Tuesday, July 7, 2009


For all things there is a season. This is a season for gardening.

I have a file here in my office that’s labeled:


I am that curmudgeon!

The file contains a collection of pieces that have come to me while gardening. While they appear to have the look of poems and some of them actually rhyme, they are not poems at all, but DOGGEREL!

The Bibliophile’s Dictionary by Miles Westley defines doggerel (do g uh rul) –n. as a loosely styled verse in an irregular rhythm. Often for comic effect (from the Middle English word for worthless).

So to those of you fellow maniacs who rush to the yard at dawn to see if the green beans have sprouted, or who know the wonder of watching a tomato seedling grow to maturity, or who are enraptured by the sight of the blossoming night blooming cirrus, set aside your clippers, trowel and watering can for a moment, and enjoy doggerel!


I have a little bonsai tree.
It came in a glazed blue pot.
I placed it on my window sill
And watered it a lot.

I fed it fertilizer
And gave it room to grow.
I spoiled it with attention
And took it to a show.

I pruned that little rascal
And pinched back each new leaf.
And never dreamed that little tree
Could bring me so much grief.

For one day it got spider mites!
To keep myself immune
I sprayed myself with bug spray
I may not live till June.


Mario from the barrio
Killed my prize bamboo!
He’s gone back to the barrio
And I’ve got someone new.


I’m writing to you from surgery,
And I promise I won’t raise a stench
Regarding the injuries I suffered
Assembling your wooden lawn bench.

It was left at the gate by the postman.
Claimed to lift it would be much too hard.
With great risk to my life and the help of my wife
We moved it to the back yard.

It arrived in a most sturdy carton.
I beat and I punched and I hacked
With a chisel and knife and the help
of my wife
We managed to get one side cracked.

Many thanks for the simple directions
For assembling this wooden bench kit.
It took me most all day to read them,
And I understood little of it.

We finally got all the parts counted.
Six wing nuts were really not there.
And what is that thing like a small oval ring
That fell out and rolled under the chair?

The bench we got finally assembled
It looked most attractive, just right
But next day when we went out to see it,
It had collapsed on the lawn overnight.

We’ve decided to return all the pieces.
You can charge us most any amount.
Our next order? When hell freezes over!
Please kindly close out our account!


When we go colonizing space
And live in a great glass dome,
I’ll take along a geranium
To make it seem like home.


My compost pile is heating up!
It smells to Heaven high.
Did I sprinkle in too many coffee grounds?
Were my grass clipping too dry?
My neighbor complains of the odor
That drifts downward to his yard.
I’d tell him it’s fumes from my illegal still
But he already thinks I’m odd.
My wife is threatening to leave me.
My children will visit no more.
They claim I’m the neighborhood nuisance
And they’ll never darken my door.

I’ll pay my wife alimony.
And the kids will be misunderstood.
But I’ll go on making my compost
That’s ruining the neighborhood!


We have some living jewels
Imported from Japan.
The koi cost a fortune
But watching them is grand.
We have a little visitor
Who comes around each night
He’s a faithful little fellow
But he brings us no delight.
His eyes are bright and beady.
His face is like a mask.
He makes a chirring noise.
He thinks it is his task
To eat my living jewels
While I am in my bed.
One night I’ll lie in wait for him
And shoot the bastard dead!


Gladys Upchurch called today
To visit with my wife.
She brought along her little boy
And told him to be nice.

“Go play out in the garden, dear,”
She said to little Don.
“Don’t tease the dogs or chase the frogs,
Or throw things in the pond.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said in saccharine tones
But I could tell he lied.
I knew the havoc he would wreck
When he got loose outside.

He started in the fish pond
And tried to catch a koi.
I shouted “Get out of there!
You wicked little boy!”

He laughed at me and fled on foot
And once I nearly caught him,
But tripped and fell
Into the ageratum.

I found him in the storage shed
Where he had found some paint
Now we have a green pug dog
To get it off we can’t!

