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Poetry Friday - 'Call The Roll' Poem

I have just lifted this poem from my notebook and revised it further before presenting it here. It was a poem that gradually developed over a couple weeks. I just kept adding to it as names came to mind. It is what one might call a work of 'faction.' A mix of fact and fiction. Anyway, here it is!

A list poem for Poetry Friday with a strong element of deliberate wordplay.  I laughed inwardly as I was composing it. Poetry as invention. Hope it makes you smile.

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In primary school
When my teacher marked the attendance roll each morning
She would call out our names
And we had to reply
Once, someone replied,
-and everyone rolled about laughing
Our teacher even smiled a little bit,
-but not much

I can still recall many of those names
Those faces of long ago
Personalities of the past
Our teacher calling on them to reply
As the roll was marked
They return to me once more
Ghosts from those classroom days

Ben Downe (A most flexible fellow)
Phillip Yagob (Always hungry, always)
Al Batross (A kid who studied birds)
Robin Banks (Was a coin collector)
Rick O'Shea (Always bouncing around)
Peter Houtt (Used to fall asleep in the afternoon)
Ken Tuckey (Loved fried chicken)
Con Ickle (Had a rather pointy head)
Abel Toosing ( Had a great voice)
Cara Larm (Often wailed for no reason)
Eileen Over (Had balance issues)
Rose Thorn (A prickly individual)
Amy Abull (Sweet and friendly)
Marj Areen (Always wore yellow)
Paige Turner (Loved reading books)
Molly Coddle (Spoilt and needy)
Honour Boat (Wanted to join the Navy)
Anna Condor (Loved to hug people)

All present.

Alan j Wright


  1. Irma Kimbo - bumped into everything! I love this, Alan. I'll be moving through my day thinking 'names'! Clever, clever, clever! Thanks for the smile!

    1. Ah, you're into Linda. It's a little bit addictive. I woke up last night and the name 'Dan Druff' popped into my mind. Keep smiling...

  2. When I first began to read, I felt a bit of nostalgia, remembering those classroom roll calls. I saw the list and thought, No, surely he doesn't remember . . . And then I began reading the names. Silently at first and then out loud. And my smile grew. I must say, I feel sorry for Eileen Over. Maybe she could sit next to Ben Downe. And what teacher wouldn't love Paige Turner.

    1. Clearly there is a danger in taking me too literally Alice. I like your idea regarding Ben and Eileen sitting next to each other. Thanks for dropping by.

    2. Alan, I also followed Alice's logic but then said, "Reread." Surely, you spent many a fun hour dreaming up these really cool name. At NCTE a couple of years ago they started the idea that we should all be Paige Turners!

    3. Carol, you are absolutely correct in your assumption regarding the time I spent thinking up those names. I had to 'make' the final parts of the poem. I enjoyed it immensely.

  3. Growing up as "Robyn Hood," (really), I have a special connection to this poem... thanks for the chuckles!

    1. Robyn if you had chuckles over this poem, my work is done here! Good to know. There actually was a girl in my hometown called Anna Condor. That one was factual. There is an advert on television here (Australia) where a young father contemplates the name of his new born child as Callum -which is quite a nice name. Then he realizes that it doesn't fit well with the last name of Murray.

  4. There was a family in my hometown whose last name was Mountain. It didn't seem odd at the time, but looking back, I wonder about parents who would name their girls Roxie, Candi, and Sandi.

    Your poem DEFINITELY made me laugh out loud! Love it!!

    1. Love the Mountain family names Mary Lee. Fact always trumps fiction. Glad my poem gave you a laugh.

  5. Oh so clever names and descriptions. I'll have to think about how to describe my Kindergarteners in this way! -- Christie @

    1. So, you have a new writing challenge Christy. Enjoy!

  6. It's so funny how the personalities are so clear and memorable.

    1. Thanks Kimberly. The personalities are certainly clear to me. I had them rolling around in my head for quite some time before they emerged on the page.

  7. Such a clever poem and I can only imagine how much fun it was to write! I can see how you found it addictive. I found my attention caught (ha!) by Rose Thorn and feel like her underlying sweetness may have been overlooked! I also am relieved that my last name is Hogan, not Coddle! Thanks for the smiles!

    1. Thanks Molly. I had a hoot with this one. Poor Rose, maybe my judgment was a little harsh. I must admit she did give off a most fragrant perfume at times. Hogan does sound better than Coddle.

  8. Still smiling from reading your fun poem Alan! I think I may have met a few of these characters somewhere, surely I've seen "Eileen Over (Had balance issues)" thanks for the smiles!

    1. Glad to hear about those smiles Michelle. Always a good outcome. I'm sure you're right in thinking you have met similar characters across the years. I'm still searching for Dan Druff...


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