Category: Podcast

I Can’t Wait for Summer – Podcast Episode

I often feel that summer is the best of all seasons, especially when you’re in school for the rest of the year. In the summertime, you don’t usually have to go to school. Instead you can swim, play in the park, or even just stay home and play games instead of doing homework.

I have written several poems about how much I like summer, including this one from my book When the Teacher Isn’t Looking.

If you like this poem, I recommend you also read my poems “Dreaming of Summer” from my book My Hippo Has the Hiccups and “Dear Summer” from My Cat Knows Karate.

I Can’t Wait for Summer

I can’t wait for summer, when school days are done,
to spend the days playing outside in the sun.
I won’t have to study. No homework, no tests.
Just afternoons spent on adventures and quests.
Instead of mathematics and writing reports,
I’ll go to the park and play summertime sports.
Instead of assignments, report cards, and grades,
I’ll get to play baseball and watch the parades.
I’ll swing on the playground. I’ll swim in the pool
instead of just practicing lessons in school.
The second the school year is finally done
I’ll spend every minute with friends having fun.
I hardly can wait for the end of the year.
I’m counting the days until summer is here.
It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to be cool.
It’s hard to believe it’s the first day of school.

— Kenn Nesbitt

Science Homework – Podcast Episode

From my book Revenge of the Lunch Ladies, this is either a story of a science experiment gone very, very wrong, or it is an elaborate excuse for not turning in your homework. Or possibly both.

It is also a long way to go for a groaner of an ending, but I had so much fun writing it that I just couldn’t help myself.

Lastly, this is also a good example of using onomatopoeia—words that sound like the actions they describe—in a poem. Words like “burble,” “slither,” and “gobble” all evoke sounds as well as visual descriptions. I used these intentionally to heighten the sensory impact of the poem and make it more engaging. I hope you enjoy it.

Science Homework

I hope that you believe me
for I wouldn’t tell a lie.
I cannot turn my science homework in
and this is why:

I messed up the assignment
that you gave us yesterday.
It burbled from its test tube
and went slithering away.

It wriggled off the table
and it landed with a splat,
convulsed across my bedroom floor
and terrorized the cat.

It shambled down the staircase
with a horrid glorping noise.
It wobbled to the family room
and gobbled all my toys.

It tumbled to the kitchen
and digested every plate.
That slimy blob enlarged
with every item that it ate.

It writhed around the living room
digesting lamps and chairs,
then snuck up on our napping dog
and caught him unawares.

I came to school upset today.
My head’s in such a fog.
But this is my excuse:
You see, my homework at my dog.

—Kenn Nesbitt

Bradley Bentley Baxter Bloome – Podcast Episode

About 150 years ago, an English children’s writer named William Brighty Rands wrote a poem called “Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore” about a boy who refused to ever shut the door and never listened to his parents until they built a sailboat and threatened to send him off to Singapore.

In the early 1900s, another English writer named Hillaire Belloc wrote a number of “cautionary tales” about children who misbehaved and met unfortunate ends, including “Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion” and “Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably.”

About 50 years ago, Shel Silverstein wrote one of his most famous poems, “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out,” about a young girl who wouldn’t take the garbage out and met an untimely fate within that trash. In fact, just as Shel Silverstein’s poem was inspired by these earlier poems, my first poem, “Scrawny Tawny Skinner,” was inspired by “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.”

I thought it would be a good idea to write another cautionary tale to pay homage to these poems of yesteryear, and this is the result. I hope you enjoy it.

Bradley Bentley Baxter Bloom

Bradley Bentley Baxter Bloome
would never, ever clean his room.
He simply dropped things on the floor
and left them there forevermore.
And even if his parents yelled,
complaining that his bedroom smelled,
and told him, “Bradley Bentley Bloome,
go get a bucket and a broom
and bring them back and clean your room,”
he just refused to pick things up.
So every cord, or coat, or cup,
or Christmas card or candy cane
that hit the floor would just remain.

It only took a little while
before he had a massive pile
of dirty clothes and greasy plates
and dust-encrusted roller skates
and tattered toys and grimy games
and broken bits of picture frames
and rumpled rags and rusted keys
and crumpled bags and cracked CDs
and stuff he’d never seen before
on every inch of bedroom floor.

And even as the clutter grew
with one more muddy, cruddy shoe,
or old and moldy pear or plum,
or sloppy glob of chewing gum,
or burst balloon, or flattened hat,
or battered book, or baseball bat,
or worn and torn up magazine,
still Bradley Bloome would never clean.

He didn’t even seem to care
as rubbish covered up his chair,
his desk, his bookcase, and his bed,
and piled up higher than his head,
until, at last, there wasn’t room
enough to breathe for Bradley Bloome.
His parents heard him scream and shout,
and tried but couldn’t get him out,
because the garbage on the floor
had filled the room and blocked the door.

