Thursday, December 10, 2009

poetry is always a crocodile

today we had a program which i created called "reading rocks." no, it is not reading a rock, but an affirmation that the art of reading totally rocks. yeah!

in "reading rocks" i will typically read to the kids, usually ghost stories or funny short stories or riddles, etc and then we will do a small craft. it's not the most popular program, but i usually get a handful of kids, which i think makes it worthwhile. there will be reading in the library, damnit!

so today i read the kids shel silverstein poems. turns out shel silverstein actually visited one of the local schools! who knew?! i am slightly less disillusioned with the public school system now!

anyway ... a lot of the times these poems have a little "twist" at the end, so often if the kids aren't paying attention i have to explain what happened in the poem. so i read the following poem about a crocodile with a toothache, aptly named "crocodile toothache:"

The Crocodile
Went to the dentist
And sat down in the chair,
And the dentist said, "Now tell me, sir,
Why does it hurt and where?"
And the Crocodile said, "I'll tell you the truth,
I have a terrible ache in my tooth,"
And he opened his jaws so wide, so wide,
The the dentist, he climbed right inside,
And the dentist laughed, "Oh isn't this fun?"
As he pulled the teeth out, one by one.
And the Crocodile cried, "You're hurting me so!
Please put down your pliers and let me go."
But the dentist laughed with a Ho Ho Ho,
And he said, "I still have twelve to go-
Oops, that's the wrong one, I confess,
But what's one crocodile's tooth more or less?"
Then suddenly, the jaws went SNAP,
And the dentist was gone, right off the map,
And where he went one could only guess...
To North or South or East or West...
He left no forwarding address.
But what's one dentist, more or less?

so at the end of the poem i ask, "what happened to the dentist?" and one very bright kid said "he got eaten."

"that's right," i said, "the crocodile ate the dentist."

and then some of the kids that have trouble listening were all, "ohmygod! the crocodile ate the dentist!" better late than never folks.

so then this bright kid says, "that's what always happens in poems."

"what always happens in poems?" i ask.

"crocodiles," he tells me. "crocodiles are always eating people in poems. duh, it's so obvious."

indeed, smart kid, indeed. too much of the canon of american poetry is littered with crocodile assaults.

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