by Alan Balter

Public Domain


We have 206 bones in our skeletal system
Far too many to completely list ‘em
But here are a few for your edification
In case you missed ‘em in your education

Tibia, fibia, femur, and sternum
Are four of the larger if you’d care to learn ‘em
But malleus, incus and stapes I fear
Are the smallest you have, so they fit in your ear

You have a funny bone called the “humerus”
You’ve only got two, so they aren’t very numerous
Your ribs, on the contrary number twenty-four
Adam gave one away, still he had plenty more

Enclosing your brain is the hardest bone you’ve got
Known as the “cranium” more often than not
And “mandible” is the medical name for “jaw”
You rely on it mostly when it’s time to gnaw

Your phalanges are your fingers and toes
Both may be places where a ring goes
And down around your knees are your patellas
You scraped them a lot when you were young fellas

Your vertebrae make up your spine; you’ve got ‘em
Cervical, thoracic, and then lumbar near your bottom
They’re separated by small discs in between
But should one slip, the pain can be mean

Of course, there are others that are well-known
Like the radius, ulna, and coccyx bone
Sit them all down in a comfortable seat
And at a fancy restaurant, say “Bone Appetit!”



Alan Balter is a retired university professor who had a wonderful career, spanning 35 years, at Chicago State University where he prepared teachers for children with special needs. In retirement, he has published three novels, a half dozen personal essays, and a book entitled Poems for My Grandchildren and Everyone Else’s. He lives in Northbrook, Illinois with his wife Barbara, also a retired teacher, and they enjoy extensive travel and 14 grandchildren.


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