Matt Miller - The Archives


One of my secret ambitions, inspired first by the desire to amuse my daughter when she was young, is to write fun children's poetry, so I scribbled a few kids poems here and there, mostly while on long plane rides on business trips. They're imperfect—still works in progress, really—but at the time they passed the crucial do-they-amuse-my-daughter-and-some-of-her-friends test, so there's no shame in sharing them in this archive. Our daughter is now in her 20s, so as you can imagine the bar for amusing her has risen considerably—but these still bring a smile.


It's 7:06 on the oven
It's 7:08 by the chair
It's 7:04 in the Volvo
But the microwave just doesn't care
The nightstand reads 7:11
The cable TV says :03
They say it's a digital world now
But I'd say the clocks don't agree  
After My Shower

I left another towel in the hallway by the door
I left it though my parents couldn't take it anymore
I knew deep down inside what I was doing wasn't right
And so it was no shock when Mom screamed, "No TV tonight!"

But still I couldn't help myself and did it for a week
My mom pulled all her hair out and my dad he wouldn't speak
They sold the house and moved away and left me on the street
So if you're smart don't be like me—just keep your bathroom neat  

I went, like, to the pet store, like, to look, like, for his gift
I liked him, like, a lot, you know, and thought, like, he'd be miffed
If a girl who liked him like I do, like, got him something dorky
I saw a fish I liked, like, so I bought and named it Corky

I wrapped it, like, all pretty and, like, brought it to his door
I knocked like I was singing happy birthday evermore
He said, like, wow, I like it, like, would you, like, like to play?
And liking him like, like, I do, I said, like, yes, I'll stay  

I'll tell you a tale—it's a frightening rhyme
Of a girl who stayed up past her normal bedtime
Her name was Alexis Penelope Pearl
A darling fifth grader whose hair had a curl
Her parents had said that each night right at 9
Alexis should sleep—and that suited her fine
At 6 they'd have dinner and speak of their day
At 7 they'd pick out some games they might play
At 8 Mom and Dad said "get ready for bed"
By 9 in sweet dreams lay Alexis' head

Things went on like this for an awful long spell
'Til one day Alexis saw fit to rebel
"I'm 10," she announced with a fair bit of rage
"It's time that my bedtime caught up with my age!"
Her Daddy's face darkened, her Mom's features froze
And weirdly they chanted this phrase out their nose:
"Now listen, Alexis Penelope Pearl
"Our rules have a reason, and you're still our girl
"One day when you're older you'll sleep when you please
"But for now, as for bedtime, you'll heed our decrees"

Right after they spoke they snapped out of their trance
But it made APP want to pee in her pants!
What was it with bedtime and 9 and this rule?
She vowed to find out the next day while at school;
The next night she acted like nothing had changed
Her parents seemed normal, not slightly deranged
They kissed her goodnight, not suspecting a fake
But Alexis Penelope Pearl stayed awake!

She lay there for ages, then lifted her head
Her clock said 10:20; she slipped out of bed
She crept to the kitchen as soft as she can
She opened the fridge—then the trouble began!
The milk and the juice dropped right out on the floor
It made Lexi slip so she grabbed for the door
Where the honey was kept, so the honey jar broke
And it spilled out like lava and mixed with the smoke
See, Alexis had bumped on the stove without knowing
And set off a flame now whose fire was growing
The hot molten honey attracted the bugs
Who surfed on the goop and got trapped in the rugs
The flames on the ceiling made chunks of it fall
And most of the paintings fell off of the wall
It might have been fine if the fine crystal glass
Hadn't got pushed when Alexis ran past
But it did and the crash as it fell was so grim
That she couldn't hear firemen kick the door in

Well to bring this calamitous tale to a close
The house was destroyed—as were all of her clothes
Her parents disowned her—her school made her quit
Her friends ran away and her dog had a fit
Now Alexis Penelope Pearl hangs her head
And that's what can happen...if you don't go to bed  
Dog Days

