Friday, April 13, 2018

My Poem In The Journal Of Modern Poetry's 2018 Anthology, Dear Mr. President

Subterranean Homesick Blues (Rerouted & Updated)

by Tony Peyser

Donny's into debasement
Messing with your medicine
We’re on the pavement
Protesting the government
In a romp, drain the swamp
“The middle class’ll get paid off!”
Don’t buy that or deny that
He’s another Bernie Madoff.

Watch out, kid
For any takeover bid
Wall Street’s cheat sheet
Puts Main Street in the backseat
Ignore friendly Putin spies
In every DC alleyway
If you see Mike Pence,
Jump a fence & run the other way.

MAGA comes fleet foot
Free elections now kaput
The social media cheat put
More lies than his tweets could
The phone's tapped anyway
Trump’s a chump the Russkies pay
They must bust any day
Orders from Robert Mueller say.

Look out boy
For any Wikileaks ploy
Be careful how your ship goes
Don’t back down to those
Neo-Nazi tiki torch cryptos
Kick these lackeys in the khakis
You don't need the Weather Channel
To know which way the wind blows.

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Poem For Poetry & Autism Awareness Month

The Kindness Of A Stranger   

Our son (four years old, autistic) often
Yelled loud and then even louder:
After his diagnosis, pretty much every
Shred of normalcy took a powder.

Life with Jeremy was a buffet of panic
Wreaking havoc every day
And caused most people who we knew
To all silently drift away.

We desperately tried to hold onto what
Was left, yet while
We did just this, we still found ourselves
In unwanted exile

Which as the years passed by we did
Eventually learn
That this was a place from which you
Never fully return.

Many familiar ties were cut --- a loneliness
Hard to forget.
My wife & I then reached out to someone
We’d never met.


The man who got our letter knew we were
At the end of our rope.
He said talk to professionals and be sure to
Never give up hope.

He actually wrote us two letters: an amazing
Thing to have done.
The first one was meant for us but the second
One was to our son.

We didn’t realize right away that this man
Thought we would need
To imagine that our autistic son someday
Would actually read.

From such kindness can come strength
To banish fears,
Its repercussions felt and remembered
For years & years.


Hold on --- my bad --- I buried the lead.
I should’ve already said
This stranger’s last name was Rogers &
His first name was Fred.

(He might dispute the term “stranger” and it
Would take some getting used to:
Let’s say we were people in his neighborhood
He hadn’t yet been introduced to.)

It’s worth noting something now and
Not in any way that’s cursory.
2018’s a big landmark for his TV show:
It’s the fiftieth anniversary.

My 31 year-old son has a talking computer:
Jeremy’s good at multi-tasking.
Can he read? Oh, yeah. Of course. You bet.
(By the way, thanks for asking.)

Mr. Rogers died in 2003 but doesn’t seem gone.
For me, what he achieved in
Those two letters was passing along hope that
We hadn’t dared to believe in.

His spirit now lives in all those who recall him.
If you’re wondering could this
Great man could be summed up briefly? Sure:
The embodiment of goodness.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween In The Early 1980s Just South Of Melrose Avenue

Two drunk men in their fifties
Unsteady on their feet
With liquor on their breath
Are here to trick or treat.

It was rapidly established
They were on the skids.
I calmly said, “C’mon guys:
This holiday’s for kids.”

“I got a costume! I’m John
Ireland in 'Red River'
Said the man with a clock
Ticking on his liver.

(This fellow had no costume and lying
Would be an essential factor
If I were to say he even slightly looked
Like that aforementioned actor.)

I politely nodded. “Ireland was
Also terrific when
He portrayed that reporter in
'All The King’s Men.'”

“To hell with that,” he said
With a grin obscene.
“John nailed Tuesday Weld
When she was 16!”

I’d had enough by now and
Said, “Don’t get sore:
I have no candy --- however,
They do next door.”

I sent them off in that direction
Knowing they’d soon quiver:
The dog there was meaner than
Ireland was in "Red River."

All they got out was “Trick or --- ”
Ballistic went the mastiff.
They took off down the street
So incredibly fast if

Anyone saw them fleeing, they all would
In a sudden flash have sensed
That Los Angeles’ first evening marathon
Had improbably commenced.

I bet they ran for blocks, as outdated as
Archy and Mehitabel
Looking for a bar or another world that
Was more hospitable.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Lee Harvey Oswald & Me

In February of 1981, I was working late one night in
my tiny office in the funky Writers & Artists Building
in Beverly Hills. I was leaning out my window when
traffic that was zipping by on Santa Monica Blvd. all
of a sudden stopped zipping. Police cars and ominous
sedans blocked off streets left and right. Newly inau-
gurated President Reagan was in town. When the pres-
idential motorcade came into view, I realized I was look-
ing kind of Oswald-y. My old office building must have
seemed like the Texas Book Depository and there I was
suspiciously leaning out my second story window in the
building’s only illuminated office. My first response was to
yank my head out of the window but that might look like I
was reaching for my 6.5 millimeter Italian carbine with a
four-power scope. As the motorcade was now only a few
hundred or so feet away, my only option was to stay put.
I thought of waving in a friendly manner but feared in the
dim light, it might look like one of my hands was packing
heat. Like a possum cornered on some backyard wall by a
household pet, I did the next best thing: I froze. The motor-
cade swooshed by but it wasn’t until at least five minutes
later that I unfroze, pulled myself back into my office and
slammed the window shut.


