October 21, 2008


My brother and I were never Mother Goose kids. We believed in DO IT YOURSELF nursery rhyming, and I can recite the songs and poems we perpetrated together on long car trips more readily than I can recall the name of that PIE obsessed thumb-poking fellow, or summon up the end line of Wee Willie Winky---poem which seems to me, in retrospect, to be about an under-endowed flasher.

Case in point: I just got an email from my date to the senior prom. HEE! I haven’t heard from him in…*cough* well, SEVERAL years, let’s say. Not since high school. He recently moved back to our hometown after years in San Diego, and I suppose he was googling around to see who from the way back back might still be around. He ran across my website and dropped me a line, saying, among other things, how he remembered me reciting a poem called The Tiny Piny, and that he was glad I was clearly still writing, as he didn’t remember the poem, but he remembered how much he liked it.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Tiny Piny was my BROTHER’s work. *grin* I may have had stuck in my thumb and pulled out a line or two for it, but I REALLY think that one was Bobby’s.

The weird thing is, I hadn’t thought about it in YEARS ANDYEARS AND YEARS, but the whole poem came back to me almost immediately, and I think the way I remember it is no more than a few words off. Here it is:

The Tiny Piny

Once back in 1883
There lived a Tiny Piny Tree.
But all around large trees did stand.
The people said, “How great! How grand!
This big one is a sight to see,
Let's take it for our Christmas tree.”

But little Tiny Piny Tree
Got peed on by a dog.
And little Tiny Piny Tree
Got rooted by a hog.

The other trees all sold and sold
While Tiny Piny’s limbs grew cold.
“I’ll never be a Christmas tree,”
The Tiny Piny said.
And sure enough,
When Christmas rolled around,
The Tiny Piny Tree was dead.

HA! That’s got to be 90% accurate, and if I have said that poem out loud or even thought it all the way through in the last 20 years, I will eat my hat. It simply stayed in my brain cells. All my brother’s work was JUST that macabre, and you can see his Barsoom and Bugs Bunny coated influence on ALL the things we wrote together. This includes The Clarence Song, which we wrote while our folks drove us to Alabama fro Christmas one year. It had a charming and upbeat tune, all bouncy and warbly, to go with it:

Clarence was a butterfly
Flew way up in the big blue sky
Gentle breezes furled his wings
Clarence listens while the BIRD! EE! SINGS!

Other butterflies sailed around
Clarence got too close to the ground
Clarence didn’t get too far,
Now he’s the SPLAT! On the FRONT! of our car.

You clap loudly when you sing the words Splat and Front, for the record, should you wish to make up a tune and sing this charming ditty with your own bloody-hearted and unsentimental wee ones.

Clarence was a collaboration, but Bobby the one who came up with the LOVE YER DOLLY song, though I certainly added my own verses over the years. It was sung to a rousing square dance tune, I believe the one that played on the cartoons when Bugs Bunny ended up dancing with Yosemite Sam. It had about a THOUSAND verses, all violent, some scatological, and most highly instructional in the ways of naughtiness and cruelty. This is my favorite verse, the one that traditionally kicked off a 50 verse improvised LOVE YER DOLLY SONG marathon:

Love yer dolly evermore
Nail her to the kitchen floor,
Drink yer milk in gulps not sips,
Kiss a puppy on the lips

AH J. M. Barrie got it so exactly right, when he wrote about the beautiful heartlessness of children. If you haven’t read the REAL Peter Pan in years and years, you should. It is practically perfect in every way.

EDIT: For more, peep comment #2. That's my brother, who read this entry and immediately recalled ALL the words to the Jackson Kids classic hit, "Hoppy the Toad." And he posted them.

I am sorry.

Posted by joshilyn at October 21, 2008 7:09 AM

Those are AWESOME!

Posted by: Lia at October 21, 2008 8:28 AM

"Sing with me now..."
Hoppy the Toad, Hoppy the Toad
hopping along down the old dirt road.
Along comes a little boy and plucks off his legs.
And now Hoppy hops on little wooden pegs.

Posted by: the brother at October 21, 2008 8:50 AM

Oh, those poems are demented in the best sort of way! Got any more?

