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A Response to "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes" by Shel Silverstein.

Shel Silverstein with guitar.

Shel Silverstein with guitar.

I started to read Shel Silverstein when I was eleven years old, the same time "A Light in the Attic" was published. I read every poem at least a dozen times and ran out and grabbed a copy of "The Giving Tree" and "The Missing Piece."

I now have two children of my own and I share with them everyday a funny poem from my old copy of "A Light in the Attic." I hope that these poems will stay with my children forever and that they will be sharing their copies of the book with their children.

"How Not to Have to Dry The Dishes" always made me smile. For some reason this was the poem that I found myself sharing with everyone; friends, family, coworkers.

I have been thinking about a reply for years and found a place for it during National Poetry Month 2012. Once again I am able to share one of my favorites and a little reply of my own creation.

I would also like to thank Shel Silverstein for the smiles, the laughs, and the wisdom.

Book Cover Illustration from "The Light in the Attic"

Book Cover Illustration from "The Light in the Attic"

National Poetry Month Poem #9

I would always quote this poem, especially when I would have a large number of dishes to wash.


If you have to dry the dishes

(such an awful, boring chore)

If you have to dry the dishes

('Stead of going to the store)

If you have to dry the dishes

And you drop one on the floor-

Maybe they won't let you

Dry the dishes anymore.

"A Light in the Attic" Shel Silverstein 1981

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I had to dry the dishes

(So many it was a bore)

I had to dry the dishes

(and I dropped one on the floor)

now I have to dry the dishes

a million times or more

and I cannot leave the house,

cuz' I am grounded for a week or more.

Note to Reader: Not to worry, only one dish was damaged, and a not very important one. Truth be told, the scars left by this incident have left me slightly damaged. But the dishes must be done.


Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on October 04, 2020:

I have to dry the dishes too, after feeding folks who left like you. It wouldn't be so bad, if truth be told to tell, except the soft boiled eggs, and long after dinner spell, left dried on yolks, the kind that didn't cook. I'll have to find that bathroom, and borrow Barbara's book!

Jamie Lee Hamann (author) from Reno NV on April 18, 2020:

Thank you Demas. I hope you are well I have enjoyed your limericks. Limerick writing is like doing cross word puzzles for me. Jamie

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on April 17, 2020:

the limerick and the rendition pleased. Limericks sure are fun. I enjoy writing them, too.

Jamie Lee Hamann (author) from Reno NV on April 22, 2017:

Thank you Jodah. Shel Silverstein poems have been a hug part of my children's lives along with Roald Dahl. Jamie

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on April 20, 2017:

This is an oldie but a goodie, Jamie. I love Shel Silverstein. Such a talented poet and artist. Your response to his poem was great too. Well done.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on May 16, 2012:

I got out of dishes

when I was only nine-

"I have to use the toilet"

was my infamous whine.

It took my mom just two days

to figure out my hook;

exiting the bathroom

she caught me with a book!


Jamie Lee Hamann (author) from Reno NV on April 10, 2012:

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment:



just ask susan



Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on April 09, 2012:

this is funny great work. Voted up and funny (of course), Joyce.

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on April 09, 2012:


That explains the crashing sound I heard in the other room...

So, I am totally digging on this niche you are carving out...Domestic Chores Poetry! It's freak'n awesome!


Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 09, 2012:

This was fun :)

Audrey Howitt from California on April 09, 2012:

Loved this!!!

Mary Strain from The Shire on April 09, 2012:

Ah, JHamann, I think they call that the difference between art and life.

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