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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Arrival and Survival of the City Kids
By Sharlyn Guthrie


The cousins all came to visit last week.
They arrived in their city clothes, stylish and sleek.
Uncle told Daddy, voice edged with alarm.
“My kids need to spend some time on the farm.
They’re lazy and soft and don’t have a clue.
I’m sure you and Marge will know just what to do.”

Like Daddy and Ma don’t have enough to do without babysitting.

Each left the mini-van wiping their tears,
backpack in hand, wires hung from their ears;
Zach with his I-pod, Rochelle’s DVD,
Jed’s portable lap-top, a Game Boy for Leigh.
The first thing Dad did was collect each device
and hide them away. He didn’t blink twice.

Do they think they’re on vacation or something?

Ma called us to dinner. She’d made quite a spread:
sliced parsnips, fresh peas, and homemade rye bread,
lamb burgers, taters, and strawberry pie.
They turned up their noses and passed it on by.
Daddy observed them, arching his left brow.
Such finicky eating he’d never allow.

I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow after Uncle leaves!

The boys did the dishes, the girls made the beds;
two rows ‘cross the floor, with heads matching heads.
Then, in the dark, we cousins -all seven-
whispered and giggled ‘til way past eleven.
“Hush! Don’t you know you’ll be up before long?”
Dad hollered, “the farm chores begin before dawn.”

I’ll bet they think he’s foolin'.

Of course Daddy woke us at quarter to five.
How would those city kids ever survive?
Jed helped milk the cows and Rochelle slopped the hogs.
We gathered the eggs, then fed cats and dogs,
gave corn to the chickens, and fed lambs their bottles,
then Zach mowed the hay field with tractor full-throttle.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was having fun.

We rode the hay wagon and baled up the hay,
Then up in the loft we stacked it away.
When dinner time came and the platters were passed
each morsel was eaten, right down to the last;
then straight to our beds with nary a whimper,
and all without Daddy once losing his temper.

Like Daddy would get terribly mad at the cousins, anyway.

After that first day, we mixed work with fun.
We swam in the horse tank and dried in the sun,
played tag after dark –the whole cousin clan-
and swung in the hayloft on ropes like Tarzan;
then back in the corner Leigh glimpsed a cat’s paw
and discovered new kittens curled up in the straw.

You would-a thought she found gold or something.

Our cousins left Sunday; that day was our last.
We cried as we hugged them; the week went too fast.
We gave them zucchini, tomatoes, and beets,
carrots and corn and a kitten named “Deetz.”
They aren’t city kids now, as this story ends;
turns out our four cousins are really our friends.

Hey, wait! They forgot their stuff… I-pod, DVD player, laptop and Game Boy. (Smile.) They’ll be back soon.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 05/29/08
ROFL! This has just the right touch of 'real life' and 'modern day' with the DVD player, Ipod and gameboy. I loved that they became good friends in the end and the last line of course, was my favorite! Great job! ^_^
Shirley McClay 05/29/08
SO FUN! I loved it. I want to read more. :-)
Lynda Schultz 05/30/08
This is great. My brother (though he wasn't a spoiled city kid) LIVED for the summers that he could spend on our uncle's farm. Excellent.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/31/08
I loved the initiation of the city kids, but what was really fun were the side-comments of the mc. Great job.
Cheri Hardaway 06/01/08
I loved it from beginning to end! The title is perfect. The ending too cute.

I love the little interjected thoughts between each stanza of the poem. The poem itself is great, good meter, smooth reading.

And the whole things teaches a great life lesson besides. Great work! Blessings, Cheri
LauraLee Shaw06/01/08
This is brilliant. I'll be reading this one to my own little "city slickers." They'll get a kick out of it. Incredibly creative approach to the topic, with the masterful touch of the inner dialogue between stanzas. Well done!
Beth LaBuff 06/01/08
I love this (reminds me of our city cousins visiting in the summer). The italicized thoughts are perfect and add another dimension to this already fantastic poem.
Lyn Churchyard06/02/08
Excellent! This had a "Night Before Christmas" feel about the meter. Loved the way the cousins enjoyed farm work and gave no thought to their 'toys'. The interjections between the stanzas worked very well. Great job - I loved it.
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Clever! I liked the thoughts between the stanzas, and your ryhme and meter choices.

Maybe just a tad predictable? But in a charming piece like this, that's almost expected.

That meal sounds delicious!
Joshua Janoski06/03/08
I was having so much fun reading this, that I was sort of sad when it ended. I don't know how I would handle not having my electronic items and having to "rough" it on a farm. LOL. I definitely grew up a city kid.

Great job! I really enjoyed this!
Cheri Hardaway 06/05/08
Sharlyn, congratulations on your EC! I loved this poem! Blessings, Cheri
Beth LaBuff 06/05/08
Sharlyn -- Congrats on your placing and EC! This poem has so much fun inside. Awesome!
Lollie Hofer06/06/08
This was a hoot! Loved every word of it, I did, I did! Your meter, rhyme, pace were all exceptional. Loved how it ended up as well. The way you placed the narrator's thoughts in between stanzas was also creative. Congratulations!
Betsy Markman06/06/08
Can I send my kids to your farm?
Great stuff!
Peter Stone06/06/08
That's simply priceless. I love the italicised comments, and especially the last one. Your presentation of city kids vs country kids is so accurate, right down to the little details. Such as eating food on the second night that they would not touch on the first.