“You really ought to speak to him!”
I told his doting mom.
“His shrink said don’t repress him
To scold him would do harm.”

I did the child a favor
Since I’m a kindly man.
I took him to the potting shed
And spanked his bottom tan!


I bought a hummingbird feeder
And hung it in a tree
I filled it with sugar water
And invited them to tea.

But now I can’t go near it.
My chances are quite slim
Of coming out of this alive.
My future has grown grim.
They fight and dive and poop on me,
And flit about the sky.
One day I’ll poison their nectar
And let the damn things die!


Welcome to my garden
Simple creatures to be sure.
Stay and make my plants grow
With your gift of worm manure.

Rest here and break my soil up,
Squirming guys and wriggling gals
Don’t let me break your fun up.
Stay here and we’ll be pals.

It matters not a fig to me
You’re slimy and unsightly
I’ll sing sweet songs about you
And praise you day and nightly.


I made a garden for my love
And planted it with herbs.
I placed it near the kitchen
A favor she deserves.

For my love cooks good things for me
And serves me at my will.
With savory stews and omeletes
And cucumbers with dill.

The house is always spotless.
She’s never mean or cruel.
She knits me nice warm sweaters
And even spins the wool.

I know I’ll always find her
Waiting at the gate
When I’ve been out philandering
And then pretend I’m late.

I grant her a generous allowance
She accounts for every cent.
She makes her own hats and dresses.
Never asks for compliments.

I do not grant them to her.
I’m more inclined to scold
To keep her from ever knowing
She is worth her weight in gold!

How could she tire of such a man?
I really couldn’t say.
The note she left said simply:
“Martha Stewart has moved away!”


  1. Your doggerel made me laugh, and you taught me a new word in the process. I definitely would've called them poems before. I grew up in the suburbs of L.A. but I love my little garden and do go out each morning to check on how everything growing. My grandpa was a farmer, and my mom says that one year their crops didn't come in very well and they survived most of the winter on "butter beans". Thanks for sharing. I wish you'd write more often.

  2. Your verses gave me a smile - especially the Martha Stewart line - but you take butter beans - they are true poetry.

  3. I enjoyed the doggerels very much..that was a new word for me to learn, thankyou for your explanatin and the wonderful words and pix ! Much appreciated :)

  4. Doggerel, Smoggerel! It's all music to my ears. :) Everything you write I lap up like a thirsty dog drinking water in the hot July sun. (But, You know that already.) My darling maniac hubby would be doing exactly as you said, checking the garden for the slightest inkling of growth about this time of year. I recall how I whined more than once at his spending too much time in his garden! I told him if I were a squash he might notice me more. He said only if I were "bug free"! I miss his freshly grown tomatoes! Store bought can't compare. Why is that? It goes without saying all of my lovely plants that he nurtured have gone to dust, despite my sincerest efforts. I don't know who loved gardening more, you or Terry. NO doubt you both have the "gift" of green thumb. I hope your garden continues to grow, that you continue with your doggerel, and little Don gets his rear whipped eventually so he might grow up to be a fine man. By the way, I hope you are resting up for tomorrow. It will be big day for the world to celebrate the birth of such an accomplished gardener. HUGS!

  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY EARL!! (July 10)


  6. Mr. Hamner,
    Both my parents grew up in very rural parts of the south during the depression. I am a very late in life child and "The Waltons" has always been a part of my conscience. As an adult I have read your books and found recently this blog.

    I just wanted to share with you that when we are tired and need a night with our 4 children (ages 13-6) we will all pile into our bed and watch "The Waltons" our togetherness as we watch your work is a very special thing to me. I didn't grow up with any siblings at home and often have felt all alone. I longed for the love I saw on that television show and that must have existed in your home all those years ago. I now get to share that closeness with my children.

    Thank you!
    Thomas Stewart

  7. Tauna Faulkner again, this was so neat. My Mother would of loved it. Thanks again.