If a bobcat bounces on your bed,
You'd better cover up your head,
Or maybe sleep elsewhere instead
If a bobcat bounces on your bed.
If a camel climbs the ivy vine
That twines between your roof and mine,
We'll say to him, "It is NOT fine
For you to climb our ivy vine!"
If a cheetah chews your cheddar cheese
And chomps your chips to taunt and tease,
Then tell him just to "Stop it, please!"
If a cheetah chews your cheddar cheese.
If a dromedary dares to drink
The water from your kitchen sink,
His hump will be quite full, I think,
If a dromedary dares to drink.
If an emu eats your scrambled eggs
While balanced on his scrawny legs,
Ignore him when he sits and begs
And say there's no more scrambled eggs.
If a furry fox knocks down your blocks
And tries on all your shoes and socks,
You just might get the chickenpox
If a furry fox knocks down your blocks.
If a gnu should gnaw your gnocchi soup,
Just ladle up another scoop
While whirling with a hula hoop
If a gnu should gnaw your gnocchi soup.
If a grizzly growls right in your face,
You'd better go some other place
Like maybe first or second base
If a grizzly growls right in your face.
If a hippo tiptoes through your house,
His huge feet quicker than a mouse,
He'll get applause and take his bows
If a hippo tiptoes through your house.
If a mountain lion licks your lunch
And giant molars start to crunch,
Just give him candy corn to munch
So he will leave alone your lunch.
If a parrot perches on your porch,
Then light a tiny tiki torch.
But oh! Be careful not to scorch
That parrot perching on your porch.
If a platypus should play
Piano on a holiday,
His F sharp might be flat, I'd say,
When webby feet get in the way.
If a sheep is shorn too short to shave
And hides, embarrased, in a cave,
He won't know quite how to behave
With fleece that's shorn too short to shave.
If a zebra zips your zither shut,
There'll be no music in your hut.
You could unzip the zither, but
The zebra likes it better shut.
Footnote: Just a quick note here to explain how this fun, silly verse came about. Last week I spent a night with Sooby and Pooh, and, as often happens, they both hopped in bed with me the next morning. Also joining us was a stuffed elephant named "Ellie," that Pa-pa and I got as a baby shower gift in 1982 shortly before the kids' mother was born. Handmade by one of Pa-pa's secretaries, a lovely, grandmotherly lady named Lucille, Ellie has survived the years quite well, and he is now a beloved staple in the lives of this new generation of children.
In the course of our play, one of the kids was making Ellie "dance," and I just randomly said, "If an elephant dances on your bed, you'd better cover up your head." Throughout the morning, we kept brainstorming other rhyming "if-then" constructions involving various animals doing silly things.
I negotiated the late-night drive home with my mind pretty well stuck in this format. As the poem evolved, I decided to use as much alliteration, assonance, and wordplay as possible; thus, the bouncing animal of the initial stanza morphed from an elephant into a bobcat in order to repeat the /b/ sound and preserve the basically iambic meter. The other stanzas followed suit, and the rest is history.