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

Non-Poetry

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

Oct 24, 2014

October. Surprise!

The VA mess
The IRS
Where did those crises go?

The few rebukes
To Iran’s nukes
Come from a TV show

There was that plane
In the Ukraine
And one more flight that vanished
But any thoughts
Of those reports
Have from our brains been banished

The story’s gone
And we move on
To film the next disaster
You know my views
On breaking news
The cycles just come faster

And when I’ve had
A day that’s bad
Amidst a bleak and blues week
I think with joy
How, as a boy
I’d read my Time and Newsweek

The only bleat
They all repeat
Concerns the next election
As we advance
We have the chance
To pause for some reflection

I’ve heard the shouts
From those with doubts
And, on the web, the chatter
It’s just a game
They’re all the same
It doesn’t really matter

Don’t think that way
Resolve today
To let your vote be counted
With Congress filled
By some more skilled
Our ills can be surmounted
 
No pol can make
A path to take
That’s strewn with palms and petals
But I prefer
The way things were
To dust that never settles.

Oct 17, 2014

May I Have a Word...


I don’t have any evidence
And can’t produce the stats
But I’ve seen a steep decline these days
In water-cooler chats

Whether manager to manager
Or boss-man to his minion
Everyone’s reluctant
To express their own opinion

Where once the nations issues
Were discussed daily and freely
We barely say a word or else
At best, our mouths are mealy

We don’t want to offend
Or to appear to be a bully
And so, across the nation
Not a thing’s debated fully

We’re warned the wrong opinions
Are akin to verbal violence
As such, mature Americans
Are all maintaining silence

I'm foursquare for forbearance
I know what awaits the meek
But today’s another story
And the time has come to speak

If you think winning the Senate
And some House seats might be nice
Follow, heed and listen to
This poet’s sage advice

Find just one soul you know
Who disagrees with you politically
Take the time to make your case
And get him thinking critically

Appeal to his emotions
Or deploy some common sense
Tell him now is not the time
For sitting on the fence

Give him all the facts you can
And with those facts you’ll find
The thing about Progressives is
They often change their mind

 
Efforts that eventually
Lead nations to the prize
All started with a single word
A word...said to the wise.

Oct 7, 2014

Musical Chairs

 
They have a guiding principle
To use when times are tough
But somehow still they manage
To keep doing stupid stuff
 
But here’s the change we didn’t see
How things are not the same
For all the stupid stuff they’ve done
No one gets the blame
 
Libya’s a nightmare
And Crimeans all speak Russian
But in assessing Hillary
That’s not part of the discussion
 
The Secret Service blinked
And now the scrutiny’s intense
Some guy shot at the windows
And another hopped the fence
 
All the statements they put out
Had lies and junk and jazz in them
And yet the President asserts
The confidence he has in them
 
OK, the Secret Service
Has just lost its latest leader
But the story isn’t over
As I predict, Dear Reader
 
So if I see the tea leaves right
And I’m a shrewd discerner
In just about a week
She’ll be replacing Lois Lerner
 
This attitude eludes me
And I find it sort of strange
Let’s hope that this November
That some things will start to change

Sep 30, 2014

Song for the New Campus Romance

It Isn’t Anything At All Like Love

 Can I kiss you?
Did you say yes?
Can I say
I like the way
You look in that dress?
Can I hold you close and cuddle you tight?
All night
Does that look in your eyes mean that you might?

While I waited for you to answer
I stopped and I thought it through
Is it worth all this aggravation?
So here’s what it comes down to

It might be special
It could be nice
It could be sugary
There might even be spice

But it’s nothing now
I’d be covetous of…

It isn’t anything at all like love

They’ve taken the love from loving
It’s only a masquerade
We’d come to an understanding
Except you’re not getting paid

It might be special
It could be nice
It could be sugary
There might even be spice
But it’s nothing now
I’m covetous of

It isn’t anything at all
Not anything at all
Nothing at all
Like
Love

Sep 13, 2014

No Comment


I once advised great legal minds
To shut their doors and draw their blinds
To hide their views and mask their wit
If, on The Court, they hoped to sit
For nominees were known to fail
Because they left a paper trail
 
But paper fades and so does ink
Time marches on and mem’ries shrink
If what we wrote or spoke was rotten
It’s likely both were long forgotten
 
A poor remark or choice of words
A slander on the Turks or Kurds
A joke, that got too closed to race
Was breathed and gone…without a trace
 
Now everything that’s vile or sordid
Is saved and easily recorded
The world can see the trail you’ve left
It’s posted and you’re *.pdf’ed
 
And old e-mail makes quite a mess
Unless you’re with the IRS
 
So have a thought and then, amend it
Edit it before you send it
 
Then look both ways before you walk
And think things through before you talk
 
This is the day that progress brought--
A world with no uncensored thought.

Aug 15, 2014

Make Love Poems not War Poems

Poetry is meant for Love
And meditations, sage
The poetry of anger
Might just make me turn the page
And only Dylan Thomas
Ever begged a Muse to rage

But every week I’m tasked
To put in verse what’s on my mind
Alas, it’s all toward anger
That I find my soul inclined

 What are you so mad about?
I hear my critics scold
You’re living in Tarzana
And you’re comfortable and old

Even though I’m Catholic
Confession’s what I’m bad at
I find my passion most inflamed
When it’s me I’m mad at

I have a weekly platform
To amuse or to persuade
I didn’t make it happen
And that’s why I’m dismayed

Whether you think 43
Was blundering or deft
The world he had to deal with
Was the one that Clinton left

And likewise for Obama
Now, there’s just no route around it
He needed to address the world
Exactly as he found it

