Excerpts from "Rhymes and Dances", by Will T. Laughlin
Excerpts from
Rhymes and Dances

by Will T. Laughlin

NOTES: Rhymes and Dances was a short collection of
"nursery rhymes for second childhood" that marked my first serious effort
at non-serious verse. The verses, some as short as two lines, attempted
(with greater and less success) to reproduce both the lively, cheerful language
and the sometimes-disturbing content of children's rhymes.

(Whispersoft, on cockroach feet...)

Whispersoft, on cockroach feet,
Something skitters down your street,
Silently and softly creeping
To the house where you lie sleeping;
Squeezing through the windowsill,
Prowling 'round the house, until
Scenting out your cozy bed
And curling up around your head.

Whispersoft, but crystal-clear,
It speaks these words into your ear:
"What's it feel like to be... dead?

Heaven help you if you meet
What comes crawling down your street
Whispersoft, on cockroach feet.

Ducks in the Garden

Morning comes --
The day is fine;
Ducks in the garden
Standing in line.

Noontime comes --
Sun overhead;
Ducks in the garden
Buttering bread.

Evening comes --
Shadows grow long;
Ducks in the garden
Playing mah-jongg.

Nighttime comes --
Full moon shining;
Ducks in the garden
Pleasantly dining
   (As only ducks can)
   On Peking Man.

L'homme armé

L'homme, l'homme, l'homme armé
   L'homme armé
L'homme armé doibt on doubter

Buy a, buy a, buy a gun
   Buy a gun
To be safe from such a one.

(the elephant goad)

the elephant goad

the elephant goad

the elephant goad where it was toad

Emily Dickinson Goes Nuts

I dreamt I had a silver sponge --
I held it in my hand;
I stood where jet-black rivers plunge
into transparent land --

I dreamt I saw a shepherd's hut
on velvet mountain pass;
The windowpanes were solid rock;
the walls of clearest glass --

I brushed past curtains made of stone,
and when I'd entered in,
I met a horrid man of bone
whose teeth were made of skin.

He handed me the silver sponge --
at once I was transported
into a place where muskellunge
and wolverines cavorted.

I dreamt I had a silken sword --
I woke, and I had none --
And so I wandered out the door
And melted in the sun.

© 1990, Will Thomas Laughlin

NOTE: Two of these verses, Ducks in the Garden and Emily Dickinson Goes Nuts, were set to music -- yes, seriously -- as choral pieces by the American composer Michael Kaulkin.