Transcribed by Melanie Woods, photos by Mariah Wilson, graphics by Samantha Lucy, April 26 2017 —
Written and rewritten by anonymous authors, the story first found itself on the stairwell in the 1970s and onto the pages of the Gauntlet in 1978. The poem was restored several times and republished by the Gauntlet in 1998 and 2007. Following the recent restoration, new lines have been added and sections revised. Therefore, we present to you the most recently updated version of Leon’s iconic journey to the light at the top of the stairs.
This transcription is exactly as the poem appears on the stairs as of the April 2017 restoration in terms of line breaks, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
The Light at the Top of the Stairs
was not yet visible to Leon
as he plopped into the coffee cup
of Dr. Mildew Dreary, dip.
Unknown to Leon and the Sheridan Catering Co.,
Leon’s mother was a coffee machine.
He realized he was a Frog
when he opened his mouth and croaked…
The blear Dr. Dreay
took a gulp of her coffee.
But not until she reached the stairwell
did she coughed and realized
she had a FroG in her throat!
She coughed and spputtered and it was the reburp of Leon!
He stared around — “Where am I?” said Leon.
Before he could move a Frog finger,
the head of Food Service, charged down the stairs —
“A new sandwich” he said, pickung up Leon and reaching back.
“Pumpernickel, Cream Cheese and Frog legs.”
“Unhand him!” yelled public relations.
“That’s a Frog and you Know what the Prime Minister thinks of Frogs.
No Canada Council Grant if you damage him!”
“Green?” said Employee Relations —
“I don’t like the colour of his skin.”
Leon hopped to safety. “Oh help!” he said.
“Move on!” said the man. “You can’t park here ya bitch!”
And Leon moved sadly up the stairs. Up, HOP, UP.
“HEY” said AN Arts and Science major, “a FROg!”
“Let’s dissect it. “ “No no NO! said a Religious Studies Major.
“does he beLieve in Christ?” “what’s christ?” said Leon.
they sHRiEKED RighteousLY.
“LET HE WHO HAS No guilt
cast the First STONE” SAID THE HEAD theoLogiain,
and an uPtigHt vriginal co-ED SUFFERING Periodic
PAIN, bounced a ROCK off his head
LEON was Hauled down a Hallway and
and NAILED CRUELY to a CROSS “i must
be an offering in some PAgAN ceremony,” he thought
AS THE BLOOD RAN DOWN HIS ARMS
and dripped off his toes.
“i sure Hope these bastards get what they deserve.”
A converted HELL’S ANGEL took pity on Leon
and flagellated everyone with a chain
until they LET HIM DOWN.
“i must aRisE”
said Leon “i MUST get to the tOP of the stairs.”
Bleeding profusely from the holes in
his feet, Leon narrowly made it to the
Sixth floor. But there it was , the
Light at the TOP of the Stairs?
Was this the everlasting hope?
Was this the symbol for eternal happiness! $
Bling dolla dolla financial security and Shit!”
Hey boy, you got any insurance?
The blakc suit and tie hovered over him and
led him through the poor door. Leon felt at home.
Everything was green (except for the golden door)
“Sign on the dotted line boy”
If you think that’s best for y’all
“BUT I CAN’T WRITE!” Leon cried
“WHAT’S INSURANCE?” he croaked
WHY THATS THE MOST STABLE PART OF LIFE
WITHOUT INSURANCE YOUR LIFE COULD
BE RUINED! …” THE TIE YELLED
LOUDER AND LOUDER AS LEON
(AFTER GRAbbING A LARGE AMOUNT OF GREEN
WALLPAPER) SLIPPED OUT THE DOOR
LEON, FRUSTRATED WITH THE
REAL WORLD OF THE MONEY, AND HUNGRY,
SLUNG HIS STRIP OF GREEN WALLPAPER
OVER HIS SHOULDER AND TRUDGED AHEAD;
Up AND UP, UNTIL HE WAS QUITE HIGH —
It seemed to be the smell of old jocks permeating his membrane.
Suddenly, Leon was floating, loud noises assailed him.
MEMBERS REACHED OUT CLUTCHING HIM.
“OHH! A SPECIMEN, QUICK A JAR OF FORMALDEHYDE” was the last he heard BEFORE HE REACTE WITH WHAT HE DID BEST. HOP! HE WAS IN THE
pocket of A VISITING OBSTETRICIAN. WAH! WAH! FILTERED THROUGH
THE StETHOSCOPE AND DILAtORS IN the pocket of Dr Deliverwell
LEON DECIDED TO PLAY IT COOL
SUDDENLY HE FELT A JAB, Dr DELIVERWELL HAD A HARD ON
ONE OF THE NURSES HAD CARESSED
Dr DELIVERWELL’S HYPODERMIC MEMBER
AND WAS KNOCKED UP COLD
THE NURSE TRIPPED OVER A BLOOD PRESSURE CYLINDER
— AT THE SAME TIME LEON GOT IT
FROM A HALF-DISSECTED
FEMALE FROG LURKING NEARBY
IN A MADE IN QUEBEC INCUBATOR FOR TADPOLES
SUDDENLY LEON, LIKE Dr DELIVERWELL
FELT REAL COOL
Shaken by his experience,
but not yet ready to give up
Leon undauntedly decided to
continue his journey.
Step by grueling step he went
until suddenly …
He was haulted by a towering
figure that loomed before him.
