Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 8

« To me, freedom entitles you to do something, not to not do something. » — Shel Silverstein

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re likely to be aware of the warm place in our flinty hearts that we reserve for the wonderfully subversive and multi-talented Shel Silverstein! If not, check out Shel Silverstein: Without Borders or Take Ten With Shel Silverstein and you’ll get our drift.

This time, we turn our attention to Shel’s wildly successful illustrated poetry for kids (of all ages). Our first three selections hail from 1974’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.

But please walk softly as you do
Frogs dwell here and crickets too.

Ain’t no ceiling, only blue
Jays dwell here and sunbeams too.

Floors are flowers — take a few.
Ferns grow here and daisies too.

Whoosh, swoosh — too-whit, too-woo,
Bats dwell here and hoot owls too.

Ha-ha-ha, hee-hee, hoo-hoooo,
Gnomes dwell here and goblins too.

And my child, I thought you knew
I dwell here… and so do you.
When singing songs of scariness,
Of bloodiness and hairyness,
I feel obligated at this moment to remind you
Of the most ferocious beast of all:
Three thousand pounds and nine feet tall —
The Glurpy Slurpy Skagagrall —
Who’s standing right behind you.

The following trio come from 1981’s A Light in the Attic. A bit of controversy eventually ensued:
« Attempts have been made to ban the book from some libraries in the United States, parents claiming that the poem “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes” encourages messiness and disobedience. The poem “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony” resulted in criticism for describing the death of a little girl whose parents refuse to buy her a pony. This resulted in the book being banned by the Fruitland Park Elementary School in Lake County, Florida. The decision, however, was later reversed by an advisory committee of parents and teachers. » Ah, good old reliable Florida. [ source ]

Don’t miss the author’s performance of this piece!
It’s too early, and too sad, to think of November the 1st.

Here’s a couple from 1996’s Falling Up:

They had a Rotten Convention
And everyone was there:
Hamburger Face and Gruesome Grace
And the Skull with the slimy hair.

There was Mr. Mud and the Creepin’ Crud
And the Drooler and Belchin’ Bob,
There was Three-Headed Ann — she was holdin’ hands
With the Whimperin’ Simperin’ Slob.

The Unpronounceable Name, he came,
And so did Saw-Nose Dan
And Poopin’ Pete and Smelly Feet
And the Half-Invisible Man.

There was Sudden Death and Sweat-Sock Breath,
Big Barf and the Deadly Bore,
And Killin’ Dillon and other villains
We’d never seen before.

And we all sat around and told bad tales
Of the rottenest people we knew,
And everybody there kept askin’…
Where were you?

I dare you all to go into
The Haunted House on Howlin’ Hill
Where squiggly things with yellow eyes
Peek past the wormy window sill.
We’ll creep into the moonlit yard,
Where weeds reach out like fingers,
And through the rotted old front door
A-squeakin’ on its hinges,
Down the dark and whisperin’ hall,
Past the musty study,
Up the windin’ staircase —
Don’t step on the step that’s bloody —
Through the secret panel
To the bedroom where we’ll slide in
To the ragged cobweb dusty bed
Ten people must have died in.
And the bats will screech,
And the spirits will scream,
And the thunder will crash
Like a horrible dream,
And we’ll sing with the zombies
And dance with the dead,
And howl at the ghost
With the axe in his head,
And — come to think of it what do you say
We go get some ice cream instead?

And finally, this one’s from the posthumously published Every Thing On It (2011).

Thanks for everything, dear Mr. Silverstein! You’re an unceasing source of inspiration and wonder.


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