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Tony

by Kaye Starbird

Tony's drying dishes
and cleaning out the hall
And all he did was use the phone
to make a friendly call.

For Tony's being punished
(which happens more and more)
Because he's only four years old
and much too smart for four.
A case of what I mean is this:
His parents thought it prattle
When Tony asked if he could phone
his uncle in Seattle.
So Tony's parents answered "Sure"
Only to check too late
and find he'd talked from coast to coast
for fifty minutes straight,
which started Tony hollering.
He wasn't fresh or bad,
He'd asked to call Seattle,
and they let him, and he had.

Tony's in the corner
upon the Naughty Stool,
all because he tried to do
the work in nursery school.

When Tony tired of coloring,
To vary his routine
Miss Keith, his teacher, had him make
a bowl of plasticine.
But even though he made the bowl
Miss Keith looked fierce and smitten
to note that on the back of it
MADE IN JAPAN was written.
And since it didn't seem to help
when Tony told Miss Keith
he only wrote what all cheap bowls
had written underneath...
Not really liking fierceness much,
He took a pencil, WHOOM
and fired it in a rubber band
across the silent room.

Tony's in the corner
Where he's been sent again
Because - at four - he reads and writes
like someone nine or ten.

Upset about the Bowl Affair,
Miss Keith - appearing grimmer -
Decided Tony might enjoy
a lovely first grade primer.
The trouble was that later on
when she was less forbidding
and asked if Tony liked the book,
he answered "Are you kidding?
My dog can run. My ball is fun.
My kitten is a pet.
See Mother cook. See baby look.
How boring can you get?"
And just to warn some future child
the story wasn't bearable,
he scribbled on the title page:
"Don't read this book. It's terrible."
Since Tony, what with this and that,
was no example-setter,
the teacher said to stay at home
until he acted better.
Which didn't bother Tony much,
for what could be forlorner
than spending half your waking hours
restricted to a corner?

So now he's sweeping sidewalks
and beating scatter rugs,
and though he keeps his mind alert
by watching birds and bugs.

He's sick of being punished
(which happens more and more)
because he's only four years old
and much too smart for four.
He's sick of how his mother says
in accents sad and moan-y:
"He's brilliant, but
I don't know what
we'll ever DO with Tony.

"Tony" Copyright Kaye Starbird

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