105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Volunteering Blues

My week has been tough. I lost the first round of Volunteer Chicken, which means I now have the responsibility of placing kids in Girl Scout troops at my school. Unfortunately, there are a lot more girls than troops, so some of the moms of these troopless youngsters are going to have to step up and make a troop — or two. And guess who has to talk them into it? Oh, and I need to pay attention to my own troop at some point this month, since we’re going camping in a week.

As if that weren’t enough, I coordinate the Drama Club for the school. I generally don’t mind doing it, because it’s very little work. I change the dates on a flyer that I inherited from the coordinator before me. I photocopy it, the teachers hand it out, I pull together the forms and money from the kids who’ve joined. After that, it’s pretty much in the hands of the instructor.

But today, as the last straw in my volunteering haze, I received an email from the County Schools Official in Charge of Meaningless Things telling me that I can’t use the name of the instructor’s company on the flyer itself. Did I mention that it’s the same flyer that’s been used for at least four years? Knowing that, I hadn’t waited for the official go-ahead, and it’s been copied, gone home, and been returned. So, oops? But the best part is that under her signature she had the phrase “Pray for Peace.” On a county email. In this extremely politically-correct county. I mean, how can I object to the phrase “Pray for Peace”? Everyone wants peace, right? But still, “pray” is a pretty loaded word for an official email. I’d say more loaded than my including Acting for Young People on my flyer.

Anyway, the whole thing has given me the Volunteering Blues and inspired me to write this poem. Actually it’s more like a song, especially given that I had the tune in mind as I wrote it. Whatever — I think it counts for Miss Rumphius’s Poetry Challenge and for Poetry Friday. Read, Write, Believe has the round-up. Now who has the guitar to accompany my singing?
The Volunteering Blues

I’ve got the volunteering blues.
I’ve got the do-gooder blues.
Ain’t got a moment to call my own.
Am I too old to run away from home?
Lawd, would someone get me off of the phone!
I’ve got the volunteering blues.
I’ve got the do-gooder blues.
The Girl Scout troops and the PTA —
I’m not sure I can make it through another day.
And here comes a memo from the county to say,
“You used the wrong words for your Drama Club play!”
If everyone thinks I’m doing it all wrong,
Then why have they stayed away for far too long?
They’re the reason why I’m writing this here song.
I’ve got the volunteering blues.
I’ve got the do-gooder blues.
Ain’t got a moment to call my own.
Am I too old to run away from home?
Lawd, would someone get me off of the phone!
I’ve got the volunteering blues.
I’ve got the do-gooder blues.
You can take a bit of my blues away by giving me some titles for the list of Best Books of 2007 (So Far). I have just under thirty participants, and I’m still missing a HUGE book. Think YA.


Tricia said...

Could it be The Invention of Hugo Cabret? I loved it, but didn't do a YA list. I figured I'd leave that list to the experts!

Tricia said...

P.S. - Love your poem! I don't know how to say no either!

MotherReader said...

It's not Hugo and not Harry. But it's big. When this author came to a signing here recently, over a thousand people showed up.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Loved your funny blues poem. I understand. I'm serving my third term as president of our local reading council. It's really difficult to find teachers willing to serve as council officers in my state because our Department of Education no longer allows them to claim credits toward recertification for serving as officers of local councils or the state reading association--and teachers are now required to recertify every five years. It's soooo frustrating!

Erin said...

Is the book Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer?

Sara said...

Love it! I may make you howl it when I see you. Will your husband sing harmony?

If it makes you feel any better about volunteering, and especially the Girl Scouts bit, my daughter told me that she hopes the planetarium she's working at will train her to run the Girl Scout astronomy badge program. She said all the field trips and science camps she went to as a kid "changed her life."

Liz B said...

re camping. I guess you couldn't take the Kid Nation approach, and say, hey, girls, just do it yourself? Of course, getting their parents to sign the Kid Nation waiver may be a bit difficult...

Anonymous said...

Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer? That it?

I haven't written a Best Of list because I haven't read as many new books this year. That will change with the Cybils.

Enjoyed the poem, MR.

Unknown said...

I love the song, MR!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

This is great! I can just hear that blues guitar wail. When I did my blues poem I had harmonicas in my head.

Vivian Mahoney said...

This is great. Hope your weekend is much better.

Dewey said...

I love the song/poem! I was going to guess The Book Thief, but then I went to the other post and saw someone had mentioned it.

EM said...

I am late to the party here, but I heart your song utterly. I may even have it tattooed on some unmentionable region.