Food Poems

9 Shel Silverstein Poems—& What They've Taught Us About Eating

April 15, 2016

If you were a child at any point in the last 50 years, you may be familiar with Shel Silverstein, the poet/cartoonist/genius. He wrote poems both silly and moving, light-hearted and dark—sometimes all at once. Silverstein captured hearts and imaginations by turning the everyday into the fantastical, especially when it came to animals, families, and—you guessed it—food!

We dug through three of his most well-loved collections of poetry (Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A Light in The Attic) to round up some of our favorite Silverstein food poems that have taught us a thing or two about how to really eat.

"We're Out of Paint, So"

Let’s paint a picture with our food. [...]
And title it “Our Luncheon,”
And hang it up for everyone
To stop...and see… and munch on.

"Eighteen Flavors"

Eighteen luscious, scrumptious flavors [...]
Each scoop lovely, smooth, and round,
Tallest ice-cream cone in town,
Lying there (sniff) on the ground.

"Reachin' Richard"

‘Stead of sayin’, “pass the peas,”
Richard reached across and grabbed some. [...]
‘Spite his father’s warnin’ words,
‘Spite his mother’s tearful teachin’,
With each grab his arm did grow
‘Til it stretched twenty yards or so.

"Sorry I Spilled It"

[...] There’s milk in the mattress,
And juice on the spread—
Well, you said that you wanted
Your breakfast in bed.


Geraldine now, stop shaking that cow
For heaven’s sake, for your sake and the cow’s sake.
That’s the dumbest way I’ve seen
To make a milk shake.

"Crystal Ball"

Let me look into your past—
Here’s what you had for lunch today:
Well, I know it, I confess,
Not by looking in my ball,
But just by looking at your dress.

"Every Lunchtime"

I open my lunch box [...]
And set to unwind,
Is another big venomous,
Poisonous snake [...]
It happens every single day…
You think my mother’s mad at me?


“You’d better eat some pancakes—
You’re skinny as a rail.”
I’m sure that’s what the scale would say…
If I could see the scale.

"Pie Problem"

If I eat one more piece of pie, I’ll die!
If I can’t have one more piece of pie, I’ll die!
[...] Chomp—Gulp—’Bye.

What's your favorite Shel Silverstein poem? Share one—or food poems from another favorite poet—in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • whiskito
  • Hope
  • Rebecca Salisbury
    Rebecca Salisbury
Gabi Benedit

Written by: Gabi Benedit

domestic dilettante.


whiskito April 16, 2016
This one used to be recited regularly in my college apartment...

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.
Hope April 15, 2016
Here's a fave by Edward Lear...
There was an old person of Putney,
Whose food was roast spiders and chutney,
Which he took with his tea, within sight of the sea,
That romantic old person of Putney.
Rebecca S. April 15, 2016
Loved this!!