Word Cloud: SWELTERING

by NONA BLYTH CLOUD

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here, it’s too hot for serious poetry. So let’s take a look at some playful verse. It’s not too surprising that most funny poems are written for children. But not all of them.

Here’s a silly rhyme that I just wrote – all the rest of the poems will look even better after you read this!

Too Hot for Prose?

Poems for you to laugh a lot
On summer days when it’s too hot
I hope you find a shady spot
To savor ev’ry small bon mot.

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Shel Silverstein wrote poems for everybody, whether you’re two years old, or just ‘young at heart.’

Mr. Grumpledump’s Song

Everything’s wrong,
Days are too long,
Sunshine’s too hot,
Wind is too strong.
Clouds are too fluffy,
Grass is too green,
Ground is too dusty,
Sheets are too clean.
Stars are too twinkly,
Moon is too high,
Water’s too drippy,
Sand is too dry.
Rocks are too heavy,
Feathers too light,
Kids are too noisy,
Shoes are too tight.
Folks are too happy,
Singin’ their songs.
Why can’t they see it?
Everything’s wrong!


Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) beloved America children’s book author, poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, and screenwriter, has over 20 million books in print in 30 languages.

“Mr. Grumpledump’s Song” from Where the Sidewalk Ends, 30th anniversary special edition © 2004 by Shel Silverstein – HarperCollins Publishers

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Don’t let the title fool you – this poem was definitely written by Mary Ann Hoberman for kids!

Anthropoids

The next time you go to the zoo
The zoo
Slow down for a minute or two
Or two
And consider the apes
All their sizes and shapes
For they all are related to you
To you.

Yes, they all are related to you
To you
And they all are related to me
To me
To our fathers and mothers
Our sisters and brothers
And all of the people we see
We see.

The chimpanzees, gorillas, and all
And all
The orangutans climbing the wall
The wall
These remarkable creatures
Share most of our features
And the difference between us is small
Quite small.

So the next time you go to the zoo
The zoo
Slow down for a minute or two
Or two
And consider the apes
All their sizes and shapes
For they all are related to you
To you


Mary Ann Hoberman (1930 – ) American Children’s Poet Laureate (2008-2011) author of over forty books for children, including the beloved A House is a House for Me, winner of a 1983 National Book Award.  One hundred of her favorite poems are collected in The Llama Who Had No Pajamas; other books include The Seven Silly Eaters, and You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

“Anthropoids” from The Raucous Auk, © 1973 by Mary Ann Hoberman – Viking Press

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Animals are a popular subject for humorous poems.  This particular animal has been said to prove that God has a sense of humor, and inspired this poem by Oliver Herford.

The Platypus

MY child, the Duck-billed Platypus
A sad example sets for us:
From him we learn how Indecision
Of character provokes Derision.
This vacillating Thing, you see,
Could not decide which he would be,
Fish, Flesh, or Fowl, and chose all three.
The scientists were sorely vexed
To classify him; so perplexed
Their brains, that they, with Rage at bay,
Called him a horrid name one day,–
A name that baffles, frights and shocks us,
Ornithorhynchus Paradoxus.


Oliver Herford (1860-1935) Writer, playwright, artist and illustrator born in England. His family moved to America when he was 16; a frequent contributor of humorous verse and cartoons to prominent magazines of the day; author and illustrator of the Little Book of Bores

“The Platypus” from Oliver Herford: Collected Works, 2018, Amazon Digital Services

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For those who favor fishies, here’s a pair of poems by James Leigh Hunt:

To A Fish

YOU strange, astonished-looking, angle-faced,
Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea,
Gulping salt water everlastingly,
Cold-blooded, though with red your blood be graced,
And mute, though dwellers in the roaring waste;
And you, all shapes beside, that fishy be –
Some round, some flat, some long, all devilry,
Legless, unmoving, infamously chaste:
O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights,
What is’t ye do? What life lead? eh, dull goggles?
How do ye vary your vile days and nights?
How pass your Sundays? Are ye still but joggles
In ceaseless wash? Still naught but gapes and bites,
And drinks and stares, diversified with boggles?


A Fish Answers

AMAZING monster! that for aught I know,
With the first sight of thee didst make our race
For ever stare! O flat and shocking face,
Grimly divided from the breast below!
Thou that on dry land horribly dost go
With a split body and most ridiculous pace,
Prong after prong, disgracer of all grace,
Long-useless-finned, haired, upright, unwet, slow!
O breather of unbreathable, sword-sharp air,
How canst exist? How bear thyself, thou dry
And dreary sloth? What particle canst share
Of the only blessed life, the watery?
I sometimes see of ye an actual pair
Go by! linked fin by fin! most odiously.


James Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) English essayist, poet and critic; co-founder of the intellectual journal, The Examiner. Published several poetry collections, including Story of Rimini, and Foliage; his best-known poem is probably “Jenny Kiss’d Me”

“To a Fish” and “A Fish Answers” from The Poetical Works of Leigh Hunt, 2010 – The British Library

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Some poets, including Pam Ayres, find their spouses an endless source of raillery.

They Should Have Asked My Husband

You know this world is complicated, imperfect and oppressed
And it’s not hard to feel timid, apprehensive and depressed.
It seems that all around us tides of questions ebb and flow
And people want solutions but they don’t know where to go.

Opinions abound but who is wrong and who is right.
People need a prophet, a diffuser of the light.
Someone they can turn to as the crises rage and swirl.
Someone with the remedy, the wisdom, and the pearl.

Well . . . they should have asked my ‘usband, he’d have told’em then and there.
His thoughts on immigration, teenage mothers, Tony Blair,
The future of the monarchy, house prices in the south
The wait for hip replacements, BSE and foot and mouth.

Yes . . . they should have asked my husband he can sort out any mess
He can rejuvenate the railways he can cure the NHS
So any little niggle, anything you want to know
Just run it past my husband, wind him up and let him go.

Congestion on the motorways, free holidays for thugs
The damage to the ozone layer, refugees and drugs.
These may defeat the brain of any politician bloke
But present it to my husband and he’ll solve it at a stroke.

He’ll clarify the situation; he will make it crystal clear
You’ll feel the glazing of your eyeballs, and the bending of your ear.
Corruption at the top, he’s an authority on that
And the Mafia, Gadafia and Yasser Arafat.

Upon these areas he brings his intellect to shine
In a great compelling voice that’s twice as loud as yours or mine.
I often wonder what it must be like to be so strong,
Infallible, articulate, self-confident …… and wrong.

When it comes to tolerance – he hasn’t got a lot
Joyriders should be guillotined and muggers should be shot.
The sound of his own voice becomes like music to his ears
And he hasn’t got an inkling that he’s boring us to tears.

My friends don’t call so often, they have busy lives I know
But its not everyday you want to hear a windbag suck and blow.
Encyclopaedias, on them we never have to call
Why clutter up the bookshelf when my husband knows it all!


Pam Ayres (1947 – ) British poet, comedian, songwriter, author of six books of poetry; frequent guest on various BBC radio programmes, and presenter of Ayres on the Air

“They Should Have Asked My Husband” from the Audiobook of the same name, © 2004 – Hodder & Stoughton

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Even aging can be a rueful cause of mirth in a poem by Billy Collins.

Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


Billy Collins (1941 – ) dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times; a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003); has published many poetry collections, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning and Nine Horses: Poems. It was Questions About Angels, published in 1991, that put him in the literary spotlight

“Forgetfulness” from Questions About Angels, © 1991 by Billy Collins, University of Pittsburgh Press

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Dorothy Parker is ready to defend the talent writing of a favorite author with fisticuffs if necessary.

Charles Dickens

Who call him spurious and shoddy
Shall do it o’er my lifeless body.
I heartily invite such birds
To come outside and say those words!


Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American poet, author, satirist, screenwriter and critic, famed for her wit and wisecracks; frequent contributor to The New Yorker, and a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table

“Charles Dickens” from Complete Poems by Dorothy Parker, Penguin Classics (2010)

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And lastly, for those readers who live in the Southern Hemisphere, here’s a bit of humor from Marilyn Singer for your chilly winter weather.

Cat

I prefer
warm fur,
a perfect fire
to lie beside,
a cozy lap
where I can nap,
an empty chair
when she’s not there.
I want heat
on my feet
on my nose
on my hide.
No cat I remember
dislikes December
inside.


Marilyn Singer (1948 – ) American author of books for children and young adults, including fiction, non-fiction works about science, and  poetry; The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth won the ALA 1983 Best Book for Young Adults Award

“Cat” from Turtle in July, © 1989 by Marilyn Singer – Atheneum Books

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Visuals

  • Mr. Grumpledump
  • Borneo Orangutan
  • Duck-Billed Platypus
  • Grouper fish
  • Boy underwater
  • Middle-Aged man smoking
  • Older man trying to remember
  • Charles Dickens writing
  • Pampered Cat

Word Cloud photo by Larry Cloud

 

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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