Archive for the ‘Sunday Poetry’ Category

Sunday Poetry: Cinderella, by Roald Dahl

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Cinderella

I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
just to keep the children happy.
Mind you, they got the first bit right,
The bit where, in the dead of night,
The Ugly Sisters, jewels and all,
Departed for the Palace Ball,
While darling little Cinderella
Was locked up in a slimy cellar,
Where rats who wanted things to eat,
Began to nibble at her feet.

She bellowed ‘Help!’ and ‘Let me out!
The Magic Fairy heard her shout.
Appearing in a blaze of light,
She said: ‘My dear, are you all right?’
‘All right?’ cried Cindy .’Can’t you see
‘I feel as rotten as can be!’
She beat her fist against the wall,
And shouted, ‘Get me to the Ball!
‘There is a Disco at the Palace!
‘The rest have gone and I am jealous!
‘I want a dress! I want a coach!
‘And earrings and a diamond brooch!
‘And silver slippers, two of those!
‘And lovely nylon panty hose!
‘Done up like that I’ll guarantee
‘The handsome Prince will fall for me!’
The Fairy said, ‘Hang on a tick.’
She gave her wand a mighty flick
And quickly, in no time at all,
Cindy was at the Palace Ball!

It made the Ugly Sisters wince
To see her dancing with the Prince.
She held him very tight and pressed
herself against his manly chest.
The Prince himself was turned to pulp,
All he could do was gasp and gulp.
Then midnight struck. She shouted,’Heck!
I’ve got to run to save my neck!’
The Prince cried, ‘No! Alas! Alack!’
He grabbed her dress to hold her back.
As Cindy shouted, ‘Let me go!’
The dress was ripped from head to toe.

She ran out in her underwear,
And lost one slipper on the stair.
The Prince was on it like a dart,
He pressed it to his pounding heart,
‘The girl this slipper fits,’ he cried,
‘Tomorrow morn shall be my bride!
I’ll visit every house in town
‘Until I’ve tracked the maiden down!’
Then rather carelessly, I fear,
He placed it on a crate of beer.

At once, one of the Ugly Sisters,
(The one whose face was blotched with blisters)
Sneaked up and grabbed the dainty shoe,
And quickly flushed it down the loo.
Then in its place she calmly put
The slipper from her own left foot.
Ah ha, you see, the plot grows thicker,
And Cindy’s luck starts looking sicker.

Next day, the Prince went charging down
To knock on all the doors in town.
In every house, the tension grew.
Who was the owner of the shoe?
The shoe was long and very wide.
(A normal foot got lost inside.)
Also it smelled a wee bit icky.
(The owner’s feet were hot and sticky.)
Thousands of eager people came
To try it on, but all in vain.
Now came the Ugly Sisters’ go.
One tried it on. The Prince screamed, ‘No!’
But she screamed, ‘Yes! It fits! Whoopee!
‘So now you’ve got to marry me!’
The Prince went white from ear to ear.
He muttered, ‘Let me out of here.’
‘Oh no you don’t! You made a vow!
‘There’s no way you can back out now!’
‘Off with her head!’The Prince roared back.
They chopped it off with one big whack.
This pleased the Prince. He smiled and said,
‘She’s prettier without her head.’
Then up came Sister Number Two,
Who yelled, ‘Now I will try the shoe!’
‘Try this instead!’ the Prince yelled back.
He swung his trusty sword and smack
Her head went crashing to the ground.
It bounced a bit and rolled around.
In the kitchen, peeling spuds,
Cinderella heard the thuds
Of bouncing heads upon the floor,
And poked her own head round the door.
‘What’s all the racket? ‘Cindy cried.
‘Mind your own bizz,’ the Prince replied.
Poor Cindy’s heart was torn to shreds.
My Prince! she thought. He chops off heads!
How could I marry anyone
Who does that sort of thing for fun?

