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About this poet

Born in Newark, New Jersey, on February 2, 1931, Judith Viorst is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, for children as well as adults. She attended Rutgers University.

She is the author of a series of poetry books related to aging that include Unexpectedly Eighty:And Other Adaptations (Free Press, 2010) and When Did I Stop Being Twenty and Other Injustices: Selected Poems from Single to Mid-Life (Simon & Schuster, 1987). She is also the author of Murdering Mr. Monti (1994) and Necessary Losses (1986), which appeared on The New York Times best-seller list in hardcover and paperback for almost two years. Her children's books include The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (1971), The Alphabet From Z to A (1994), and the "Alexander" stories: Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday (1978); Alexander, Who's Not (Do Your Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move (1995); and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972).

A graduate of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, she is the recipient of various awards for her journalism and psychological writings. Judith Viorst lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, political writer Milton Viorst.

Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About

Judith Viorst, 1931
My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
     (Stumick and speshul?)
I could play tag all day and always be "it."
Jay Spievack, who's fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and my dad--like Ted's--could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
     (Who's Afghanistan?)
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
     (I'm better at printing.)
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.

The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I'd have to do my homework instead.

From If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries . . ., published by Macmillan, 1981. Used with permission.

From If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries . . ., published by Macmillan, 1981. Used with permission.

Judith Viorst

Judith Viorst

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1931, Judith Viorst is the author of many works of poetry and prose both for children and adults

by this poet

poem
The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December's come to stay.
They've taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.

Flowers smell like halibut.
Velvet feels like hay.
Every handsome dog's
poem
Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the strangers in
And
poem
My mom says I'm her sugarplum.
My mom says I'm her lamb.
My mom says I'm completely perfect
Just the way I am.
My mom says I'm a super-special wonderful terrific little guy.
My mom just had another baby.
Why?