And, in the end, young Bradley died,
and everyone who knew him cried.
His parents wailed and tore their hair.
His teacher wept in deep despair.
His gran and grandpa grieved and groaned.
His siblings sobbed. His classmates moaned.
His friends all whimpered, “Bradley! Bradley!
Please come back. We miss you badly!”

But, just like kids who came before,
like Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
the boy who never would shut the door,
and Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,
who would not take the garbage out,
and scrawny little Tawny Skinner,
who could not, would not eat her dinner,
poor Bradley Bentley Baxter Bloome
unfortunately met his doom,
within the grease and grime and gloom
that blocked the door and sealed his tomb.

So, children, if I may assume
you do not want to meet your doom
like Bradley Bentley Baxter Bloome,
go get a bucket and a broom
and bring them back and clean your room. 

— Kenn Nesbitt

Falling Asleep in Class – Podcast Episode

Have you ever accidentally fallen asleep in class? I know I did a few times, though not until I was in high school. If you fell asleep in elementary school, that’s just proof that kids are much more advanced these days.

My book When the Teacher Isn’t Looking has about 50 poems about all the funny things that happen at school. This one is about someone who fell asleep in class and woke up startled when the bell rang.

Falling Asleep in Class

I fell asleep in class today,
as I was awfully bored.
I laid my head upon my desk
and closed my eyes and snored.

I woke to find a piece of paper
sticking to my face.
I'd slobbered on my textbooks,
and my hair was a disgrace.

My clothes were badly rumpled,
and my eyes were glazed and red.
My binder left a three-ring
indentation in my head.

I slept through class, and probably
I would have slept some more,
except my students woke me
as they headed out the door.

-- Kenn Nesbitt

I Slipped on a Banana Peel – Podcast Episode

About 20 years ago, I used to have a hot tub in the back yard. One cold, winter morning, I noticed that I had left the cover off of it the night before, and the water had probably gotten pretty cold. So I put my slippers on and headed out the back door to replace the cover.

What I didn’t notice was that the steam from the hot tub had caused a thin layer of ice to form on the back stairs. I took one step down the stairs and immediately slipped and fell. Fortunately, there were only three steps so I wasn’t injured, but it did hurt a lot.

After jumping up and down, yelling, and rubbing my behind. I suddenly had an idea! My wife asked me, “Are you okay?” I said, “Yes, but I have to write a poem!”

This poem is the result of that mishap on the stairs.

I Slipped on a Banana Peel

I slipped on a banana peel
and fell and hit my head.
I slipped upon a patch of ice
which nearly killed me dead.

I slipped upon a roller skate
and tumbled into space.
I slipped inside the bathtub
and I landed on my face.

I slipped upon the basement stairs
and on the kitchen floor.
I wish that I could stop myself
from slipping anymore.

So now I only wear my shoes
or boots or clogs or flippers,
but I don’t want to slip again
so I don’t wear my slippers!

 --Kenn Nesbitt

My Legs Both Understand Me – Podcast Episode

This poem was a lot of fun for me to write because nearly every line can be taken either literally or figuratively. To say “My hair sticks up for me” may be literally true because my hair may be actually sticking up on top of my head. But if I were to understand it figuratively, it would mean my hair is taking my side, in an argument, for example.

I also had a theme for this poem. The challenge for me, as a writer, was to see if all of my double-meanings could have something to do with my body parts being positive and supportive of me.

As you read this poem, see if you can figure out both the literal and figurative meanings of each line.

My Legs Both Understand Me

My legs both understand me.
My shoulders have my back.
My arms are always on my side.
My feet know I’m on track.

My hands are both forgiving,
and help me seize the day.
My ears are awesome listeners.
My eyes see things my way.

My bottom is behind me.
My hair sticks up for me.
My fingers give me two thumbs up.
My smile won’t disagree.

My bones are so supportive.
My veins are all true-blue.
My legs both understand me.
I hope that you do too.

--Kenn Nesbitt

The Story of Laurie – Podcast Episode

In 2013, I was named the Children’s Poet Laureate. Awarded by the Poetry Foundation every two years, and now called the Young People’s Poet Laureate, the aim of this award is to raise awareness that young people have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.

A “laureate” is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field, and a “poet laureate” is a poet whose work is officially recognized and awarded.

Because I love the sound of language, I noticed that the word “laureate” sounds a lot like some other words such as “lariat” and “Laurie ate” and thought it would be fun to write a poem using one of these other words in place of “laureate.” This poem is the result, and I hope you enjoy it.

The Story of Laurie

Perhaps you shouldn’t read this story.
It isn’t sweet and hunky-dory.
It isn’t even just okay,
or nice or kind in any way.
In fact, it’s gruesome, grim, and gory,
and all about a girl named Laurie.

