Mar 6, 2015

How to Get Away With....

It’s happening all over
Just like you remember when
The vast right wing conspiracy
Is on the move again

They’ve got their pitchforks sharpened
And their banners all unfurled
To see if they can stop
The smartest woman in the world

Their motives may be many
But their tactics are revealing
They just don’t want a woman
Crashing through that Crystal Ceiling

The campaign clouds have gathered
And when it pours, it’s rainin’
So now it seems for certain
She’ll have to do some ‘splainin’

I’ve done my best to save her from
Conservative abuses
By working out and offering
Some plausible excuses

She could just come out swinging
But not with crude or crass words
“I would have used department mail
But couldn’t recall my passwords”
She could play contrite and thoughtful
If she wants another take
“Yes, I’m sorry that this happened,
But what difference does it make.”

At last I think I’ve figured out
Her most effective play
If I were Mrs. Clinton
Then here’s what I would say.

"The subjects were so sensitive
I couldn’t take a chance
I had a secret server built
In Sandy Berger’s pants.”

So there’s a few excuses
And there could be many more
Or I guess that she could use
A few that she has used before.

Feb 27, 2015

Rules from Radicals

I woke up in the morning
And I felt like eggs
Laid by California chickens
Who can stretch their legs

Eggs sold in California
Now are more expensive
‘Cause chicken regulations here
Are more extensive

And if I want to scramble here or poach or fry here
There’s restrictions on the kind of eggs that I can buy here
When I paid the price they wanted
For my egg repast
Covered California called
And told me, “Not so fast!”

Eggs are not the type of protein
That our guideline states
And if you eat that omelet
Then we’ll raise your rates

Well, that kinda’ irritated me
The truth be told
So I called my representative
Got put on hold

Those geniuses in Congress
They could use some scolding
I called him up on Monday
But I’m still here holding
That kind of petty tyranny’s a
Downward spiral
So I thought I’d make a video
And take it viral

I knew that on the internet
I’d find some love
But the only sites that loaded
Ended with “dot-gov”

And I learned that every video
Or poem I post
Was subject to approval
By a licensed host

Then I woke up from my nightmare
And was filled with sorrow
For everything I dreamed
Is coming true tomorrow.
This final little couplet mirrors my frustration.
The bigger the government, the smaller the nation.

Feb 13, 2015

2Poems 2Day

Pep Talk
It just won’t fit inside my brain.
Who goes to war to just contain?
It’s such an old familiar song.
Let’s move on in; but not for long
Let’s go and give this thing a shot
And give it half of what we’ve got
Strategies that I’ve devised are cooler now, and hipper
So follow me, America
Let’s tie one for the Gipper
The Language of Flowers
Once a year, like clockwork
For 24 Sweet Hours
The whole world speaks one language
They say it all with flowers
So as the florists flutter
From house to house with greening
Allow me to explain to you
That each bouquet has meaning
Knowledge of this language
And related floracopeia
Can bring discerning gentlemen
The nearer to utopia
The messages are subtle
But men must all take notice
If you send her red roses
And she sends back a lotus
Red roses stand for passion
Enduring through futurity
Alas, the lovely lotus stands
For chastity and purity
So if you bring her roses
And she a lotus brings
Be ready with a sunflower
Which stands for higher things
Embrace a vase of pansies
If her pure heart is hard
And send her back some daffodils
To show a warm regard
With luck you might impress her
And melt away her coldness
She’ll send you a Delphinium
A metaphor for boldness
You reply with ivy
Which shows you’re on the level
As ivy stands for faithfulness
You clever little devil.
So why not pop the question
And start the celebration
The bride will have forget-me-nots
And I’ll wear a carnation

Feb 5, 2015

The More You Know

I’ve always been so grateful
To the folks at NBC
They’ve done the best they can
To make a better man of me

They told me to eat vegetables
And how to raise my kids
With strategies to help avoid
The plague and AIDS and SIDS

They told me not to bully
And what exercise to try
To think before I texted
And what pick-up truck to buy

They said, about opinions
None are better, none are worse
Provided that my own
Were all sufficiently diverse

I listened to them faithfully
And did what they were urgin’
Including, by example,
How to pick a plastic surgeon

