Hormones Matter TM

If Called by a Panther, Don’t Anther.

April 25, 2012  |  Lauren Dillon

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Editor’s note: April is National Poetry Month. In its continuing series on poetry, Hormones Matter pays homage to FAB (For/About/By) Women with this humorous take by Lauren Dillon. 

Ogden Nash and Poetry Recitation as Entertainment

In my early childhood, I had the joyful education of observing a less acerbic version of Dorothy Parker and her Vicious Circle, the self-described “Jolly Girls,” my grandmother, her best friend Hunna, and a rotation of various elderly women more often than not named Helen. These ladies were, on average, born between 1900 and 1910; and, thus, were raised without the idiot box of shallow entertainment. All had been widowed early and never remarried, all had kept their grace and fine grooming, and all were smart as whips.

As I imagine they did as youngsters and then as adults, the Jolly Girls kept themselves entertained both with reminiscences of their misdeeds and heroics of youth. They laughed as they remembered summers spent skinny-dipping and sculling in and on Maryland’s Severn River, lying on the dock exhausted, and growing “brown as nuts.” They recollected times of war, rationing sugar and gasoline, growing victory gardens, and knitting socks and blanket squares for soldiers.

My favorite part of these gatherings, however, was the recitation of verse committed to memory over their long lives.

Although I am sure bawdy limericks were brought out in my absence, while I was there the preferred poet was Ogden Nash. If Nash penned poems, the Jolly Girls memorized them. Buzzed and “in their cups”, the words began to flow:

  A Drink With Something In It 

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth–
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.
 

 Their favorites, however, involved animals:

The Camel

The camel has a single hump; 
The dromedary , two; 
Or else the other way around.
I’m never sure. Are you? 

Most were fun and educational:

The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk; 
One end is moo, the other, milk. 

And chuckle-worthy:

The Ostrich

The ostrich roams the great Sahara. 
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra. 
It has such long and lofty legs, 
I’m glad it sits to lay its eggs. 

All were very, very clever:

The Praying Mantis

From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
that masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us. 

And finally, the one most quoted that, if I am allowed to age without losing my addled mind, I will forever remember:

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place 
Is deep within the human race. 
His childish pride he often pleases 
By giving people strange diseases. 
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm? 
You probably contain a germ. 

 

I don’t suppose the kids from “The Jersey Shore” nor the skanks from “The Real Housewives of…” will begin reciting poetry, whether tender or titter-worthy, from memory any time soon. But, thankfully, we still have months devoted to poetry, the wonderful Favorite Poem Project, and, most importantly, impassioned poets and artists stepping forth, sometimes in protest, every day. We still laugh at clever and cry at poignant. We are still here.