Installment #3 of a set of children's poems I wrote a dozen years ago.


What if rubber was in everything?
Short skirts could be stretched to make them long.
Swords would wilt, and bullets mildly sting.
Knitting would be dangerous and wrong.

Anything you threw would boomerang:
Bricks, an egg, a sister (not too young).
Hanging plants would lurch instead of hang.
What you spat could land back on your tongue.

Crashing cars would ricochet and twang.
No one would wear any kind of thong.*
Meetings would begin when people sang
To synchronize their bounces with a song.

And given all the spring in everything,
A tug would turn a swing into a sling.

* Fearing that a thong might be deemed too racy a detail, I proposed as an alternate here the line 'Skyscrapers would oscillate King Kong.'

The E. T.

Installment #2 of a set of children's poems I wrote a dozen years ago.

The E. T.

Grandmother Gladys and Grandson Todd
Seemed normal in every way:
She knitted him mittens and pompom hats,
And he normally threw them away.

BUT . . .

When Todd and his Granny went down to swim
At the beach, when the tide was low,
Todd saw on his grandmother's barefoot feet
An extraterrestrial toe!

Her toe number two made a sharp left turn
Where a regular toe wouldn't swerve,
And her toenail was crinkled and squiggly and thin
Like the side of a shell with a curve.

"Is my grandmother human?" Todd asked himself.
The footprints she left in the sand
Might be signals to orbiting ships—who knew
What the alien forces had planned?

"What if my grandmother turns out to be
Pod unit L-52?
What if the toe is in charge of her body,
And she's just the puppet it grew?"

So as not to alarm either her or her toe,
Todd asked in an offhand way,
"How come your toe is uniquely shaped?
Or aren’t you allowed to say?"

Granny explained to him: "That's the way
Our family's toes are grown.
Your great-uncle Ira's, your father's, your aunt's—
Haven't you noticed your own?"

Since Grandmother Gladys was already wet,
Todd took off his shoes to swim.
And there was an extraterrestrial toe—
With an alien toenail—on him!

Fluffy Pie, the Angel Kitty

In anticipation of a move, I’ve been weeding through boxes of old papers, trying to throw out as much of the last couple of decades as possible. Most of the attendant archival discoveries are now looking forward to useful reincarnation as cardboard or napkins, but one folder seemed worth translating into the electronic realm, if only for the sake of confusing as many people as possible about the “brand” that my byline represents. About a dozen years ago, as I was finishing graduate school, my friend Chris Duffy, who was then an editor at the children’s magazine Nickelodeon, now defunct, asked if I’d try writing some children’s poetry. He ended up buying a few of them, and even printing at least a couple, along with illustrations by cartoonists. I seem to have written six in all; I’ll post one a day over the next week.

Fluffy Pie, the Angel Kitty

When Gwendolyn went skating, she
Slipped and skinned her knee.
Her mom and dad were far away.
She howled in agony.

But then Gwen saw, mid snowy clouds,
Some furry, beating wings:
‘Twas Fluffy Pie, the angel kitty,
Who flies around and sings.

“Dear Gwendolyn, I feel your pain,”
The angel kitty sang.
“I bring you catnip, herbal treat
With pain-relieving tang.”

Fluffy Pie was radiant, like the
Summer sky at dawn.
But Gwen thought catnip tasted
A little bit like lawn.

Jerome was glum when he received
A D-plus-plus in math.
“Who cares?” he growled, but then a wingèd
Kitty crossed his path.

“Behold,” the flying kitten sang,
“I bring celestial food.
I caught this mouse in heaven to
Improve your earthly mood.”

With downy fur and winking eyes,
Fluffy Pie was cute.
But mouse for dinner, Jerome thought,
Didn’t quite compute.

Sandy had a wobbly tooth
That kept her in suspense.
It jiggled and it wiggled
And it made her rather tense.

Then Sandy heard a meow above
Of “Peace,” and just for her
Fluffy Pie coughed up a ball
Of special kitty fur.

“Ick,” said Sandy. “Ack,” said Gwen.
“Yucky,” said Jerome.
“My work here is finished,” Fluffy
Smiled, and flew home.