The Prince cried, ‘Who’s this dirty slut?
‘Off with her nut! Off with her nut!’
Just then, all in a blaze of light,
The Magic Fairy hove in sight,
Her Magic Wand went swoosh and swish!
‘Cindy! ’she cried, ‘come make a wish!
‘Wish anything and have no doubt
‘That I will make it come about!’
Cindy answered, ‘Oh kind Fairy,
‘This time I shall be more wary.
‘No more Princes, no more money.
‘I have had my taste of honey.
I’m wishing for a decent man.
‘They’re hard to find. D’you think you can?’
Within a minute, Cinderella
Was married to a lovely feller,
A simple jam maker by trade,
Who sold good home-made marmalade.
Their house was filled with smiles and laughter
And they were happy ever after.

– Roald Dahl
________________________________

One of poetry’s original purposes – predating its role as an excuse to wear tweed jackets and as a subject for obscure doctoral theses – was to spread cultural traditions and the archetypal myths of a society. In this one, Roald Dahl plays on that tradition by subverting the Cinderella story.

Mr. Dahl is at his clever best in this romp. Notice that he employs dependable couplets and bouncy rhythm – two mnemonic devices that characterized ancient poetry told around campfires.

Roald Dahl is a treasure-trove of great work for free-thinking, creative children. His irreverence and fascination with subjects that make parents squirm a bit make his works an ideal gift for rabble-rousing aunts and uncles to share with promising nieces and nephews.

Sunday Poetry – Barbie Doll, by Marge Piercy

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Barbie Doll

This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker’s cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn’t she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.

— by Marge Piercy
_______________________________

Is this powerful poem too easy? Does Marge Piercy, a poet capable of subtle and even obscure work, swing a sledge hammer in this condemnation of society’s treatment of girls?

Perhaps, but I think it’s still a heck of a poem. I love the metaphor – “Her good nature wore out/ like a fan belt.”

And I love the universality at the end. “To every woman a happy ending.” Not everyone commits suicide – not everyone suffers exactly as this particular girl, but all women are exposed to the lipsticks and dolls of childhood, and, Piercy suggests, all seek that consummation of being viewed as looking pretty.

I’m curious about this poem – how does it strike the women who read it? Other men?

Sunday Poetry: In View of the Fact, by A. R. Ammons

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

In View of the Fact

The people of my time are passing away: my
wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who

died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it’s
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:

it was once weddings that came so thick and
fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:

now, it’s this that and the other and somebody
else gone or on the brink: well, we never

thought we would live forever (although we did)
and now it looks like we won’t: some of us

are losing a leg to diabetes, some don’t know
what they went downstairs for, some know that

a hired watchful person is around, some like
to touch the cane tip into something steady,

so nice: we have already lost so many,
brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our

address books for so long a slow scramble now
are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our

index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:

at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip

to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on

the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we

think the sun may shine someday when we’ll
drink wine together and think of what used to

be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every

loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter

and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way. . . .

— by A. R. Ammons
__________________

Death in poetry most often drives poets to their full rhetorical force – “rage, rage against the against the dying of the light,” etc., etc.. A.R. Ammons, in this poem, brings a more natural approach, more reflective of people like me who glance at the list of obituaries most days and increasingly see the name of a former colleague, or the spouse of an acquaintance, or some other peripheral character in our lives.

This poem doesn’t include a period – it rambles on in small, easy-to-digest two-line stanzas, and ends in an elipse that signals the continuation of the narrator in life. Most of the stanza carry right on into the next – there are few clean breaks here. The poem just keeps on going in the presence of death, just as life does, for those of us who continue on.

Indeed, the poem is almost mundane in its handling of death – “passing away” in the gently euphemistic language of the narrator – it is a cause for baking and amending address books, not for a tremendous outpouring of grief. Widows travel a lot (as my own mother did, in her time of widowhood).

But, toward the end, the spirit rises a bit, and builds toward a sweet final seven stanzas -

at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip

to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on

the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we

think the sun may shine someday when we’ll
drink wine together and think of what used to

be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every

loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter

and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way. . . .

It occurs to me that these seven stanzas could stand alone as a poem with a few word changes, and the fact that I am horribly wrong is key to understanding why this is such a fine poem, and why A. R. Ammons is such a fine poet. Those seven stanzas without their build-up would be a sappy greeting card verse. Only after grounding us in the reality of life when friends are departing, and showing that the narrator is well aware that life carries on can Ammons justify the broader statements at the end. He earns these lines with credibility established in the early part of the poem.

