School and Teachers

A Villanelle for World Book Day

I have to write a poem for World Book Day,
My local school have asked me to recite,
But …
If it’s no good, they might all run away

I sit and think, all night and then all day,
I tell myself – those kids will be polite
I have to write a poem for World Book Day,

I drink a coffee in a street café,
I must get something written by tonight,
Yet …
If it’s no good, they might all run away

I hear the children coming out to play
I tell myself – they’re harmless – they won’t bite,
I have to write a poem for World Book Day.

A villanelle! That’s something different. Yay!
To show it isn’t just my name that’s bright.
If it’s no good, they might all run away

At last it’s finished. Sing: “Calooh-Callay!”
It’s nothing special, but, I guess, all right.
I have to write a poem for World Book Day,
And if it’s good – perhaps they’ll shout: “Hooray!”
I said: “If it’s good – perhaps they’ll shout: “Hooray!

Mr Fledermaus

Our teacher, Mr Fledermaus, seems frightened of the light.
He comes to school before the dawn, and goes home late at night.
His face is almost deathly pale; he wears a long black cloak.
And with those little pointy teeth he really looks a joke.

He ought to eat much more, he should put on a bit of weight,
But he left the garlic mushrooms in a pile upon his plate.
He often nips into the loo, to comb his sleek, black hair,
But they say that, in the mirror, no reflection greets him there!

The weirdest things upset him, like that time, the other day,
I was sharpening my pencil, and he winced, and looked away.
I think Miss Cartwright fancies him, and though she’s quite a wreck,
He does seem strangely taken with her long and shapely neck!

First published in ‘Top Secret Lives of Teachers’, edited by Brian Moses, published by Macmillan, 2002.

Want to be an Angel

Want to be an angel.
Don’t want to be a King.
Angels dress up all in white,
Angels get to sing.

Want to be an angel,
Kneeling on the straw.
Wings so big, I have to shuffle
Sideways through the door.

Melanie’s an angel,
Miss? That isn’t fair!
I’ve got angel sort of eyes
And angel sort of hair.

I should be an angel,
Miss. Instead of her.
… Oh, if I must, I’ll be a King!
Just don’t give me the myrrh!

Show and Tell

A week last Thursday Mrs Bell
Said, perhaps for Show and Tell,
We could bring along some pets,
An idea that she now regrets.

There were cats and rats and dogs,
Miriam had brought some frogs,
Then shy and quiet Ursula
Took out her pet tarantula.

Children shouted, children shrieked,
Some stood on their desks and squeaked.
All of which just served to wake
Brian’s favourite rattlesnake.

It shook its tail, as if to say
One shouldn’t treat a snake that way,
Terrifying mice and rats
And Cathy’s dozing vampire bats.

They rose as one into the air.
Amy leapt onto her chair,
Knocking over neighbour Grant’s
Box of giant soldier ants.

Pets were crawling, croaking, creeping.
Mrs Bell just sat there, weeping,
When we heard a fearsome roar
And a head popped round the door.

In the room came Susie Bland
With a leash grasped in her hand.
“Quiet boy! Now stay! Just wait!
It’s my T-Rex. Are we too late?”

First published in ‘Why Do We Have to Go to School?’, edited by John Foster, published by Oxford University Press, 2002.






Miss Morris is mild, Miss Morris is meek,
She loves teaching history – Roman and Greek,
She knows all the wars with the French and the Spanish,
But when danger threatens, Miss Morris will vanish!
She’ll dash, in a flash, to the ladies staff loo,
Then emerge, in an instant, as somebody new!
Helmeted, caped, in an aura of light,
And with gold coloured pants that are far, far too tight.
With a leap she will launch herself into the air,
And bullies and baddies had better beware!

Supermiss! Supermiss! Classroom crusader!
There’s nowhere to hide, villains just can’t evade her.
She’ll teach them a lesson they’d rather not know.
Now get on with your work, she’ll be back in a mo.

There’s a sound far away, like a faint thunder-clap
And the sky’s punctuated with ‘Pow!’ and ‘Kerzap!’
The occasional ‘Whammo!’, an ‘Unghhh!’ or a ‘Wheee!’
And then it goes quiet, as quiet can be.
She lands like a lark, hardly bending the grass,
And in less than a minute is back with her class,
Where Miss Morris says ‘Settle down now! Pay attention!
Who knows Galileo’s most famous invention?’

Supermiss! Supermiss! Hear the class roar!
But if there’s one Supermiss, could there be more?
So watch when your teacher pops into the loo.
She just might emerge as a Supermiss too!

First published in ‘Top Secret Lives of Teachers’, edited by Brian Moses, published by Macmillan 2002