Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

October 14, 2006

David Kirby: his poetry, Kirbyisms, & video

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by David Kirby
   

The Search for Baby Combover
   

            In Paris one night the doorbell rings,
            and there’s this little guy, shaking like a leaf
            and going “uh-uh-uh-UNH-ah!” and his eyes get big
            and he raises his hands like a gospel singer
            and goes “UNH-ah-uh-uh-uh-UNH-uh-ah!”

            and for just a fraction of a second I think
            he’s doing the first part of Wilson Pickett’s
            “Land of a Thousand Dances” and he wants me
            to join him in some kind of weird welcome
            to the neighborhood, so I raise my hands a little

            and begin to sort of hum along, though
            not very loudly in case I’m wrong about this,
            and I’m smiling the way old people smile
            when they can’t hear you but want you to know
            that everything’s okay as far as they’re concerned

            or a poet smiles in a roomful of scientists,
            as if to say, “Hey! I’m just a poet!
            But your data’s great, really! Even if
            I don’t understand it!” And by the time
            I start to half-wonder if this gentleman wants me

            to take the you-got-to-know-how-to-pony part
            or means to launch into it himself, he gives
            a little hop and slaps his hands down to his sides
            and says, “PLEASE! YOU MUST NOT MOVE
            THE FURNITURE AFTER ELEVEN O’CLOCK OF THE NIGHT!”

            so I lower my own hands and say, “Whaaaa…?”
            And he says, “ALWAYS YOU ARE MOVING IT WHEN
            THE BABY TRY TO SLEEP! YOU MUST NOT DO IT!”
            And now that he’s feeling a little bolder,
            he steps in closer, where the light’s better,

            and I see he’s got something on his head,
            like strands of oily seaweed, something
            you’d expect to find on a rock after one of
            those big tanker spills in the Channel,
            so I lean a little bit and realize it’s what

            stylists call a “combover,” not a bad idea
            on the tall fellows but definitely a grooming no-no
            for your vertically-challenged caballeros,
            of which Monsieur here is certainly one,
            especially if they are yelling at you.

            But I’d read an article about AA that said
            when your loved ones stage an intervention
            and go off on you for getting drunk
            and busting up the furniture and running out
            into traffic and threatening to kill the President,

            it’s better to just let them wind down
            and then say, “You’re probably right,”
            because if you’re combative, they will be, too,
            and then your problems will just start over again,
            so I wait till Mr. Combover–it’s not nice, I know,

            but it’s the first name that comes to mind–stops shaking,
            and I say, “You’re probably right,” and he raises
            a finger and opens his mouth as if to say something
            but then snaps his jaw shut and whirls around
            and marches downstairs, skidding a little

            and windmilling his arms and almost falling
            but catching himself, though not without
            that indignant backward glance we all give
            the stupid step that some stupid idiot would have
            attended to long ago if he hadn’t been so stupid.

            The next day, I ask Nadine the gardienne
            qu’est-ce que c’est the deal avec the monsieur
            qui lives under moi, and Nadine says his femme
            is toujours busting his chops, but il est afraid
            of her, so il takes out his rage on the rest of nous.

            There’s something else, though: a few days later,
            Barbara and I see Mr. and Mrs. Combover
            crossing the Pont Marie, and she is a virtual giantess
            compared to him! Now I remember once hearing Barbara
            give boyfriend advice to this niece of mine,

            and Barbara said (1) he’s got to have a job,
            (2) he’s got to tell you you’re beautiful all the time,
            and (3) he’s got to be taller than you are,
            so when I see Mrs. Combover looming over her hubby,
            I think, Well, that explains the busted chops.

            Not only that, Mrs. Combover looks cheap.
            She looks rich, sure–Nadine had told me Monsieur
            is some sorte de diplomat avec the Chilean delegation–
            but also like one of those professional ladies
            offering her services up around the Rue St. Denis.

            But who are they, really? “Combover” is one
            of those names from a fifties black-and-white movie;
            he’s the kind of guy neighborhood kids call “Mr. C.”
            and who has a boss who says things like, “Now see here,
            Combover, this sort of thing just won’t do!”

