Shel SIlverstein, 1930-1999
A long time ago when the earth was green,
a boy was born named Silverstein
who, as he grew into a man
discovered that he had a hand
for drawing and for writing
poems that could
stretch the way
He wrote for
he hung out
with the folkies
in a village
but all THAT—
is ancient history
and Shel would never
want for us to go
when good old
is far more fun.
the day fifteen years
ago, the 10th of May,
when death bells
for our sweet
Shel, here is
an ABC that tells
of you and me
a guy named Jim.
A is for ardent, adapt, and allow
all manner of attitude, axeheads,
Bet your bootie, beats all letters, see,
Because B reminds you, you simply
who you are
for who else
could you be? Creeping on cautiously,
3rd letter C is for chick lit and Chiclet,
corporeal, cat…o’ nine tails*.
* see Things We Don’t Do Anymore
‘cause They’re Mean
D is for dreaming and doing and dollars.
The dark side of D stirs up devils and debt,
which we don’t fear as much as that
drop at the end we call death.
Eek is the sound we make, employing E,
when something elicits extreme-ities.
It’s also for elephants, egrets, and eggs.
Fight or flight, folderol, fiddle, and fart
are some of the F words I hold in my heart.
There’s others more fun but I can’t say them here.
G is for The Giving Tree, Shel’s famous book
that first was rejected since it didn’t look
like it fit anywhere. Gimp-headed marketers,
H is the letter of soft exhalation in howdy-doo,
happy, and hen—unless you are Spanish or
Cockney or French, then haitches switch
places or simply are mute.
I am the I of impossible, instigate, inbred,
ignore. I confuse me sometimes with the great
number 1 in this serif-free world, I’s a bit
of a jumble, me.
J is for jug or not, juggernaut, jig, jag,
and jump a lot. Juicy and jammy, an umbrella
handle, the letter you take in the rain.
K is the lazy man’s smartphone reply
to the guy who texts you to ask if you’ll fly
to Kansas or Kenya on the 4th of July.
L is for let’s and for lettuce and love,
for lilies and lilacs and sweet lullabies.
La-la-la, we’d not have, if it weren’t for L.
M is the sound of a ponderous thought,
shared by Mr. or Ms., Mademoiselle or Monsieur.
It also stands for mmm, delicious, and marshmallow.
N is the Z that tipped over and nipped
itself in to fit better in nylons and nougat while
nestling with Nefer—that’s Titi to you—on the Nile.
O when it’s tiny ° speaks of degrees. On a mouth,
it says shock or surprise. O…de-o-doh, with
scant ostentation leads ocelot, Oshkosh, and om.
Piffle and phew, will this alphabet stew never
end? I’m imPatient, too practical, pedantic too.
Now, posturing, pandering, these things I’ll happily
Queenly, indeed, is the letter Q, first an O, then
a tail, and wedded to U (not you!). There’s quicken
and quack, Q.E.D., quid pro quo, and that
Quaker still sowing his oats.
Rrrr is the roar of the nasty road rager, who, if
he’d relax would remember that R is a letter that
rrrrolls with the punches and rolls off the tongue
in languages otherrrr than English.
S is for syllable, sillabub, sibilant, silly,
serpentine, Spitalfield’s, saliva, spittoon.
(Yes, it’s that brass pot over to your left.
No snuff or gobstoppers, please.)
T is the letter that sounds like the word for
the drink that is supper and oft paired with cuppa.
But where would the tummy and tuba be
without our terrific T?
U in the world of Textese means you, how r u?
But underneath, like underwear, U’s still a letter
that we ought to understand and look up to.
Vim and vigor, that’s our V, sign for peace
and victory! Vampires like the letter too, for
vords that start with W. I don’t know vy that is.
W’s the letter for write what you want,
whatever, whenever, whyever, why not?
Permission is fine for w-wusses, not me.
I’m braver than that. Don’t believe me? Ask he!
X is a Ximbol as much as a word
for a vote on a ballot, a kiss, and a mark
on a map that will make you quite rich
if the pirates and dragons don’t kiss you first.
Yoh, bro, we’ve nearly come to the end
of the 26 letters we ought to befriend. Yoyo
and yak, and yakity-yak, you see why it’s good
to know your Y…and how and when.
So here we are, Shel, at the Z, where zero,
zombie, zithers be. I hope you’re well and think
of me when I sign off
© Elaine Stirling, 2014
Image of Shel Silverstein from Wikipedia