Ogden Nash never quite makes it on the syllabus in “serious” poetry courses, but he has always been my kind of guy. In 7th grade English, I was required to select a 4-minute snippet of literature to recite in front of my classmates. I chose nine or ten poems from Nash’s Zoo, a collection of rhymes about animals. Almost two decades later, I still remember “The Cow”: “The cow is of the bovine ilk / One end is moo, the other milk.” Also, “The Panther”: “When called by a panther / Don’t anther.” Not Shakespeare, but good for laughs (and an “A”).
I’ve always thought Zoo deserved a companion volume: a series of rhymes about food. Like llamas and monkeys, food can be big or small, gray or orange or spotted. And food is funny – just ask the guy who created the old banana peel gag.
Speaking of bananas, I’ll start with fruit.
No pills or powders aid the grape
In slimming down its rotund shape
Instead, it basks au natural
On every beach in Southern Cal
And when its tanning session’s done
It puts on shades to shield the sun
Joining in a sleek quartet
It struts and sings a Motown set
But shrugging at its purple skin,
Its friends still say, “I knew you when.”
The apple wears a cheerful glow,
But at its core, it’s full of woe.
Its post-traumatic stress runs deep,
As history’s arrows pierce its sleep.
It quakes and stirs in utter dread
Of toppling on Sir Isaac’s head.
And in the morning, more the same:
The apple can’t recall its name.
Granny Smith? Or is it Mac?
A sad dilemma for a snack!
It craves a pill to cure the pain,
But all its wishing is in vain –
For though it pleads both night and day,
The apple’s doctor stays away.