It was a tall stranged looking creature
wEaring a Long grEy bEard,
high Leather boots,
a leopard skin loin cloth,
a red flannel shirt, and an orange gingham derby
“I’m HISTORY!”it said
“It is time to look back and analyse all past experiences”
“This guy is NUTS!”
Leon croaked at the idea of
brining back all of the memories
of his Lily-ridden past
He quickly side-stepped HISTORY
and continued on his quest for
The Light at the Top of the Stairs
“Remember the light at the top.”
Leon left the History Dept. behind + continued his journey
up, up, up, higher and higher,
he sprang to the 7th Floor.
The door opened.
A linguist appeared.
Spying Leon, he said, “say something, young amphibian!”
“Croak!” said Leon.
“KRIK?” said the linguist.
“Is your glottis open or closed?” “Ribit” replied Leon.
“Hmm,” said the linguist.
“Is your tongue toughing your apicolveolar ridge?”
A Political Scientist Entered
“Aha!” he Said,
POINTING AT LEON
“Are you the anonymous observer
who must remain Anonymous for Job Security Reasons
Who is assessing the U of C Poli-Sci Dept”
“Urp” Said Leon
I find this Particular Floor in a State of Turmoil
Confusion and Acrimony!”
Onwards and Upwards
Persevered in his search
for an Identity.
Hopping slowly up
he “staired” in disbelief
As he saw Anthro approaching
Bells rang, thought clashed
A toad to some Indian indigenous tribe??
Could he-be a toadtem???
He began to laugh hysterically
Anthro through the gloom
— joyously, hop,
Recognized Leon as being sent from below
No longer would Anthro have to fast 4 days
in the mountains
to meet this toadtem — here he is but —
BUT HE IS GREEN!!!
NO then rejection with an intuition
Strengthened by his many failers
He hung his head & schwepped!
WARNING X-rated. not suited for tadpoles
Leon flopped down onto cold cement floor. He was
exhausted. He looked up and there was another Great Yellow
Door. BEfore Leon had time to ponder, the door burst open.
There she was Tall, curvy and beautiful!
“Oh!” a poor opporessed frog,” she exclaimed as she caressed him.
Look at you, so tired and hungry. Oh! How
our society inflicts such ignorance upon you. How it burns me
up. Come let me take you to my off. I’ll take good care of you
“What an office,” Leon thought as he hopped in.
“even a bed.”
She sat down close beside him
“I bet they never give you a fair shake,
always take advantage of you.”
She whispered & kissed him.
She began to unbutton her blouse.
I’m not like that you know!
His voice quivered with excitement. She slipped off her jeans, exposing her soft thighs
Leon was amazed. Leon was astonished.
She threw herself upon him, breathing heavily. Leon felt chip & dirty.
He couldn’t do it. He had to get out of this place.
He whispered in her ear “You’re going to get covered with warts”.
She screamed “you filthy green thing”
Leon took advantage of the moment & hopped quickly away.
OH! The climbing monologue of LEON LE FROGUE.
“Why am I so dissatisfied?” (HE CRIED.)
“OH, I feel so decrepit!” (HE WEPT.)
“Is there no high higher than a fruit fly/flier?” (SIGH…ER.)
In such angst-iety, Leon stumbled into a transactional analysis group!
OH. Hop. I’m OK. HOP. But they were all stuck at “I’m O.K.” Hop.
They could have told tadpole-ish jokes … or even Newfoundfrog jokes,
But there was no connection.
Leon felt blue.
OH Stairlight, Stairbright, is there no school of Social Frogfare tonight?
(No lily pad in the O.K. Corral?)
No? O.K. HoP!
MAybe if I can cultivate SO many problems…
I can HELP SOMEBODY reap theirys?
“Be a social worker,”
suggested a LOSER phlegmish professor.
Leon said “YEAH!”
and hung out his sign:
“Problems — Bought & Sold”
Nobody Came! 🙁
Is it because I’m …
Or is it just that I’m a … FROG?
LEON COULD ONLY
“STAIR” AND DESPAIR
arghh arghh arghh
a r g h h
As he climbed
to the 12th floor,
Leon realized with a sigh
that he had experienced
all of what life
had to offer.
Now, tje question was
how to express and communicate
his experienced to society.
Leon had heard
in his travels
that art was a
Uniquely human stamp
put by man on life.
He was about to
change that by
introducing FROG ART.
Choosing a medium was difficult
Stretched lily pads?
These were not
the real problems
but what is life??
What is art?
Where is?? … am I here?
Where is my will power?
These are barrbaric conditions
Is this the hallmark of my life?
What’s aclyde art?
Should I fly United?
Is this some Kond of joeke?
What Esler is there?
I Kant even remove my stockings!
Do I have to Cramwell to pass?
ABrosz is aBrosz is a —
is this the lloyd I must bear?
I Kant go on much longer.
Have I hit a plato?
I have to be thoreau
I have to blow mignosa
I can paint
If you can’t, erase it, Bloggett
Time to throw out the anchor
DoEs IT SARTE?
OR END HERE
LEON ASKED CHAROX WHOSE BOAT
ANCHORED IN THE MUD
REAKED OF PENNIES
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY SHOUTS CHARON
BUT I CROAKED, ISN’T THIS THE NEXT STEP.
The final seven stairs
leading the the
door on the roof
were left blank.