Thursday, April 21, 2005


I've long remembered a bit of "poetry" from a long-gone issue of Mad magazine, circa 1966 or 1967--the height of "Batmania," when, believe it or not, that bizarre Adam West-Burt Ward incarnation of "Batman" ruled the airwaves. The bit stuck in my head was

Bats are creepy, Bats are scary,
Bats do not seem sanitary

Some years ago I tried an internet search for the poem and came up empty. To show that the web is indeed a growing organism, when I was again reminded of the poem and tried another search, I found a couple of references to it. To show that even Google nods, one of the hits included the author's name (well, actually, two did, but one attributed it to Shel Silverstein, which I knew was wrong, which shows yet something else about the internet, viz., don't believe everything you read there); when I searched using the author's name, I came up with still more references to it...mysteriously absent when I searched using the bit of the poem I recalled. Odd.

Fascinating though that may be, here is the poem in its entirety. The author is Frank Jacobs, sometimes referred to as "Mad's poet laureate."

Bats are creepy, Bats are scary,
Bats do not seem sanitary,
Bats in dismal caves keep cozy,
Bats remind us of Lugosi,
Bats have webby wings that fold up,
Bats from ceilings hang down rolled up,
Bats are careful, Bats use radar,
Bats at nighttime at their best are,
Bats by Batman, unimpressed are.

Ah, they don't write them like that anymore.

On the subject of poems remembered from childhood, here's this one, Eletelphony, by Laura E. Richards:

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant -
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone -
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)

Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee -
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

In these days of cordless this and wireless that, will kids even understand the entanglement references in the above? When my now-fifteen-year-old daughter was small, I once used the expression "like a broken record," and had it explain it to her. She had had some small experience with "children's records," many of them handed down from older cousins (and a few handed down from me!), but had no concept of the "broken record" connotation. Heck, I've even amused her and her brother with tales of how when I was there age--in the 1960s and 1970s!!--we not only didn't have a remote control for our TV set, we didn't particularly see the need for one (yes, they did exist), since there were only three or four channels anyway, which made for lousy surfing.

One can only wonder how they'll entertain their kids!