Remember the Poems

A little explanation for you non-family types: in my family, it is customary to write poems for Christmas. Typically we had a name exchange, and you tried to write a poem about the person whose name you drew (especially if you had some good dirt or friendly ribbing for the person in question). Not everybody wrote a poem every year, but this year we didn’t have a name exchange, so I was worried people might be without the proper motivation to write poems. Therefore, I wrote this poem:

Remember the Poems by Shane Halbach

This year we won’t participate in a family name exchange,
And so this year’s Christmas party is feeling kind of strange.

Personally, I can do without my annual gift card,
And coming up with stuff to ask for does get kind of hard.
And the name you drew is always one who didn’t write a list (Rachael),
Or asks for something you can’t find, and maybe doesn’t exist.

No, the name exchange I can live without, but there is one other thing,
Usually about this time, the poem exchange is really in full swing.
The poems, the poems, what about the poems? We can’t forget about them!
A tradition like no other family, and proud of it I am.

The poems together tell a tale and document the year,
And without the family name exchange, we risk losing that I fear.
What if nobody thought to write down all of this insanity?
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Not in this family.

I’d hate to think that we’d forget to talk about the time,
That Laurie was watching Oliver, and he fell off the slide.
Or when Josh said he was engaged? It turns out he was hacked.
And who sent Rachael formula, just to see how she’d react?

Remember at the reunion when Steve and Char and Jay,
Had their tents destroyed by storms and almost blew away?
Are you sleeping Brother John, Grandma’s 85th,
Bernie’s tire falling off isn’t just a myth.

We need these poems or else there’s just too many things we’d miss.
Though some of you might be feeling now that ignorance is bliss.
It’s good to have a time of year when you can hear a poem,
And find out what we say about you when you’re not at home.

You might not know that Mike Debroux spent hours just to see,
If he could prove that Lady Gaga really was a she,
No, it’s up to us to spread the word, in case it isn’t known,
That when it comes to butter, Len prefers to bring his own.

Or take Cecilia, one might think she doth protest too much,
Since after holding protest signs, her arm’s too sore to touch.
Roger got a new job, but he must not work enough,
He’s trying to take his work home with him, but Grandma’s hygiene’s up to snuff.

And mom makes Ron use napkins more than 30 years old,
And I think that this decision was really rather bold,
Since they’re from when she married dad (it said so in the heading)
Of course Steve might not know she’s remarried, since he missed her wedding.

There’s Colleen’s lost luggage getting left out in the rain,
And cleaning Grandma’s coffee mugs leads to great financial gain.
Emily’s love of new recipes is known to Facebook viewers,
And Scott prefers his Cardinals over rooting for the Brewers.

But have you heard the one about Judy mowing in high heels?
Or Nancy almost running over Ryan’s runaway wheels?
The city of Janesville might be interested to hear what trees were chopped,
Since Lois isn’t even sure she owns the trees she dropped!

I can tell you Pat sneaks vegetables hidden into dessert,
But I need to hear a poem for Kris, I couldn’t find any dirt!
And Cecilia and Arleen aren’t even here, their virtue to defend!
Surely, someone could have written a poem ‘bout both of them!

There’s so much more that could be said, and anyone could say it,
Even without a name exchange, a poem we’d all okay it.
Between us there’s enough abuse to fill up tomes and tomes.
So please people, I ask you now: remember the poems!

E is for Evie

Evie asked me to write a poem for her, and this is what I wrote:

E is for Evie,
so innocent and sweet.

E is for Everyone,
that Evie likes to meet.

E is for Evelyn,
the woman you’ll become.

E is for Evie,
whose life’s just begun.

When I was a Younger Lad

When I was but a younger lad,
Much time was spent, much fun was had,
I wasn’t grown, not yet a dad,
When I was a younger lad,
Oh, when I was a younger lad.

When I was a lad of twenty and two,
I’ll tell you now what I would do,
I’d watch football the whole day through,
When I was a younger lad,
Oh, when I was a younger lad.

When breakfast time it came to eat,
Pop-tarts and diet coke, so sweet,
Potato chips, my day’s complete,
When I was a younger lad,
Oh, when I was a younger lad.

When I was young I slept ’till noon,
To my alarm I was immune,
I wish I could repeat this soon,
When I was a younger lad,
Oh, when I was a younger lad.


Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carrol

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Best. Poem. Ever.

At the risk of over-explaining things, I love the fact that this poem is mostly made up nonsense words, and yet it still totally makes sense. Is there any doubt that a vorpal blade would go snicker-snack when it cuts off the Jabberwock’s head? Doesn’t “came whiffling through the tulgey wood, and burbled as it came” give you a good picture of what it looked like? And some of the nonsense is so good, the words have made it into common language. Brilliant.