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Shel Silverstein Poems

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In Search Of Cinderella


From dusk to dawn,
From town to town,
Without a single clue,
I seek the tender, slender foot
To fit this crystal shoe.
From dusk to dawn,
I try it on
Each damsel that I meet.
And I still love her so, but oh,
I've started hating feet.


Cloony The Clown

I'll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, "Go back to bed!"
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, "I'll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown."
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With "Hah-Hah-Hahs" and "Hee-Hee-Hees."
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, 'cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And he said,"THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT -
I'M FUNNY JUST BY ACCIDENT."
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.


Messy Room


Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or—
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!


Somebody Has To

Somebody has to go polish the stars,
They're looking a little bit dull.
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
For the eagles and starlings and gulls
Have all been complaining they're tarnished and worn,
They say they want new ones we cannot afford.
So please get your rags
And your polishing jars,
Somebody has to go polish the stars.


Bear In There

There's a polar bear
In our Frigidaire—
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there—
That polary bear
In our Fridgitydaire.


Sylvia's Mother

Sylvia's mother says Sylvia's busy,
too busy to come to the phone .
Sylvia's mother says Sylvia's trying
to start a new life of her own.
Sylvia's mother says "Sylvia's happy...
So why don't you leave her alone?"

And the operator says
"Forty cents more, for the next three minutes."
Please Mrs. Avery, I've just got to talk to her
I'll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, just want to tell her
Goodbye !

Sylvia's mother says Sylvia's packing,
she's gonna be leaving today.
Sylvia's mother says Sylvia's marrying
a fellah down Galveston way .
Sylvia's mother says "Please don't say nothing
to make her start crying and stay."

And the operator says
"Forty cents more, for the next three minutes."
Please Mrs. Avery, I've just got to talk to her
I'll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, just want to tell her
Goodbye !

Sylvia's mother says Sylvia's hurrying,
she's catching the nine'o'clock train.
Sylvia's mother says:"Take your umbrella,
cause Sylvie it's starting to rain."
And Sylvia's mother says "Thank you for calling
and Sir won't you come back again ?"

And the operator says
"Forty cents more, for the next three minutes."
Please Mrs. Avery, I've just got to talk to her
I'll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, just want to tell her
Goodbye !


25 Minutes To Go

They're buildin' the gallows outside my cell.
I got 25 minutes to go.

And in 25 minutes I'll be in Hell.
I got 24 minutes to go.

Well, they give me some beans for my last meal.
23 minutes to go.

And you know... nobody asked me how I feel.
I got 22 minutes to go.

So, I wrote to the Gov'nor... the whole damned bunch.
Ahhh... 21 minutes to go.

And I call up the Mayor, and he's out to lunch.

I got 20 more minutes to go.

Well, the Sheriff says, "Boy, I wanna watch you die".
19 minutes to go.


Folk Singer's Blues

Well, I'd like to sing a song about the chain gang
And swingin' twelve pound hammers all the day,
And how a I'd like to kill my captain
And how a black man works his life away, but...
What do you do if you're young and white and Jewish?
And you've never swung a hammer against a spike?
And you've never called a water boy
Early in the morning
And your only chain is the chain that's on your bike? Yes,
Your only chain is the chain on your bike.
Now I'd like to go a-walkin up the highway
Feelin' cold and wet and hungry all night long,
Doin' some hard ramblin', hard gamblin', hard smamblin', hard blamblin'
But always takin' time to write a song. But...
What do you do if you're young and white and Jewish?
And you never heard an old freight whistle blow?
And you've never slept the night
In a cold and empty box car
And you take a subway everywhere you go? Oh, oh...
You take the subway everywhere you go.
Now I'd like to sing a song about the coal mine
A-chippin' away in tunnel 22
And when I hear that timber crack, why I support it with my back
Until my comrades all crawl safely through, but...
What do you do if you're young and white and Jewish?
And you've got to be in class at half-past nine
And in spite of all your urgin', and your pleadin' and your cryin'
Your mother says it's too dirty down in a mine, That what she says,
Your mother says it's too dirty down in a mine.
Well now, I'd like to sing about the Mississippi,
Workin' on the levee all the day
And when them cotton bolls get rotten
You got a lotta rotten cotton
And on Saturday you go and spend your pay, but
What do you do if you're young and white and Jewish?
And you've never loaded cotton on the dock?
And you've never worked a day
Or drunk up all your pay
And the only levee you know is the Levy who lives on the block, Yes
The only levee you know is the Levy who lives on the block.