            He’s like one of Dagwood’s unnamed colleagues–
            he’s not even Dagwood, who at least excites
            Mr. Dithers enough to be fired a couple
            of times a week, not to mention severely beaten.
            Only Dagwood is really in charge. Everything goes his way!

            Despite cronic incompetence, ol’ Dag keeps
            the job that allows him his fabulous home life:
            long naps, towering sandwiches, affectionate
            and well-behaved teenaged children, a loyal dog,
            and, best of all, the love of Blondie.

            Blondie! The name says it all: glamorous but fun.
            Big Trashy Mrs. Combover is not glamorous,
            although she thinks she is, and no fun at all.
            She is the anti-Blondie. Her job seems to be
            to stay home and smoke, since we’re always smelling

            the cigarette fumes that seep up though the floor
            into our apartment day and night. And he says
            we’re keeping Baby Combover awake when we move
            the furniture, which we’ve never done, but then
            we’ve never seen Baby Combover, either. Or heard him.

            Baby Combover: the world’s first silent baby.
            Barbara has this theory that, after a life
            of prostitution, Mrs. Combover has not only repented but
            undergone a false pregnancy and imaginary birth.
            Therefore, the reason why Baby Combover is silent

            is that he is not a real baby who fusses and eats and
            wets and poops but is instead a pillowcase with knots
            for ears and a smiley-face drawn with a Magic Marker and
            a hole for its mouth so Mrs. Combover can teach it
            to smoke when it’s older, like eight, say.

            Now I know what they fight about: “You never spend
            any time with the babyl” hisses Mrs. Combover.
            “I will–when he’s older and can talk!” says Mr. Combover.
            “Here I am stuck with this baby all day long!
            And those horrible people upstairs!”

            And he says, “Oh, be silent, you… prostitute!”
            And she says, “Quiet, you horrible man–
            not in front of the child!” Maybe it’s time
            for a call to the police. Or the newspapers.
            I can see the headlines: OU EST LE PETIT ENFANT COMBOVER?

            I feel sorry for him. With parents like this,
            it would be better if someone were to kidnap him.
            Or I could take him back to America with me,
            I who have a wife who loves me and two grown sons.
            Why not? We’ve got all this extra room now.

            We’ll feed him a lot and tickle him;
            there’s nothing funnier than a fat, happy baby.
            And when the boys come home to visit,
            they’ll take him out with them in their sports cars:
            “It’s my little brother!” they’ll say. “He’s French!”

            The neighborhood kids, once a band of sullen mendicants,
            will beg us to let him play with them,
            even though he doesn’t speak their language.
            Look! There they go toward the baseball field,
            with Baby Combover under their arm!

            I love you, Baby Combover! You are Joseph Campbell’s
            classic mythical hero, i.e., “an agent of change
            who relinquishes self-interest and breaks down
            the established social order.” But you’re so pale!
            You’ve stayed out too long and caught cold.

            Barbara and the boys gather around his bed;
            they hug each other, and we try not to cry.
            Baby Combover is smiling–he always smiled, that kid.
            His little mouth begins to move, and we lean in
            and think we hear him say, “Be bwave fo’ me.”

            Back in Paris, Mr. Combover grows a full head of hair.
            Mrs. Combover reaches up to touch it.
            He puts down his attaché case and caresses her cheek.
            “How beautiful you are!” he says. It’s so quiet now.
            Then they hear it: in the next room, a child is crying.

            brought to you with the poet’s gracious consent
   

_____

   


David Kirby, who grew up in Baton Rouge, is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University. The latest news on his work is that, for the third time a poem by him, “Seventeen Ways from Tuesday”, has made the pages of Best American Poetry. He is also currently judging for the InterBoard Poetry Community.

For more profile on him, see this page of The Chelsea Forum:

            David Kirby;

where Andy Brumer is quoted in a New York Times item, saying:

The stream-of-consciousness and jazz-based rhythms of Kerouac and Ginsberg meet the surreal, philosophical musings of Wallace Stevens, with an occasional dose of cathartic confessionalism à la Robert Lowell.

