Archive for October 5th, 2012

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Happy Family by John Anthony Ciardi

Before the children say goodnight,
Mother, Father, stop and think:
Have you screwed their heads on tight?
Have you washed their ears with ink?

Have you said and done and thought
All the earnest parents should?
Have you beaten them as you ought:
Have you begged them to be good?

And above all – when you start
Out the door and douse the light –
Think, be certain, search your heart:
Have you screwed their heads on tight?

If they sneeze when they’re asleep,
Will their little heads come off?
If they just breathe very deep?
If – especially – they cough?

Should – alas! – the little dears
Lose a little head or two,
Have you inked their little ears:
Girls’ ears pink and boys’ ears blue?

Children’s heads are very loose.
Mother, Father, screw them tight.
If you feel uncertain use
A monkey wrench, but do it right.

If a head should come unscrewed
You will know that you have failed.
Doubtful cases should be glued.
Stubborn cases should be nailed.

Then when all your darlings go
Sweetly screaming off to bed,
Mother, Father, you may know
Angels guard each little head.

Come the morning you will find
One by one each little head
Fill of gentle thoughts and kind,
Sweetly screaming to be fed.


Date: 1961

By: John Anthony Ciardi (1916-1986)