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A Timely Poem For Dr. Seuss Day: ‘The List With A Fist’

List with a Fist by John Folley
Image CreditList with a Fist by John Folley

Too racist is Seuss, and too old, dead, and pale. Too old for the times, too cruel and too male.

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Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day, is March 2. It celebrates both the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel and the importance of reading.

Dr. Seuss can not whine,
Though he was canceled this day,
By President Biden,
And the cold NEA.

Seuss sat there for decades,
His birthday they used,
To encourage kids’ reading,
To instruct and amuse.

Too racist is Seuss,
And too old, dead, and pale,
Too old for the times,
Too cruel and too male.

So all they could do was to
Nix!
     Nix!
         Nix!
             Nix!
And pull Seuss’s books.
Take him out of the mix.

But then,
The Booklist went WOKE!
And how that woke made us choke!

So we looked!
Then we saw the List scatter like glitter!
We looked!
And we saw it!
Like a book list from Twitter!

And it told us,
“Why do you read old books like Seuss?”

“I know they appeal
To every daughter and sonny.
But the joy found inside them
Is no longer funny!”

“I know some new books you can read,”
Said the List.
“I know some new tricks,”
Said the List with a Fist.
“A lot of good tricks.
I will show them to you.
Your parents
Won’t mind at all if I do.”

Then Americans
Did not know what to say.
Moms ‘n dads aren’t librarians
Who take Seuss books away.

But our conscience said, “Woah! Woah!
Make this list far less woke.
Tell the List with a Fist
We don’t want it to stoke
Any fire but love
Between family and friend.
The List is too woke.
It’s designed to offend.”

“Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!” said the list.
“My tricks are not bad,”
Said the List with a Fist.

“Why, we can have
Lots of good books, if you wish,
With a game that I call
Shut-up-the-conscience!”

“Put me down,” said our conscience,
“As one happy to see
You remove from your List
Ibram X. Kendi.”

“Have no fear!” said the list.
“I will offer much more.
I will offer X. Kendi,
And authors galore!
There’s a book about a Hawaiian girl,
Who sorely wished,
To be androgynous!”
Said the List…

“Look at this!
Look at this now!” said the list.
“Here’s a prince in a dress!
Prince Sebastian with a twist!
He’s Lady Crystallia,
Dressed in drag by night!
He hires a seamstress,
Who sees the light!

And look!
This book is Common Core aligned!
But all that is fine.
Oh, yes.
All that is fine….”

“Look at this!
Look at this!
Look at this NOW!
It is fun to read fun
But you have to know how.
I can hold up these books!
I can hold up another!
Here’s a Muslim sister and brother,
And the sister’s teen, lesbian lover.
They lie to the parents,
But then make them quite sad.
It’s erotic in places,
And old customs are bad.
It’s a confusing, grim tale,
For young teens it’s designed.
But that’s all fine.
Oh, yes.
That’s all fine.”

That is what the list said…
Then it slipped into kids’ heads!
The kids took it, they took it all.
And the American conscience,
It saw the kids fall!

And our conscience fell, too.
It fell into a think!
It said, “Do I like this?
Some of it stinks.
But some of it’s good,”
Said our conscience quite split.
“But I don’t like it,
Not one little bit!”

“Now look what you did!”
Said our conscience to the list.
“You mixed good with bad,
You List with a Fist.
You took things we love,
Like love among races,
Then mostly removed
Any trace of white faces.
You added to friendships,
Trans-sexy things,
When kids need some time
To grow free of such stings.”

“But I like to trans sex.
Oh I like it a lot!”
Said the List with a Fist
As the conscience it fought.
“I will not unmix my list.
I do not wish to change.
And so,” said the List with a Fist,
“So
      so
         so…
I will show you
Another good book that I know!”

And then it went on,
As clever as a fox,
And handed the conscience
An Amazon box.
A cardboard package.
It was clearly a book.
“Now look at this trick,”
Said the list.
“Take a look!”