A current profile, with a webography that includes links to his poetry, is at About Poetry:

            David Kirby;

where we find:

He has two books forthcoming in 2007, The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems (also by LSU Press) and an essay collection entitled Ultra-Talk: Johnny Cash, The Mafia, Shakespeare, Drum Music, St. Teresa Of Avila, And 17 Other Colossal Topics Of Conversation (University of Georgia Press).

To visit his web site, click his logo:


   

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Kirbyisms
   

He is also a writer for the New York Times. You can find his articles here:

            NYT Archive: “By David Kirby”

In those articles, we find what may be called Kirbyisms, sayings about poetry and life, said at just the right time, in only the way David Kirby can, or would as the good professor in him comes to the fore. Here are some:
   

            ~~~~~
   

In poetry, the first-person pronoun is simply more reader-friendly. It’s like a knock on an office door that’s already open. You didn’t have to knock, but if you had just started talking, it might have been awkward, and your listener might not have responded.

from Dreams, Trees, Grief, August 20, 2006

   
            ~~~~~
   

There is a brash, exuberant poetry being written in America these days, a long-lined, many-paged, pyrotechnic verse that would have its daddy, Walt Whitman, slapping his slouch hat against his leg and chortling with unbridled glee.

from The Biggest Little Poems, December 18, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

But of course there is no real competition between the Whitman who boasted “I am large, I contain multitudes” and the Dickinson whose niece Martha reported that her aunt once pretended to lock the door to her bedroom and pocket an imaginary key, saying, “Mattie, here’s freedom.”

from The Biggest Little Poems, December 18, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

You’re having a cup of coffee, and bang! It’s your neighbor, putting his car in the garage. Unfortunately, it’s your garage and the door was down. This could be the beginning of a lawsuit–or a poem.

from ‘Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos’ and ‘Into It’: The Double, September 25, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

Undergraduate writing programs probably send as many students to law schools as they do to M.F.A. programs. Makes sense: whether you’re writing a brief or a sonnet, you’re gathering material, thinking about the order you’re putting it in, adjusting tone to make the right impact.

from ‘Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos’ and ‘Into It’: The Double, September 25, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

“Inside every lawyer is the wreck of a poet,” Clarence Darrow said, but in recent times there have been efforts to encourage the two professions to coexist peacefully.

from ‘Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos’ and ‘Into It’: The Double, September 25, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

The lawyers can’t stop the doomsday machine, even if they want to. And the poets can only write about it.

from ‘Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos’ and ‘Into It’: The Double, September 25, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

Yes, the world is one big banana peel, and if we don’t know that we’ve got one foot on it, it’s because we’re not looking down: the goat (actually, it’s a heifer) on Keats’s immortal urn is being led to slaughter, wildflowers nourish killer bees, the South’s sylvan meadows were once battlefields soaked in blood.

from ‘Luck Is Luck’: Intimations of Mortality, April 10, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

Our parents go through all this before we do; the man who used to take us on his back is bent and gray now, and the woman our friends thought sexy spends her days in a chair. We’re following a curriculum that, if we’re lucky, leads us to accept our lives, and that consists in part of observing our parents as they learn to accept theirs.

from ‘Luck Is Luck’: Intimations of Mortality, April 10, 2005
   

            ~~~~~
   

If poetry is as much a state of mind as it is an assortment of black marks on white pages, then it resides in that intimate space between the world and those who observe it.

from ‘Danger on Peaks’: Ars Longa, Vita Longa, November 21, 2004
   

            ~~~~~
   

Yesterday’s hippies are now gray-haired and prosperous and probably not reading much poetry.

from ‘Danger on Peaks’: Ars Longa, Vita Longa, November 21, 2004
   

            ~~~~~
   

The adage “when in Rome” has always been good advice for foreign travelers. But finding out what, exactly, the Romans do–let alone how to emulate them without making a fool of yourself–is not always easy.

from For Social Slips, Anti-Skid Books, October 3, 2004
   

            ~~~~~
   

If you want to make friends, a smile will always be understood.

from For Social Slips, Anti-Skid Books, October 3, 2004
   

            ~~~~~
   

Poetry can’t fix everything, and maybe it can’t even fix anything. Yet it lets us see and sometimes even understand.

