A Kids’ Book Gift Guide by Dallas Clayton

When TWBE asked me to put together a holiday kids’ gift guide I was a little bit torn, after all the idea of me having to let you know what kinds of gifts to buy a kid is kind of defeating. But then I thought about all of those of you out there who know kids, but don’t have kids and maybe aren’t sure what to get for kids that will make them happy but also not freak their parents out. How do you climb that slippery slope? Answer: Books. Any time you can give a parent books they will be happy. Sure the kid would probably rather have a remote controlled helicopter but that’s what Santa is for. Besides, chances are that helicopter will be broken within the month, a good book can inspire kids forever. So, here are ten books that I think make great gifts for the holidays or any time.

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The Greatest Writer Alive

SPACES

If your house
got into a fight
with all the other houses on the block
would it win?

Does it have the character?
Does it have the heart?

When we are all asleep
and the buildings get together
and share stories
about us living inside them
Does your house use a funny voice
to mimic the way you talk to your dog?

Does your house ever worry
that you are going to leave it
for some bigger better place
closer to the ocean
with a kitchen you can eat in
and floors that look old but aren’t?

Would you tell it you were going
or just up and disappear one day?
Pay some men
to gut it
and stow its innards in a truck
leave its closets full of dry cleaning hangers
and pennies you couldn’t vacuum out of the carpet corners.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

QUESTIONNAIRE

Have you already taken
the greatest photograph that you will ever take?
What does it look like?

Where do you keep it?

How do you know?

As an adult
have you run
top speed
naked through a field?

More than once?

Have you been inside every
room in your house today?

How about every closet?

How long since you’ve been in every closet?

Too long I bet.

There’s plenty to be learned in those closets.
Fields.
Wasted snapshots.

And you paid for them.

Get in there.

Root around.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

TYPE

Scientists discovered a new prime number.
It has thirteen million digits.
It took seventy five computers
to figure it out.

You can never count to it.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

QUILT

I would like to make a quilt
as heavy as those vests you have to wear
when they take your x ray at the dentist
only full of small flowers instead of lead
like a lavender potpourri,
but big enough to cover my entire bed
and me as well.

No reason for this.
No marketing plan.

Just think it would feel nice.
Like being hugged
by a giant friend.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

SPIRIT ANIMALS

There’s a very unique feeling
that happens in your stomach
when you clean out your car
and decide to throw away
a dreamcatcher.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

THOUGHTS OF A PROPERTY MANAGER

Been washing the cement
on this same parking lot
every day for the past six years.

No one pays me.
Just like doing it.

It doesn’t get much cleaner
than it was the day before.

But the smell is nice

And I get to wave to people
on their way
to whatever jobs
they’ve been cut out to do.

Don’t know the name of the man who owns this parking lot
or where this hose is connected
but I like what I do.

And I don’t have to dress up for it.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

UPON RETURNING TO THE HARDCORE SHOW

I am towed under
by a wave
of small dangerous bodies
forged from a collective evil
puffed up and buzzing with energy
mottled like a hornet’s nest
and equally frail in practice.

I feel in an instant
like the happiest man alive
like a victor, bathed sunshine
and blanketed by rainbows.

I am no longer screaming
no longer flailing
I am still
and I am thankful
and haven’t for sometime
heard a song
that moved me

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

THORNS

At the freeway off ramp
a man offers me roses for five dollars.
Clipped to his collar
he has a chili pepper pin
which lights up and plays music.
It is three dollars.

It seems we’ve invented
a better, cheaper rose.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

REVOLUTION

As it turns out
when most people tell you they want to change things
what they really mean to say
is they want to change
the size and color
of the room
in which things take place.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

NOTES

The next time someone
parks their car
in a way
that annoys you so much
that you feel the need to leave them a note
telling them about it,
you should instead
just write them a note that says-
“Dear Jeff, now I know where to find you.
Don’t think I forgot about what you did to my little girl.
I’ll be watching you…”
Then draw a picture of a knife at the bottom.

This way, if they are not named Jeff
they will certainly reconsider parking
in or around this area so as not to be mistaken for Jeff
and if by chance they are named Jeff… well,
victory is yours.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

MAKING IT

In Hollywood
there is a zoo
that only celebrities get to go to
and take their children to
with magic animals
you can’t find anywhere else.

The children can ride the animals there.
And all the animals can talk.
One of the talking animals is a friendly griffin.
It is named Dulcimer.
It can juggle.
Sometimes it juggles knives.

Once Michael Jordan came
to the celebrity zoo
and he played Dulcimer the Griffin
in a game of one on one.

Dulcimer won of course.
Because he can fly.
And because Michael Jordan is 45 years old.
But it was a real close game.

If you move away from your loving family
and come to Hollywood
and get a job on TV playing a
popular dead outlaw
who killed innocent people
in the old west,
the Chamber of Commerce
might just tell you where this zoo is.

And then you can meet a
real life werewolf.
And take a picture with it
and send that picture
to all the people
in your life
who ever called you fat.

Dallas Clayton

The Greatest Writer Alive

ARCHITECT

Unfortunately
for most
who don’t regularly practice religion
the feeling of visiting a church
is most closely related
with seeing friends marry
and seeing friends dead.

Thus, to the spectator,
the place becomes
a selective devourer
teetering back and forth
from innocuous
cobblestone building
to gobbling wonderhouse.

A corner shop
whose insides forever change you
from what you were when you entered
to something completely different when you left.

Like going to the mall
in the middle of winter
to watch a baby delivered in the coin fountain
then five years later
back to the mall
to see it drowned.

Dallas Clayton