A Tale for Saint Patrick’s Day
In all Tipperary there wasn’t one fairy
Who didn’t feel jealous to see jumbo jets
Arise out of Shannon like shot from a cannon.
So, catching a June bug in gossamer nets,
With prodding and poking, to their seats in NON-SMOKING
Between that bug’s wings all the wee folk made haste.
“Snap your belts!” yelled the pilot. “Lock the door to the t’ilet!”—
And that flight down a runway of firefly lights raced,
Lifted nose, did a wheelie, leaped to clouds white and mealy
Where in daylily cups Steward Harebell served dew.
Said a bowlegged rainbow, “Will you look at that plane go!”
‘Twas the smoothest of flights till a wicked wind blew.
Little Biddy O’Banshee shrieked like some Comanche—
“Och, we’re sure to splash down in a sea of green brine!”
Meanwhile, back at the tower (‘twas a cowslip in flower)
They declared, “Some old owl must have swallowed Flight Nine.”
But their plight wasn’t terrible. Copilot Clarabelle
Urged them off the bug’s back with quick kicks of her boots
And like silk from a thistle, as slick as a whistle
They unfurled their own wings and—bedad!—they had chutes!
Soon, the wind gently shifting, on down they went drifting
To a sweet field mist-glistening and buttercup-belled.
For emergency landing, sure, you’ll have to be handing
First prize to the airline that’s fairy-propelled.
Copyright © 2002 X. J. Kennedy. From the book Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Reprinted by permission of the author.
X. J. Kennedy grew up in a New Jersey town surrounded by arsenals and dynamite factories, which kept blowing up and knocking all the windows out of his school. His real name is Joe, but he stuck the initials onto it to sound different from the family of President Kennedy. He has been a destroyer sailor, a scrubber of printing presses, a college teacher, and for the past 35 years nothing but a writer. Kennedy has written more than twenty children’s books, the latest being City Kids, eight books of poetry, and several schoolbooks, among them An Introduction to Poetry, now in its 13th edition and co-authored with poet Dana Gioia. He has received the prize for Finest Fantasy given by the children of the Ethical School in New York City (for his novel The Owlstone Crown); the award for children’s poetry from the National Council of Teachers of English; the light verse award from the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters; the Poets’ Prize, given by some poets to one of their kind; and the Robert Frost gold medal for his life’s work, from the Poetry Society of America. With his wife, Dorothy M. Kennedy, he compiled Knock at a Star: A Child’s Introduction to Poetry and Talking Like the Rain: A Read-to-Me Book of Poetry, which have stayed in print ever since 1982 and 1992. He and Dorothy have six grandkids so far, and live in Lexington, Massachusetts, where the American Revolution began. For more about them, kindly see the website xjanddorothymkennedy.com.
Reading this poem aloud is like having a party!