Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Apologies to Shel Silverstein

“If you want to find out what a writer or a cartoonist really feels, look at his work. That's enough.” ~Shel Silverstein

“Never explain what you do. It speaks for itself. You only muddle it by talking about it.” ~Shel Silverstein

We found the pace of life to be notably slower and more relaxed in a village setting. Coming from a western society where time is money and relationships are expendable, we suddenly had a great deal of free time on our hands. In addition to washing all the laundry by hand, Sharon read several books that she brought. The POC school sent some books for us to read, in addition to the kids' assigned homework, as a family (The Sign of the Beaver, My Side of the Mountain, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, and A Light in the Forest, all appropriately chosen by the teacher because of their cross-cultural themes). Paul brought James Michener’s Alaska, which he started before we went to the village and finished a week after we returned.

Yeah, sure. He started lots of fires, hauled gallons of water, and built a shelter with bamboo and leaves, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The book’s that long.

Our very cultured daughter brought some Calvin and Hobbes books for her reading pleasure. But, our son brought A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, both by Shel Silverstein, and it was these that would become our inspiration.

Together we wrote, partly as an act of survival by finding the humor in things, what we’re calling our “Village Living Anthology.” We based it loosely on Shel Silverstein’s style of poetry (though one was more Shakespearean, and another was fashioned after Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, to which Silverstein has no relationship that we’re aware of.)

We hereby, while offering some of these works for your enjoyment over the next few days, offer our apologies to these professional writers.

So, without further ado we offer you …

Ode to the Rooster

Ol kakaruk of this fine town -

My feathered friends who peck the ground

And who can walk without a sound –

Oh, how I love you, Roosters.

Your temperament is sweet as honey.

Your plumage, it is bright and sunny.

You strut about so very funny.

Yes, you are charming, Roosters.

At half-past-two in the afternoon,

In October, November, and even June,

You all crow out a little tune –

The singing of the roosters.

Then somewhere close to ten-til-four

You strut and crow a little more

Lest we think your life’s a bore

And you’ve nothing to do, Rooster.

At four-fifteen and five-oh-eight,

As the day is drawing late,

It seems as if you just can’t wait

To announce the morning, Roosters.

By half-past-six you speak much less.

We’re quite relieved, I do confess,

To get the evening’s brief recess

From the crowing of the roosters.

But at ten-eighteen you’ll cry again

And sixty more will soon join in

And thus create the dreaded din

We’ve come to expect from roosters.

In the early night we’ll grumble some

And wish that you would all stay mum.

WE can count the hours before the sun,

But apparently YOU can’t, roosters.

For at twelve-oh-eight and one-fifteen

And ten-til-two and at three again

And three-forty-five, though no light is seen,

We’ll wake to all the roosters.

Then from four until six-forty-five

You’ll do that incessant “Rooster Jive”

And we’ll wish that you were not alive,

You very annoying roosters.

It seems to me it would be sweet

To every day have chicken to eat

Until the noise gives way to meat

And we no longer hear the roosters.

But of course we can only wish

To serve up rooster in a dish

‘Cause for now they serve their village niche …

Those darned ol’ crowing roosters.


  1. This is hysterical! I remember the dismay this city girl felt when she learned in a Warao village that roosters do not only crow at dawn!


  2. I KNOW!! Where in the world did we get the idea, in our sheltered American lifestyle, that roosters crow at sunrise only?

    I told my husband in the village that if I found out there were roosters in Ukarumpa that I was going home.

    Of course, I was kidding, but still. I'm just saying ...


  3. Love the poem! But, you know, I am sorry about all the noise. I don't guess you get used to it like the regular ticking or chiming of a clock, do you? ;-(

    The quotes are gems. I'll have to tuck them away for later thought . . . and possible re-quoting.


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