from Moe, Larry and Bertolucci, May 2, 2004
   

            ~~~~~
   

Pound and Monroe were the Lennon and McCartney of their shared enterprise, the one skirting the shoreline of art as the other steered toward the stream’s middle; the impresario and the editor were bound to part, and not happily.

from Poets Behaving Badly, December 1, 2002
   

            ~~~~~
   

All writers think of themselves as superior to the competition, and so it is with a certain amount of malicious glee that one encounters the thunderings of poets who today are more or less nobodies, the John G. Neihardts and John Gould Fletchers who howl with fury at having to appear alongside those they consider their inferiors.

from Poets Behaving Badly, December 1, 2002
   

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Kirby Audio/Video
   

Listen to David Kirby read his poetry, and his love of travel becomes evident. In fact, as I write, this Southern American is on sabbatical leave in France.

Through the sounds of his poetry, he gives us the world to travel, with its accents and lingo, but also the vocalizations from–for a different example–young hip hop artists. In this sense, his is an audio world for poetry.

Below are two poetry readings by him available on the web that will use your RealPlayer. The first is close to a half hour in length, and is from from the Library of Congress’s web pages of the 2005 National Book Festival.

The fourth of the four poems he read there, “The Search for Baby Combover” featured above, from his book The Ha-Ha, is a favorite among the young men of high schools, to read for, and win, Poetry Out Loud competitions across America. Click on his picture to view this webcast:
   

Duration 28:25

   

And click the picture of his Big-Leg Music book, to get a RealAudio presentation from his web site, with graphics, of David reading his poem “Your Momma Says Omnia Vincit Amor“, wherein music overlays the world of language, this world travelled through poetry.
   

Duration 2:15

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David Kirby Books
   

Books by him are available here:

BestPrices.Com: David Kirby Books


   

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September 21, 2006

Green Grape Cakes

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tonguetwister.jpg

 

A compilation of the tongue twisters of verse, in alphabetical order.

 

___________

 

All I want is a proper cup of coffee
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.
You can believe it or not,
But I just want a cup of coffee
In a proper coffee pot.
Tin coffee pots
Or iron coffee pots
Are of no use to me.
If I can’t have
A proper cup of coffee
In a proper copper coffee pot,
I’ll have a cup of tea!
 

                        ________
 

Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
with stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
he thrusts his fist against the posts
and still insists he sees the ghosts.
 

                        ________
 

As he gobbled the cakes on his plate,
the greedy ape said as he ate,
the greener green grapes are,
the keener keen apes are
to gobble green grape cakes,
they’re great!

(from Dr. Seuss’s O Say Can You Say?)
 

                        ________
 

Betty Botter had some butter,
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
it would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter
that would make my batter better.”

So she bought a bit of butter,
better than her bitter butter,
and she baked it in her batter,
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
bought a bit of better butter.
 

                        ________
 

Big black bugs bleed blue black blood
but baby black bugs bleed blue blood.
 

                        ________
 

A bitter biting bittern
Bit a better brother bittern,
And the bitter better bittern
Bit the bitter biter back.
And the bitter bittern, bitten,
By the better bitten bittern,
Said: “I’m a bitter biter bit, alack!”
 

                        ________
 

Bobby Bippy bought a bat.
Bobby Bippy bought a ball.
With his bat Bob banged the ball
Banged it bump against the wall
But so boldly Bobby banged it
That he burst his rubber ball
“”Boo!”” cried Bobby
Bad luck ball
Bad luck Bobby, bad luck ball
Now to drown his many troubles
Bobby Bippy’s blowing bubbles.

(from mid-Willamette Valley theater)
 

                        ________
 

The bottle of perfume that Willy sent
was highly displeasing to Millicent.
Her thanks were so cold
that they quarreled, I’m told
o’er that silly scent Willy sent Millicent.
 

                        ________
 

But a harder thing still to do.

What a to do to die today
At a quarter or two to two.
A terrible difficult thing to say
But a harder thing still to do.
The dragon will come at the beat of the drum
With a rat-a-tat-tat a-tat-tat a-tat-to
At a quarter or two to two today,
At a quarter or two to two.

(from a college drama class)
 

                        ________
 

Can you imagine an imaginary menagerie manager
imagining managing an imaginary menagerie?
 

                        ________
 

Come, come,
Stay calm, stay calm,
No need for alarm,
It only hums,
It doesn’t harm.
 

                        ________
 

Denise sees the fleece,
Denise sees the fleas.
At least Denise could sneeze
and feed and freeze the fleas.
 

                        ________
 

Did Dick Pickens prick his pinkie picking cheap cling peaches
in an inch of Pinch or framing his famed French finch photos?
 

                        ________
 

Dr. Johnson and Mr. Johnson, after great consideration,
came to the conclusion that the Indian nation beyond the Indian Ocean
is back in education because the chief occupation is cultivation.
 

                        ________
 

Federal Express is now called FedEx.
When I retire I’ll be a FedEx ex.
But if I’m an officer when I retire, I’ll be an ex Fedex Exec.
Then after a divorce, my ex-wife will be an ex FedEx exec’s ex.
If I rejoin FedEx in time, I’d be an ex ex FedEx exec.
When we remarry, my wife will be an ex ex FedEx exec’s ex.
 

                        ________
 

A flea and a fly flew up in a flue.
Said the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the fly, “Let us flee!”
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
 

                        ________
 

Fresh fried fish,
Fish fresh fried,
Fried fish fresh,
Fish fried fresh.
 

                        ________
 

Give me the gift of a grip-top sock,
A clip drape shipshape tip top sock.
Not your spinslick slapstick slipshod stock,
But a plastic, elastic grip-top sock.
None of your fantastic slack swap slop
From a slap dash flash cash haberdash shop.
Not a knick knack knitlock knockneed knickerbocker sock
With a mock-shot blob-mottled trick-ticker top clock.
Not a supersheet seersucker rucksack sock,
Not a spot-speckled frog-freckled cheap sheik’s sock
Off a hodge-podge moss-blotched scotch-botched block.
Nothing slipshod drip drop flip flop or glip glop
Tip me to a tip top grip top sock.

(articulation warmup for actors)
 

                        ________
 

How many berries could a bare berry carry,
if a bare berry could carry berries?
Well they can’t carry berries
(which could make you very wary)
but a bare berry carried is more scary!
 

                        ________
 

How many boards
Could the Mongols hoard
If the Mongol hoards got bored?

(from the comic Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Waterson)
 

                        ________
 

How many cans can a cannibal nibble
if a cannibal can nibble cans?
As many cans as a cannibal can nibble
if a cannibal can nibble cans.
 

                        ________
 

How many cookies could a good cook cook
If a good cook could cook cookies?
A good cook could cook as much cookies
as a good cook who could cook cookies.
 

                        ________
 

How many sheets could a sheet slitter slit
if a sheet slitter could slit sheets?
 

                        ________
 

How much caramel can a canny canonball cram in a camel
if a canny canonball can cram caramel in a camel?
 

                        ________
 

How much dew does a dewdrop drop
If dewdrops do drop dew?
They do drop, they do
As do dewdrops drop
If dewdrops do drop dew.
 

                        ________
 

How much ground would a groundhog hog,
if a groundhog could hog ground?
A groundhog would hog all the ground he could hog,
if a groundhog could hog ground.
 

                        ________
 

How much myrtle would a wood turtle hurdle
if a wood turtle could hurdle myrtle?
A wood turtle would hurdle as much myrtle as a wood turtle could hurdle
if a wood turtle could hurdle myrtle.
 

                        ________
 

How much wood could Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck,
if Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood?

If Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood,
how much wood could and would Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck?

Chuck Woods’ woodchuck would chuck,
he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as any woodchuck would,
if a woodchuck could and would chuck wood.
 

                        ________
 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
 

                        ________
 

I am not the pheasant plucker,
I’m the pheasant plucker’s mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
’cause the pheasant plucker’s running late.
 

                        ________
 

I cannot bear to see a bear
Bear down upon a hare.
When bare of hair he strips the hare,
Right there I cry, “Forbear!”
 

                        ________
 

If you stick a stock of liquor in your locker
it is slick to stick a lock upon your stock
or some joker who is slicker
is going to trick you of your liquor
if you fail to lock your liquor with a lock.
 

