On Mother’s Day

Bruce Lansky

‘On Mother’s Day’ is one of the funny poems by Bruce Lansky. This poem presents a truth that remains undercover of humor.


Bruce Lansky

Bruce Lansky is an internationally regarded poet.

He has published books for children, including Mary Had a Little Jam and Rolling in the Aisles.

Bruce Lansky is an American poet and famous for his poems for children. This poem, ‘On Mother’s Day’ which is primarily meant for children, also makes adults think. As here one can find several situations that happen in modern society. Children’s distaste for organic foods, lack of interest in constructive activities, along with their dearth of compassion, is what makes an adult reader or parent think. At the same time, it brings a smile while one reads this poem in a light mood. Moreover, the ironic ending of the poem takes the humorous mood to the climax.

On Mother's Day by Bruce Lansky



‘On Mother’s Day’ by Bruce Lansky is a humorous children’s poem that presents a list of don’ts that a child should avoid on mother’s day.

This poem is all about what a child should not say to his or her mother on mother’s day. If one doesn’t want to make their mother sad, they have to follow the poet’s suggestions. First of all, they have to eat the vegetables such as carrots, celery, bean, and beet. They can nag on other days. But, on mother’s day, it’s a must. Thereafter, they should not say that smoking is cool or they have dropped out of school. Moreover, if they have mistakenly drowned a cat, they should avoid telling their mother about that. Interestingly, if someone’s mother looks fat, a child should not remind her mother about the fact. Lastly, the poet says if they want to be a poet like him, they must not say it aloud on mother’s day.

You can read the full poem here.



This poem consists of six rhyming couplets. Each couple or a unit of two lines ends with rhyming words. As an example, in the first couplet “smart” rhymes with “heart”, and in the following stanza, “say” and “Day” rhyme together. The poet also uses internal rhyming in this poem. Apart from that, each line of the poem consists of eight syllables. The rhyme falls on the second syllable of each foot. Hence, the overall poem is composed in iambic tetrameter. For such a metrical scheme, this poem also sounds like a nursery rhyme.


Literary Devices

Lansky’s poem, ‘On Mother’s Day’ presents a metaphor in the first couplet. In the second line of this section, “a broken heart” is a metaphor for sadness or dejection. Thereafter, in the second stanza, the poet uses irony. Readers can find the use of anaphora in the fourth and fifth couplets. In these two sections, the lines begin with a similar phrase. It is “Don’t tell her.” Apart from that, the poet uses alliteration in the line, “A carrot, celery, bean, or beet.” Moreover, in the fifth stanza, the line, “Don’t tell her that she looks too fat” contains hyperbole. Lastly, the poet ends this poem using a simile. Here, he refers to himself as a “starving poet.”


Detailed Analysis

Lines 1–4

On Mother’s Day it isn’t smart


To dear old mom on Mother’s Day:

The poem ‘On Mother’s Day’ begins with an ironic statement. Here, the poetic persona says it is not smart to make one’s mother sad on mother’s day. It is an inverted way of referring to the fact that this day has lost its real importance. Alongside children nowadays only try to be nice with their mothers occasionally such as on mother’s day. If one truly loves his or her mother, they don’t need any occasion to express how much they love their mothers. Thereafter, the poet suggests to the readers what they should not say on that day. In the following sections, the poet talks about those things that one should avoid saying to one’s dear mother on Mother’s Day.


Lines 5–8

Don’t tell here that you’ll never eat


Don’t tell her you’ve dropped out of school.

In this section of the poem, the speaker suggests to the readers that they should not say no to vegetables on Mother’s Day. Children don’t prefer vegetables such as carrots, celery, bean, and beet. On a normal day, they can say that they are never going to eat such items. However, on Mother’s days, they should not say so. It is important to note here that nowadays children prefer eating those food items that have a meager nutritional value. Here, the poet hints at this fact.

Thereafter, they should not tell their mothers that they think smoking is cool. In reality, they think so. It’s a truth and society has to accept it. This phenomenon is not new. As children imitate what their elders do. If they see grown-up smoking and showing off how cool he or she is, they are going to imitate them.

However, the poet also adds here that children should not tell their mothers about dropping out of school. This statement also refers to another harsh fact. Parents believe that only a formal education or educational degree can help their children to sail through. But, in reality, it’s not the case. The age has become more skill-centric and application-based. Mere possession of some formal degree cannot help a child in the future. As the future is going to be more dynamic than the present.


Lines 9–12

Don’t tell her that you’ve drowned the cat.


A starving poet—just like me.

In the last section of the poem, ‘On Mother’s Day’ the poet refers to the lack of compassion in society and mostly in children. Here the speaker advises them not to tell their mother that they have drowned a cat. Besides, the poet is talking about what one should not say on mother’s day here. So while reading this line it may seem odd to the readers. However, for the sake of humor, one has to digest this truth and move forward.

Thereafter, if one’s mother is fat, he or she cannot tell her about that. As it’s mother’s day! In the last two lines of the poem, the poet heightens the humorous effect. Here, he says if anyone wants to be a poet in the future, he or she cannot tell that to the mother. Moreover, the poet refers to himself as a “starving poet.” It throws light on the present condition of artists as a whole. As society is bending more towards gadgets and other forms of entertainment, it has little space for poets or artists. They starve not for the lack of money, but the lack of interested listeners, readers, or viewers.


Historical Context

Bruce Lansky’s poem, ‘On Mother’s Day’ appears in his poetry collection “If Pigs Could Fly—and Other Deep Thoughts: A Collection of Funny Poems.” It was published in 2000. Moreover, his works are among the American bestsellers in the category of children’s poetry. In this children’s poem, the poet not only brings a smile to readers’ faces but also makes them think. It’s about the state of modern society and how it is failing on several levels. Here, through this poem, the poet reveals such harsh truths and uses satire to laugh at those follies of modern society.


Similar Poetry

The following poems are similar to the themes present in Bruce Lansky’s funny Mother’s Day poem.

You can also read about the best funny poems and nonsense poems.

Sudip Das Gupta Poetry Expert
A complete expert on poetry, Sudip graduated with a first-class B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature. He has a passion for analyzing poetic works with a particular emphasis on literary devices and scansion.

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