Poetry for Children

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The Real Humpty


Humpty Dumpty was a cannon, you know.

He wasn’t an egg at all.

It explains then why he couldn’t be fixed

When he fell right off of that wall.

Horses make terrible blacksmiths, you see –

holding tools with their teeth and their gums.

Perhaps the king’s men should have sold them instead

and bought beasts with opposable thumbs.



I lie by the dock in the seaweed,

With my nose sticking out of the tide.

I’m covered in shells

And limpets and smells

And places that tiny fish hide.


The starfish – they crawl on my torso

And the gulls – they stand on my head.

The crab claws all clatter

And the sea birds all natter

As I lie here upon my sea-bed.


And I know all of this has been worth it –

Even the sharks haven’t caused me much harm.

Though it’s been over a year

That I’ve had to lie here,

I finally have mussely arms!


The Zygote’s Dilemma


And so the time came

For the zygote to choose,

For the rest of its life,

On the sex it would use.


It pulled out the handbook

And turned to page two

To see all the choices

To look, to peruse.


First listed was ‘boy’.

It studied the assemblage.

‘Boy’ came with a beard

And another appendage.


Next listed was ‘girl’—

it seemed to be equal.

But where ‘boy’ could make trouble,

‘girl’ could make people.


It suggested that gender

And sex were the same.

How it reached that conclusion

remained unexplained.


‘Boy’ will like football,

aggression and power.

‘Girl’ will like ballet,

cooking and flowers.


The zygote, it thought

‘This doesn’t seem true’

Then saw the print date:



‘Why only two choices?

Surely there’s more!

Why can’t I have three?

Why can’t I have four?’


But the book–it was clear

And it seemed to imply

that the only choices

Were XX or XY.


‘Why should sex and gender

remain one and intact?

Why must what I have,

decide how I act?’


So the zygote decided

the choice was all wrong–

it should choose a new handbook

And not follow along.

Sean Carabini is an Irish humour writer and lives in Dublin, Ireland. He is a former chairperson of the Irish Writers’ Union.