There was a toothy crocodile
Who wallowed in the muck,
Counting up how many
Of his many teeth were buck.
One day he’d count to twenty-nine,
The next day fifty-two,
For counting Crocodile teeth
Is difficult to do.
Flamingos, quite by accident,
Would walk across his brain . . .
The slightest interruption
Meant he had to start again.
So weeks went by and thus
The counting Crocodile grew thinner,
Because the hippy Hippos ate
The Crocodile’s dinner,
While he was much too busy
With a cavern to explore—
“One hundred thirty-four?!”
And as the years slipped quickly by,
He shriveled in his skin,
Weeping for the life he’d had
And one that might have been.
“If pink, long-legged birdbrains
Hadn’t stumbled in the muck,
I might have figured out,” he said,
“How many teeth were buck!”
Copyright © 1995 J. Patrick Lewis. From Ridicholas Nicholas: More Animal Poems. Penguin Putnam/Dial. Reprinted by permission of the author.
J. Patrick Lewis’s book of poems—Gulls Hold Up the Sky—was published in October 2010 by Laughing Fire Press. His adult poems have appeared in Gettysburg Review, New England Review, New Letters, Southern Humanities Review, new renaissance, Kansas Quarterly, Fine Madness, over 130 poems in Light Quarterly, and many others.
In May 2011 the Poetry Foundation named him the third U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011-2013). He has published eighty-five children’s picture/poetry books to date with Creative Editions, Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Chronicle, Holiday House, Scholastic, and others.
He has made over 530 school visits here and abroad. He also keynotes at conferences. His website is: www.jpatricklewis.com
I love this melodramatic croc shriveling in his skin!