See, Laurie is a cannibal.
She’ll eat no plant nor animal.
She’ll eat no vegetable nor fruit,
no leaf, no seed, no sprout, nor shoot.
And if you offer fish or fowl
she’ll stare at you and start to growl.

It’s not that Laurie’s mean or mad.
She simply thinks that beans are bad.
She says, “No thanks” to chips and cheese,
bologna, carrots, parsley, peas,
bananas, bagels, sauerkraut,
arugula and rainbow trout.

She doesn’t care for Christmas roast,
or pie or pumpernickel toast,
or rigatoni, ravioli,
mustard, custard, guacamole,
pickles, yogurt, sirloin steak,
or even candy bars and cake.

She’ll never feed on frozen food.
And any entree, steamed or stewed,
from any package, box, or bag,
is guaranteed to make her gag.
It’s not part of her diet plan;
the only thing she eats is Man.

I truly hope I never meet
with Laurie, for I know she’ll eat
my feet, my legs, my arms, my head,
and then, of course, I’ll end up dead.
And that’s the one thing I would hate:
To be the poet Laurie ate.

--Kenn Nesbitt

My Favorite Word is Floofy – Podcast Episode

I love the sound of language. I especially love funny words. In fact, I once wrote an entire poem called My Favorite Words to list all of the words in English that I think sound funny, including words like “fuddy-duddy” and “nincompoop.”

But you can also make up funny sounding words. In fact, I wrote a poem called Today I Decided to Make up a Word to see how many words I could invent, including words like “fraskle” and “squank.”

For this poem I decided to combine these two ideas and write about a made-up word that I think sound’s wonderfully funny. Feel free to use it any way you like.

My Favorite Word is Floofy

My favorite word is "floofy." 
It's such a floofy word.
In fact, I'd say that floofy
is the floofiest I've heard.

I use it when I'm floofing up,
or when I'm all floofed out.
Whenever I feel floofy-doof
I give a floofy shout!

I may not know what floofy means.
But -- floofy! -- that's okay.
I'm sure it's floofy floofy floof
to floof it anyway.

I know it might sound silly.
I know it might sound goofy.
But, still, there's not another word
that's floofier than floofy.

-- Kenn Nesbitt

Nathaniel Naste – Podcast Episode

I love “narrative” poems, poems that tell a story. I love poems with crazy characters and “tall tales,” poems that are so exaggerated they are completely impossible. And I love “cautionary tales,” funny stories about characters who meet an unpleasant fate because they did something they shouldn’t have.

Nathaniel Naste is the story of a boy who didn’t listen when he was told he shouldn’t eat paste, and about the terrible fate that befell him (and his family, pets, neighbors, and, eventually, everyone else in the world) because he did it anyway.

This poem follows in the tradition of older poems like Shel Silverstein’s “The Extra Sticky Peanut Butter Sandwich” and “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,” and Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children.

If you enjoy this poem, you might like to read some of my other cautionary verses, including “Wendy Wise,” “Sam, Who Only Ate Jam,” and “Willie’s Wart.”

So here is “Nathaniel Naste.”

Nathaniel Naste
once ate some paste
he'd taken home from school.
He scooped a bit
and tasted it
and hollered like a fool.
His face got laced
with paste that graced
his forehead and his hair.
Some paste got placed
upon his waist
which glued him to his chair.

Nathaniel cried
and, mortified,
his mother came to see.
She tugged, she tried,
she pulled and pried
but couldn't get him free.
For she was stuck
in pasty muck
and called Nathaniel's dad,
who raced in haste,
embraced the paste,
and pulled with all he had.

But father too
was stuck like glue
to poor Nathaniel's mother,
and it ensued
they also glued
his sister and his brother,
his cat, his frog,
his bird, his dog
(a parakeet and spaniel),
till each at last
were fastened fast,
cemented to Nathaniel.

The neighbors came
and soon the same
was happening to all.
They faced the paste
but soon, disgraced,
they placed an urgent call
to nine-one-one
and on the run
came firemen and police,
who tried with ropes
and prayers and hopes
and bucketloads of grease.

But nothing helped
and each one yelped
to be in this position
encased in paste
to find they faced
a sticky proposition.
Across the floor
and out the door
and halfway down the street
with knees on hips,
and hands on lips,
and elbows stuck to feet.

The Army marched
but soon were starched.
The Navy gummed their ships.
The Air Force flew
but stuck like glue
to all those knees and lips.
The President
gave his consent
for every single person
to lend some aid
but this just made
the situation worsen.

And in the end
it's true, my friend,
no solitary granule
of any worth
was left on Earth
not pasted to Nathaniel.
So don't you fail
to heed this tale
and never taste your paste,
or you may find
you're in a bind
Like poor Nathaniel Naste.