to my darling girl, who is sick, but who will unfortunately make a complete recovery.

“You are sick, Isabelle,” the cold mother said,
“And you’ve thrown up every hour, on the hour;
And yet you continue to beg for some bread—
Could your breath be any more sour?”

“In my youth,” Little Bella replied to her mum,
“Way back when I was still embryonic,
You feared I would never stop sucking my thumb,
Which proved you were quite histrionic.”

“You are old,” she continued, “and between me and you
It’s plain you can’t bother to hide
The sad fact that you love it when I get the flu—
It’s shameful, and demented, and snide.”

“In my youth,” said the woman, and she smiled rather faintly,
“I imagined I’d be more maternal;
But then I had children who were bad and unsaintly—
Euphemistically speaking, you’re infernal.”

“And so,” she concluded, “it is natural that
“I’d seek such solace as availed me;
Perhaps this is cruel, but I hold tit for tat
A philosophy which has least derailed me.”


  1. Reply
    Sarina Vetterli November 29, 2012

    Excellent! And apt. Is there anywhere I can submit this for “Poem of the Year”?

    • Reply
      Emily November 29, 2012

      I don’t know. Is The New Yorker accepting mostly-plagiarized poems these days? Or The Paris Review? Various literary magazines based in Idaho (a little humor for you . . .)?

  2. Reply
    Julie H January 5, 2013

    My little maid Prue is sick
    Almost to be lunatick.

    • Reply
      Emily January 5, 2013

      that was top-notch!

  3. Reply
    Julie H January 5, 2013

    Hmm, I remembered it wrong, and was mentally giving Ben Johnson credit.

    by Robert Herrick

    PRUE, my dearest maid, is sick,
    Almost to be lunatic :
    Æsculapius ! come and bring
    means for her recovering ;
    And a gallant cock shall be
    Offer’d up by her to thee.

  4. Reply
    Julie H April 25, 2013

    I still love this.

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