Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Friday - Time for Recess!

Girls on the Playground, Pittsburgh PA, 1950

Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect continues to be my muse, via her Poetry Stretches. When she asked this week for a poem made entirely of questions, I fell into the rhythms of the playground - counting games, jump rope rhymes - and tried to capture them, with a dash of adult heartache, which is what a question mark does to me now.

Jump Rope Rhyme

Why go fast?
Why go slow?
Why say I know
when I just don't know?
Is it really why,
or is it why not?
And who is the how
and when is the what?
Clock doesn't tick?
Tick untocked?
Who will make a key
for a heart that's locked?
Is it you, is it me?
One potato, two potato,
what do I see?
Do I see a baby?
Do I see a hearse?
Do I see a lady
with an alligator purse?

The wonderful Elaine Magliaro is handling this week's Poetry Friday roundup. Head over to her blog, The Wild Rose Reader, to see what people have posted.


  1. This is terrific! Love the way you combined a kind of life crisis with childhood chants. Those last 4 lines kill me.

  2. crazy wavelengths here for me.

    first, i was considering posting some playground rhymes i was toying with this week, but didn't.

    second, i was just talking with someone a few days ago about an essay i had to write in college that had to be in the form of all questions. both the hardest and best essay of my undergrad career (i think i wrote a couple better ones in grad school).

    this was fun. and can i just say i like the parade at the end of a baby, a hearse, and the lady with an alligator purse. almost like a diane arbus photo in my mind...

  3. I love this! It's got a great rhythm and punch.

  4. I love quizzing my ten year old about the jump rope and hand rhymes the girls are doing at her school. Some of the modern iterations are hilarious: "Wait. Hold back. You need a Tic Tac. Not a Tic, not a Tac, but the whole darn pack." Thanks for sharing.

  5. One of my fourth graders found a hand clapping rhyme chanted by the main character in the book she was reading. She excitedly share this find with me and told me that she and her West Virginia cousins do that same hand clapping "game" every time they get together. How fun to see life and art coming together for her in such a sweet, child-sized way.

  6. Some favorite bits:

    "Why say I know
    when I just don't know?"


    "Clock doesn't tick?
    Tick untocked?
    Who will make a key
    for a heart that's locked?"

    I can totally imagine kids chanting and clapping this.