The Little Boy And The Old Man – Poems of Shel Silverstein



Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?

Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Cloony The Clown

I’ll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, “Go back to bed!”
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, “I’ll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown.”
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With “Hah-Hah-Hahs” and “Hee-Hee-Hees.”
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, ‘cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.

Reads like Raj Kapoor’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’?


9 Responses to The Little Boy And The Old Man – Poems of Shel Silverstein

  1. lynnette-net says:

    What if… Then this is life! 🙂 Nice to read your writings again!!


    • tskraghu says:

      And nice to have u back here! Have been reading ur posts and the transition in life – yes, new friends, new curriculum… Wishing u nothing but the best!


      • lynnette-net says:

        Haha I’ve always been reading, just not commenting 🙂 Thanks a lot!!
        I see you’re in the IT industry, care to tell me how it is like? I am thinking of doing computing 🙂 Yes, transitions!


  2. tskraghu says:

    A great industry with never a dull moment! There are two things to note: a) Working hours are elastic – they are never 9 to 5 b) Has v high obsolescence. Learning has to be all life – there is no stop.

    A general shortage of talent will keep the career prospects very alive for some years at least. .

    Will be happy to share whatever.



    • lynnette-net says:

      Nice, short description! THanks loads! So what’s a typical day like? Like designing algorithms/ databases etc? Security?


  3. tskraghu says:

    Unfortunately one gets slotted in the job at least for some time. If I try to serialize,
    1. Most people turn into developers writing code for some technology platform:Java, Microsoft…
    2. Some grow into/train for become designers of systems, databases, networks, etc.
    3. Some train for becoming security specialists and other infrastructure related areas such as sizing, load balancing, etc.
    4. Designing algorithms: a few do this pure problem solving activity like search algorithms.

    A day is usually one of the above and not a mix.

    And there is a whole lot of other options too to begin one’s career or to grow into!.


  4. S Basu says:

    the last poem really is very much like mera naam joker. both poems are wonderful, thanks for sharing. we do waste so much fretting over “whatif”


  5. Pingback: The Loser – Silverstein Again! | Kaleidoscope

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