It’s great to be a leader, friend
But here’s the little catch
In terms of foreign policy
No one gets to start from scratch

Although you wouldn’t have gone there
And you didn’t want to stay
You can’t just close your eyes
And wish your enemies away

Isis is out slaughtering
Yazidis, Kurds, and Coptics
While back on Martha’s Vineyard
You’re just dealing with the optics

And oh the optics we have seen
The visions that we’ve shared
Where cruelty’s not cruel enough
No innocent is spared

I trust the oaths of enemies
And ends to which they’ve vowed
And that’s what leaves this poet mad
And crying…out loud

Aug 8, 2014

Freedom Tower


O, to see my city like a mall gone mad
Macy’s with no marble
And full of flat screens
The Museum Store
With its reproductions of Etruscan treasure
Replaced
Displaced
By Starbucks

“The Cellar” looking like just any other floor
Where once I went to work out
Lifting the lids of Le Creuset skillets because I couldn’t afford a gym
I am a visitor in my own home
Standing in my old backyard
Where even the grass has changed

The city streets seem the same but not at all
Hang on, you t-shirt shops
Hang on, you grey market electronics merchants
And counterfeit luggage dealers
Sellers of souvenirs and genuine Brazilian hair

Sadly, you are all that familiar remains
But sadder yet
Sadder still
Saddest of all
Is a brand new building
Tall, beautiful and bright

But like no building ever before--lonely

Aug 2, 2014

Prose and Cons

Some think that strength is weakness
And that borders are for breaching
Or that our country’s like a whale
That’s set a course for beaching
Regardless, heedless leadership
Won’t hear what we’re beseeching
 
At times, I feel my poetry
Is to the choir, preaching
I balance rhyme with reason
When effects might be far-reaching
 
And I believe a whisper
Has more influence than screeching
Lest we be roundly criticized
For vastly over-reaching
 
My reputations stained enough
And may not take more bleaching
But times will make a moment
And this moment’s made for teaching
And so the subject of my poem
Quite clearly is…impeaching
 
Wise men say the republic
Is secure and quite-long-lived
They point out painful Presidents
The nation has survived
 
That sure is smart I grant you
But I’ll say something smarter
Eight years of Obama
Is like sixteen years of Carter
 
The Framers raised a mansion
With the strength designed to take it
But every day that passes
I’m not certain we can make it
 
The only piece of comfort
Is each morning I remember
That if we trust the polls
We only need to reach November
 
Then more new paths are opened
And all our options widen
Among which is the prospect
Of President Joe Biden

Jul 25, 2014

1914-2014 WWIII?


O, wither thou world?
Like a ship, un-helmed
Led by the wicked
Or the overwhelmed

Armies are fighting
Of all shapes and sizes
And they’re not impressed
By those Nobel prizes

Every dreary day now
Defeats the last
With each red line crossed
And each deadline passed

Talks have been extended
For an extra inning
Anything to keep
Those centrifuges spinning

All the while planning
For some greater glory
High atop a rocket
--End of story

China caught a cold
Vietnam is sneezing
Tensions in Korea
Sure are easing

I haven't seen the planet
Quite this hot
Since a century ago
When the Duke got shot

I’m a very happy poet
And I like to smile
But I haven’t done it much
For quite a while

It’s hard not to develop
An intense foreboding
In a week with churches
And planes exploding

I wouldn’t trust a truce
As far as I could throw it
We’re in World War III
And we just don’t it

Jul 11, 2014

Cleveland Really Rocks Tonight


A brand new day has dawned
Another era has begun
We welcome the return
Of Cleveland’s second-favorite son

No more will those Ohioans
Complain and moan and grumble
No more will they disdain the drive;
Obsess about the fumble

There’s something on the news today
I’ve not seen for a while
The sun came up this morning
And I saw a city smile

The science ISN’T settled
Fortune CAN be brooked by men
Thomas Wolfe was wrong
Because you can go home again

I read the words the athlete wrote
I read the words and cried
If any man says that he didn’t
I say that man just lied

How rare and wonderful a thing
Dear sisters and dear brothers
That someone pondering their path
Should think so much of others

And how amid your triumphs
Find the courage that it takes
To stand before the world
And to acknowledge your mistakes

Now I’m ecstatic too
Because as everybody knows
Our nation’s outlook turns
The way the Cuyahoga flows

The Cleveland streets are joyous now
But soon we may all learn
How happier “C-Town” can be…
Should “Johnny Radio” return

Jul 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, America

Each birthday sees another year
We put into our past
And we remark, as they approach,
“This year’s gone by so fast”

We gain a little wisdom
And we lose a little hair
And vow we’ll do more exercise
And eschew he ├ęclair

We’ll learn to speak a language
Or to play the bass guitar
But birthday resolutions
Just don’t get us very far

Our nation has a birthday
And we mark it every year
With spectacles and speeches
Both the raucous and austere

With cannonades and concerts
Folks at PBS are staging
While failing to appreciate
Our country, too, is aging

We’re one more year removed
From when our founders filled the hall
To sign a piece of parchment
And together risk it all
 
They had, if you look carefully
But little chance of winning
And hardly a conception
Of the battle just beginning

The way is long and dangerous
And struggles seldom cease
In the fight to nurture liberty
And insure domestic peace

No year will go by quietly
And each tomorrow brings
A testament of tyrants
And a cast of would-be kings

Those who want the power
But ignore both law and letter
Who defend such usurpations
By asserting they know better.

They say they love the nation
But have funny ways to show it
And one by one like birthdays
Freedom’s gone before you know it.

So resolve to serve your country
And the threats now placed upon her
By pledging your...attention
And, of course, your sacred honor