Reading Level: Grade 7

Poems suitable for reading by 12-13 year olds.

Wally Wards the Sword Swallower

Wally Wards
swallowed swords,
daggers, dirks
and razor blades,
lances, spears,
garden shears,
sabers, scissors,
spikes and spades.

Wally’s jaws
welcomed saws,
hatchets, axes,
power drills,
arrows, picks,
sharpened sticks;
that’s how Wally
got his thrills.

All the same
it’s a shame
Wally Wards
should lose his life.
Wally croaked
when he choked
on a plastic
butter knife.

My Old Uncle Wheeler

My old Uncle Wheeler
the instrument dealer
sells cellos, pianos, guitars.
He also sells mandolins,
banjos and violins,
zithers and harps and sitars.

He sells all these things
that play music with strings
at low prices that cannot be matched.
His discounts are deep
and his prices so cheap
’cause he sells them with no strings attached!

Miss Pronounce

Miss Pronounce is hard to hear.
She always seems to mumble,
and even when her words are clear
they’re something of a jumble.

She rambles indistinctly,
with her face behind her hand,
or says things so succinctly
that we cannot understand.

She speaks in cryptic riddles
unaware that she’s confusing,
then takes her thumbs and twiddles
and she mutters while she’s musing.

Miss Understand retired
and her service will be missed,
for Miss Pronounce was hired
as our new Speech Therapist.

Brody the Custodian

Brody the Custodian is always standing by
with a bucket full of sawdust and a twinkle in his eye
in the lunchroom while we’re eating, and we know the reason why;
just in case a student ever has to hurl.

If you eat the mystery meat, and maybe have the flu,
and you stand up feeling queasy and you really start to spew,
that’s when Brody brings his bucket, for he knows just what to do,
and he sprinkles out some sawdust with a twirl.

Covering the upchuck is his most important job,
so he drizzles every driblet and he blankets every blob,
for it’s easier to sweep it than to get his mop and swab,
and it also covers up the nasty smell.

Brody the Custodian will always clean it quickly.
If he didn’t, other students would be shortly feeling sickly.
They’d regurgitate and retch until the floor was covered thickly,
and it soon would be impossible to quell.

Honking on the tables with the fury of a comet,
all the students would be spraying streams of wet projectile vomit,
and there wouldn’t be a thing that anyone could do to calm it,
and the smell would carry halfway to Nantucket.

Luckily for us, though, we have Brody standing by
with his bucket full of sawdust and that twinkle in his eye
so we never need to worry, and our floor is always dry,
and we’re thankful we have Brody and his bucket.

The Addlepated Glundersnedd

Industrious and underfed,
the addlepated Glundersnedd
resides inside, beneath your bed
and waits for dusky dark to spread.

He waits until your lights are out
to leave his roost and snoop about,
then snuffles with his snarkly snout
in search of salty sauerkraut.

For pickled cabbage, steamed or stewed,
or baked or boiled or barbecued
is pretty much his favorite food
and puts him in a merry mood.

But if he snuffles all around
and makes that snarkly snorting sound
within the drawers and on the ground,
and sauerkraut cannot be found

The addlepated Glundersnedd
industrious and underfed
harumph-a-lumps right back to bed
to snack on girls and boys instead.

Of all the things that he’ll ingest
from north or south or east or west
as you already may have guessed
he fancies children second best.

So if you plan to keep your head
then please remember what I said:
to feed the dreaded Glundersnedd
keep sauerkraut beside your bed!

When a Giant Has a Haircut

When a giant has a haircut
it’s a massive enterprise
due completely to the giant’s
quite considerable size.

To begin an undertaking
of such monumental scope
first the barber needs a scaffold
and a thousand yards of rope.

He’ll need leather gloves and work boots.
He’ll need garbage cans and rakes,
plus a parachute and safety net
in case the giant shakes.

He’ll ascend by helicopter
to the giant’s lofty dome,
with a pair of swords for scissors
and a pitchfork for a comb.

Then for weeks and weeks he’ll labor;
he will cleave and slice and hack.
He will chop and saw and sever
like a raving lumberjack.

Turning forests into wastelands
slashing tangles everywhere,
you may hear him yelling “TIMBER”
as he’s felling strands of hair.

When at last the barber’s finished
then it fills his heart with sorrow
when the giant says, “My hair grows fast;
I’ll come again tomorrow.”

The Cow Town Ballet

This here is the story of Jed Beaudelay,
who once was the head of the Cow Town Ballet,
the greatest of all of the old western sights,
for Jed would take milk cows and dress them in tights.

In tutus and slippers his cows would sashay,
they’d spin pirouettes, they’d glissade and pliĆ©.
And cowpokes from Boston to Monterey Bay
would journey to Cow Town to see the ballet.

And every night how his cattle would dance!
They’d act out a musical cattle romance,
with skill and precision, with grace and with flair,
they’d glide ‘cross the stage and they’d leap through the air.

And when it was over the cowpokes would cheer
and even the manliest men shed a tear
for nowhere on Earth but the Cow Town Ballet
had anyone ever seen cattle sashay.

Old Jed Beaudelay would still run the ballet,
if not for the fact that when cattle sashay,
and all of their tutus are flapping around
their costumes make sort of a shuffling sound.

And some no-good cowpoke, on hearing that sound,
was rather unhappy; he stopped and he frowned,
then ran to the sheriff, deciding to tattle,
so Jed was arrested for rustling cattle.


I see zebras from Zimbabwe
zipping all around the zoo.
I see Zeus up in the zodiac,
a zillion zithers too.

There are zephyrs blowing zeppelins
that are zooming near and far.
There are zealots counting zeroes
in a zone near Zanzibar.

There are Zulus wearing zoot suits
eating zwieback and zucchini
plus a zombie with a zipper
on his zinnia bikini.

Yes, I always have the zaniest
most zonked-out dreams like these,
because every time I go to sleep
I try to catch some Z’s.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty pricked her thumb,
started feeling overcome.
Probably she would have died
as the witch had prophesied,
but the fairies had her blessed
so she just got beauty rest.
For a hundred fifty years
she missed balls and film premieres,
till Prince Charming came along
singing out a cheerful song.
Kneeling down he kissed her cheek
hoping that she’d wake and speak.
Sleeping Beauty raised an arm
reaching for the snooze alarm
and her waking words were these:
“Just need five more minutes please.”