Words & Stuff

P: Verse Doodles

(19 October 1997)

Now and then one feels inspired to feast upon morally uplifting poetry that one can really sink one's teeth into -- great classical works from the Western canon, perhaps, such as Paradise Lost or "The Song of Hiawatha."

Then again, sometimes ya just wanna kick back and relax with a light-verse snack.

If you're in the mood for Deep Meaningful Verse this week, you'd better try elsewhere. But if you feel like munching on a quick bowl of doggerel (and I use the word in the nicest possible sense), seasoned with a pinch of rhyme, a dash of rhythm, and plenty of silliness, you've come to the right place.

This week's poems are mostly in praise of various things -- even if the praise is sometimes puzzling or ambiguous. This one, for instance, appeared anonymously one day on the chalkboard in the drama room at my high school:
Beez R Nice
They look like rice
They don't eat mice
They ride on bic-
ycles.

Some years later, during a dinner which involved a certain red root vegetable, a pastiche on the above came to me; my dinner companions were, alas, not amused.

Beet Poetry

Beets R Neat
They're very sweet
They're quite a treat
They're not like meat
They taste all-reet.
JEH

If one may praise the lowly beet, why not other lowly creatures?

oh glug, oh glug
how beautiful is the slug
as it crawls on the ground
thinking thoughts profound
oh glug, oh glug, oh glug
Mya Rorer

This one isn't in quite the same vein, but it more or less fits the ambiguous-praise theme anyway:

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was cold, she was very very cold,
But when she was hot, she was torrid.
Nao Parkhurst

Mason Williams wrote a number of poems, in a particular form, in praise of such oddities as lunch toters, toad suckers, and moose goosers. He recorded them on a 1964 album called Them Poems. The form has inspired numerous imitations and parodies, of which the following is my favorite:

Artichokes

(after Mason Williams)

Look at them artichokes
Ain't they fun?
Sittin in a choke field
Soakin' up sun.

Look at them artichokes
Ain't they the most?
Everybody's eatin' em
On the left coast.

What to do with artichokes?
Here's the way to treat 'em:
Pull the little leaves off,
Dip the ends and eat 'em.
Arthur Evans

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Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>