Monday, April 19, 2010

Edible Poems: If the World Was Crazy by Shel Silverstein

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I'll being sharing some of my favorite poems about food in a series of posts.

In this blog, I'm guilty of projecting the image of muddywaters being a relaxed fella who rolls with the punches and who is perpetually happy. This is far from the truth. I'm uptight. I demand structure. I'm often cranky. I take myself too seriously. I get worked up about politics. I don't always enjoy being around people. I'm a pessimist. I get upset about things I can't control.

My daughter and wife like to remind me that attitude is everything.

They're right, but applying this wisdom isn't so easy. It's a constant tug-a-war between the man I am and the man I want to be.

Blogging is one tool I use to maintain a positive attitude, but it doesn't always help. Lately I've been turning to poetry as a way to give my attitude a tuneup.

If you're having a bad day, I recommend picking up one of Shel Silverstein's book and flipping to about any page. There you will find words that will transform the way you see the world.

I'm sure this sounds corny to some, but when I read one of his poems aloud, I can feel the tension leaving my shoulders. When I read one of his poems, I'm a tow-headed boy with barefeet stained from playing underneath the mulberry tree, and life is about the possibilities, not the obstacles. The following edible poem has that kind of power:

If the World Was Crazy by Shel Silverstein

If the world was crazy, you know what I'd eat?
A big slice of soup and a whole quart of meat,
A lemonade sandwich, and then I might try
Some roasted ice cream or a bicycle pie,
A nice notebook salad, an underwear roast,
An omelet of hats and some crisp cardboard toast,
A thick malted milk made from pencils and daisies,
And that's what I'd eat if the world was crazy.

If the world was crazy, you know what I'd wear?
A chocolate suit and a tie of eclair,
Some marshmallow earmuffs, some licorice shoes,
And I'd read a paper of peppermint news.
I'd call the boys "Suzy" and I'd call the girls "Harry,"
I'd talk through my ears, and I always would carry
A paper umbrella for when it grew hazy
To keep in the rain, if the world was crazy.
If the world was crazy, you know what I'd do?

I'd walk on the ocean and swim in my shoe,
I'd fly through the ground and I'd skip through the air,
I'd run down the bathtub and bathe on the stair.
When I met somebody I'd say, "G'bye, Joe,"
And when I was leaving--then I'd say "Hello."
And the greatest of men would be silly and lazy
So I would be king...if the world was crazy.

embrace the absurd,


PS. . . Mr. Silverstein wrote one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, "A Boy Named Sue."


Jenni said...

I see a lot of myself in that first paragraph except that I'm an optimist. Being an optimist doesn't mean it's perpetually sunny skies for me, though. When the world does not live up to my optimistic view, which is often, I feel very let down. I can't control the way the world works or the people in it, and that is very stressful for me. Your wife and daughter are right, though, attitude is everything.

Shel Silverstein has never been a favorite of mine, but sometimes I need to embrace the absurd also. When I allow myself that, his poems can make me smile. I had no idea he wrote "A Boy Named Sue".

I'm thinking about your Billy Collins quote. I'm not sure I agree entirely, but you may have given me something to write about. Gotta think on it some more.

Anonymous said...

What does he mean, if?