Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ride a Purple Pelican

No blog mini series involving both Sabina and poetry would be complete without a tribute to my favorite poetry book of all time, Ride a Purple Pelican.

I first began “reading” using this book. I would memorize the poems and the associated picture, then recite the poems in rhythm to my little sister. She would soon get bored (or scared of me—that was frequent) and scoot away quickly, and I was left to myself with the book. I had a few favorites, and a few that made me cry (and I still don’t know the one about the gander and the geese and the sea, or whatever). I think my love of words and rhythm, rhyme, and poetry were—if not born from, then fed by—this book.

Late One Night in Kalamazoo

Note: Young Sabina had a hard time saying her “l”s, and they usually came out as “y”s. This title sounded much more like “Yate—One—Night—In—Kayimazoo!”

Late one night in Kalamazoo, the baboons had a barbeque

The kudus flew a green balloon, the poodles yodeled to the moon.

The monkey strummed a blue guitar, the donkey caught a falling star

The camel danced with the kangaroo, late one night in Kalamazoo.

At least, that’s what I remember it being.

Poor Potatoes

Note: This one always made me cry, and I could rarely finish it. Not sobbing, just teary-eyed and a little choked up. My mom read it to me a lot (maybe she thought I was cute when I cried?) so I hear it in her voice. We grew potatoes, and I was happy to dig them up out of the ground.

Poor potatoes underground, never get to look around

Never get a chance to see butterfly or bumblebee

Never see the blue, blue sky

What a waste of all those eyes!

Like I said, these are what I remember, what, 17 years later? Perhaps it has been longer than that since I memorized them. The other one I liked the best was “Bunington Bunny.” I can only remember one stanza:

“Rumpity tumpity rumpity tum, Bunington Bunny is beating the drum.

He doesn’t look up and he doesn’t look down, all through the rumpity tumpity town”

The rhyme continues, but that’s the part that stuck—the rhythm of the poem, and the proper way to focus when you march. My mother also took the opportunity to explain how to properly wear a traditional marching band hat, called a shako (yes, I was no older than 5. Probably younger). This poem was my gateway drug into the world of drumcorps and later marching band. Go, Mom! Start ‘em when they’re young.

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