Boys in Houston junior high schools in the spring of 1945
Wore brightly colored socks as a fad, thick woolly socks
In popsicle colors: lemon yellow, lime green,
Orange though after several months
Popular boys became bored with this, and instead
Started wearing shirts outside of jeans or pants, letting them bell,
And unbuttoning the top two or three buttonholes of their shirts.

Then most of the students at Albert Sidney Johnston Junior High, and
The enthusiastic female art teacher with pointy bra raising fluffy sweater,
A no-longer-young P. E. instructor from Poland whose forearm
Was tattooed with numbers from a concentration camp, and an unusually
Helpful cheerful janitor, began to appreciate
The nonsense songs which now came through the air;

All were delighted that “Mairzy doats and dozy doats
And little lambsey divey” translated into “mares eat oats and does eat oats
And little lambs eat ivy,” and someone told someone
That our Baptist preacher’s son after Sunday School
Was overheard walking through a field of timothy
Loudly singing to whatever birds, “Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la.
Check-a-la romey in a bananika. Bollika, wollika…”

Now, having learned that one’s seventy-ninth birthday
Is the start of one’s eightieth year, I note
How almost all my socks are white
And how I forever tuck my shirt inside my slacks.
Now, more than ever before, I relish nonsense songs
Moving like Mexican jumping beans nside a child’s loose fist.

Jonathan Bracker’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, The RavensPerch, Writer’s Digest, and other periodicals and anthologies. He is editor of Bright Cages: The Selected Poems Of Christopher Morley, co-author with Mark Wallach of Christopher Morley, and editor of A Little Patch Of Shepherd’s-Thyme: Prose Passages Of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse.