Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Written by Chel Owens

Chel is a person, much like you. She also writes occasionally, reads often, mothers daily, and sleeps and eats in her free time.

April 5, 2021

Happy April, pard’ners! It’s about time for another session of Anyone Can Poem.

Thank you to everyone who stepped up to last month‘s challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your poetic thoughts! Anyone and everyone is welcome to re-visit that post and fulfill the challenge; it’s an excellent first exercise for poets of all levels.

For this month, we’re going to try mimicry. Parody. Pastiche.

Now, before you panic and pretend you’re only here for the free peanuts, I’ll let you in on a few secrets:

  1. Parody is not difficult. Haven’t you heard the variants on “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”
  2. You can do this. How do I know? Elementary students run around the playground singing, “Jingle Bells! Batman smells! Robin laid an egg!”


Maybe I should’ve used more seasonally-appropriate examples.

The important point is that parodying poems is simple. Don’t get offended if that’s your go-to, because ‘simple’ does not mean parody can’t be difficult. Simple, in this case, means it’s an easy place to start. Plus, like in an aerobics video, I’m going to have three levels of difficulty depending on your comfort level.

STAGE ONE: Parody a nursery rhyme. I recommend “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Little Jack Horner.”

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go….
© Sarah Josepha Hale

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, “What a good boy am I!”
© Mother Goose


STAGE TWO: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” or “This is Just to Say”

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter….
© Clement C. Moore

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
© William Carlos Williams


STAGE THREE: William Shakespeare, Emma Lazarus, or William Wordsworth

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
“Sonnet 18,” © William Shakespeare

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“The New Colossus,” © Emma Lazarus

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze….
“Daffodils,” © William Wordsworth


The ‘rules’ are also simple: pick a stage (one, two, or three) and write a parody or pastiche. You can include it in the comments, or fill out the form and share it with only me.

Not sure where to start? Read over one of the included poems a few times. Think about how it could apply to another subject -perhaps to something humorous or to a topic that deeply resonates with you.

Change the original poem enough to fit your new subject, but retain some vestiges so that people know to what it refers. This can be done by keeping some of the words, especially those that rhyme; by rhyming with the words in the original; or by writing of similar happenings but with a different animal.

Harry had a giant ham,
Its skin was black as sloe;
Everyone who smelled its scent
Said, “Hey! That ham must go!”

Yeah… it’s a work in progress. You can do better. I know it. In fact, get on that ‘doing better’ right now! You’ve got a month; I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


©2021 Chel Owens

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  1. Anne Goodwin's next novel is out May 29th

    Love this challenge, Chel. I should’ve gone for the beginners’ level, but when I saw Daffodils I had to follow their nodding heads. Because it’s daffodil season here, and because my character Matty shares a location with Wordsworth and craves his freedom. No floweres of any kind however in my parody:

    She wandered lonely in her head
    Through deepest valleys, steepest hills,
    Her face a mask, emotions dead,
    So was it grief or those damn pills?
    Asylum brought her to her knees,
    God would not help her, will you please?

    • Norah

      Well done, Anne. 🙂

    • Chel Owens

      🙂 You know very well that the most important decision is which poem (and rhythm) speaks to you. Lovely.

    • Chel Owens

      Thanks! I know many clever writers whom I hope to hear from! 😉

  2. Norah

    This is a fun challenge. I’ll try to make time to give it a go. 🙂

    • Chel Owens

      I would love to hear from you, Norah!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Chelsea. I’ll see how I go.

  3. Doug Jacquier

    I offer the following, as inspiration for Stage 3. The first alludes to the romance poets, the second to the Bard and the third to every pretentious modern poet in the pantheon. These are followed by schoolyard versions of Stage 1.

    Sonnet: Be still, my swell-ed heart

    I did but see her glassy-eyed, astride
    her pied ride as she wended to her home,
    sighing in her saddle set to the side,
    clutching her cask of wine to her bos-ome.

    Full sore my lovesick heart (and other parts) swell-ed
    as Cupid’s arrow shrived my mortal soul
    and I resolved to plight my troth once held
    by the Fair Young Maid at my watering hole.

    Dark Lady, I fulsome cried, be my bride
    and let us to Lethe flee and there be wed.
    She fix-ed me full-faced but gimlet-eyed
    and intoned words that ‘minded of the dead.

    “Marry, not marry, for I am wed to Sid
    but as to your other needs, whatsay twenty quid*?”

