Ed’s Top Ten Favorite March Madness Poetry 2012 Poems: #6

We’re now just six days away from the start of March Madness Poetry 2013!

Continuing my one-a-day posting of my Top Ten favorite poems from #MMPoetry 2012 … today we dive headfirst back into the silly pool with Stephen W. Cahill’s poem prompted by his 14-seed word “varnish” in the first round:

14-varnish
My Little Brother
by Stephen W. Cahill

My three year old brother is driving my mother
Completely clean out of her mind.
He dances on walls and repeatedly falls
And bumps on his little behind.

He woofs like a dog and he rolls like a hog
In all that he sees that is mucky.
And down by the lake, where resides an old drake,
He dives in declaring “Me ducky!”

So what does Mum do? She employs some voodoo,
(Which switches my tale to a fable)
By waving her palm with an “Alacazam!”
And now he’s a dining room table!

My brother’s so good, now he’s made out of wood,
However, there’s more I should say.
And that’s that I miss him.
And that’s why I kiss him and varnish his head every day.


This poem captured 71% of the vote in its matchup and helped Stephen reach the Elite Eight. Stephen, of course, did not stop there, as he went on to become the first ever #MMPoetry champion!

For those who missed it, I interviewed Stephen a few months ago about his experience and his writing. One of my favorite responses from him was his characterization of his own style as “sensible silliness” — that is, writing stories that “make logical sense –- as long as you take a ‘why not’ approach.” I think that you see that approach in full view in his My Little Brother poem above. I also love that he waited until the very last moment to use his prompt word, which tied together the entire poem in one dynamite punchline.

Click here to see this poem as it originally appeared in #MMPoetry 2012.

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  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    I might add that I robbed the phrase ‘sensible silliness’ from my friend Steve Hartley. He told me that’s how he described his writing style when pitching for his now highly succesful series, Danny Baker, Record Breaker. We have similar styles and senses of humour, albeit he writes for 7+, whereas I’m aiming younger.. Plus he’s published, and i’m still only figuring things out!

  • http://www.lindaboyden.com Linda Boyden

    totally loved this from last year! Still do.

  • http://www.quinettecook.com Quinette Cook

    Stephen,
    I think you’ve done quite well.
    This poem has potential to sell.
    You’re writing is clever.
    it is witty and fun,
    but waiting for success is hard.

  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    Thanks Quinette. I actualy recently rewrote it to fit into a picture book format. I had to add a bit for a happy ending. But i made up for it by having him eating snails and peeing in the bathtub, wearing mum’s knickers on his head etc, All things that my eldest boy has genuinely done!

  • http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com Catherine Johnson

    This is exactly the kind of poetry I aspire to write. Fabulous, Stephen!

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

    What I love about this, other than the fact that he was able to come up with this completely bizarre story and set it to well-metered rhyme in <36 hours, is the sheer pace of it. I just timed myself reading it (not aloud) a few times and my reading pace for this poem is 24 seconds -- 24 seconds for a 16 line poem! The rhyme and meter and word choice just power you forward as a reader and keep you hopping from segment to segment like it's nothing. Really impressive.

    And I love it even more when you think about what he started with, which was:

    varnish

    Everything else he conjured out of thin air.

  • Carrie Finison

    I agree, Ed, that’s what amazes me about it, too. It’s such a fun and totally unique story — to have come up with all that out of the blue in such a short amount of time, based on only the word ‘varnish’ is quite a feat!

  • http://www.NoWaterRiver.com Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Yup, pretty clever! “See” you Friday, Stephen!

  • http://readingyear.blogspot.com Mary Lee

    Brilliant.

    My favorite line:

    “(Which switches my tale to a fable)”

    You could market this poem for the Common Core Standards!!

  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    looking forward to it Renee! :-)

  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    Thanks Mary Lee. I think – Common Core Standards are a good thing, right?

  • http://www.poetrytalents.com Gloson

    I love the meter. :D
    Stephen, may I ask why you wrote

    “And that’s that I miss him.
    And that’s why I kiss him and varnish his head every day.”

    Instead of

    “And that’s that I miss him. And that’s why I kiss him
    and varnish his head every day.”

    To break the pattern I suppose? :P

  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    Hi Glosen, it was to slow the pace down in line with the change of tone at that point of the poem, i.e. when the narrator starts to reveal how she really feels about her crazy little brother. It was also to give that line “and that’s that I miss him” more emphasis, because it is where the heart of the tale lies.

  • http://www.authoramok.com Laura Shovan

    Great post, Ed. I love the narrative thread in this poem. So inventive!

  • http://www.poetrytalents.com Gloson

    @Stephen Very cool idea! I must try line-breaking your way in the future. I do notice the change of tone. :)

  • http://www.allanwolf.com Allan wolf

    I LOVE this poem. I want to MARRY this poem.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      Hey, aren’t you already married? Cheater!

      • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

        Excuse the mess, Part 1: I am testing comment threading functionality.

        • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

          Excuse the mess, Part 2: I am testing comment threading functionality.

          • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

            Excuse the mess, Part 3: I am testing comment threading functionality.

            • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

              Excuse the mess, Part 4: I am testing comment threading functionality.

  • http://www.poetrytalents.com Gloson

    I am testing comment threaded from a non-author.

  • http://www.poetrytalents.com Gloson

    Doesn’t work. :\

  • Charles Mund

    Testing as a logged-out non-author!

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      Doesn’t work! Hmmmm …

  • Domd

    Charles Mund makes his 2013 return in a comment cameo?! The first character we meet in 2012 relegated to a status reserved for Reggie Jackson in The Naked Gun?

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      Charles will be back very soon …

  • http://www.quinettecook.com Quinette Cook

    I look forward to seeing it in print! Can’t wait to read this year’ and hope I don’t have to go up against you.

    P.S. Did you notice that my last word in the last line didn’t rhyme? Huh? Huh? Did you? ;)

  • Janet F.

    This is definitely a POV question and that would work with the CCSS. If you want to know more about CCSS ask and I (we as in Mary Lee) can provide some resources…right Mary Lee??? I am thinking Burkins and Yaris blog.

  • Janet F.

    I tried to “say something to this person” as in Stephen about CCS being a good thing….but it ended up at the end, Ed……..just FYI all……… my comment only makes sense if it is underneath Stephen’s comment in the middle of the pack…

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      The nested comments are not working for anyone but me right now. I am not sure why but have a question out to those who can help. -Ed

  • http://www.quinettecook.com Quinette Cook

    Love the education the dialogue between authletes is creating. And who cares if we are nesting properly, so far I am tracking. :)

  • http://www.childrensauthorbjlee.com B.J. Lee

    This one is LOL funny! I love, ‘Me ducky!’ Just ducky!