Call for help from #todayspoem

As a volunteer with Saint John Ambulance, I visit a retirement home with my dog Charlie, where we cause a bit of excitement and much entertainment for the lucky people in the lounge area. I also see people in their rooms and in those cases I usually have a longer visit and a chance to get to know these elderly men and women a bit better, as the focus gradually moves from petting Charlie to a cosy visit and chat. I have gotten to know many lovely people and some of them are very lonely despite family and friends. There are many reasons for this, but one that I have observed is that of being unable to read anymore, whether because of failing eyesight, increasing dementia, or simply being too weak. Losing the ability to read leaves them with so much time with nothing to do, leading to a combination of ever-increasing boredom and depression. Yes, they could listen to audiobooks, if they could remember how to run the machine, or have a long enough attention span to listen and comprehend, or remembered that they had an audiobook to listen to... I don't usually see family members so I have no idea what they are doing for their loved ones; I just see what I see when I visit with Charlie.

I do have one small idea that I am working on and would like some help with. I'd like to compile some poems that would be suitable to read to them, either by me or a friend or relative. They would have to be on the short side and they would have to be relatively easy to understand. Rhyming would be helpful but not mandatory, but given the age group, that is what they would be used to for the most part. Something longer might work for some, especially if it tells a story (ie. Casey at the Bat, The Shooting of Dan McGrew…). Oh, and preferably upbeat!

So, what do you think? Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Send me names of poets or titles of poems that you think might work and leave your ideas in the comments. I’m sure the #todayspoem gang could come up with some wonderfully entertaining poems that would add a little pleasure to the lives of these wonderful people. 


  1. You might find some poems that would work at the Poetry Out Loud site: 25 lines and fewer

    1. Thank you Laura, that's a great idea. I'll look there.

  2. I like Carl Sandburg's work. Chicago poems are good, but there are also some neat stories in The Sandburg Treasury.

  3. Thanks Stephanie, I'll check that out.

  4. MOst of the poems I know of are for kids. I know my nephews like the purplish, pinkish, blueish egg. Also Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee are good with them. Wish I knew more adult poems but the highway man (my fave)and the lady of shallot seem kind of long.

  5. Ones that may be familiar and decently short might include John McRae's In Flander Fields and maybe some Robert Frost (though none of these are upbeat suggestions I guess). Cremation of Sam McGee?