    *British slang for a pound

    Shakes peer

    ‘Now is the winter of our wet cement’
    quoth Lucy in her sty with diamonds in her silk-purse ears.
    Meanwhile, in a battlefield far, far, away, Dicky Three hunched his back,
    despairing at the sward strewn with sordid, sworded bodies in his path
    and cried ‘A hearse, a hearse, my kingdom for a hearse’.
    Hearing nothing but the sounds of silence he bellowed
    ‘Unleash the dogs of war. Out, damn-ed Spot and yes, you, Fido,
    and you, frumious Bandersnatch.
    And let no-one ask who let the dogs out.’
    But alas, alack, the dud plan of attack now needed a patsy stone.
    He roared so all could hear,
    “Cry ‘Harry (and Meghan), England and Boy George’ ”
    and hied himself to the tintinnabulation of the belfry of Notre Dame.
    Thus it was left to the immoral bard, TS (George) Eliot to record,
    on a cold, bright day whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
    and the clock was striking thirteen,
    “This is the way the world ends,
    not with a clang but a boom-tish.”
    God ignoring the bleak midwinter

    The bleak midwinter arrived in
    the middle of winter
    and it was bleak.
    Not moor bleak;
    more bleak than that.
    The wind was keen,
    not in that American neat way
    nor like mustard,
    but sharp
    and bleak
    because it was midwinter.
    I watched it being bleak midwinter
    but I don’t think God did.

    Stage 1 parodies

    Jack and Jill
    went up the hill
    to fetch a pail of water
    poor old Jill
    forgot the Pill
    and now they have a daughter.

    Little Miss Muffet
    sat on a tuffet
    eating her curds and whey.
    Along came a spider
    and sat down beside her
    and she said
    ‘Get lost, hairy legs.’

    Mary had a little lamb,
    its fleece was as white as snow.
    Everywhere that Mary went,
    that lamb was sure to go.
    It followed her to school one day
    and became lunch.

    • Chel Owens

      As always, Doug, truly in your element. I love how you keep the language but take it down naughty paths in the first; the second is strewn with many, many references to trip an unsuspecting reader up; I think you decided to go full-obvious after that… 😀 😀

      • Doug Jacquier

        Many thanks, Chel. Yes, I find it difficult (and depressing) to take the world seriously for very long. 🙂

      • Chel Owens

        I can tell!

    • Jules

      Me thinks thou art the Parody Master!

      I just added mine – hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed yours!~

      • Doug Jacquier

        You are too kind, Jules, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I liked your submissions very much. 🙂

      • Jules

        The two little bits weren’t mine.
        Did you see… “Feelin’ Woozie…” ~ you can blame (um…credit) me for that 😀

  4. pensitivity101

    My dad told me one for Mary had a little lamb, but I have no idea where he got it from,
    so I am not claiming it as an original or mine!

    Mary had a little lamb
    That had a sooty foot,
    And into Mary’s bread and jam
    His sooty foot he put.

    Here’s one from me though:

    Larry had a runny nose,
    His hanky was all dirty
    So Mary gave him a toilet roll
    With sheets of more than thirty.

    • Chel Owens

      ???????? I prefer the Di one!

  5. reading journeys

    Hi Chel

    I’m so glad I caught this post !
    I love to read poetry but writing one is challenging.
    I just posted a “poem” on your first challenge — hope that’s fine.

    And I plan to take up this challenge. Tough for me.
    Favorite poets – Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Carlos. But it will be fun to try parody.
    Enjoyed reading the ones already posted .


    • Chel Owens

      I read your other; thanks for participating! I look forward to your parody!

  6. Jules

    These aren’t mine, but they go along with the simple ones;

    Mary had a little sheep
    With it that night she went to sleep
    The sheep turned out to be a ram,
    So Mary had a little lamb.

    Jack and Jill went up a hill
    Each with a buck and a quarter
    Jill came down with two and a half…
    They didn’t go up for water.

    • Chel Owens

      😀 Very funny.

  7. reading journeys

    A first attempt — challenging. Irresistible. Not sure if I’ve really written a parody but anyways.
    based on William Carlos Williams — ‘I have eaten”

    I have eaten
    that were in
    a red wheelbarrow

    and sandwhich
    of roast beef
    none for you

    Forgive me
    I leave you
    for one sweeter
    and warmer

    • Chel Owens

      A great ‘attempt,’ although I feel sorry for the one being addressed!

  8. Jules

    OK Chel, This is all me:

    Feelin’ Woozie

    Prompt; Special CR; Parody (maybe stage two)
    (The Over the Hill and Under the Bridge Song) Feelin’ Woozie

    Feelin’ Woozie

    Slow down you’re movin’ too fast
    Gotta make my knee and hip replacements last!
    Just trippin’ over the cobblestones
    Looking for my discounted meds; Feelin’ woozie

    Goo goo da, wha? My hearin’ aids’ askew; Feelin’ woozie
    Hello my Lampkin whatcha knowin’?
    See all our hard earned health care savings blowin’
    Aintcha got any discount insurance for me?
    Eyesights no longer twenty-twenty! Feeling Woozie
    Huh, wha, who, where are you? Feelin’ woozie

    I got no deeds, no antiques, nothin’ to leave
    I’m mumblin’ without my false choppers and ready to heave
    Let the Health Care home aides help me to pee…
    Life I’ve lived you! – Feelin’ woozie


    The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

    Slow down, you move too fast
    You got to make the morning last
    Just kicking down the cobblestones
    Looking for fun and feeling groovy

    Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy
    Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
    I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
    Ain’t you got no rhymes for me?
    Doo-ait-n-doo-doo, feeling groovy
    Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy

    I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
    I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
    Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
    Life, I love you, all is groovy

    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Paul Simon
    The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

    • Chel Owens

      😀 Funny, Jules. Sad, too, but funny.

