This poem is dedicated to a special, creative 10-year old child (DB) whose persistence and sense of humor inspired it.
Sheriff Dee’s Times–Table
© 2016 by Dominic Spano
On a dark, stormy night she rode into town
And the name ‘neath her badge read Sheriff Dee Brown.
She said she was comin’ for to set me straight,
Teach me 4 times 7’s gonna be 28.
The look in her eyes told me something was up;
Then she spoke and her foot stirred a silver stirrup.
“You botched it for both boys and girls alike,
You must be the old fool that there’s no fool like.”
Suffice it to say that my jaw hit the floor
And I told her I taught kids to count and much more.
Like 6 times 8 will make 48
Or 9 times 12 will be one–oh–eight,
And 6 times 3 will add up to 18,
While 57 is 3 multiplied by 19.
But she shook her head and clamped her foot down
And I first glimpsed the wrath of Sheriff Dee Brown.
“Why, how do you mean,” I asked in a huff,
And without hesitation she said, off the cuff:
“I’ll tell you exactly just how do I mean;
If 2 times 8 will equal 16,
Then 2 times 9 must equal 18,
While 7 times 2 will give you 14.”
“I taught all of that,” I replied, “and lots more,
Like 8 times itself will be 64,
Or 3 times 6 is also 18,
Not to mention 26 is 2 times 13,
66, as you know, is 6 times 11,
And 49, of course, is 7 times 7.”
Still, I felt very shaken, right down to the core,
So I searched for all factors that make 44,
Like 4 times 11 and 22 two’s,
But all sorts of numbers now gave me the blues.
I collected myself but still felt aghast,
And I felt very nervous, my heart beating fast.
“I’ve been teaching,” I said, “32 is 4 eights
And I’ve taught it all over the United States,
In Norway and Sweden and Germany too,
I’ve taught 64 is twice 32.”
But she jabbed, with her finger, at me through the air
“The word on the street, boy, is that you don’t care,
So I swear by my badge and the steed that I ride,
That before the next sun–up you’ll be back in stride,
Teaching 9 is eighteen divided by 2
While eight 9’s and six 12’s both yield 72.”
She paused for a breath and stared me back down
And I cowered in the wrath of Sheriff Dee Brown.
“You’ve been ineffective,” she went on to say,
At teaching kids math in a meaningful way;
Whether 8 times 6 or 7 times 3,
To commit them to memory, repetition’s the key.”
I repeated I taught kids to count and much more
Like 3 times 8 will make 24
And 3 times 9 is gonna be 27
And, of course, 21 equals 3 times 7.
But with arms akimbo, her gaze bore right through me
When she said twenty–one’s also 7 times 3.
I opened my mouth to bolster my point
But she flashed me a frown with her nose out of joint;
Then she reached for the holster on the side of her hip
And said: “Boy, don’t you dare give me none o’ your lip,”
She added one thing, I guess for good measure,
And said with the grin of the feline Cheshire,
“Ya’d better get wise to numbers galore
Like 12 times 12 is one–forty–four.”
Now I felt I was getting a double–thumbs down
On account of the wrath of Sheriff Dee Brown.
Perturbed, I asked why she shows me such ire;
She replied with a smirk and her eyes filled with fire,
“Your students, in town, just haven’t a clue
That 14 times 3 will be 42
Or 11 times 12 is one–thirty–two.
She added she’d come to communicate
2 sixes are 12 and 2 fours equal 8.
I started to shake and I thought I might cry
When she said, “I’ll make sure that you learn by and by,
That 3 times 11 must yield 33
And 7 times 9 will make 63.
What’s more, 6 times 2 is like 4 times 3.
While 9 times 2 equals 6 times 3.
Then she drew from her holster a Colt 45
And I said, “Surely you’d rather I remain here alive!”
But she twirled its chamber with a mischievous grin
And said I was teaching the 5–times–table quite thin;
She added, quite frankly, I was getting her riled,
By botching 5 n’s with every young child.
“The answer of 5 times an n,” she went on,
“Is simple to teach, if you’re not too far gone;
It ends in a five if the n number’s odd,
And ends in a zero, if even, by God!”
After rolling the barrel of that silver gun,
She said 11 times 11 is one–twenty–one.
But ’twas the 7 times table that drove her insane,
‘Cause I’d taught 6 times 7, but always in vain;
Although 6 times 7 must make 42,
Most of my kids found it quite hard to do,
And though 28 comes from 7 times 4,
Some thought it 4 sixes, which make 24.
I tell you, I wished that she might tone it down,
The wrath and the scorn of Sheriff Dee Brown.
She went on to say kids depended on me
To help them become the best they can be,
And that is why she had come looking for me,
Plus, I hadn’t been teaching the table times 3;
Like 3 two’s are six and 3 sixes eighteen,
And 3 eights, 24, if you know what I mean.
I’d also ignored the table times 4,
Like 4 threes are 12 and 4 sixes, 24;
28 is 4 sevens and 4 twos are 8,
And, of course, 4 times 12 will make 48.
At the end of her rant, I looked up to heaven
Then showed her 56 is like 8 times 7.
She stared me back down, like a tenacious hound,
Adding: “Ensure you retain these lessons profound;
Or six groups of 7 will come riding through,
That’s 42 gals a–gunnin’ for you,
For if you mess up you’ll just add to your fate
‘Cause 6 more of my gals will be lying in wait,
And you’ll know 6 times 8 will yield forty-eight.”
I replied with a nod, for I thought I was able
To impart to my kids the entire times–table;
Plus, the rumor was spreading right across town
Of the wrath I’d survived from Sheriff Dee Brown.
“Remember my words,” she glared back towards me,
“And this will be the last you ever see me.”
Then Dee rode back into the dark, stormy night
And before I knew it, she was clean out of sight,
But her cold, hard words still filled me with fright,
I’d better teach the times table or it’s…Dominic, Good-night!