A month later, John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill our 40th president
to impress an actress who at that time was living two doors
away from me in Hollywood on tree-lined Sycamore Avenue.
Even before the shooting, Jodie Foster was not what any
rational observer would call “friendly.” I would have advised
Hinckley to instead stalk Helen Hunt, who back then appeared
to be a bit more approachable.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Gropes Of Wrath

In the 1920s, there was a thief in New Jersey who deployed an especially nasty weapon --- a tuxedo. He was attractive and wore it when he went to tony parties all over the Garden State. He fit in because he looked the part of an upscale guest. He’d often shake hands with his hosts at the end of an evening with just pilfered jewelry in his coat pockets. He was eventually caught because a criminal event so large forced the cops to widen their nets in search of suspects. (FYI, that “event” was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.)

I was reminded of this gentleman thief recently as fallout persists from the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandals. I do hope (as Tony Soprano used to so lovingly say) this fat fuck spends years in courtrooms before many more behind bars. And while the tabulations now are of accusers, let’s also look at who else has been recently drawn into this maelstrom.

Roy Price (a Hollywood rich kid whose dad ran Columbia and Universal) was head of Amazon Studios until he told one of the producers of “The Man In The High Castle” that she would “love his dick.” For those of you keeping score, Isa Dick Hackett is a daughter of Philip K. Dick who’s married, has kids and is (wait for it) a lesbian. Roy, you are a special kind of sexual aggressor: a really dumb one. You're like a drunk who staggers to the cash register and offers to buy everyone a drink --- in a hardware store.

At last count, writer-director James Toback has had over 200 women come forward to say he lured them to his office or hotel rooms with promises of acting possibilities only to grope them, dry hump them and-or masturbate in front of them. What a jerk-off. Literally. Overweight, balding and wearing a mannered beard usually seen on bad guys on “Murder, She Wrote, Toback's career is ancient history and he's as far from being a hottie as Steve Bannon is from getting a modeling contract.

All of the above allegations also apply to bloated Steven Seagal who in addition to sexual predation is a bestie of Putin who can’t take “nyet” for an answer.

Masturbatory rumors have been heard for ages about Louis C.K. which isn’t going to help his new movie --- “I Love You, Daddy” --- which has an old man lusting after a very young woman. I gather this familiar pervy plot device is also in play in an upcoming untitled Woody Allen movie with Jude Law and Elle Fanning. But, to be fair, Woody has been a pioneer doing these kinds of unsavory things for decades now, dating all the way back to “Manhattan.” And my wife just emailed me an article which may make many of you love David O. Russell a bit less:…

Outside of show biz, top chef John Besh stepped down from his own company over sexually aggressive allegations. And Terry Richardson, fashion photographer and video director bad boy, is (finally) being blacklisted after many, many years of many, many claims that he’s made sexual targets out of young women.

This may well be the year that sexual predators get their comeuppance. Oh, and a quick shout-out to Casey Affleck, who’s been accused of harassment on sets for a while now: make an effort to be off on a distant location during next year’s Oscars when you’re supposed to hand out the Best Actress award. You really don’t want to be there. Unless, of course, being booed by the biggest stars in Hollywood sounds appealing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thoughts On "Morongate"

In 1993 on the BBC’s “Jeeves and Wooster,” Bertie Wooster meets an old
chum, Ginger, who’s running for political office.

Stunned, Bertie blurts out, “But … Ginger … you’re an absolute … idiot!”

Ginger grins and replies, “I know!”

It was a highlight of the entire series.


Mr. President, if you are what someone suspects, what's the problem?

Your only interests are money, pussy and golf.

Or golf, money and pussy.

Or pussy, golf and money.

Pick one. (They all work.)


You don’t read books, go to the movies, listen to music, see plays or visit

Your papers in college were written by others.
You are a moron, a dim bulb, the dullest knife in the drawer, etc.

No need to take offense at what Secretary Tillerson said and fire him.
He was just stating something that’s common knowledge.

Like your having strange hair.

Or having put on a lot of weight since the election.

Or are horrified at the thought of germs and press conferences.
Embrace who you are and we will, too.

You nincompoop.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When Zuckerberg Is Off The Mark

Singer-songwriter David Berman, best known for his band Silver Jews, is also an engaging poet. In his poem “New York, New York,” he cheekily imagines a new New York being built.

Since spending more than a little amount of time in the last few years on Twitter, I’ve come to see it as another internet. Or, at the very least, another Facebook.

I mention this because it’s recently come to light that President Obama, not long after the 2016 election, warned FB founder Mark Zuckerberg --- to his face --- that Russians were using his social network to seriously disrupt our electoral process.

Zuckerberg initially dismissed this claim out of hand as ridiculous but ten months later, after massive amounts of bad publicity, he’s sent the names of all the companies who trolled for Trump on to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Mark, you fucked up. Big time. Whatever money those Russian-backed ads generated for you, you didn’t need it. (Small digression --- always being photographed in t-shirts doesn’t mean you’re a regular guy. Being worth untold billions disallows that option.)

Anyway, this is just to say on behalf of like-minded FB users that we don’t need you. In a heartbeat, we can effortlessly move our online lives over to Twitter and only look at FB in our cyber rear-view mirrors.

Lots of people a lot younger than me have already left your social network because too many of their Moms are on it. At places like Instagram and --- better still --- Snapchat, they’ve found a viable alternative.

Elections, as the familiar line goes, have consequences. So does interfering with them. As you did.

P.S. Being richer than Barack Obama is not the same as being smarter than him. As the kids say, mic drop.