How to poems are a fun way to share your knowledge (if you are writing a truthful poem) or have some fun if you are playing with your imagination.
You can write a how-to-do-it poem about making a sandwich, dancing with your great Aunt Agatha, climbing a tremendous mountain, learning how to drive, or anything else you can dream up.
As usual, I start with a brainstorming list. Sometimes these poems stay as list and sometimes they morph into something else.
Here’s a first draft of my how-to poem.
HOW TO BE A GOOD DOG
Learn how to beg
it is the foundation for all future lessons.
Start with the poor pitiful me face
perfect droopy ears
sad eyes (bonus points if you can sigh)
and the art of balancing your head on your outstretched paws
in a way that makes them go “awwww.”
Race around the house like a maniac
when people you know come to visit.
Bark like a monster dog
when strangers knock on the door.
Teach your humans that you know the difference between the two.
(Note: some humans are harder to train than others.)
Learn how to ride in the car without getting sick.
Continually expand your vocabulary of cute noises.
Be willing to do embarrassing tricks
for stinky treats
to make your humans look good.
Practice being aloof
but remember to let them pet you
Ask to go outside
Ask to go on walks
Ask for treats
They might think you’re being difficult
but really you’re giving them important
breaks in their busy day
helping them to relieve stress
and learn how to be in the moment.
They should thank you for this
but they probably won’t.
Don’t chase the birds.
Really, don’t chase the birds.
It only makes them mad
(the humans and the birds.)
Drink out of all the stinky water places
and then give wet kisses
which will gross them out and make them happy
all at the time time.
I mean it.
For some reason they really have a problem with that.
At the end of the day
find your place in the room
you share with them
and fall fake asleep
with one eye still open
until you see their eyes close
until you hear them snore
until you know
you’ve done a good day’s work
keeping the family safe.
–Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved