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Bob Nailor

Poetry Fun

Poetry usually gets a bad rap. It's boring, tedious, dull, dreaded, and downright yucky. Some would rather shove bamboo splits under their nails, receive a lobotomy, or slash their wrists than be subjected to poetry. Nonetheless, poetry can be fun.

How, you ask? Simple. Take the following mathematical poem written by Jon Saxton, an author of math textbooks.

((12 + 144 + 20 + (3 * 4^(1/2))) / 7) + (5 * 11) = 9^2 + 0

Yes, it IS a poem. If read properly, it will rhyme AND be mathematically correct.

For those who can't figure it out...the answer will be found at the bottom of this article. I don't think I'd dare force you to wait until the next issue. I'll give you a hint, 12 is read as "a dozen" and my apologies if you were actually attempting to figure it out.

Jack and Jill went up the hill
Each had a quarter
Jill came down with fifty cents
Did they go up for water?

You say the above poems didn't bring a smile to your face? What if I were to mention limericks? See? A secret smile blossomed as you remembered some risqué ditty. I won't subject you to limericks... this time!

During my English and Lit classes, poetry was often expounded upon by the instructor. And I dreaded it! I attempted the "deep" style, but found that my spirit was too light to be bogged down in such. Speaking with others, I've come to discover that I'm not the only person who found a lighter side. Poetry can be light-hearted and still have a meaning. Samantha Adley, a screenwriter who is also a serious poet, submitted the following as a class assignment.

Found a place called If Only,
Right next to Instead,
Tried to grab its shadow,
But Shadow quickly fled.
Seemed so silly simple,
But silly simple clear
That Shadow left a message,
"Fear the lack of Fear."
Shadow left me holding pieces
Of Rainbow's brilliant hues,
Ate'em up like candy,
Ate up Shadow, too.
Sing a song of six-pence,
Pocket full of dread,
Traced forgotten footprints
Deep inside my head.
Old now is Used to Be,
And Later Never Was,
Comes a crowd of Wonder Whys,
Looking for Because.
"Quickly," said Forever,
"Later becomes Soon,"
Laughter winks her traitorous eye
And pricks a child's balloon.
'Twixt pages of an unbook,
In fragmented hues,
Bleeds a shattered butterfly
In Red and Pain and Blue.
In the streets of Wish I Had,
The hawker hawks his wares,
"Too soon old; too late smart,
Buy your clichés here."
Left the place called If Only,
Left Instead behind,
Turned Outside Inside,
Found Shadow in my mind.

Samantha Adley © 2000

Needless to say, her instructor was not amused. He accused her of taking light on poetry and mocking it. Like any good rebel, she took exception and submitted a similar poem for her next assignment.

Poetry can place us in front of a mirror, for there is the real humor. Man is the only creature on earth who can laugh, ridicule, and make fun of itself. Poetry can also do this. The following is a great example by that great unknown, Anonymous, which makes us laugh at ourselves by showing us, us!

'Twas an evening in November,
And I very well remember,
I was walking down the street in drunken pride.
But my knees went all a'flutter,
and I landed in the gutter,
and a pig walked up and lay down by my side.
Now I lie there in the gutter,
Thinking thoughts I dare not utter,
When a colleen, passing by, did softly say:
"You can tell a man who boozes,
by the company he chooses".
And at that, the pig got up and walked away!


I hope that I've shown you that poetry can be fun. There are many examples if you but give yourself a chance to look. Oh, before I forget. Here's the answer to the mathematical poem from above. Enjoy.

A dozen, a gross and a score,
plus three times the square root of four,
divided by seven,
plus five times eleven,
equals nine squared and not a bit more.

As I hit the highway in search of more tips, I leave you with these departing words from a master, Ogden Nash, in his 1933 "Happy Days" Song of the Road.

I think that I shall never see
A billboard as lovely as a tree
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.

Ogden Nash

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