I've had a long-time link with the poet John Ciardi because I used his poetry book How Does A Poem Mean in a poetry class long long ago in college, and have read it since then, although not for a while. At the time, I thought it wasn't terrible interesting, but I loved more the teacher I had, a former poet laureate of Missouri, John Neihardt. I thought he told better stories about poetry than the book did.
Yet since then, I've come to enjoy different texts about poetry, and all kinds of poetry. I had the good luck to go antiquing when I visited my son and family in Texas. I don't buy many things any more, have too much already, but this time I had the extreme pleasure of finding what appears to be a first edition of Doodle Soup, a book of Ciardi's children's poems. It seems untouched, although now it is! I've discovered some of the poems are akin to Shel Silverstein and I will try them out with young students this year to see if I'm right. Yet the humor is sometimes a bit strange, too. More than one of the poems talk about disappearing, somehow making a mistake and "poof", one is gone. They can be wry in humor, yet still others offer a big laugh at the "new" look he imagines.
Here's one about a turtle, discussing its home:
"I Am Home," Said the Turtle
"I am home," said the turtle, as it pulled in its head
And its feet, and its tail. "I am home, and in bed.
"No matter what inches and inches I roam,
When the long day is done, I am always at home."
Although the poem is in the book, Doodle Soup, I also found it here, in another anthology, A Zooful of Animals by William Cole, accompanied by some cute illustrations. You'll need to click on the link in the table of contents.
One of my favorites is "In Pete's Shoes" and unfortunately I couldn't find a link to it. I hope you can find it. I think you'll get the fun point if I share the first two couplets:
"I tried to tell my small son Pete
He had his shoes on the wrong feet.
That's when he explained to his silly Dad
Those were the only feet he had--- "
And a final one, sorry, many of the poems are just not available online. Again, I think you will understand how clever he was, and this one seems most akin to Silverstein, a little Bennett Cerf.
It snew all night. By the next noon
Eleven feet of sney had snoon.
I jumped up out of bed and snooze.
The snuz stopped in midair and froze.
I hope you'll be able to find the book (unless you already have) and and that you love it! It's terrific to discover old acquaintances.
As you can read in the comments, Robyn Hood Black, Life On The Deckle Edge, reminded me of Renee LaTulippe's wonderful post about John Ciardi, with many more titles of his books and poems shared too. Check it out at No Water River! Thanks to Robyn for the reminder and Renee for much more about John Ciardi!