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WAKE UP! ARE YOU A…?
by April Halprin Wayland
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Wake up!  Are you a Jabberwock?
your head has nodded to the desk
at first I thought ’twas writer’s block
Oh, beamish boy—you’re hair’s askew!
I kick your shoe—I think it best
before our teacher catches you.
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I’m glad you’re up, we’re on page ten.
Oh no! You’ve gone to sleep again!
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The teacher’s chalk goes snicker-snack
you clutch your pencil to attack
I tip your chair to keep you slack,
your head galumphing back.
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She thinks you dead, stares at your head
but I distract, “What means this word?”
(I’m clever, like the Jubjub bird)
while you are whiffling through the wood
instead of listening (if you could).
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You burble—so I loudly sneeze
(she’s terrified of slithy phlegm
which transmits frumious disease)
and then—O frabjous three p.m.
Callooh! Callay!
You wake—we’re through with school today!
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(c) 2011 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved
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The story behind the poem:
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I was reading through the poems in the marvelous POETRY TAG TIME, edited by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, which is “the first ever electronic-only poetry anthology of new poems by top poets for children,” sells for only 99 cents…and includes one of my poems, (she says modestly). Helen Frost‘s poem begins, “Wake up!” while Calef Brown’s poem begins “Are you a”.  I decided to start my poem with,“Wake up!  Are you a” and see what happened.
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It became a poem filled with the half-dreams you have when you fall asleep in class and wake, only to fall asleep again.  So I reread “Jabberwocky”, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll…and the poem evolved.
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It’s your turn! Nonsense poems are foreign territory for me—I had such fun writing this one! Begin your poem as I have…or find your own intriguing first words—where do they lead you?

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