For Tarla: A Treasured Oldie





By "Treasured Oldie", I mean the POEM, not YOU.

This was written by Shel Silverstein way back in the dim and misty days

of old, before he started writing poems for innocent children.


Tarla, I hope reading this doesn't ruin your "rehabilitation".



The World's Greatest Smoke Off


In the laid back California town

Of sunny San Raphael

Lived a girl named Pearly Sweetcake,

You probably knew her well.

She was stoned 15 of her 18 years,

And her story was widely told,

That she could smoke 'em faster

Than any dude could roll.


Well, her legend finally reached New York

That Grove Street walk-up flat

Where dwelt the Calistoge Kid,

A beatnik from the past.

He'd been rolling dope since time began,

And he took a cultured toke and said,

"Jim, I can roll em faster than any chick can smoke".


So a note gets sent to San Raphael

For the Championship of the World.

The Kid demands a smoke off,

"Well, bring him on" sayz Pearl.

"I'll grind his fingers off his hands,

He'll roll until he drops".

Sayz Calistoge, "I'll smoke that chick

'Til she blows up and pops".


So, they rent out Yankee Stadium,

And the word is quickly spread:

"Come one, come all, who walk or crawl --

Tickets just two lids a hit."

And from every town in Hamlet

Over land and sea they speed

The world's greatest dopers

With the Worlds greatest weed.


Hashishers from Morocco,

Hemp smokers from Peru,

And the Shashnicks from Bagoon,

Who smoke the deadly Pugaroo.

And those who call it 'Light of Life',

And those that call it 'Boo'.


See the dealers and their ladies

Wearing turquoise,lace, and leather.

See the narcos and the closet smokers

Puffing all together.

From the teenies who smoke legal

To the ones who've done some time

To the old man who smoked reefer,

Back before it was a crime.


And the 'Grand Old House That Ruth Built'

Is filled with the smokes and cries

Of 50,000 screamin' heads,

All stoned out of their minds.

And they play the National Anthem,

And the crowd lets out a roar

As the spotlight hits the Kid and Pearl

Ready for their smokin' warrrr...


At a table piled up high with grass,

High as a mountain peak

Just tops and buds of the rarest flowers

Not one stem, branch or seed.

I mean Maui Wowie,

And Panama Red, Acapulco Gold,

Keef from East Afghanistan,

And that rare Alaska cold.

And there are sticks from Thailand,

Games from the Islands.

And Bangkok's bloomin' best,

And some of that wet imported shit,

That capsized off Keywest.

There's Wahaukan tops, and Kenya bang,

And Riviera fluors.

And that rare Manhatten Silver

That grows down in the New York sewers.

And there's bubbling ice cold lemonade,

And sweet grapes by the bunches

And there's Hershey bars, and Oreos

In case anybody gets the munchies.


And the Calistoge Kid, he smiles

And Pearly, she just grins.

And the drums roll low,

And the crowd yells 'go go go'.

And the Worlds first Smoke Off begins...


Well the Kid he flicks his fingers once,

'ZAP'-- that first joints rolled.

Pearl takes one toke with her famous lungs,

And 'WHOOSH' -- that roach is cold.

Then the Kid he rolls his superbomb

That would paralyze a moose.

And Pearl takes one mighty hit,

that bombs diffused.

And then he rolls three in just ten seconds,

And she smokes 'em up in nine.

And everybody sits back and sayz,

"This just might take some time."


See the blur of flying fingers.

See the red coal burning bright

As the night turns into morning,

And the morning fades to night.

And the Autumn turns to Summer,

And a whole damned year is gone.

And the two still sit on that roach-filled stage

Smokin' and rollin' on...


With tremblin hands, he rolls his J's

With fingers blue and stiff.

She coughs and stares

With bloodshot gaze

And puffs through blistered lips.

And as she reaches out her hands

For another stick of gold,

The Kid he gasps, "Damnit bitch,

There's nothin' left to roll".

"Nothing left to roll?", screams Pearl,

"Is this some twisted joke?

I didn't come here to fuck around,

Man I come here to smoke."


And she reaches 'cross the table,

And grabs his boney sleeves

And crumbles his body between her hands,

Like dry and brittle leaves.

Flickin' out his teeth and bones,

Like useless stems and seeds.

And then she rolls him in a Zigzag,

And lights him like a roach.

And the fastest man, with the fastest hands,

Goes up in a puff of smoke.


In the laid-back California town of sunny San Raphael,

Lives a girl named Pearly Sweetcake.

You probably know her well.

She been stoned 21 of her 24 years,

And her story is still widely told,

How she still can smoke 'em faster

Than any dude could roll.


Way off in New York City

On a street that has no name,

There's the hands of the Calistoge Kid

In the Viper Hall of Fame.

And underneath his fingers,

There's a little golden scroll

That says:

"Beware of being the roller, when there's nothing left to roll."