by John Gardner
When our oldest child was in elementary school, he was required to memorize a poem. We pulled out a collection of poems illustrated by Eric Carle and decided on “The Barracuda.” I spent some time reading the poem with my son and pretty soon we were reciting it in the car and at the dinner table. This poem is one of my favorites because each time I recite it to my students, I think back to the times our family has recited the poem together and how we have placed this poem in our family history.
Slowly, slowly, he cruises
And slowly, slowly, he chooses
Which kind of fish he prefers to take this morning;
Then without warning
The Barracuda opens his jaws, teeth flashing,
And with a horrible, horrible grinding and gnashing,
Devours a hundred poor creatures and feels no remorse.
It’s no wonder, of course,
That he really ought, perhaps, to change his ways.
“But,” (as he says
With an evil grin)
“It’s actually not my fault, you see:
I’ve nothing to do with the tragedy;
I open my mouth for a yawn and —ah me!—