How the Jackrabbit Got its Name

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Poems for Kids

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Once upon a time, not so long ago 
Was a rabbit pair, a buck and doe. 
Who thought how delighted it would be 
To have an addition to their family. 

So as rabbits are known to do, 
They made plans for the arrival of one or two. 
Providing a soft bed of clover and such 
Newly cut, with a fragrant touch. 

And then the day did arrive 
When Jonathan Rabbit came alive. 
What a fine bunny he was (and is) 
Sleek, round, rolly-polly and full of fizz. 

The apple of his parents eye 
How they praised him, (I cannot lie.) 
Smart as only a bunny can be 
Mastering language, algebra and trigonometry. 

Slowly did this bundle of fluff and fur 
Grow, and grow and grow some more. 
Why legs so long and supple 
Just the thing for hopping out of trouble. 

And eyes so bright and clear 
Could spot a carrot or clover far or near. 
What gleaming teeth he had as well 
To bite or nibble on (who can tell?) 

Yes Jonathan Rabbit was the talk of the town 
As he became known far and wide; renown. 
But wait, was there something a miss 
Perhaps a characteristic of his phiz? 

For you see upon his head 
Were two protuberances; instead 
Of small ears like his maw and paw, 
His seemed to just grow, and grow and grow. 

Some would whisper and point and say, 
Others were less polite and make a mule-like bray. 
And he was teased and not allowed to play 
(Because his long legs let him easily bound away.) 

One day when the rabbits were out, it seems, 
Gathering greens and other things. 
The farmer's dogs caught their scent 
And came charging over the field, intent 
On having rabbit for their noon-time dinner. 
(As always, slowest the looser and fastest, winner.) 

Unfortunate it was, the rabbits had not paid attention where they went, 
And had strayed far from their burrow by the fence. 
Disaster was in the eyes of all, large and small 
As the dogs would surely feast on them, one and all. 

Panic struck, instead of running, they froze in their tracks 
All but one it seems waited for the attack. 
But John stood tall and then instead of running away, 
Chose to go directly into the fray. 

The dogs saw him first, tall ears poking above the grass, 
Hopping leisurely all alone, slow not fast. 
Across the field in the face of danger, 
Came John, courage to him was no stranger. 

Of course the dogs knew what to do 
Why catch that rabbit. They would pursue. 
And as they took chase as before, 
They knew not what they had in store. 

An easy prey was what they thought, 
A tasty rabbit waiting to be caught. 
The spotted hound gave out a cry 
To let the hunter know the rabbit was nearby. 

And others joined in the song 
As they followed along. 
Over the ridge in the full sun, 
Came the pack of dogs in full run. 

Behind followed the young dogs who were learning 
How to hunt and catch rabbits away from their warren. 
All joined in the melee, 
While the clutch of rabbits, stole quietly away. 

How sad to lose dear John to the foe 
But how brave it was of him to go. 
Into the face of instant death, 
He chose to sacrifice himself. 

They could only listen to the sounds of the chase, 
Which seemed to be prolonged, on its face. 
What was taking the dogs so long? 
To catch John who for sure was gone. 

So one old rabbit chose to stop and see 
What was happening to John as he sought to flee. 
Looked out of the briar patch 
Through a hole in the berries' tangled thatch. 

There in the field was John just hopping along, 
With the dogs behind in full song. 
Sometimes as they came quite near, 
The young rabbit seemed to shift into another gear. 

With a mighty bound or so, 
Left them behind this smokey joe. 
Then he would slow as if to catch his breath, 
For sure if caught it would be instant death. 

Then away he would charge up the hill 
With the dogs baying, oh so shrill. 
Now the rabbit turned toward the farmer's house, 
The dogs lagging behind on this final course. 

Still, they were in pursuit it is said, 
Until alas, the rabbit was behind instead. 
Now he seemed to be driving the dogs along 
Looking back, they were terror struck to the bone. 

A charging rabbit, hopping oh so high, 
Ears flopping in the noon day sky. 
Close he came as he neared a trailing pup 
Who gave out a whimper before he shut up. 

The older dogs now more wise than before, 
Had had enough of this rabbit devil's spore. 
And rushed through the gate and under the barn 
Escaping this one who (maybe) meant no harm. 

With tongues out and breath so short, 
The dogs were willing to this hunt abort, 
And so it was for John you see, 
For he had enough of this game of 'flee'. 

Away he hopped toward the briars 
Hoping that all would be there. 
As he came across the ridge, 
He heard a cheer (remember his tall ears) 

It was for Jack! Jack! Jack the Rabbit! 
Who had assumed another habit. 
No longer would he be, 
John, with long ears, you see, 
He would be known far and wide 
As Jack, the Jackrabbit, the coney's pride.

Sidi J. Mahtrow


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