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

Updated on December 4, 2016
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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    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 9 months ago from Reno NV

      Thank you Jodah. Shel Silverstein poems have been a hug part of my children's lives along with Roald Dahl. Jamie

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This is an oldie but a goodie, Jamie. I love Shel Silverstein. Such a talented poet and artist. Your response to his poem was great too. Well done.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 5 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!


    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment:



      just ask susan



    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

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

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 5 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!


    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This was fun :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Loved this!!!

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

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