Many poems are written with a specific audience in mind. That was certainly the case with the poem that appears below: It was intended to bring a word of cheer to a grandchild of ours who was born in the middle of a three-child family. His “also-ran” position – neither first born nor baby of the family – was in need of recognition and understanding.
I’ve tweaked the poem slightly, to make it useful to others who may know of similar situations.
Caught in the Middle
“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe. …”
Wynken stood watch on the toe (bow),
Nod at the heel (stern, to you).
There in the middle, Blynken’s perch,
Right down on the blinkin’ arch.
That old shoe’s flat-footed owner
Never was in shape to march!
So Wynken had the forward view.
Nod, of course, knew where they’d been.
Yet Blynken didn’t have a clue –
Amidships, you just can’t win!
Ah, it’s “ever thus” too often –
A never-ending riddle –
It’s there the second child of three
Is caught – caught in the middle!
When you’re neither heir nor “wee one”
Your lot can be frustration.
So where’s the middle child to turn
When seeking inspiration?
Baseball? There’s really bad news there.
With each out and strike fans boo!
Yet umps sing out strikes one and three,
But they barely breathe, “Strike two.”
Now, our patriotic emblems
Are both colorful and bright:
On either side there’s red, there’s blue –
Yet lost in the middle, white!
Most everyone wants to excel.
All applaud the go-getter.
So chests puff out at “good” and “best.”
Yet we all shrug at “better.”
For the middle child life’s precious,
Though it sometimes brings travail,
With sudden, scary shocks and jolts
Like a subway’s middle rail.
Yet he’ll face all life’s challenges,
And each he’ll swiftly tackle.
Not born to merely snap or pop,
This child is bound to crackle!
Bob Simon is a Los Altos resident.
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