Sunday Poetry: Stillbirth, by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Stillbirth

On a platform, I heard someone call out your name:
No, Laetitia, no.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,
but I rushed in, searching for your face.

But no Laetitia. No.
No one in that car could have been you,
but I rushed in, searching for your face:
no longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two.

No one in that car could have been you.
Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen.
No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two:
I sometimes go months without remembering you.

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen:
I was told not to look. Not to get attached—
I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

I was told not to look. Not to get attached.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.
On a platform, I heard someone calling your name.

— by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

It’s crazy to get on a train to look for a child you lost at birth 32 years ago, right? Yet this poem puts me there, and helps me understand the permanent grief, the unhealed-by-time wound of a mother of a child named but unraised.

I had never heard of Laure-Anne Bosselaar before this morning, when, after creating the sidebar panel to the right listing the poems I’ve written about in my dormant Sunday Poetry series, I decided to try something new. I chanced upon this poem, and visited her website. She helped edit an anthology of poems about “the nightspots, hotels, bars, greasy spoons, and similar refuges from the demands of daily life and the feelings, thoughts, and sensations they bring out in us” – thanks to the miracle of Amazon, it will be in my hands soon.

But back to the poem. Notice the intricate structure that holds it together. A lesser poet would have hoped that the sheer emotional impact of the subject and the reader’s natural empathy would draw us in. Bosselaar, however, plants sentences in our head and repeats them as our own memories. It’s a wonderful piece of writing – painful, intimate, and thoughtful. To me, the lines I expect will stick are “I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.”

Blessed by a grief that still has enough power to suspend your rationality and have you enter a train to seek a 32 year-old version of your dead infant? Is that a blessing? Only in the sense that she can sometimes go months without consciously remembering Laetitia.

We all have our Laetitias, and we all have triggers in us that can make us react in ways we can’t rationally explain. Laure-Anne Bosselar’s tight poem puts that into words.

Sunday Poetry: As Befits a Man, by Langston Hughes

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

As Befits a Man

I don’t mind dying—
But I’d hate to die all alone!
I want a dozen pretty women
To holler, cry, and moan.

I don’t mind dying
But I want my funeral to be fine:
A row of long tall mamas
Fainting, Fanning, and crying.

I want a fish-tail hearse
And sixteen fish-tail cars,
A big brass band
And a whole truck load of flowers.

When they let me down,
Down into the clay,
I want the women to holler:
Please don’t take him away!
Ow-ooo-oo-o!
Please don’t take daddy away!

– by Langston Hughes
____________________________________

Langston Hughes has been abused by English teachers and well-meaning anthologists. The charming Missourian has been forced into a glowering, angry poet of revolution. It’s not that he did not have a glowering side – as amply demonstrated in several of his poems – but he also had a funny, warm side, that gets shoved to the side as students are forced to confront “Dream Deferred” and “I, Too“. They’re both important poems, of course, but they lead to a narrower vision of the man than justice would allow.

Update: In searching for more Langston Hughes for my Sunday morning, I happened across this head-shaking story about an English teacher insisting that a student read a Langston Hughes poem in a “blacker” style.

Sunday Poetry: one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:, by e.e. cummings

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:

one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating,shall occur
no death and any quantity;but than
all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth-beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt,repaying life they’re loaned;
we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.
All lose,whole find

– e.e. cummings
_________________________________________________________________

A friend got married yesterday, and, during the ceremony, she quoted one of e.e. cummings’ love poems. It was a wonderful choice. Those who remember e.e. cummings only for his refusal to comply with typographical and sentence structure expectations might be astonished to read his sweet and occasionally blushing love poetry.

The strongest stanza in this poem is the second, when he contrasts himself with those who are sternly anchored in reason, and thus are blind to love’s glory. Indeed, those who, sold on reason, would dissect a kiss would not understand it – the thrill of skin on skin is not scientific, but it is real. His line echoes Wordsworth from the prior century: “Our meddling intellect/ Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:–/ We murder to dissect.”

The key to enjoying cummings’ poetry is to shush your inner schoolmarm. Let go and just read it out loud. Don’t get frustrated by the jarring word combinations or the lack of apparent rhythm. If you’re tripped up by stressed syllables tumbling together, accept that it’s okay – he wants to you slow down there and struggle a bit.

I don’t love every cummings poem, but I love a lot of them. I do best in my enjoyment when I give up on making strict sense of everything, and relax in the presence of a master.

Sunday Poetry: I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, by William Wordsworth

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

– by William Wordsworth
________________________________________________________

This little poem has almost ruined poetry for generations.

It has been satirized on Rocky and Bullwinkle, on the Simpsons, and, less famously, by hundreds of school children. Why? Because it’s simple, a bit archaic in language, over-dramatized, and it’s been forced upon children as a memory exercise for generations. Who can love a poem after stumbling over “jocund” and “my heart with pleasure fills”? What plain-speaking human doesn’t lose patience with the linguistic contortions of “Ten thousand saw I” and “A poet could not be but gay”?

For years, I had it confused in my own mind with the botanically-imperfect poem presented in “Our Gang” – skip ahead to 8:44 if you’re too busy to enjoy some classic TV:

All that said, though, the poem is not as awful as it seems in the memory of most. Go ahead and read it, but the real daffodils beginning to bloom in our neighborhood are a lot more enjoyable.

Sunday Poetry: Acquainted with the Night, by Robert Frost

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain –and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
– by Robert Frost
______________________________________________

This poem defies critical attempts to explain “what it means”. If you seek analysis on the web, you’ll see attempts to analogize this to dealing with depression, or even the process of writing a poem. And they, like the luminary clock, are neither wrong nor right.

To understand this poem, read it aloud. Read it slowly, keeping the beat like walking footsteps. Despite the strict iambic pentameter of the poem, it somehow avoids the sing-songy duh DAH duh DAH duh DAH of most such poems.

Last night, we set the clocks back, and we will all be more acquainted with the night as we come home from work. This poem, or a line from it, might spring into your mind as you go about your business, and enrich the moment with its stark beauty.

Sunday Poetry: Lines on the Poet’s Turning Forty, by Ian Frazier

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Lines on the Poet’s Turning Forty

I.

And so, at last, I am turning forty,
In just a couple of days.
The big four-oh.
Yes, that is soon to be my age.
(And not fifty-eight. No way. That Wikipedia is a bunch of liars.)
Nope, not any other age, just forty.
What other age could someone born in 1969 (and not 1951)
Possibly be?
(And please do not listen to my ex-wife, that sad, bitter woman in her late fifties.)
What does it feel like, old bones?
Yes, I have lost a step or two in the hundred-metre dash.
I accept these changes.
But if a guy says in a published poem that he is forty,
As I am doing here,
It’s obvious that must be the age that he is,
Officially.

II.

Cattail down blows from the swamp like smoke,
Ice bares its teeth on the surface of the mud puddles.
It is fall—but not for me in any metaphorical sense,
Because forty, while not technically all that young, is hardly like “the autumn of life” or anything;
And also because Natalie Portman, the famous actress,
Is in love with me. And why not?
After all, there is not that much difference, age-wise,
Between a person who I guess is in her mid-to-late twenties
And a person who is only just turning forty,
I.e., me.

III.

You walk across the room carrying a bouquet of phlox in your hand
(“You” being Natalie Portman, the famous actress)
As a present for me on my upcoming fortieth birthday.
Come sit beside me, my dear,
And I will tell you about my previous thirty-nine,
Except for the year when I was in sixth grade,
Which is a total blank.
I do remember fifth grade, when we had Mrs. Erwin,
And seventh grade, when we moved to the new junior-high building;
But when I try to remember sixth—nothing.
Let us not mourn what is lost.
Sixth grade was probably not that great.
Now, and on into the serious years that lie ahead,
You and I will have each other.

IV.

An alert reader may point out
That we did not move to the new junior-high building during the 1981-82 school year
(As would fit with my being in seventh grade and having been born in 1969)
But eighteen years earlier, in the school year of 1963-64.
This is baloney!
Whoever says such statements is wrong.
I think that when it comes to the details of my own life
My own word should be trusted over that of some random reader,
Thank you!