You just can’t watch those promos
Without notice or acknowledgin’
That what these folks are expert in
Are Botox, tucks, and collagen
The Emmys and the Peabody
They put up on their shelves
Proves that they’re correct—
In how they feel about themselves

Those know-it-alls at NBC
They’re really awful nice
And so I think it’s my turn now
To offer good advice

Here’s a little lesson
I think all of them should try
The truth, in every circumstance,
Is better than a lie

Please add that to the archive
‘Cause it’s clear, the more you know
The healthier your life will be...
Your friend, Tarzana Joe

Jan 30, 2015

Unboxing Poetry with Tarzana Joe


Poem 529

Every year, the Beltway crowd
All get a little thrill
As they take the White House budget
On its journey to The Hill
You’ll hear familiar phrases like,
“Well, this will never fly.”
While others, with annoyance say,
“The ink’s not even dry.”
The most familiar phrasing?
According to the vets here
The folks who say, “That’s D.O.A.”
Before it even gets here!”

But what we saw this week
Is really quite unprecedented
The people rose in outrage
And the President relented.

Tax exempted savings
Which the government still backs
Would, when you took the money out
Be subject to a tax.

The money was for college kids
So folks like us could school them
But trying to explain it
Even Gruber couldn’t fool them

The reason that the White House
Says they made the quick redaction?
The rule was controversial
And they didn’t want the distraction

Some were just astounded
You could hear them gasp and golly
While others see this back down
As a footnote to the folly
But scouts are sent ahead
To see the way the tracks get laid
That’s why the world needs poets
And the big bucks we get paid

I see a stand for common sense
And this is what we learned
Hill 529 will be the mountain
Where momentum turned

The people now are up in arms
Let’s keep them on the run
In just this magic moment
The revolution has begun!

Jan 26, 2015

Say it Ain't So

News Flash!  The cast of Downton Abbey wins the SAG Award for best acting.  Howzat?  The announcement was made the same night History Channel debuted “Sons of Liberty” which is all about taxation without representation.  Well, I’ve got news for you SAG members.  Your tax dollars are going to pay for the salaries of the non-SAG actors, writers, directors and crew of Downton.  What?  Do you think that the UK’s Carnival Film and Television lets PBS broadcast it for free? 

 This has outraged me for years.  Every dollar of the PBS budget should be spent on American production in America.   But my dear SAG members, not only do they take your tax dollars to pay UK talent, every evening they ask you to donate more.  Hugh Bonneville gets a job and you get a tote bag.

And one more thing…”Sons of Liberty” was made in Romania.

Jan 23, 2015

SOTU; A Perspective

I tuned in the speech
And I listened intently
To see how the country
Had changed, fundamentally

 I read all the papers
And watch all the news
I’m pretty well versed
On the facts and my views

But after I heard
What the President said
I learned, to my shame
I’ve been terribly led

My Tea Party friends
Are deceived or deluded
The POTUS has spoken
And so I concluded

To get with the plan
I spent most of the night
Doing the homework
To get my head right.

To open the door
And to turn a new leaf
And so I can say
It is now my belief

That the world is at peace
But the climate’s a crisis
A heat wave in June
Is more trouble than Isis

Selma is better than
12 Years a Slave
Snipers are cowards
But drone-ers are brave

Our plan for Iran
Is productive and clever
And such a success
Talks may go on forever

The deal with Fidel
Was the best we could get
Our friendship with Russia
Is being re-set

We’ve got a great team
And a marvelous bench
And now everyone knows
That John Kerry speaks French

Thanks to the law
We’re all happy and healthy
Let's go for a ride
On the backs of the wealthy

As for 529’s
Well, the government backs them
But when you withdraw
Then we’re going to tax them

He’s willing to hear
What the House is proposing
His office is open
But Gitmo is closing

It’s no never-mind
We’re the world’s biggest debtor

Thanks for the speech
Now I feel so much better

Jan 17, 2015

State of the Union - A reply

Following is my humble suggestion for how Joni Ernst should begin her reply to President Obama's State of the Union speech.

On behalf of the Republican Party, I want to thank you, my fellow Americans, for voting this November and for voting to give our party majorities in both the House and Senate.  We thank you for the victories but more importantly we thank you for the trust that you have placed in our policies and our ability to see them through. 

