Putrid Poetry: Day 29: Poetry Heals: A Get Well Poem for Miss Sweetmallow

The kids all looked bored.
Then it was my turn.
“I’ve been writing interesting poems in Miss Sweetmallow’s class. She said we could write about whatever we wanted, and that made poetry a lot more fun.” Bran and Marty cheered. “But then she challenged me to write a nice poem. I wasn’t planning to do it, because nice poems are really boring. But our whole class has missed Miss Sweetmallow this week, so I wrote a nice poem for her.”
The grown-ups all nodded and smiled. Miss Sweetmallow beamed like a flashlight–the big one like Alex brained me with on our camping trip last year. But the kids all looked shocked. I heard Leila whisper, “Louis wrote a nice poem? No way.”
I took a deep breath.

Poetry Heals:
A Get Well Poem for Miss Sweetmallow

You try to stay healthy–avoid slime and grime,
but I’m sort of surprised you’re not sick all the time.

You work in your garden, you dig through the worms–
One spoonful of soil has billions of germs!

You swim in an ocean that’s full of fish snot.
How much of that sea do you swallow? A lot!

You eat tons of honey. It’s golden and thick.
But bees make that honey by vomiting–ick!

Your smooth peanut butter has tiny bug parts!
I’m not making this up–there are government charts!

You love to look after your two favorite mutts,
who maybe have tapeworms that swim in their guts.

You climb into bed and the dust mites all grin.
They can’t wait to gobble your flaked-off dead skin.

But no matter how blechy and nasty you feel,
a great poem like this has the power to heal!

Miss Sweetmallow shook her head back and forth, but kept smiling.

The audience exploded into cheers. “Lou-is! Lou-is! Lou-is!”  The chant got louder and louder.
Well, the kids chanted and cheered, anyway. The grown-ups looked a little confused, like they weren’t sure what my poem meant.
But that’s ok. If they were too old to enjoy my self-expression, too bad.
The chanting continued. Kids even stood up!
A standing ovation. For my poems.
Alex and Daisy were clapping too. Dad’s face looked kind of red, but he clapped, too. Mom dug around in her purse with her head practically in her lap.
Even Mr. Jones, mostly untangled from bubble gum, clapped politely from the side of the stage. His shoes were gone, and he wore socks with bulldozers all over them.
My chest felt like it might explode into a thousand bits of bone. And the noise of the clapping was about to make me float right up to the ceiling.
Mrs. Sweetmallow was right–poetry actually can burn my soul.

Or maybe that’s just Marty again.

                        THE END
[but come back tomorrow for a note from the author]

Also, it’s the last Poetry Friday of Poetry Month 2016. Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday Roundup, including a fun, musical poem by a toad:>)

30 Responses

    1. Thank you! It’s a relief to have shared it all. I couldn’t hold the grossness inside any longer!

  1. Laura, thank you for sharing this delightful and hilarious book. Every morning I have been opening my tablet and looking for Louis’ Putrid Poem of the day. Sometimes I even read it to my husband, who, tonight, confided that at first he thought Louis was a real kid posting a poem everyday. Ha! Anyway, today I downloaded your ebook so I can have my own copy. Those editors made a big mistake not publishing your book. I thought it was great. And now it’s over. I will miss Dr. Skullstench.

    1. Aw, thanks, Pat! And thank you for the compliment from your husband. I think if I had done all free verse and non-rhyming forms, I might have been able to keep up the charade. But with metered verse, the gig is up:>) Thanks for reading, for buying, and all the kind words!

  2. Thanks for all the grossness, Laura, and for today’s Poetry-Music Match-Up. I really love that GL song you suggested.
    Louis’s last poem reminded me of something I read this week (although it turns out the science is not so new)–http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/how-to-get-high-on-soil/251935/ (article happens to be by award-winning author whom I went to college with, Pagan Kennedy).

    So when Miss Sweetmallow gets outside:
    “You work in your garden, you dig through the worms–
    One spoonful of soil has billions of germs!”
    she’s actually combatting the depression that many teachers feel around this time of year, that we’ve lost our mojo and might not make it through June. I’m heading out to the garden today, rain or not.…

    1. Cool! And gross! I haven’t ever heard of that–thanks for sharing:>) And for all your enthusiasm and support, Heidi. Will you be at either ILA or NCTE this year?

  3. Laura, thanks for this whole month of putrid poetry. My students have loved it, and your bravery has given them permission to write some really gross stuff. Thanks for sharing! Happy Poetry Month!

  4. Bravo Laura. You and your “minions” added so much to Poetry Month 2016. This great-grand would love to pinch Louis’s cheeks. My grandmother would have done that, called him a bad boy, yet would have doubled over with laughter. Born in 1892, she read lots of poetry and memorized many verses. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Martha. I can never believe you are a great-grandmom! I think you’re just great:>)

  5. This ending is perfect, Laura. The poems are what I wish I could have shared with a class, and I know they would have loved the “serial” story of icky poems. BTW, each part of your poem today, I imagine you know, is something I’ve heard as truth. It is no wonder that Miss Sweetmallow isn’t sick all the time! Thanks for the smile each day.

    1. Thanks, Buffy–yeah, I figured Louis had to be true to Louis. :>)

  6. Yeah, for Louis the poetry star with his yucky, putrid poems. You should include a read aloud of one of the poems for our ILA Presentation. I am sure there would be loads of laughs about your eBook and how it transforms young writers lives the Literacy 2.0 way. Can you please send me the link for the eBook so I can read it without interruptions?

  7. My favorite: “Your smooth peanut butter has tiny bug parts!
    I’m not making this up–there are government charts!”

    Glad Louis received the proper veneration for his poetry 🙂

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