Tom Foolery’s birthday

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s the first day of National Poetry Month, a celebration most people observe by deleting Poem-a-Day emails.


Today is also the most important secular holiday of the year: April Fool’s Day.


And I am Marie of Romania, as Dorothy Parker would say.


Actually I’m as serious as a person who hides poems in the grocery store can be.


Bright among all the other days of the year is this one day when we take ourselves less seriously, laugh at our own expense, shake up routine and defy expectations.  The fact that April Fool’s Day has been celebrated since ancient Roman times and today is celebrated all over the world should give the holiday a little respect.


I’m celebrating April Fool’s Day with light verse, another underappreciated cultural artifact.  Light verse is the adult version of nonsense rhyme, which is usually a child’s first introduction to poetry.  Gene Kelly couldn’t leap onto the lamppost if he hadn’t learned to walk first, and so the value of Mother Goose, riddle poems and jump rope rhymes.  I was lucky to have a mother well-versed in silliness, so I grew up with limericks about Paul who went to the Halloween ball, ditties at bedtime like good night sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, and the gruesome and delightful Little Willie poems.


I left a few samples of light verse and nonsense rhymes around town.  (The Billy Collins’ poem is not light verse, but I thought it was funny so I included it.)


At the Costco gas station I left a poem called “Three Riddled Rhymes.”

poem is on pump above Wrong Way sign
poem is on pump above Wrong Way sign


I collect stamps/and coconuts is going to be my answer the next time someone asks me what I do.

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I taped a set of Little Willie poems outside an Irish bar.  My mother is Irish and she learned the poems from her Irish father.

poems are on post below Brady's sign
poems are on post below Brady’s sign


I’m just noticing that I duplicated the first poem.  Oh well, much worse things happen in these poems.  You can read more here and also the history of these great little poems.

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I went to the wake of the father of a friend and left “The Optimist” in the funeral home bathroom.  He was Irish too, so I figured he’d enjoy a little humor.

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poem is hidden in candy bowl below mirror


I’m not sure if this is meant to be a poem or would be a better New Yorker cartoon:

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A guest Poem Elf-er, my daughter Lizzie, left an epitaph poem on a city sidewalk.

poem is on planter
poem is on planter


I used to love these epitaph poems.  Remember Lesley Moore, no less, no more?

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I swim a few times a week at a high school just after the swim team finishes using the pool.  Entering the locker room full of teenage girls is like entering a birdcage.  Just the place for Billy Collins’ “Oh, My God!”

second top locker from the right. . . poem is peeking through the grate
second top locker from the right. . . poem is peeking through the grate


Having this line, outbursts of praise/spring unbidden from their glossy lips, in my head makes the girls high-pitched chatter less irritating.

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Enjoy the foolery today.  Any good jokes or tricks?


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