost certain that the man in the fur-clad hood is Carlos!! strayed up to Ely, did he?

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | December 14, 2009 6:19 AM


You are a twisted one Mr. Dale! The perfect antidote to too much Christmas syrup.

A couple of years ago, when Easter was on March 23, my son set and met the goal of preserving his little snow fort until Easter. Not something we aspire to for the future, once was enough.

Posted by catherine | December 14, 2009 6:27 AM


If my tag doesn't work can somebody please post this link in response to Dale's ode?

Posted by Beth-Ann | December 14, 2009 6:32 AM


one of the people in the Cincinnati jug band is playing a chain saw!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | December 14, 2009 6:38 AM


Good morning RH,

This is a very disturbing poem about a tragic and senseless killing. All Frosty wanted to do was PLAY--IN THE SNOW-- when he said, "Now let's have some fun." It's clear that this poet is snowmophobic and should seek therapy immediately. (Besides, hasn't this guy ever seen Frosty on TV or read the book?! Frosty's non-gendered.)

No Barb, I've not seen the Wintergreen ad, but certainly want to now! I look forward to your perception of Carlos.

Posted by Donna | December 14, 2009 7:03 AM


Donna, are you channeling B. Marty Barry?

Posted by catherine | December 14, 2009 7:11 AM


Good morning, all! Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Posted by elinor | December 14, 2009 7:23 AM


Greetings! That's a great poem, Dale! As a tot I made my share of snowballs, forts and snowpeople, but none as interesting or poem-worthy as this one.

I agree with Catherine, though -- a nice antidote to all the Christmas syrup. Although I confess I would like to hear Bela Fleck's interesting version of "Jingle Bells" with all the throat singers, etc.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake, MN | December 14, 2009 7:27 AM


Oh, Dale...I missed my request...I must have been milking the goat. so sad.

But fun snow person poem...will Mike put it to music?

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | December 14, 2009 7:33 AM


I have mostly been a builder of snowmen - lop-sided snowmen, big snowmen, small snowmen, snow families - but no evil snowmen.

Happy Monday all! I shall be playing in the new snow later today (I hope).

Posted by Anna | December 14, 2009 7:43 AM


Just the usual snowmen and forts for me.

But the subject, and darkly delicious poem, reminds me of the various Peanuts strips in which Snoopy has a snowman for a companion, with the inevitable conversion from snow to water.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | December 14, 2009 7:48 AM


Thanks, Dale for Bela Fleck's song -- great set! Have you played the obvious "Frosty" song in your library? Of course, I don't remember the title or artist, but it's about Frosty done in a dark, low, gutteral tone. I hope you know which one I mean ... if not, that's ok. I had my request for the day! Thanks.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake, MN | December 14, 2009 7:58 AM


Since elementary school I have been a "snow mole" tunneling through any drift large enough. Since then I have become more elaborate and purposeful. Every year we heap the snow from our driveway into a couple of piles with the intention of turning them in to quinzees. One snowy winter we made one large enough for three adults to stand inside with a 30 foot tunnel entrance. I have used them several times on long winter trips to the Yellowstone. At home we often make giant seven foot tall snow teddy bears or rubber ducky shaped snow sculptures. We use those shapes because they are easy to build, get a lot of attention from the neighbors and last a long time.

Posted by Mike in Lake Elmo | December 14, 2009 8:05 AM


I spent 13 days winter camping in yellowstone park my freshman year at Gustavus. No idea what possessed me to do this, since I was a novice x-country skier but it seemed like a fun idea before enduring days of wet clothes and ski falls. We built and slept in snow quansies I think they were called. Shovel a bunch of snow into a big mound, tamp it down with ski poles and dig out space inside. Then try to sleep as the ceiling dripped. Fun.

Great fun at the neal and Leandra show! Good to meet Dale, Mike and fellow rhers.

Posted by Cynthia from Minneapolis | December 14, 2009 8:17 AM


i was really bummed that my sons performance on friday night in eau claire made it too late upon return to minneapolis to make it at the cedar. i will look forward to the next get together and meeting you all then.

the snow is one of my favorite focus'. it is like the 75 degree sunny day in april and may, you had better take advantage of it right now because it doesn't last long, it doesn't return often and it is so wonderful while it is there you can't beat it.

when the snow is snowman making snow i do stop everything and grab my kids and do the snowman routine. life doesn't get better. tunnels are great but the engineer brain kid has moved on and we are back to simple structures for the remaining kinders.

thanks to mike i will try the teddy bear and ducks this year good idea.

Posted by tim | December 14, 2009 8:18 AM


We are semi-arid out here in western North Dakota, and in a typical year we rarely have enough snow to build anything. What snow we get is dry and light. I miss the snow drifts of yore in southwest Minnesota. I was always overambitious with snowmen, and made the bottom too big so that the second and third sections, if in proper proportion, were too heavy to lift into place. My alarmist mother would never let me tunnel out of fear of my suffocating under a snow pile.

Posted by Renee | December 14, 2009 8:33 AM


Last year, when the snow in the shortcut from out dorm to the commons got too high, a group of us sculpted it into a tunnel tall enough to walk through. It worked great until the roof caved in. We were left with a roofless, increasingly narrow, increasingly icy cut-through. It proved to be the location of many humorous yet harmless slips and falls.

I'm excited to be getting to the blog BEFORE 9 AM for the first time in probably ever. Having an 8:10 AM Norwegian oral presentation/exam will do that... :) Have a good day, everyone!

Posted by Gus | December 14, 2009 8:52 AM


Great poem, Dale! I agree with Donna, your Frost Man was trying to be harmless.

We would make forts, but only the front wall was high enough to be useful. Then we would make "houses" by moving the snow into little ridges for the walls -- from the air it would have looked like a blueprint. You could have an infinite number of rooms... we did this for hours.

Off topic: Neal and Leandra were way funnier than I expected! We had a great time, and the FROSTing (as it were) was meeting Dale and Mike and Joanne and Cynthia from Mpls. Next time, Tim.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | December 14, 2009 9:35 AM


And thus I grew to one who knew
That all things melt and fall.
So I became am man on the air
In early mornings from St. Paul.

Whether winter, summer, spring or fall,
In rain and snow and fog,
I spun my disks and took my risks
With loonies who like to blog.

I used to build for my kids and their friends long slides down our back yard and around our house. My siblings and I had done that as kids, but we only had cardboard. The modern plastic sleds and saucers work much better. I also once built with my kids a sea serpent with humps across our back yard.

Posted by Clyde Sliding in Mankato | December 14, 2009 10:06 AM


Good Morning,

I just have to steal a few moments from work to say that you play the Best music. No one else comes near. Thank you.

Posted by patricia | December 14, 2009 10:36 AM


great poem, Clyde! my Dad would do stuff like that for us - pile all of the shoveled snow into one, big pile so we could slide on it. (not many hills where we lived) i can only imagine how much extra trouble that was for him, but we sure enjoyed it.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | December 14, 2009 10:39 AM


Dale,
My dad used to recite the Cremation of Sam McGee and other Service poems around the campfire when it was dark and spooky and cold. He would have loved your parody. Thanks for good memories today!

Posted by Kris in Northfield | December 14, 2009 6:03 PM


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