Sheriff Dee’s Times-Table

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!

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The Legend of Peg Leg Bart

This poem gave rise to my Adolescent Novel The Riddled Mystery at Pirate Cove.

In the dark of night, he looked a fright,
Bushy-bearded, bold and red.
His beady eyes could curdle the cries
Of tortured souls, long since dead.
With enormous height and eye–patch tight
And a stone–cold, ruthless heart,
Both far and near, men shook with fear
At the sight of Peg Leg Bart.

Now Bart was a terror whose hand was the bearer
Of a gladius sharp and cold.
He cut and he gashed, he gutted and slashed
Each matey who sought out his gold.
‘Three clues have been laid, and a price will be paid,’
Swore the peg leg by all that’s divine.
‘By the man whose ill luck, or whose nose for the buck
Puts them into his hands before mine.’
A devil was he, for no pirate could be
As vicious and nasty and cruel
As Bart when he lay in wait for his prey,
With the vengeance of a ghastly ghoul.

From the Matador’s Nest, somewhere out west,
A stranger arrived at our shore.
Undaunted, he taunted, it was Bart that he wanted,
And what a vicious scowl he wore.
Folks called him Yancy, this man dressed fancy,
In his buttoned coat, long and blue,
Which hid the blade of a renegade
In a stance that fell most askew.
‘When I catch that fiend who mocked and demeaned
The ship known as Magdalene,
I will run him through,’ said the stranger in blue,
‘And feed his heart to my men.’

My blood ran cold from those words so bold,
For I knew of Bart’s wrath in the first;
From my days young and ginger, when he cut off my finger
And my name and ancestry cursed.
Still there’s no denying that men started crying
At the sight of Yancy’s stare.
And a big part of me was yearning to see
Yancy venture where men feared to dare.
But Bart was no man, he belonged to a clan
Where men called themselves buccaneer;
And as sure as Bart’s leg sat atop a stumped peg,
He was happiest when instilling fear.

It happened by chance, that Bart and old Yance
Crossed swords by the shores of the sea.
Yance made not a sound, Bart stomped on the ground,
Hissing: ‘Mate, are you looking for me?’
With little emote, Yancy threw back his coat
And unsheathed his sword rather hard,
Returned Bart’s cold stare with his own icy glare
And he put the Pegleg on his guard.
The men exchanged slashes of swords, leaving gashes,
And Yancy’s blade snipped off Bart’s patch.
Bart replied with a grunt, unimpressed with the stunt,
But we knew Bart had now met his match.
Mild men held their breath, the strong ones smelled death,
And those in the Inn sipped their beer.
All anticipated that one man was slated
To die, but which one was unclear.

The clank of a blade was all that remained
When Bart’s skull smacked the edge of the dock;
A kick to the leg resting on a stumped peg,
And Bart’s reign was no longer amok.
I felt Bart’s cold stare, his eyes empty and bare,
Though I knew he was surely deceased.
His head tilted south, blood poured from his mouth,
Yancy’s blade had dismantled the beast.
And as quick as he came to our shores wielding blame,
The stranger had left with his plunder.
He’d dispensed of old Bart and digested his heart
And Peg Leg now lies six feet under.

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