Better Not Ask Me

(Hey the truth might hurt so I'm tellin' you now that you better not ask me)
Hey you better not ask me where I been all night
Why my eyes are shinin' and my spirit is flyin'
You better not ask if I been doin' right or I just might tell you
And you better not ask me bout the girls I used to know
And days I used to run around before I ever met you
You better not ask how they compare to you or I just might tell you
And you better not ask me if I'm satisfied
With the way you've been givin' me what you call lovin'
Better not ask me bout the times I cried or I just might tell you
So keep on doin' what you're doin' and if you should see me straight
Well don't you ask baby just let it pass baby
And maybe it'll go away but I don't doubt it
You better not ask me if I'm gonna stick around
Or pack up all my bags and find another pretty city
You better not ask me who it is I found or I just might tell you


Mama I'll Sing One For You

I've sung my songs on dusty roads and dirty city sidewalks
To sweatin' hard eyed brakemen, in the rail yards I rolled through
I've sung in blue wall papered rooms to girls I played at lovin'
Now Mama…I'll sing one song for you
Mama let me tell you that I've never lost the mem'ry
Of the tender things you told me, and the gentle things you'd do
And though I've grown away and other arms reach out to hold me
Mama…I'll sing one song for you
You say you'd like to have me here to help you through the winter
But you say it with a wistful smile like you already knew
That your boy's no good at stayin' still there's no words that need sayin'
And Mama… I'll sing one song for you
Tomorrow I'll be movin' out on them dusty country backroads
Some sweatin' hard eyed brakeman may hear a tune or two
And the girl in the blue wall papered room she'll ask where i been hidin'
And I'll tell 'em I stopped and sang one song for you


Grizzly Bear


Yeah they call me Grizzly Bear got long black grizzly hair
Walk down the street and everybody stop and stare
Ohohoh well I'm wild and wooly and free
And so you'd better not mess with me
Lemme tell you that I howl yowl growl like a grizzly bear

They say there go Grizzly Bear got no clothes to wear
They say I'm all hung up bein' nowhere
Yeah but the girls they love my clows and my great big chompin' jaws
Lemme tell you that I howl yowl and growl like a grizzly bear

Well now I can't be chained and I can't be tamed and they can't kill my desire
So baby gimme a hug I'll be your bearskin rug
And I'll lie in front of your fire on winter
Baby if you dare why don't you come on down to my lair
And if you got some money to share I'll be waitin' for you there
Hey you know I'm gonna on strong and we can hug'n mate the
 whole week long
Lemme tell you that I howl yowl a growl like a
 grizzly bear
[ piano ]
(Yeah watch out baby here I come again)
They call me Grizzly Bear they say I'm kooky and square
They can say anything they want about me I don't care I don't care
Because I'm takin' it day by day and I'm livin' my own sweet way
Lemme tell you that I howl yowl a growl like a grizzly bear
Like grizzly bear yeah I really rip and tear I really get my share


On The Way To The Bottom

On the way to the bottom
I met an ole friend of mine
He said "Buddy, I do believe
this is the end of the line"
I said "The end of the line"
Shoot, come on and have another round
And if we're headin' for the bottom
We still got a long way down
On the way to the bottom
We make a lot of stops
And we'd meet a lot of fools
Just a bustin' their hearts
On the way to the top
Pass me another bottle
And turn down the lights
Forget about tomorrow, baby
We're gonna rumble tonight
I'll wear my low heeled boots
You wear your taffeta gown
and if we're heading for the bottom
we'll go laughing all the way down
On the way to the bottom
I met an ol' girl of mine
She said "Honey, I'm scared,
Won't you love me one more time?"
I said "One more time?"
Shoot, about a million more
We had a whole lotta loving
And a whole lot more in store


Rain

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain
And it dripped into my head
And flowed into my brain
So pardon this wild crazy thing I just said
I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.
I step very softly
I walk very slow
I can't do a hand-stand
Or I might overflow.

And all I can hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.


Little Green Buttons

The honeymoon ended a decade ago,
If he still loves her he don't say so,
So she's taking her blues to the House af Tattoos,
Getting little green buttons on her birthday suit.
Little green buttons all in a row
From her face to the place they ain't never gonna slow.
Might sound crazy but they sure look cute,
Those little green buttons on her birthday suit.
She had supper in the oven when he came home,
Now he's snoring on the sofa to the Late, Late Show.
It was ten days later before he knew
'Bout those little green buttons on her birthday suit.
But now she's living in a house of love,
She's got his attention, he can't get enough
He spends every evening trying to undo
The little green buttons on her birthday suit.


