POEM: Who Cannot Read

Who Cannot Read


good books


and who choose to



are twin



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… my newest story for unusual children, is live today at knowonder!. Unlike several of my stories, this one is based on real testimony, and solid fact. Try it on.




[Cleaning out an old valise, I rediscovered this poem, written a dozen years ago, when I was a children’s poet. So much has changed since then. So very much. But the poem remains the same. -R] 




One day, the Rusty Elephant,

thundering sweetly down the street,

forgot to watch his elefeet,

which all got caught in wet cement.

Silly but true,

stuck like glue,

oh, what’s an elephant to do?


When darling Daisy May went past,

skipping, flipping through a book,

Rusty shouted, “Daisy, look!

Help me, little friend, and fast!”

How he sighed,

and how she tried—

as hard as the cement that dried!


“How terrible!” he cried. “How bleak!”

“I’ll be here a hundred years,

with no one to dry my rusty tears!”

(which then went tumbling down his cheek).

And from his nose,

a sound arose—

like a trumpet when it blows!


“Oh elephant,” said Daisy May,

a little sadly—“Don’t feel bad.

To make it better, I’d be glad

to come and see you every day.

I’ll read you tales

of ships and whales,

and stormy nights—that never fails!”


“Zazoo-maloo!” old Rusty said

(that’s jungle-talk for “Thank-you, Miss!”).

He gave the girl one tusky kiss,

and whisked her up onto his head.

“And now, some fun—

the tale’s begun,”

said Daisy. “Peter Pan, page one!”


If you go skipping on cement,

one summer day, down Jungle Street,

be sure to watch your people-feet,

until you meet the elephant.

Yes, it’s true,

he’s stuck like glue,

but I think he looks glad—don’t you?