How to Mimic Eve Merriam – Poetry & Coronavirus Collide

Hello world,

It’s another weird, coronavirus kind of day. I keep starting and stopping projects. When I speak, I typically stutter now and again, usually when I’m tired, but right now my whole being is stuttering. Yes, I’m doing projects around the house. I cleaned two bathrooms today, I finished clearing out a bedroom, I read Because I am Furniture, a powerful and disturbing verse novel, and I went for a long walk. I even ordered my Easter candy online from Wal-Mart. However, I’m doing a whole lot of starting, getting distracted, starting something else, returning to that which I originally began, and then repeating.

Between my intermittent projects,¬† I wandered into my home office (formerly my son’s bedroom; it still has a hand-painted black roadway circling its four walls) to organize a book shelf, stack papers, and dig through bins. In the process, I found my 2016 Dr. Seuss teacher writing journal, filled with quick writes I simultaneously penned with my students. I opened up a page, and Eve Merriam’s “How to Eat a Poem” spilled out in front of me.

First, I’ll share the mimic poem I wrote in 2016 with my middle school students. Afterwards, you’ll find my coronavirus interpretation of Eve Merriam’s poem. Hang in there, everyone. Wash–and moisturize–your hands. Disinfect everything. Make time to physically and mentally unwind; nothing beats a walk outside or a book inside. We’ll get through this distressing time together. Our hearts are unified– even if our bodies must maintain six feet of separation.

How To Annoy Your Parents (2016 version)

Don’t ever clean your room

Keep it disgusting and OMG messy

Let cobwebs flourish and dust bunnies multiply


Shove all your stinky sports gear into the back of your closet

Hide candy wrappers and clothing tags beneath your bed

Refuse to run the vacuum

Or make your crumpled bed


For a teenager should never clean a room

or wash a dish

or swish a toilet

or scrub a tub

or take out the trash

or launder dirty clothes

if you want to annoy your parents.






How to Avoid Coronavirus  (2020 version)

(inspired by Eve Merriam’s “How to Eat a Poem”)

Don’t hug the people you love

Avoid them like the plague

Practice social distancing and keep six feet between you at all times


Incessantly wash your hands until they crack and burn

Sanitize your doorknobs, your light switches, your credit cards

Stay home from school and work and church and neighborhood playdates

You do not need to shop for groceries or get a haircut or visit the dentist

or attend school or earn money or graduate from college


For there is no vaccine

or study

or trial

or test

or quarantine

or social distance

to annihilate it.