I Can’t Touch The Sun

No I can't touch the clouds for you I've never reached the sun for you
I've never done the things that you need done for you
I've stretched as high as I can reach I guess I'm not the one for you
Cause I can't touch the clouds or reach the sun for you
No I can't reach the clouds or touch the sun

No I can't turn back time for you and make you sweet sixteen again
I can't turn your barren fields to green again
And I can't sit around and talk of how might have been again
No I can't turn back time and make you young again
I can't turn back time and make you young

I can't look inside your mind and see the things you're hopin' for
I can't help you chase the dream you're gropin' for
I know your heart is open wide but I don't know who it's open for
Cause I can't know your mind or chase your dreams for you
Mhm I can't chase your dreams or know your mind

So say goodbye and don't look back I've had some happy days with you
I'm sorry but I can't be the one who stays with you
And if they ask about me you can say I was the one with you
Who never touched the clouds or reached the sun with you
I can't touch the clouds or reach the sun for you
I can't touch the clouds or reach the sun


Makin' It Natural

I'm gonna throw my grass out the window
Crumple up my papers too
Give away my speed, Cause all I'm gonna need
Is just a little bit of love from you
And we'll be makin' it natural
And ain't it just about time
That stuff I was so keen on
I no longer have to lean on
Cause your love's enough to keep me high
Now if any you heads want some Panama red
All you gotta do is to reach out your hand
I'll trade my stash for just about enough cash
To buy a simple golden wedding band
And we'll be makin' it natural
But don't you ask me how
It's been the cause of all my sorrow
But I think I'll start tomorrow
'Cause I sure could use a hit right now
But I'll throw it out the window, some day
Give away my cocaine
Bust my spikes and flush a million mikes
Of acid right down the drain
And we'll be makin' it natural, makin' it natural...


Forgotten Language

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?


Modern Talk

There was a time when people taked said with their mouth
How they talk and it doesn't mean a thing it's called the modern talk
Now picture the scene the day is sunny
A man meets a friend and asks him for some money
He says I need five to keep me alive
And the friend gives him this kinda jive
He says zaa za voo za za voo I can't make it
Va za va za voo za va see ya later so long see you later
Vome zoo za vome a viddle o till then
And he's right back out on the street again

And then a girl gets on the phone and talks to her lover
She says we got troubles that we can't keep covered
I just got the news I'm knittin' baby shoes
Now call up the preacher and pay your dues
He says zaa za voo za za voo see you later so long huhuh
I can't stand baby vome zoo za vome till then
And she's right back out on the street again

And then a guy gets grabbed by an army recruiter
He says we're gonna put you in the khaki suiter
So do not cry and don't you lie but take this test to qualify
The guys says blblblblblbl huhuh till then
And he's right back out on the street again

And then a lady goes down to see her psychiatrist
And lies on a couch to give her little head a twist
Now is it a psychosis or is it a neurosis the doctor gives her this diagnosis
Sayin' huhuh listen huhuh twenty dollars
Huhh next Wednesday baby then we'll huhuh then
She's right back out on the street again

And then the preachers in the church they're blessin' and damnin'
Presidents standin' there just Vietnamin'
While the animals sing and politicians swing
And everybody's sayin' the same damned thing
They're sauin' zaa za voo za za voo you know that's modern talk



Goodnight Little Houseplant

Goodnight little houseplant asleep on the sill
I'll pull the shades so you don't catch a chill
And tomorrow in the morning don't be breaskfast for two
We'll have ham and eggs for me and nitrogen for you
Goodnight little houseplant tucked in your clay pot
Maske sure you don't catch Huntington's Rot
Remember little houseplant stay away from them bees
I've heard they may carry a social disease
Goodnight little houseplant goodnight
Here's your glass of water should I leave on the light
Tomorrow we'll talk of the things that we did
I love you little house plant who needs women and kids


Tell Me

Tell me I'm clever,
Tell me I'm kind,
Tell me I'm talented,
Tell me I'm cute,
Tell me I'm sensitive,
Graceful and wise,
Tell me I'm perfect-
But tell me the truth





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