      • Jules

        Another great parodist is Allan Sherman of ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah fame

      • Chel Owens

        Yes. I did him with my diet parody. 🙂

      • Jules

        I’m not that far gone… maybe in a few more years 😉

    • Doug Jacquier

      Who’s the master now? 🙂

      • Jules

        I got the idea… then I had to print the words to the original, because I didn’t remember them all. I’m not great with actors or musicians. I wrote it by hand… then tweaked it 😀

      • Doug Jacquier

        See, a master craftsperson. 🙂

      • Jules

        ‘Measure twice, cut once.’
        Or maybe just a little editing 😉

  9. Ann Edall-Robson

    Oh my Chel, this is quite the challenge. In the end the much loved Twinkle Twinkle Little Star became the one to take the hit.

    Snarky snarly
    Little fink
    We all know
    How you think
    Tattling tales
    For all to see
    A fiction writer
    You must be
    Snarky snarly
    Little fink
    You give us pause
    To how we think

    • Jules

      ooh…I may never wish on a star again. Well not a snarky star anyway!

    • Chel Owens

      Excellent! ????

  10. H.R.R. Gorman

    Oh man, I still don’t think I’ll ever top my Zodiac Killer parody of the Canterbury Tales.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, that’s a pinnacle of achievement. But, push it, H.!

      • Chel Owens

        (Seriously, you should read it!)

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        😉 We’ll see!

    • Jules

      ooh… you’ve got to submit that here if you can! Or leave a link…
      Or maybe not if it induces nightmares!!

      • Chel Owens


      • Jules

        Wow!!! I would not have known you fudged the lingo. Amazing. Really. Thanks for both the interpretation in ‘English’ and the ‘Original’.

        I think there are many things that cause nightmares for any particular city. Unless one lives in a mythical Shangri-La – there’s gonna be some troubles.

        Doug and I’ve been tossing the title ‘Master Crafter’ around. I think you get to have it now.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Haha, thanks!

    • Chel Owens

      That was pretty darn epic. I think I’d agree.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Haha, yeah. It was 100% my best terrible poetry contest entry. It’s one of my “highest viewed” posts.

      • Chel Owens

        Nice! It’s amazing.

  11. Charli Mills

    Mimicry is a great way to learn, Chel. I mimicked several first pages of comp titles to dismantle the structure different authors use. This is a challenge for even the poet-reluctants. The style of William Carlos Williams appealed to me so I tried Stage 2.


    I have long-armed
    the laws
    that reined in
    the West

    of which
    you were notably
    with dissent

    Pardon, Ma’am
    they were predestined
    such might
    and such bias

    • Chel Owens

      Agreed, Charli. Thank you for playing along. What a great idea to take it as a noble Western. 🙂

  12. nightlake

    Here is my contribution, Chel 🙂

    Oink, oink, pink pig
    Have you any meat?
    No sir, no sir,
    I have cold feet.
    Ask my sister,
    And ask my mom,
    And ask the little bear,
    Who gurgles in his cage.

    • Chel Owens

      Nice! “Not I; these others are fatter and have more meat!”

      • nightlake

        Yes:) and please try the bear

  13. reading journeys

    Hi Chel
    Having another go at mimicry – stuck in my mind – mind-stretching!
    Shakespeare’s sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

    Shall I compare fall to a summer’s day?
    Fall! more lovely and more temperate:
    Spring storms tear at blossoms in May,
    Summer arrives with not a cloud in sight
    Lightning flashes; thunderstorms rumble.
    Summer blossoms crumple, fall, fade.
    Summer fades and fall blossoms.
    Leaves turn color glorious and brilliant
    Yellow gold orange, scarlet red indigo.
    Alas, fleeting glory! brown ashen leaves fall.
    Bare branches but life lives within the tree.
    Days shorten, overcast skies, winter rain and snow.
    Ages upon ages Nature’s changing seasons
    And so long as spring returns, this gives life to thee.


    • Chel Owens

      What an interesting angle. I love it.

      • reading journeys

        thank you! I’m so glad you’re doing this blog – I’m looking at poems in a different way.

      • Chel Owens

        Thank you. That’s my aim!


  1. nd 4.6 Feelin’ Woozie 1p – Jules Pens Some Gems… - […] Special CR ‘Anyone can poem’ a Parody for Chel Owens […]
  2. Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem « Carrot Ranch Literary Community - […] wrote last month, when we explored poetic parody. If’n you’re still in the mood, check it out and write…

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