                        ________
 

I know a boy named Tate
who dined with his girl at eight eight.
I’m unable to state what Tate ate at eight eight
or what Tate’s tête à tête ate at eight eight.
 

                        ________
 

I need not your needles, they’re needless to me;
For kneading of noodles, ’twere needless, you see;
But did my neat knickers but need to be kneed,
I then should have need of your needles indeed.
 

                        ________
 

I saw a saw in Arkansas,
that would outsaw any saw I ever saw,
and if you got a saw
that will outsaw the saw I saw in Arkansas
let me see your saw.
 

                        ________
 

I saw Esau kissing Kate.
I saw Esau, he saw me,
and she saw I saw Esau.
 

                        ________
 

I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop.
Where she sits she shines,
and where she shines she sits.
 

                        ________
 

I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit,
and on the slitted sheet I sit.
 

                        ________
 

I thought a thought.
But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought
I thought I thought.
 

                        ________
 

I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish,
but if you wish the wish the witch wishes,
I won’t wish the wish you wish to wish.
 

                        ________
 

I would if I could, and if I couldn’t, how could I?
You couldn’t, unless you could, could you?
 

                        ________
 

If a Hottentot taught a Hottentot tot
To talk ere the tot could totter,
Ought the Hottenton tot
Be taught to say aught, or naught,
Or what ought to be taught her?
If to hoot and to toot a Hottentot tot
Be taught by her Hottentot tutor,
Ought the tutor get hot
If the Hottentot tot
Hoot and toot at her Hottentot tutor?
 

                        ________
 

If Kantie can tie a tie and untie a tie,
why can’t I tie a tie and untie a tie like Kantie can.
 

                        ________
 

If one doctor doctors another doctor, does the doctor
who doctors the doctor doctor the doctor the way the
doctor he is doctoring doctors? Or does he doctor
the doctor the way the doctor who doctors doctors?
 

                        ________
 

If you can’t can any candy can,
how many candy cans can a candy canner can
if he can can candy cans?
 

                        ________
 

If you stick a stock of liquor in your locker,
It’s slick to stick a lock upon your stock,
Or some stickler who is slicker
Will stick you of your liquor
If you fail to lock your liquor
With a lock!
 

                        ________
 

I’m not the fig plucker,
Nor the fig plucker’s son,
but I’ll pluck your figs
till the fig plucker comes.
 

                        ________
 

It’s not the cough that carries you off,
it’s the coffin they carry you off in!
 

                        ________
 

Knife and a fork bottle and a cork
that is the way you spell New York.

Chicken in the car and the car can go,
that is the way you spell Chicago.
 

                        ________
 

A lady sees a pot-mender at work at his barrow in the street.

“Are you copper-bottoming them, my man?”
“No, I’m aluminuming ’em, Mum”
 

                        ________
 

The Leith police dismisseth us
They thought we sought to stay;
The Leith police dismisseth us
They thought we’d stay all day.
The Leith police dismisseth us,
We both sighed sighs apiece;
And the sighs that we sighed as we said goodbye
Were the size of the Leith police.
 

                        ________
 

Love’s a feeling you feel when you feel
you’re going to feel the feeling you’ve never felt before.
 

                        ________
 

Luke’s duck likes lakes.
Luke Luck licks lakes.
Luke’s duck licks lakes.
Duck takes licks in lakes Luke Luck likes.
Luke Luck takes licks in lakes duck likes.

(from Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks)
 

                        ________
 

Mares eat oats and does eat oats,
and little lambs eat ivy.
A Kid will eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?
 

                        ________
 

Mary Mac’s mother’s making Mary Mac marry me.
My mother’s making me marry Mary Mac.
Will I always be so Merry when Mary’s taking care of me?
Will I always be so merry when I marry Mary Mac?

(from a song by Carbon Leaf)
 

                        ________
 

Mo mi mo me send me a toe,
Me me mo mi get me a mole,
Mo mi mo me send me a toe,
Fe me mo mi get me a mole,
Mister kister feet so sweet,
Mister kister where will I eat !?
 

                        ________
 

Moses supposes his toeses are roses,
but Moses supposes erroneously.
For Moses, he knowses his toeses aren’t roses,
as Moses supposes his toeses to be.

(Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly in “Singing in the rain”)
 

                        ________
 

Mr. See owned a saw.
And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw
Before Soar saw See,
Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See’s saw
Before See sawed Soar’s seesaw,
See’s saw would not have sawed
Soar’s seesaw.
So See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
Just because See’s saw sawed
Soar’s seesaw!
 

                        ________
 

My dame hath a lame tame crane,
My dame hath a crane that is lame.
 

                        ________
 

My Friend Gladys

Oh, the sadness of her sadness when she’s sad.
Oh, the gladness of her gladness when she’s glad.
But the sadness of her sadness,
and the gladness of her gladness,
Are nothing like her madness when she’s mad!
 

                        ________
 

Ned Nott was shot
and Sam Shott was not.
So it is better to be Shott
than Nott.
Some say Nott
was not shot.
But Shott says
he shot Nott.
Either the shot Shott shot at Nott
was not shot,
or
Nott was shot.
If the shot Shott shot shot Nott,
Nott was shot.
But if the shot Shott shot shot Shott,
then Shott was shot,
not Nott.
However,
the shot Shott shot shot not Shott
but Nott.
 

                        ________
 

Of all the felt I ever felt,
I never felt a piece of felt
which felt as fine as that felt felt,
when first I felt that felt hat’s felt.
 

                        ________
 

On mules we find two legs behind
and two we find before.
We stand behind before we find
what those behind be for.
 

                        ________
 

Once upon a barren moor
There dwelt a bear, also a boar.
The bear could not bear the boar.
The boar thought the bear a bore.
At last the bear could bear no more
Of that boar that bored him on the moor,
And so one morn he bored the boar
That boar will bore the bear no more.
 

                        ________
 

One smart fellow, he felt smart.
Two smart fellows, they felt smart.
Three smart fellows, they all felt smart.
 

                        ________
 

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
 

                        ________
 

Pick a partner and practice passing,
for if you pass proficiently,
perhaps you’ll play professionally.
 

                        ________
 

Pretty Kitty Creighton had a cotton batten cat.
The cotton batten cat was bitten by a rat.
The kitten that was bitten had a button for an eye,
And biting off the button made the cotton batten fly.
 

                        ________
 

Ruby Rugby’s brother bought and brought her
back some rubber baby-buggy bumpers.
 

                        ________
 

Sarah saw a shot-silk sash shop full of shot-silk sashes
as the sunshine shone on the side of the shot-silk sash shop.
 

                        ________
 

Sarah sitting in her Chevrolet,
All she does is sits and shifts,
All she does is sits and shifts.
 

                        ________
 

Say this sharply, say this sweetly,
Say this shortly, say this softly.
Say this sixteen times in succession.
 

                        ________
 

The seething seas ceaseth
and twiceth the seething seas sufficeth us.
 

                        ________
 

She saw Sherif’s shoes on the sofa.
But was she so sure she saw Sherif’s shoes on the sofa?
 

                        ________
 

She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
 

                        ________
 

She stood on the balcony
inexplicably mimicing him hiccupping,
and amicably welcoming him home.
 

                        ________
 

Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep.
The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed
shilly-shallied south.
These sheep shouldn’t sleep in a shack;
sheep should sleep in a shed.
 

                        ________
 

Sister Suzie sewing shirts for soldiers
Such skill as sewing shirts
Our shy young sister Suzie shows
Some soldiers send epistles
Say they’d rather sleep in thistles
Than the saucy, soft short shirts for soldiers Sister Suzie sews.
 

                        ________
 

A skunk sat on a stump
and thunk the stump stunk,
but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
 

                        ________
 

The Smothers brothers’ father’s mother’s brothers are
the Smothers brothers’ mother’s father’s other brothers.
 

                        ________
 

Suddenly swerving, seven small swans
Swam silently southward,
Seeing six swift sailboats
Sailing sedately seaward.
 

                        ________
 

“Surely Sylvia swims!” shrieked Sammy, surprised.
“Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.”
 

                        ________
 

Susan shineth shoes and socks;
socks and shoes shines Susan.
She ceased shining shoes and socks,
for shoes and socks shock Susan.
 

