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Poems for Children

Gaptooth Charlie
Gaptooth Charlie went to the well
To fetch some water in his big old pail.
Looked in the well and what did he see
Moon in the water as plain as could be.
Gaptooth Charlie scratched his jaw
"I never seen the moon down there before.
Reckon that moon be good to drink
Better make a move 'cos she might sink.
"Gaptooth Charlie lowered his rope
Down where the silver moon did float.
Pulled it up and what did he see
Moon in the water plain as could be.
Gaptooth Charlie opened wide
The moon went sliding down inside.
He wiped his mouth and nodded his head
"Mighty fine drink," was all he said.
Moon didn't like it much down there
Kicked and yelled like a rabbit in a snare
She huffed and puffed and blew and blew
Split old Gaptooth right in two.
Moon went home and Gaptooth said
"Where did I put that needle and thread?
"Took both halves indoors and then
Sewed himself together again.
Gaptooth Charlie went to the well
To fetch some water in his big old pail.
Looked down the well and what did he see
Sun in the water as plain as could be.
Gaptooth Charlie shook his head
"I ain't doing that again," he said.
Emmanuel Williams


crackle crackle crackle
you can hear him coming
his bones crackle and snap
like the sound of dead twigs when you step on them
like chips when you open the bag.
Every time he moves
crackle crackle crackle
when he folds his arms
when he cleans his teeth
when he bends to do up his shoe laces
when he goes upstairs or down
when he walks along the street
when he swims in the public pool
when he rides his bike
when he stirs his tea
when he eats an apple
when he plays the guitar
crackle crackle crackle
When he gets into bed
his wife puts cotton wool in her ears
When he shifts and crackles in his sleep
she dreams of forest fires
tons of rice crispies
popping in a sea of milk
matchstick mice
doing gymnastics
and millions of icicles
creaking and crackling in sudden gusts.
He used to get depressed about having crackly bones
until he joined an organization of people
whose bodies do strange things
like the baby girl in Australia
who grows ten and a half inches every full moon
and an old lady in Brazil
with a live canary
in her right lung
and a Norwegian sailor whose skin is totally transparent.
They all meet once a year.
Cracklebones wants them to do a TV show.
He thinks they can make a lot of money.

The What-if Game

What if there was a tree that had such long roots that they went right through the
center of the earth and grew another tree on the other side of the world…
What if you had a secret pencil that knew the answers to all the school tests…
What if helicopters cut circles in the air and they went spinning across the sky like
see-through flying saucers…
What if people got their hands stuck in their pockets and couldn’t get them out
What if sunsets were musical…
What if cheese moooed at night…
What if every light bulb had a name and when you say it the light goes on…
What if your mouth closed tight every time you tried to eat junk food…
What if all the dead people came back to life and joined hands and danced around
the equator…
What if people’s knee-caps fell in love with other people’s knee-caps…
What if number seven disappeared…
What if you could unscrew any part of your body that wasn’t working properly and
trade it in for a new one…
What if students got paid for coming to school…
What if cell phones started texting one another…
What if someone found out that life is a video game…
What if people sang everything, and never spoke….
What if all the cabbages in the world exploded at the same time …


My brother said
carrots are rude.
My brother said
if I get soap in my belly button my bum will fall off.
My brother said
there are invisible people inside the telly
and all the programs are their dreams.
My brother said
carrots can see in the dark
and if you eat too many you turn into an owl.
My brother said
the world's hollow, like an Easter egg
and if I play jump rope on the back lawn
I'll break it open and fall in and be lost forever.
My brother said
people go bald because their brain eats their hair.
My brother said
icicles are the ghosts of dead carrots.
My brother said
breaking a spider's web
eating frogspawn
seeing a tooth fairy
stroking cats on Tuesdays
sitting in a train with your back to the engine
putting your shoes on the wrong feet
losing stones with holes in them
yawning and sneezing at the same time
are all bad luck.

My brother's silly
I never eat frogspawn.

-Emmanuel Williams