V.

Unfortunately, because of this business
About when we did or didn’t move to the new junior-high building,
Natalie Portman’s suspicions somehow were raised,
And she had a completely unnecessary “background check” run on me,
And then left me for Shia LaBeouf,
Who is hot right now.

VI.

This poem is becoming a disaster.
It happens sometimes—
I get into a poem, and the thing goes haywire,
And I don’t know how to get out.
According to some nitpicker at the Ohio Department of Education,
Mrs. Roberta Erwin retired and left teaching entirely in 1967,
Two years before my birth.
Thus, the argument goes,
She could not have taught me fifth grade,
As I claimed in Canto III.

VII.

Look, I am turning forty, all right?
Let’s just leave it at that.
Critics and people in the media who would ruin a celebration with this kind of “gotcha” behavior make me sick.
If you still doubt me,
Please be assured that this magazine has a rigorous policy of fact checking,
And all the information in this poem has been checked,
And directly verified with me.

VIII.

Well, it’s going to be great being forty.
I am looking forward to it.
There are plenty of other beautiful actresses around;
I may also try out for the forty-and-over division
On the National Professional Rodeo Association tour.
Recently someone asked me if I remembered when the name
Of Idlewild Airport in New York City
Was changed to J.F.K. International.
“Of course not,” I replied.
“That was long before my time.
Back then I had not even been born.”

– by Ian Frazier
_______________________________________________________

Here’s your bonus for all those hours spent reading “Dover Beach” and Shakespearean sonnets and Auden and “To His Coy Mistress” – as if the pleasure of reading those great works were not enough. On top of all that poetic pleasure comes something like this dollop of whipped cream.

This is, obviously, not a serious poem, and anyone who wants to set aside his or her humor and dissect the traces of the author’s genuine feelings about aging ought to be stripped naked, wrapped in rough tweed, and planted on a hard seat in a stifling lecture hall to listen to stuffy professors discuss deconstruction of literature in a monotone. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but just don’t do it, or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

All that said, part of the fun is catching the whiffs of the poetical that Frazier feeds us. If you read the poem aloud, you can hear faint echos of the real poems you have read and enjoyed. When you hear him admit he’s lost “a step or two in the hundred-metre dash,” the back of your mind turns to “To an Athlete Dying Young”. The references to nature and non-metaphorical fall might remind you of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 –

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold . . .

When he admonishes us to ignore his lost 6th grade with “Let us not mourn what is lost”, perhaps Dylan Thomas’ majestic voice reading his “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London” came to mind.

Or not.

If your poetry reading enriches your experience in enjoying a pleasure like Ian Frazier’s poem, it’s a bonus. You don’t need to catch every allusion to enjoy the humor, and there’s no sense in pressuring yourself to track down every clever reference.

(This poem was originally published in the New Yorker, and you can buy Ian Frazier’s books here, or at your favorite independent bookseller.)

Sunday Poetry: Buckingham Palace, by A.A. Milne

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Buckingham Palace

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
“A soldier’s life is terrible hard,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We saw a guard in a sentry-box.
“One of the sergeants looks after their socks,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We looked for the King, but he never came.
“Well, God take care of him, all the same,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
They’ve great big parties inside the grounds.
“I wouldn’t be King for a hundred pounds,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
A face looked out, but it wasn’t the King’s.
“He’s much too busy a-signing things,”
Says Alice.

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
“Do you think the King knows all about me?”
“Sure to, dear, but it’s time for tea,”
Says Alice.

– by A.A. Milne
___________________________________________________

Today is National Children’s Poetry Day, and this one brings to mind the faces of my children smiling and reciting this poem nestled on the couch with my wife. The repeated lines and dependable rhythm allowed them to “catch on” at an early age, and enjoy the music of the words. In fact, this one was often sung in our home, and two wonderful readers were born.

If you have a child in your life, please take some time to read to him or her. Just as exercise in the back yard helps children strengthen and develop coordination, sitting next to an adult reading helps children grow intellectually and develop appreciation of the written word.

Poetry does not need to be about serious topics to be important.