A Response to "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes" by Shel Silverstein.

Shel Silverstein with guitar.
Shel Silverstein with guitar.

I started to read Shel Silverstein when I was eleven years old, the same time "A Light in the Attic" was published. I read every poem at least a dozen times and ran out and grabbed a copy of "The Giving Tree" and "The Missing Piece."

I now have two children of my own and I share with them everyday a funny poem from my old copy of "A Light in the Attic." I hope that these poems will stay with my children forever and that they will be sharing their copies of the book with their children.

"How Not to Have to Dry The Dishes" always made me smile. For some reason this was the poem that I found myself sharing with everyone; friends, family, coworkers.

I have been thinking about a reply for years and found a place for it during National Poetry Month 2012. Once again I am able to share one of my favorites and a little reply of my own creation.

I would also like to thank Shel Silverstein for the smiles, the laughs, and the wisdom.

Book Cover Illustration from "The Light in the Attic"
Book Cover Illustration from "The Light in the Attic"

National Poetry Month Poem #9

I would always quote this poem, especially when I would have a large number of dishes to wash.


If you have to dry the dishes

(such an awful, boring chore)

If you have to dry the dishes

('Stead of going to the store)

If you have to dry the dishes

And you drop one on the floor-

Maybe they won't let you

Dry the dishes anymore.

"A Light in the Attic" Shel Silverstein 1981


I had to dry the dishes

(So many it was a bore)

I had to dry the dishes

(and I dropped one on the floor)

now I have to dry the dishes

a million times or more

and I cannot leave the house,

cuz' I am grounded for a week or more.

Note to Reader: Not to worry, only one dish was damaged, and a not very important one. Truth be told, the scars left by this incident have left me slightly damaged. But the dishes must be done.

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Comments 7 comments

mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

Ah, JHamann, I think they call that the difference between art and life.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Loved this!!!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

This was fun :)

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada


That explains the crashing sound I heard in the other room...

So, I am totally digging on this niche you are carving out...Domestic Chores Poetry! It's freak'n awesome!


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

this is funny great work. Voted up and funny (of course), Joyce.

jhamann profile image

jhamann 4 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment:



just ask susan



Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter

I got out of dishes

when I was only nine-

"I have to use the toilet"

was my infamous whine.

It took my mom just two days

to figure out my hook;

exiting the bathroom

she caught me with a book!


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