Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog January 15th, 2011

My Guilty Secret

An avid Stickman reader recently emailed me to ask if I am the very same Tim Torkildson who writes verse for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press newspaper back in Minnesota?

Yes. I am a crambo fiend. I cobble together verses on a variety of subjects. Occasionally a newspaper, such as the Pioneer Press or the New York Times will deign to publish one of them as an editorial or a divertissement.

I started down this road of infamy while teaching ESL classes here in Thailand. When the little nippers were taking a test or I was in my office supposedly working on lesson plans I would instead scribble down rhymes about anything that was rattling around in my head. The results were often jejune, but occasionally something pleasant would occur, which I would share with newspapers and magazines.

Okay! Okay! Stop twisting my arm . . . I’ll give you some samples:

I like to pay my taxes, and raising them is fine.

I also like old shoe leather on which I often dine.

I’m glad to see an increase in taxes anytime.

I also like to jump into a pit of fresh quicklime.

I’m happy that my money will pay for pension plans.

I’m happier when polar bears show off their winter tans.

I do not think I’m crazy; I do not worship gold.

And anyone who disagrees is just an awful scold.

Please take most of my income, it would make me feel great.

Then chop me up in pieces for a wonderful fish bait.

My doctor says I need a shunt, a bypass, and a shot

Of cortisone, as well as boosters for some old dry rot.

The doc has scheduled me to have some surgery for piles,

For rhinoplasty, and, perhaps, teeth-whitening for my smiles.

I’ve had enough equipment put inside my cavities

To ward off ev’rything from impetigo to Crone’s Disease.

They’ve drilled me and they’ve chilled me, til I almost am bionic –

Next I bet they want me to take Pinkham’s Female Tonic!

These medicos are really worse than any car mechanic;

They make me feel I’m breaking down and better start to panic.

My trust in doctors is not great, in fact it’s downright slender;

I’ll get my next prognosis from my neighborhood bartender!

We are born to wait in line;

That’s why feet become so flat

As we stand while marking time,

Growing older, growing fat.

Oh, the young think that this world

Spins to meet their ev’ry need,

And that ev’ryone’s concerned

To keep life right up to speed.

But inertia’s always been

More our birthright certainly,

Or perhaps the way things are

It is backwards that we flee.

They also serve who stand & wait,

Is Milton’s motto grand —

Whether as angelic hosts

Or just at Disneyland.

Charity begins at home

So do not be a slouch.

Fill your pockets with spare change

And sit upon my couch!

Well, nobody made you read it, pal.

Over the years I’ve attempted to interest my Thai ESL students in composing simple little rhymes and ditties, and trying to get them to understand them as well. One memorable class period I gave a group of 16-year old Thais the assignment to interpret this lovely bit of whimsy by Gilett Burgess:

I never met a purple cow.

I never hope to see one.

But I can tell you anyhow

I’d rather see than be one.

I’ve kept some of the results, as follows:

He purple cow do not come to me.

I hope you see your purple cow.

I will tell you on the cow

You can be one.

Cow is purple like someone else.

You can bee it someone else.

Any purple cow wills someone bee.

But not of me!

(Darned if they don’t make about as much sense as the original!)

These days I’m pretty much stuck behind a computer all day, writing a variety of blogs and Facebook entries, but every once in a while I’ll feel the urge to commune with my muse. In fact, I feel an inspiration coming on right now –

There was a young man from Nantucket . . .