Then the list shook the box,
With a wink of the eye:
“I call this game Two-in-One-Fun!”
Said the list.
“In this box is a child,
I will show you now:
He’s two things and one child!”
Said the list, with a bow.

“I will open the box.
You will see something new.
One child. And I call “him”
Thing One and Thing Two.
These Things will not bite you.
They want to have fun.”
Then out of the box,
Came Things Two, but Child One!
“See the child was a boy,
Who then dressed like a mermaid.
With lipstick and jewelry
He played and he played.

In his mind the poor boy
Grew out long flowing hair.
Then he dolled himself up
Till his nana just stared.”
But our conscience said, “Woah!
Those things should not be
In this list. Make them go!
They should not be here
When the logic is wrong.
One boy. Two Things?”
Our conscience stayed strong.

“Have no fear, little conscience,”
Said the List with a Fist.
“These Things are good Things,”
With a wink said the list.
“They are good. Oh, so good!
They have come here to free
Every child from the sorrow
Of having to be.”

“Now here is the freedom they like,”
Said the list.
“They like to make lists!”
Said the List with a Fist.

“No, not another list!”
Said the conscience dismayed.
“They should not make a list
With the gender “mermaid”!
Nor Trans Man, nor Two-Spirit,
Pangender, nor Fluid,
Not Transmasculine, Intersex,
Nor Cisgendered Druid!”

The American conscience
Saw new lists unfurl.
With one child called two Things:
Both girl and demigirl.
“Fists! Lists!” cried the List with a Fist,
“Two is one; fun is fun!”

Things Two and Child One!?
It’s unhappy and sad!
It’ll string out one kid.
It’s a dangerous fad.
Encouraging boys
To wear mother’s gown
Will end with far worse
Than a lip-sticky frown.

Things Two in Child One
Will tear him to bits,
Pull his heart this way
And that till it splits!
And America said,
“I do NOT like the way the list plays!
Mother Nature can see that
One child has one way!”

Then our conscience said, “Look! Look!”
And our conscience shook its own fist.
“Mother Nature is coming!
And she has no such list.
Through the flowers she’s humming,
And she’s something to say.
Oh, she will not like it
To find kids this way!”

“So, DO something! Fast!” said the conscience.
“Do you hear!
I saw her. Your mother!
Mother Nature is near!
So, as fast as you can,
Think of something to do!
You will have to get rid of
‘Child One is Things Two’!”

So, as fast as we can,
We’ll get on to the net.
And we’ll say, “On the net
We can help kids, we bet.
We bet, with the net,
We can set things right yet!

“Or better, get kids to set down the net!
Set it down with a PLOP!
And avoid hurtful lists
So the Two Things will stop.”
Said the conscience aloud.
And then with clenched fists,
The Americans said,
“Be gone, mixed up list!”

“Oh dear!” said the list.
“You did not like our game…
Oh dear.
  What a shame!
             What a shame!
                   What a shame!”

Then the list took Two Things
From its list full of books.
And the list went away
With a sad kind of look.

“That is good,” said the conscience.
“The list’s gone away. Yes.
But Mother Nature will come.
She will find a big mess!
And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
But we must pick it up,
Or the country will fall!”

And THEN!
Who was back in the house?
Why, Mother Nature, of course!
“Have no fear of this mess,”
Said the Nature of Things.
“I always heal the list’s nasty stings.

And so…
I will show you a different
Good trick that I know!”

Then we saw her pick up
All the kids that were down.
She called to the merboy:
“Dear, put down that gown,
And the silk, and the necklace,
And the lipstick, and heels.
Use your head and a mirror,
Not your murkier feels.”
And she stood them up fresh,
And free and true.
And she said to each one,
“You know God loves you!”

Then Mother Nature gave way
And a voice from above
Gave a choice to our conscience,
The choice of Love.

And the American conscience,
Now knows what’s at stake:
  “Love what you are,
  Or you’ll love what is fake.”

Should we tell kids about this?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
Well…
What would YOU do
If the list with a fist came for you?