Posted by: JenniferG at October 21, 2008 8:52 AM

OMG these are brilliant! I'm gonna be singing that verse to Love Yer Dolly all day ;-)

Posted by: inkgrrl at October 21, 2008 9:06 AM

LOL - I read these and think of the unoriginal sing songs from my childhood and when I sing/say one, my husband shakes his head - he has never heard any of them- poor guy, an essential part of being a kid is missing!

Posted by: lmerie at October 21, 2008 9:11 AM

I think your brother needs to write a children's book of heartless/scatalogical/silly songs. That thing would SO sell.

Posted by: Leandra at October 21, 2008 9:56 AM

I would like to pre-order my copy of "Classic Poems and Songs by The Jackson Kids". Those are seriously AWESOME! Please, Please, Please post more of "Love Yer Dolly". That one sounds truly epic!

I was more of a Grimm's than Mother Goose kid and missed out on a lot of children's books in general because I went straight to reading Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock. The school librarian called my mother when I was in 1st or 2nd grade because she was concerned about my reading choices. Fortunately, my parents let me read pretty much whatever I was drawn to as long as it wasn't explicit.

Posted by: Pandora at October 21, 2008 11:37 AM

Those sound like slightly more demented versions of poems by Jack Prelutsky.

Demented and AWESOME!

Posted by: Melisa at October 21, 2008 12:31 PM

I remember, with great clarity, the year I learned "I'm Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover" at camp. (Sung to the tune of "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover).

I grew up in the country--so we sang such horrid little rhymes at the tops of our country lungs.

Posted by: Roxanne at October 21, 2008 12:58 PM

These are fantastic. When my kids were little, I always loved Little Bunny Foo Foo, which as you know, ends with him bopping the poor little field mice on the head. But my kids were never quite creative enough to write things on their own. Very funny. No wonder your blog makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee, pretty much every time.

Posted by: Gail at October 21, 2008 2:07 PM

What awesome (if a little twisted) kids you were.

Posted by: Alison at October 21, 2008 3:11 PM

I am currently taking Children's Literature, and let me tell you, the stuff you guys did is MUCH better than the stuff i am studying...

Posted by: Kim at October 21, 2008 6:59 PM

Now, though I wasn't nearly as talented, I pine for the twisted compositions of my own youth. But I can't remember them nearly so well! Maybe my siblings will remember . .

Posted by: Brigitte at October 22, 2008 8:19 AM

Not an original composition, but my father-in-law taught a version of Mary had a Little Lamb to my oldest that until her (preschool) teacher corrected her, my oldest thought was the one and true version. It goes something like this:

Mary had a little lamb
Her father shot it dead
Now it goes to school with Mary
Between two slabs of bread

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at October 22, 2008 10:02 AM

Oh delightfully nasty little ditties about nailed dolls and peg legged toads. Love it.

Posted by: Cele at October 22, 2008 6:58 PM

I bet your parents shot eachother worried glances from time to time, up there in the front seat, and then shrugged and said, "well, at least they're not fighting."

Posted by: alala at October 23, 2008 2:05 PM

We were demented song writers too, but I can't remember any. My boys do it. Most of them seem to involve blowing up Barney (which I am all for, btw) We're much better at Weird Al-ing a song. Their favorite was when during guitar hero I belted out "Hit Me With Your Left Sock" instead of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot".

But that frog song? I can't beat that :)

Posted by: Laura L at October 24, 2008 12:03 PM

We loved to make up songs and poems. I knew I had found the right guy for me when we were on a long car trip early in our relationship and composed many verses of a poem making fun of the many mini-malls we passed. I've forgotten most of it, but it began with:

Eenie meeny miney mo,
To any mini-mall we'll go.
We'll shop and shop
And buy and buy.
It doesn't matter what or why...

Posted by: Caryn Caldwell at October 24, 2008 1:56 PM

Ba, ha! You are too good.

My sis and I made up our own ditties too. We had one called "I thought I saw an El Camino," "Hello Cheapo, at Home Depot" for my father, of course "Supersonic, Ravioli" sung to a rap beat. Yep, I'm from the South.

Posted by: Going Crunchy at October 30, 2008 11:15 PM