Thursday, April 17, 2008

In NYC, It's Poem In Your Pocket Day

In celebration of April being National Poetry Month, in the Big Apple today it has been designated Poem In Your Pocket Day. For the record, it's also Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as National Autism Awareness month, and while these are extremely important issues and something worth writing about, today I'd like to think of something less serious. Just for the moment. In honor of the writers and poets in my family.

The Sun's school encourages kids to carry a poem in their pocket, and I usually miss it since I'm always distracted by other things. But yesterday, (of course right before his already late bedtime) he insisted on having me copy a poem for him. The one he picked was only going to make sense within the context of the book he's reading (Firestar by Chris D'lacey), but he said he wanted a poem about dragons.

So we googlesearched, and found this one by Ogden Nash:

The Tale of Custard the Dragon
By Ogden Nash
Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt
Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.
Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

I learned about Ogden Nash a few years ago, ironically enough on a Big Apple bus. The MTA prints poems and puts them up in the buses and trains, and one day riding a bus I spotted this one, which is one of my all time favorites:

Old Men
by Ogden Nash
People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Reprinted without permission so hopefully nobody objects...

Some links to the man:
And because it's Natural Poetry Month, I owe it to Bigbear, truly one of the world's great undiscovered poets, to publish one of hers. I have several favorites of hers... so it's hard to choose. But I think I'll pick one cuz it describes my mom perfectly:

I am the anti Oprah
© Aiki 2002

I am the anti Oprah
She's rich I'm poor
She has homes, a penthouse
A farm in Indiana
I have two rooms and a hallway
In Harlem

She has two cocker spaniels
I have two granddaughters
She has starred in the movies
I have starred as Nana in
The kitchen

She has a cook and staff
I cook and sometimes clean
She has a personal trainer
I have a husband

I am the anti Oprah

Oprah rides to premiers in stretch limos
I ride to the movies on the 5 train
She has makeup artists
I have the makeup counter
Where the gay guys will
Tell you if you look
Like Bozo the clown

She wears designer clothes
I wear designer knockoffs
Way offs

She has a hair stylist
I have hair that styles itself

I am the anti Oprah

I am the anti Oprah

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tell Big Bear that I loved the poem. But she is more fulfilled then Oprah too. I saw a plaque once that said, "No matter how much company I have, they always love my kitchen the best." That fits her. If given a choice to meet her or Oprah, I'd rather meet Big Bear...because she's real. She's like me. Broke but loved. Free to spread her wings and do what she likes. Free to go into public without makeup if that is her choice. I'm so broke that I can't afford to pay attention, but I'm so rich when it comes to my friends and the RBB. Friends are priceless. They can't be replaced.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

great tribute, fort some uncanny reason i suspect u are a fine poet in your own rite, with the family and experience i know cursory u have had. have a great weekend sis

Nina said...

I love Big Bear's poem! You are right, it is perfect for her. Very nice.

And you happened to choose the very first poem I read to my very first child. Custard the Dragon, our very favourite! Love the Ogden Nash. Thanks for reminding me. I have another one (or two) who are waiting to hear it again (and again). :)

I have a book of his poetry/writings. "Old Men" is one that stops you, ya know?