Poetic Spotlight: Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein, or “Uncle Shel” to any of the legions of children that grew up on his literary works, was another case of something I seem to produce rather often here: a writer of many outlets, and many talents. A poet, songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and, yes, a children’s book author, Shel was an artist that crafted to the tune of many songs, and captured the hearts of millions in his time.

He is, also, one of the more modern poets I’ve chosen to highlight here thus far, his life having ended as the turn of the century loomed.

Today I offer up a work of his that came to be dubbed a children’s classic in its own time. Published in 1974, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is a real beauty, a good introductory piece for children, but with a lot of messages for adults, a verbal journey between the two worlds…

“Where the Sidewalk Ends”

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

 ~Shel Silverstein

For the World’s Mothers

My own mother and I, featured here at my graduation.

Raise me up

From breathless sound,

The song you sing—life’s song—

The motions and the rhyme

Ring in lessons, tender

Borne on emerald winds

The flowering will always be remembered,

The bloom you brought

With hands held and patient eyes,

Even in depths of mathematical madness

Where children were not meant to play,

Even balancing worlds upon slim shoulders,

Step softly so little eyes won’t see and—

Ever, always watching you

Stir what might otherwise dwell

Hidden in the reeds.

* A special dedication for mother’s day – I know some other corners of the world have already had theirs, but the sentiments remain. For all those amazing women out there that put up with so much (I know we can be a handful)…here’s to you.

Undercover

Breathe light.

The moment the

candle flickers to dark

no covers keep the monsters back–

life holds.

* My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! The style used here is known as Cinquain, a five-line stanza form containing twenty-two syllables, in the sequence: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. Notice I’ve been on a bit of a Cinquain trip lately? So have I. It happens. I’ve been form-napped.

Subconscious Bedlam

There is a light beyond this tunnel

Sifting reason

Inner treason

Of worlds, unimaginable, I drink

And dip into the rush of thought

At peace, the body lie,

In state the mind, a child

In a gunslinger spaceman drifting through the stars

The cavalcade of imagination

Stokes the fires of the waking.

* This week’s submission to the Monday Poetry Potluck, as hosted by those lovely poets Amanda and Kavita!

Father’s Song

I watch them ride

memories of my failures–

wonder if I tried

or all were vaunted blunders.

Too long I’ve been afield,

at war with thought, the world–

from this madness I have tried to shield

and so into the madness, they’ve unfurled.

Masked Longing

And here it is,

this lonely longing,

for time and place unseen,

unheard, mayhaps unknown,

a future or a past that neverwere,

in Ghouls and Goblins fair,

these Ghosts of Pasts our blood

have never seen,

this laughter, in a sweet

wrapping up the joys of childhood

into a chocolate wrapper, knowing

the eyes, not the face

its monstrous mask a momentary

Madness answered in a thousand faces,

the spirits channeled through the joy

of laughter in the chill,

these golden lives pirouetting to

the Pumpkin Song, all hail

Imagination,

Master and Commander

of mind’s most curious Desires.

* Another poem for the wonderful Monday Poetry Potluck, as hosted by Jingle Poetry, and those lovely poets Amanda and Kavita!