Friday, March 11, 2011


by Shel Silverstein - 1969

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloopy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts...
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall...
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold French fries and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That finally it touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late...
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!

For sixteen years I worked as a Re-Ed psychiatric Teacher-Counselor at a special school in Nashville, Tennessee, called Cumberland House. I would often recite this poem and others by Shel Silverstein to the students. Back in the late '70s I met Shel late one night at a restaurant. We spent a good hour talking about – who knows what. That encounter remains one of the highlights of my life.

This post was inspired by a post from Life's Bone called – WEAR IT OUT, USE IT UP, MAKE IT DO. 


mythopolis said...

haha...great poem. I recall those days Silverstein hung around town. How lucky you got to chat with him!

Ballerina Girl said...

wow, how great to meet this talented son loves his poems and would have liked to meet him!

this is a good one...though I feel that about most of his work...have you read Runny Babbit?


Owen said...

The man was a giant ! Now, what are you doing blogging again, when you should be taking the garbage out !?!

Dee Newman said...

He was quite a character. I believe I have read nearly everything he published. There is a wonderful website of his for kids:

Stickup Artist said...

That is so cool Dee! I have just recently become familiar with his poetry and love everything I've read so far.

mythopolis said...

The Silverstein site for kids is pretty cool...I just forwarded it to my grand daughters, and my niece's
children. Thanks for the link!