My doggie called a meeting—it caught us by surprise
He's usually just a sleepyhead with tragic mournful eyes
We gathered in the kitchen—he said I'd like to start
We'll need to make some changes, and you each must play your part
The problem that we have is that my schedule is a mess
You people have no sense of time—which just leaves me to guess
Just take the other weekend when I planned to play with Gus
(The schnauzer in the yard next door who always makes a fuss)
We said we'd meet at half past ten—our offices confirmed
But you took me to see the vet to get myself de-wormed!
Or take the other noontime, when I usually plan to poop
And you decide it's time to play 'go fetch' out on the stoop!
It really was quite shocking—I ask how you would feel
If you were not allowed to go right after your big meal?
It's rude for you to act as if my time was not my own
You people act like animals—and I don't like your tone!
Consider this a warning—I won't repeat it twice
I'm sick of playing slave-dog when my family isn't nice  
The Day After The Dentist

I nearly plum forgot it when I woke the second day
Just lying there in bed until my sleepies fell away
But then when on its own my tongue went searchin' like a scout
It told my brain the shocking truth—three teeth had been pulled out!

I rushed into the bathroom and I jumped up on my stool
And flashed that special smile that my sister says is cool
I leaned in toward the mirror, and besides the toilet bowl
All that I could see there was my giant toothy hole

I reached out for my toothbrush but got scared to grab that thing
For now I was so gummy that my brush might really sting
I knew I'd need some different rules to get me through the day
"I'm never going to brush my teeth again!" I heard me say

I tried to find some breakfast that I wouldn't have to chew
The bagels looked too crunchy and the berries looked too blue
The shredded wheat seemed scratchy and the toasted muffins rough
It dawned on me that from now on my mealtimes might be tough

Just then my puppy looked at me with very tender eyes
And opened up her mouth to speak—and much to my surprise
She told me that her wet food was the perfect meal for me
"Just try a little taste," she said, "no one has to see."

I opened up the can and smelled that wet food scent rise up
Could it be that now I'd share the breakfast of my pup?
I sniffed it like a dog myself, then took a mushy bite
And truth be told I have to say the taste was out of sight!

Well, now I eat three cans a day—my pup prefers just one
But both of us agree that sharing dog food can be fun
So next time when the dentist calls, remember in the end
That sometimes when you lose your teeth, you gain a special friend  
I Can't Eat This

First you take your fork and knife and cut stuff really small
(Smile while you do it so it won't look like a stall)
Then when no one's looking mix it all together steady
(Once it's all a grayish mush you'll know you're nearly ready)

Next you tell your parents there's a scary noise outside
(They'll both jump up to check it out and never know you lied)
Then when they're out you call the dog and serve him up your plate
(You'll barely have a minute so make sure your dog's not late)

When Mom and Dad are back make sure your plate looks pretty clean
(Make sure the dog is elsewhere so his slurping can't be seen)
Then tell your folks, "I loved this! Mom, your cooking's outasight!"
Then cry when she says, "Great—we'll have this every Tuesday night!"  

We're not sure where they came from
We only know they're here
Those tiny wing-ed walking creatures
Nibbling our veneer

It started when the storms came
And wet the ground that day
If someone soaked the place you lived
You too might move away

They rose up through the wood cracks
And marched out by the score
They swarmed out like an army
And swept across the floor

Hundreds in the bathtub!
Thousands nearby lying
Millions in the kitchen!
Mommy started crying

We tried the spray
We called for help
But nothing seemed to work
When brainless bugs can rule your house
You sure feel like a jerk

Just then a termite tapped me
And said, "Don't feel too blue
"I'll tell you how to get us out
"You only need one clue"

I listened to him closely
I'd never heard one speak
The fact that I was chatting with a
Termite made me freak!

"I'll do just what you ask," I said
He nodded in reply
And then in words both clear and firm
He told me what to try

"We termites love the water
But too much and we drown
If things are dry beneath the house
We'll gladly go back down"

It hit me like a lightning bolt
The answer was so plain!
So now I know how to stop termites—
But how do I stop the rain?