                        ________
 

Swan swam over the sea,
Swim, swan, swim!
Swan swam back again
Well swum, swan!
 

                        ________
 

Theophiles Thistle, the successful thistle-sifter,
in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.

Now, if Theophiles Thistle, the successful thistle-sifter,
in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb,
see that thou, in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb.

Success to the successful thistle-sifter!
 

                        ________
 

There once was a man who had a sister, his name was Mr. Fister. Mr. Fister’s sister sold sea shells by the sea shore. Mr. Fister didn’t sell sea shells, he sold silk sheets. Mr. Fister told his sister that he sold six silk sheets to six shieks. The sister of Mr. Fister said I sold six shells to six shieks too!
 

                        ________
 

There was a young fisher named Fischer
Who fished for a fish in a fissure.
The fish with a grin,
Pulled the fisherman in;
Now they’re fishing the fissure for Fischer.
 

                        ________
 

They have left the thriftshop,
and lost both their theatre tickets
and the volume of valuable licenses
and coupons for free theatrical frills and thrills.
 

                        ________
 

Three gray geese in the green grass grazing.
Gray were the geese and green was the grass.
 

                        ________
 

Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.

(from Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss)
 

                        ________
 

A tidy tiger tied a tie tighter to tidy her tiny tail
On two thousand acres, too tangled for tilling,
Where thousands of thorn trees grew thrifty and thrilling,
Theophilus Twistle, less thrifty than some,
Thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb!
 

                        ________
 

To begin to toboggan first, buy a toboggan.
But do not buy too big a toboggan!
Too big a toboggan is too big a toboggan
to buy to begin to toboggan.
 

                        ________
 

A tree toad loved a she-toad
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree toad
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad’s heart,
For the two-toed tree toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree toad trod.
But the two-toed tree toad tried in vain.
He couldn’t please her whim.
From her tree toad bower
With her three-toed power
The she-toad vetoed him.
 

                        ________
 

A Tudor who tooted a flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to their tutor,
“Is it harder to toot
or to tutor two tooters to toot?”
 

                        ________
 

A twister of twists once twisted a twist;
A twist that he twisted was a three-twisted twist;
If in twisting a twist one twist should untwist,
The untwisted twist would untwist the twist.
 

                        ________
 

What a shame such a shapely sash
should such shabby stitches show.
 

                        ________
 

When a twister a-twisting will twist him a twist,
For the twisting of his twist, he three twines doth intwist;
But if one of the twines of the twist do untwist,
The twine that untwisteth untwisteth the twist.

Untwirling the twine that untwisteth between,
He twirls, with his twister, the two in a twine;
Then twice having twisted the twines of the twine,
He twitcheth the twice he had twined in twain.

The twain that in twining before in the twine,
As twines were intwisted he now doth untwine;
Twist the twain inter-twisting a twine more between,
He, twirling his twister, makes a twist of the twine.
 

                        ________
 

When does the wristwatch strap shop shut?
Does the wristwatch strap shop shut soon?
Which wristwatch straps are Swiss wristwatch straps?
 

                        ________
 

Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We’ll weather the weather
whether we like it or not.
 

                        ________
 

Why do you cry, Willy?
Why do you cry?
Why, Willy?
Why, Willy?
Why, Willy? Why?
 

                        ________
 

Wun-wun was a racehorse.
Tu-tu was one, too.
When Wun-wun won one race,
Tu-tu won one, too.
 

                        ________
 

Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Spread it thick, say it quick!
Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Spread it thicker, say it quicker!
Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
Don’t eat with your mouth full!
 

                        ________
 

You know New York.
You need New York.
You know you need unique New York.
 

                        ________
 

You’ve no need to light a night-light
On a light night like tonight,
For a night-light’s light’s a slight light,
And tonight’s a night that’s light.
When a night’s light, like tonight’s light,
It is really not quite right
To light night-lights with their slight lights
On a light night like tonight.
 

___________

 

Thanks to:

The Tongue Twister Data Base
www.uebersetzung.at
Ralph’s Tongue Twisters
 

___________

 

twistedtongue.jpg

 

___________

 

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