Friday, 4 March 2016

The Plafopod

Celebrating Dr Seuss's birthday.

The Plafopod

A Plafopod, you may know, is an odd sort of a creature,
Who stands out from others thanks to mostly one feature,
That in all of his wheelings and all of his dealings,
The Plafopod never goes anywhere but on ceilings.

As you may guess, a life spent upside down,
When each time you smile people think it's a frown
And each time that you frown someone gives you a smile,
Is quite, quite confusing and hardly worthwhile.

You've already worked out, because you're really quite clever, 
That a Plafopod going outside would not happen. Never.  
Indeed and in fact, just to mention the thought
Scares a Plafopod so hard he'll just cry on the spot.

Now we're speaking of Plafopods as though there are many,
But they're actually quite rare.  Have you seen any?
Well, I met one once, who was a little bit rude. 
(From being upside down? Or perhaps lack of food?)
I think it was grown-ups that brought down his mood!
I don't blame him, either! They can be a bit crude!

I met this odd Plafopod in a little old school,
Down a little old road in the old town of Woole,
Where the teachers are kind and the children are keen,
And the Plafopod's part of the whole learning scene.

There I met him and I straight-away knew
That I just had to know more and to learn something new!
So I asked him some questions in a polite sort of way,
But he just stood up (or down?) and he walked away.

I was puzzled, perplexed, bamboozled and lost.
What on Earth had I said to be met with such frost?
But I wouldn't give up - I would work for his trust.
I didn't know why but I felt that I must.

I learned from the children the Plafopod's name.
Bert seemed an odd name but it was his just the same.
He had no other - he was simply called Bert.
He was proud of it too, had it written on his shirt,
Which was always tucked in, so it wouldn't get caught
When the kids put their hands up to show they'd been taught.

The teachers taught me that Plafopods live forever
As long as they don't ever go outside. No, never!
No teacher could remember a time when they had
Worked at the school without their ceiling-bound lad.

And no teacher could say they'd really spoken to Bert.
It seemed that grown-ups made our Bert become curt.
Noone seemed to mind, though.  He was great with the pupils,
And when he was with them, smiles grew in quadruples.

I tried to learn more and went out to the playground.
I watched all their games and I asked around.
They all looked at me as if I was daft,
And the more that I asked, the more that they laughed.

It turns out it was simple to get Bert to talk,
Simplerer even than to learn how to walk.
The secret that for all grown-ups, as they grew up, grew dim
Was that asking him questions about him plain bored him.
When you ask a question of another, it's true,
You're not questioning him, you're questioning you.

So I went into school to find Bert on his ceiling,
And this time I went with a little more feeling,
I talked about me without any concealing
And found talking to Bert made me feel I was healing.

After he'd heard my long, boring tale
About growing up, growing old, and about growing stale,
The Plafopod opened his mouth with a squeak,
And the Plafopod stood and he started to speak.

And he told me his story from beginning to end:
How he'd once had a family in a town called Northend,
How he'd just magicked up one day over their heads,
Born from their dreams as they lay in their beds.

They'd all lived so happily in their house full of ceilings,
Full of dreams, and of screams, of love and of vegetable peelings,
Until each of the family had in turn moved away
To heaven, to college, to Bagoola-Ballay,
And he, Bert The Plafopod, had been left there to roam
The ceilings of a house that was no longer a home.

I listened attently as Bert told me all this,
And then of his rescue by a strange boy named Chris,
Who liked to explore, never tied up his laces,
And went nosing around in some very odd places.

Chris had crept into the derelict house
From where, Bert knew not, might as well have been Laos.
He pried and he snooped and he sniffed like a pup,
And Bert never thought he would ever look up.

Bert stood there quietly hoping not to be found
But the dust Chris stirred up made Bert sneeze and Chris bound!
The boy looked around for the source of the sneeze
Until he saw Bert and then dropped to his knees.

"My name's Chris," exclaimed Chris, "and I'm an explorer."
And that was how Chris won the Plafopod over.
He didn't ask Bert who he was, what, how or even why he was,
And that was the reason Bert could trust him because
If Chris had asked him a question instead
Bert would have known Chris wasn't right in his head.

Now we all know that Plafopods can't go outside.
Chris knew without asking because his mind was so wide,
But Chris also knew that this creature was lonely
He could have seen that if he'd had one eyeball only.

"My name is Bert," replied Bert, "and I'm here on my own.
I mean you no harm and I don't mean to moan,
But you're in my house and I didn't hear you knock,
And I don't get visitors and you gave me a shock."

"I'm sorry," said Chris. "I'll turn myself round
And explore somewhere else if you don't want to be found.
I tried very hard not to make any sound.
When I'm tracking treasure, I track like a hound."

"Oh, no," replied Bert. "Feel free to explore.
I have no idea what you'll find on that floor.
Nobody has stood there since the old days of yore,
And just looking down there starts my head feeling sore,
But please try not to stir the dust up any more.
It gets so up my nose I can't sleep for my snore."

So Chris kept exploring, to his very great pleasure,
And he kept coming back, though he knew that his treasure
Was up on the ceiling and not to be found
Among clutter and dust lying strewn on the ground.

The boy and the Plafopod were soon birds of a feather.
Chris kept coming back, no matter the weather,
But he simply knew of his newest best friend,
That his lonely long time in this house better end.

So it was that one night Chris thought as he went
Home to his Mother, his Father and small brother Brent
That there must be a way to help Bert to be free,
A way out of the house to which he would agree.

Chris thought of tunnels and an upside-down bridge.
He thought of carting his friend around in a fridge.
He had a million ideas for getting Bert out,
But of where to take Bert there could be no doubt.
School was so obviously the best place for Bert.
He would never get lonely. He would never get hurt.

Chris couldn't dig a big tunnel or build a long bridge,
And Bert flat-out refused to go around in a fridge,
So they were stuck. No idea was appealing
Until Chris thought up the portable ceiling.

So simple. So childish. So easy. It's true,
But only a friend could invent one for you,
And the Plafopod knew this. He was sure what to do.
He would go with the boy to explore somewhere new.

What a story I'd heard! What a tale he had told!
I felt brave. I felt bold. I felt not at all old.
I climbed onto a desk and I shook his small hand.
I thanked him and went off to explore my new land.

And Bert lives on happily, in that little old school
Down that little old road in the old town of Woole,
Where everyone's kind and there's only one rule
Which they learned from a Plafopod who could sometimes be cool
When he frown-smiled at you from his upside-down stool:
If you look with your mind, not your heart, you're a fool.



  1. Emotive is the best I can do JL. Oh and adults are not stupid compared to children. Welll rhymed though!

    1. Thank you for reading it. I'm not sure it implies anything about intelligence. It certainly isn't meant to.


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