The most important opinion on the state of the union is not the President’s.  It isn’t even mine.  It is yours.  And you have made that opinion very clear.

You do not want a health insurance system that is even more complicated and less responsive than it was before.  You don’t want an immigration system that punishes the lawful and rewards the lawless.  You don’t want to see more and more people leave the job market and hear the administration call that an accomplishment. 

You want a government that won’t try to deceive or mislead you because the consultants and the czars in Washington think you don’t know what’s best for you.  You want to work and travel with the confidence that our country is secure from those who would do us harm.  You want to know that our military is properly equipped and responsibly deployed.  And when an American is wounded, you want to see that soldier receive respect and the highest level of care.

Sadly, in the last six years, you saw things happen in this country and in Washington that made you decide you wanted to go in another direction.  So let me tell you how we think we can all get there…

Jan 14, 2015

A Preview of this Week's Poem

Welcome to our world
Dear Harvard Professors
You now have to choose
Of two evils,
The lessers

Ignore all the facts
And keep singing your song
Or step up to the mike
And admit you were wrong

You wrote, at the time
That high costs should be shared
But hoped, way back when
That somehow you’d be spared

I know what you’re thinking
You don’t have to say it
A tax is regressive
If you have to pay it

But sorry to tell you
Ye Brahmins and solons
You’ll now pay for tests
Of your breasts and your colons

And when we have finished
Examining those
For everything else
May you pay through the nose.

Jan 9, 2015

Rough Week

The week started out with Harvard professors complaining about their ineluctable deductibles so I wrote a poem about that.  Then there was the horror in Paris so I thought I couldn't go on the air with a funny poem.  I wrote a poem about that.  Then there was a voice (or maybe voices) that said the cartoonists brought this on themselves by provoking the terrorists.  Well, every self-respecting, world-respecting weekly radio poet has to write a poem about that.  And in the midst of all this, our President announces a major policy goal.  Really?

Well, I first wrote a poem about Harvard
When suddenly just before noon
The poem that I wrote about health care
Was now all about a cartoon

I wrote a poem about murder
And then at a quarter to ten
I was told to re-think my position
So I went back and wrote it again

I was warned if my words drew reprisals
And then tragedy out of them came
When the moral result was considered
Then people like me were to blame

I was cowed by this cold admonition
More than I want to acknowledge
So I went back and crafted a sonnet
Making fun of community college

“How dare you!” the faculty shouted
They condemned every word that I spoke
“Take it easy, professor,” I answered
“After all, it was only a joke.”

But the pitchforks and torches were flaming
And the outcry was angry and fierce
“I’m sorry if I have offended…
And a lot of my friends go to Pierce.”

But their shouts were still shrill and insistent
Somewhat muffled behind their bandana
They hollered that I was elitist
And suggested that I leave Tarzana

Now, I’m no fan of hot confrontations
Tell the truth, I’m a bit of a bleeder
So I scribbled the poem I just read you
Which I wrote hiding out in Reseda

It’s been a tough week for a poet
Or a spokesmen who’s part opportunist
And a terrible week for the planet
But it’s worse if you were a cartoonist.

Dec 25, 2014

Why is this Week Different?

I’d like to take my pen in hand
And write a little rant
I’d like to vent invective
But it’s Christmas, and I can’t

I’d like to raise my voice
And say the words mom said I couldn’t
I’d like to bruise the language
But it’s Christmas, and I shouldn’t

I’d like to lose my temper
Though my friends all tell me, “Don’t!”
I need an angry outburst
But it’s Christmas, and I won’t

We find a world that’s fallen
And not working as it should be
He came for all the nations
So through sacrifice, it could be
But soon the souls he came to save
Saw insurrection brewing
And though he only spoke of Love
They plotted his undoing
And when the things they plotted
Brought the Savior to his knees
The last words that he uttered were,
“Forgive them, Father, please.”

