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Old books inspiring rage make me want to turn the page


I did not like Green Eggs and Ham

I thought the book to be a scam.

I knew that it could not be right

for all the eggs I’d seen were white.

I was then too young to see

the humor in absurdity.

The notion of an egg gone green

seemed a most distasteful thing.

But I did so love that scruffy cat

with yellowed fur and floppy hat.

His face would twist into disgust

when offered up his green breakfast.

It did not matter time or place

he would not have a single taste.

Until many days had long gone by

he finally gave green food a try.

His eyes then sparkled with delight

after having eaten just one bite.

What looked to all like spoiled meat

was to his mouth a tasty treat.

The moral here is plain to see

and it’s not one of food safety.

For if you eat a ham that’s green

You’ll end up in the latrine.

The moral is about assumptions,

taking risks and having gumption.

Don’t assume an object’s wealth

until you see it for yourself.

I read many books then by Geisel

and think that they all served me well.

Until that time I did not know

the places books would let me go.

Along with helping me to read

they taught other things I’d need

About learning to share with others

and treating strangers like they’re brothers

Those basic lessons still hold true

but now there’s a problem or two

Drawings meant to make us titter

now come across as mean and bitter

An Asian man with slits for eyes

and straw hat pointed to the sky.

Or African men ready to feast

drawn to look less man than beast.

I don’t know what was in the heart

of the person who made that art.

Probably didn’t give much thought

            to the pain they might have wrought

I suspect back then they couldn’t tell

their drawings could not age real well.

Not all, of course, it was only six

books to be taken from the mix.

Cue the howls from the angry right

craving a culture war to fight.

“None of these changes can be good,

they’re an attack on my childhood!”

But we really need not think that way:

some things said back then were not OK.

So we’ve cut six of his books loose,

that does not mean we’ve cancelled Seuss.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.

Walt Rubel