The Pull Toy

poetry writing childhood

It is rare to encounter contemporary, rhyming poetry. And especially rare to encounter good contemporary, rhyming poetry. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I found A.E. Stalling’s poem “The Pull Toy” in Five Points Journal.

It is a simple, heartfelt poem, very different from the intentionally weird poetry that many reputable journals seem to prefer nowadays. It is also a carefully crafted piece that hides the many hours of its composition behind its accessible subject matter and language. A feat to be applauded, no doubt.

A. E. Stalling’s is widely known for how she uses her training in the Classics to bring formal elements into her writing. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.


The Pull Toy

You squeezed its leash in your fist,

It followed where you led:

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

Nodding its wooden head,


Wagging a tail on a spring,

Its wheels gearing lackety-clack,

Dogging your heels the length of the house,

Though you seldom glanced back.


It didn’t mind being dragged

When it toppled on its side

Scraping its coat of primary colors:

Love has no pride.


But now that you run and climb

And leap, it has no hope

Of keeping up, so it sits, hunched

At the end of its short rope


And dreams of a rummage sale

Where it’s snapped up for a song,

And of somebody—somebody just like you—

Stringing it along.

Photo of a Moo-Moo Cow Toy from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children museum. 

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