The spirit may be willing
But the flesh is often weak
How hard it is to understand
And turn the other cheek

So when I’m moved to anger
Even in a world gone mad
I think of His example
For it’s Christmas, and I’m glad

Dec 18, 2014

Red Kettle Rhymes

In Spring, the birds are singing
And in gardens, pretty petals
While now, the bells are ringing
And on corners, there are kettles

Those birds and buds embody
The renewal they proclaim
The coins inside those kettles…
Well, the do about the same

That flowering empowers
The potential in the earth
Your contributions also
Are a part of that rebirth
For where the lost and least
Are waiting, whispering a prayer
Your gracious generosity
Can put an Army there

So when you feel the spirit
And you’re doing as you should
Make sure, then, that you’re giving
Where you’re doing the most good

The Army that I speak of
Is essential to our nation
Named and motivated
By the promise of Salvation

The hosts who speak for Salem
Are committed to their mission
And each year they engage in
Somewhat friendly competition

Prager’s in the running
But Bill Bennett’s in the tank
Gallagher’s so far ahead
We think he robbed a bank.

I urge you to contribute
And I’m confident you’ll do it
So please go click the button
By the picture of Hugh Hewitt
With your participation
Hewitt’s vic’try is a cinch
So please go make it happen
Or he’ll turn into the Grinch.

Dec 5, 2014

Advent 2014

I know it isn’t prudent
And I know it isn’t wise
But every time the news comes on
I just avert my eyes

I sure don’t want to hear it
And I sure don’t want to see
The planet isn’t spinning now
The way it ought to be

I sense a lot of people
Are in trouble getting sleep
The days are short, the weather sharp,
The way is dark and deep

The sun is at its farthest point
The tides have turned away
We’re in a time of trouble
Just as all the prophets say

Though justice is a stranger
And faith and trust are lacking
Somewhere in the wilderness
A caravan is packing

For in the gloom of winter
They see a single star
And know by love and learning
What its implications are

They make no hesitation
Though roads could use some paving
Because they know the journey
Is their duty and their saving

So keep your eyes wide open
Be sure to stay awake
Be ready for the lessons
On the journey you might make

For in the times of trial
And gloom of endless night
The wise are always watchful
For a little point of light

Nov 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Recently, I’ve pondered on
A curious phenomenon
As we acquire more and more
We find less to be thankful for
My iPhone 5 is really great
I wish that it was up to date
Somehow I feel that I deserve
To own a flat-screen with a curve
Or get what’s bigger, faster, better
Oh how I need another sweater!
That’s why I think in each November
We pause a moment to remember
How, with each breath our blessings mount
And how we should our blessings count
And in that moment of reflection
Resolve to seek a new direction
Before we face another Fall
To do our best and give our all
That by our labors and our arts
We upgrade what’s within our hearts
Oh Lord, allow to be renewed
Our undiminished gratitude
To cherish life each time we pray
On this and every other day

Please remember that the best stocking stuffer for the poetry lover in your life is

“It Only Hurts When I Rhyme” (Tarzana Joe, collected!)  It is available in paperback from xlibris and in print or Kindle version from amazon.




Nov 21, 2014

A Tapestry of Contradictions

I didn’t think it’d get this bad
I’d laugh, except it’s all so sad
In fact, I think it’s quite as bad as it could ever get
A promise is no promise
And a threat is not a threat

Instead it’s gloom that’s spreading
When he swore he’d spread the wealth
And now it’s gone so far,
He’s even lying to himself

He told us we could keep the plan and doctor that we liked
But soon it was the promise not a football that got spiked

He told the world at large there was a line that couldn’t be crossed
It must have slipped his mind or else the paperwork got lost

He had a plan for peace
That he assured us wouldn’t fail
He put aside the hammer
“Because not ever job’s a nail”
He swore before cadets
But he couldn’t even keep that vow
For even he agrees
We kind of need that hammer now

He said he had no power to erase or change a law
Something must have happened; he don’t think that way no more

Those who give the notion there’s a God the shortest shrift
Say, “Could God create a stone so big that even he couldn’t lift?”

Now I’ll make a prediction and so here’s what I predict.
The man can’t make a statement even he won’t contradict.

Nov 20, 2014

A Poem for the Moment

I say let’s send them all to France
This flood of new Obamagrants
Today, he calls for fresh migration
To build a new Obamanation
Had I the standing, I’d be suing
Poor man, he knows not what he’s doing
To those who think that I’m not fair.
May I present…Obamacare

Nov 14, 2014

King v. Burwell

The justices will now convene
Debate and then concur well
Petitioner is David King
Respondent is Ms. Burwell

The question that’s before the court
The matter that’s “in res”
Is simply if the blinking law
Means the things it says

I’m glad the court took up the bill
For clarity, we need it
Now someone back in Washington
Will have to sit and read it

They need to parse each paragraph
There’s so much that’s at stake
I hope there’s Red Bull in reserve
To keep the bench awake

I’m no Supreme Court Justice
But there can’t be much debate
The law says plans are subsidized
If purchased through “a State”

Though, as they’ve now admitted
The plan was just a trick
Subsidies were carrots
All the rest…a stick

They thing they hadn’t counted on
The outcome that’s so strange is
Some governors could not be fooled
And didn’t set up exchanges

But that didn’t stop the IRS
(I think they’re off their meds)
They said that they could subsidize
Exchanges run by Feds

Opponents quickly pointed out
The law says no such thing
Ms. Burwell, though, consented.
Then enter, Mr. King.

And now the Court has granted “cert.”
Who thought it’d come so far?
Here’s hoping Mr. Gruber learns
How clever judges are.

Nov 12, 2014

Non-Poetry 2

Warning, Will Robinson

Of all the wonderful words in Mark Steyn’s new book, the ones that made the greatest impression on me are on the cover.  It’s the subtitle, “Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned”.  It struck me that literature and history are full of warnings.  Some are heeded and some are ignored.  Warnings that are not heeded make good drama but bad history.   Oedipus was warned.   So was Neville Chamberlain.  The familiar phrase, “Beware the Ides of March,” illustrates both outcomes.  Dismissed by Caesar, it led to his death and a civil war.  Employed by Shakespeare, it gave his little play on the affair a bit of tension.

The Canadian Cassandra also brought to mind another drama.  “Biedermann and the Firebugs” was written by Max Frisch in 1953.  It opens with Herr Biedermann reading a newspaper story about an epidemic of arson fires in his city.  No sooner does he put his paper down than a man with a can of gasoline arrives and asks Biedermann if he has a room for the night.  What will Biedermann do?

Likewise, I recall an episode of the 1965 TV series, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” based on Jean Kerr’s book of the same name.  Please don’t ask me how I remember this when I don’t remember my dentist’s last name…but I do.  In the story, the family dog has a cavity filled which somehow turns his head into a radio receiver.  I know, it’s not quite Shakespeare.  On the rover-radio, the family overhears the conversation of two crooks planning to swindle them out of their home or the gold buried in the basement or something else of significance (I can’t remember everything).  What does this average American family do with the amazing information?

Not every prophesy comes true.  The failure of most predictions is predictable.  But every decision should be made with an appreciation of consequences easily foreseen.

A vote is a decision and we have been reminded that not voting is a decision too. 

Steyn and others have warned us of the danger to our freedom, our lives and liberty, and the advance of human civilization that is the clear, coming result of looking for ways to cooperate with those that have announced their plans to kill you.  When the leader of ISIS says he will see us in New York, he means it.  The words are not talking points scribbled that morning by a consultant. 
But we don’t want to hear or heed al-Baghdadi or Steyn.  We won’t believe or appreciate that our enemies (we have enemies?) have not adopted the obvious benefits of diversity and gender equality.  Or if we do or suspect, our current administration doesn’t.  They keep telling us everything will be alright and who doesn’t want to hear that?  The wonderful Jaime Gorelick insists it was better that the CIA and FBI couldn’t collaborate and the warning was never given.  What’s a couple of buildings compared to your progressive suspicion of American institutions?

In 1965, that sitcom family, led by the incredibly feminine and wonderfully strong Pat Crowley, got the warning from the dog, called the cops, set up a sting, and bagged the bad guys.  How quaint.

Will Robinson listened to Robot and Dr. Smith didn’t.

Biedermann was certain that no arsonist could outsmart him.  He couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  There was no point in setting fires anyway.  What would be the purpose?  And his houseguests filled the attic with cans of gasoline.  In the end, he helps measure the fuse and hands them the matches.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Nov 10, 2014


Your Tuition is Due

In the 2012 campaign, President Obama promised to work tirelessly to cut the growth of college costs in half during the next ten years.  Perhaps he hoped his audience would only hear, “I promise to blah-blah cut college costs blah-blah in half.”  Nope.  He was only pledging to cut the “growth”.  Between 2003 and 2013 college tuition grew at almost 80%.  So this presidential promise (out six years beyond his impeach-by date, mind you) was to work a Washington miracle and cut the growth in tuition to 40%.  That’s like JFK vowing to get us half-way to the moon (sometime soon).  Oh, and by the way, the cost of textbooks has increased at almost the same rate—nearly double the rate of growth for health care costs.  Got to go write me one of them there textbooks.

As a parent of a college student, the President’s promise hit me like a puck to the pocket.  But I searched and Googled to no avail.  I couldn’t find anyone that had commented on this pathetic response to a very real problem facing the beleaguered and beloved middle class.  Then I looked at the proposal with the liberal mind-set.  If the Education Department budget grew 10% in fiscal 2006 but only 9% in fiscal 2007, George Bush had actually CUT the education budget, insuring the nation would produce generations of dolts for years to come.  So by promising to cut the rate of growth in half, President Obama was being more than ambitious; he was being, as usual, audacious.

College debt is devastating for today’s graduating classes.  But excusing the debt is not the answer.  A lunch you don’t pay for is rarely free. A house that you don’t pay for is rarely maintained.  An education you don’t pay for is hardly worth it.  And student debt is not the only problem. 

Most parents I know don’t want to see their kids in deep debt-debt at 23.  So they look for other ways to cut college costs.  One attractive avenue is the athletic scholarship.  For a young woman who likes soccer or softball or volleyball, it’s a great opportunity.  But just like with academics, the competition for the athletic scholarship is getting fierce.  Enter professional coaches, year-round training and performance enhancing drugs.  We may not be raising dolts, but we will soon have a generation of women without any cartilage in their knees.

Now, here come the anecdotes, so be careful.  I know parents of high school water polo players who have spent more time in emergency rooms than by the pool as their sons are treated for concussions, severe trauma, and underwater abuse to their private parts—all part of a compelling desire to win and get noticed by college scouts.  I know hockey moms who have been rehabbing multiple knees on multiple sons.  No one talks about “Roid Rage” any more but I have to think something chemical is causing normal sporting competition to become cut-throat.  And it isn’t only athletics.  I know parents who pushed their son so relentlessly to become a virtuoso and win a college band scholarship, he ended up leaving school and hating both the French horn and his parents.

So where is all this money going?  I will say that the amenities on my son’s campus are quite nice.  The University of Quantitative Easing is, at least, putting my hard earned poem payments into new dormitories with clothes dryers that send out a text message when the cool-down cycle is done.  The furniture in Room 585 is new and clean.  After I left college it was discovered that what I had been sleeping on was actually a pre-Columbian artifact.

I am not sure how to solve this problem.  But I do know that cutting the rate of growth in half is silly.  If the Republicans want to meet their constituents where they live and learn, this is an issue they should be looking at.

Oct 31, 2014

Halloween Horrors

On this, the darkest night of nights
Of beastly dreams and ghostly lights
I try to dodge the Devil’s host
And ponder on what scares me most
A poet, I’m a timid fellow
The streak that spans my back is yellow
If you say, “Boo!”
I have a hunch
That’s quite enough to lose my lunch
I don’t let ravens near my hearth
Or heavy breathers known as Darth
I see a threat in every shadow
I’m scared to death of Rachel Maddow
I don’t care what my father said
Monsters lurk beneath my bed
And when I peek, I pause and posit
If they’re not there, they’re in the closet
If I don’t see it, still I fear it
That nasty creaking!  Don’t you hear it?
Yes, every sound can raise a hackle
Like Hillary’s annoying cackle
Now comes a thought
That’s far more troubling
That scars the lungs
Like brimstone bubbling
A throbbing thought that far exceeds
The claws that reach, the brain that bleeds
That speeds at night from hell’s own vortice
And grips my soul like rigor mortis
What scares me most?
Here’s my confession
The Senate
In a Lame Duck Session
Spare us spirits!
Hear and Heed
Deliver us from Harry Reid