Friday, September 28, 2018

Of Republicans and Drunks

Bush Sr. thought his old pal
Was surely going to shine
As his Defense Secretary 
Way back in 1989.

But John Tower’s virtues Democrats
Were unable to extol
Because his alcoholism then was so
Clearly out of control.

However, the Texan senator changed
His way of thinking
And promised that if he got the gig
He would quit drinking.

One reason I love Republicans
Is 47 of them did agree
That a life-long boozer should
Be head of the DOD.

Tower didn’t get enough votes:
Those charges seemed to stick.
Unfortunately, the guy who did
Was that Cheney fellow, Dick.

Looking back on this years later
Will put Democrats in a funk ---
We’d all be much better off now
If they’d just supported that drunk.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Ken Calvert

A woman named Denise follows me on Twitter.
She lives in California and recently posted her
hope that this Republican is voted out of office.
His name was familiar. After hunting around in
the semi-vast Peyser Poetry Archives, I found
something I wrote about him a while back.


Ken Calvert

Once in a car in his California district
A hooker had her head in Calvert’s lap.
He told a cop they were “just talking.”
(I would’ve said she was taking a nap.)

That same year, 1993, he was divorced
And accused of alimony he did not pay
And right at that particular point in time
Calvert had this amazing thing to say.

He noted all of these specific events then
That had been happening to him lately
Had “helped him become a better person”
And also enabled him “to mature greatly.”

Frequenting hookers & not paying alimony
I bet most sensible people would be loath
To regard as reliable paths to take when
One becomes focused on personal growth.

This sundae isn’t really in need of a cherry
But there is one that I would like to place:
From the House floor, he criticized Clinton
For his affair with Monica Whatsherface.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Julia Child

The famous chef was born in 1912 &
Arrived in the world’s arena
In a wealthy family. (No one called it
The mean streets of Pasadena.)

One looks back now & can easily say,
“Julia, very soon you’re
Going to be in the big leagues but now
Enjoy one that’s Junior.”

With Pasadena’s Junior League, the
Fundamental fact is
She worked on plays for children as
A writer & an actress.

The Junior League’s loss was our gain:
She was later keen for us to believe
In French cooking even if we couldn’t
Define or pronounce joie de vivre.

Because Julia was so unpretentious, she
Made culinary tips approachable
And even when recipes were complicated
She prevailed by being sociable.

Dashing about the kitchen, she had the energy
Of not one person but a dozen. It’s
Chaotic but fun, she was always larger than life:
Think Big Bird but with oven mitts.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Teaching Philip Larkin To Dance

This fell to Maeve Brennan, a fellow librarian
Whose life was arguably a bit dull
Until she later became one of the three women
Involved with the Don Juan of Hull.

At Oxford, Larkin loved jazz but didn’t dance
And back then had the view
That dancing --- without any question --- was
Something very difficult to do.

He even consulted dance instruction books
But concluded concretely
That black feet, white feet and dotted lines
Just baffled him completely.

One imagines Maeve wasn’t merely hoping
He would be ooh-ing and aah-ing
At her expert instruction in both the waltz
And all manner of cha-cha-cha-ing.

I guess her secret mission was to make Larkin
Not see it as a possible hex
To have physical contact with a woman that
Wasn’t actually part of sex.

Intimacy was something he grew up without
So it’s pretty easy to understand
That regarding aspects of love & romance, he
Was a stranger in a strange land.

Some of her lessons must’ve sunk in but I bet
His mind drifted off to mopeds
Being driven by young & flirtatious girls who
Were Hull undergraduate coeds.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Jonathan Gold (1960-2018)

The achievement that still remains
A bit hard to believe
Is Gold’s being chosen as the first
Food critic to receive

A Pulitzer Prize but what’s even more
Worthy to yell & shout about
Are the City Of Angels restaurants that
He decided to write about.

Unlike his L.A. Times predecessors who
On a rather regular basis
Reviewed upscale restaurants, he was
Drawn to out of the way places.

The various and exotic ethnic dives that
Jonathan often sought
As a rule always tended to reflect Southern
California’s melting pot.

Gold inspired so many locals to be daring &
After an awfully long freeway trip crawl
Across surface streets to find some amazing
Vietnamese place in a crappy strip mall.

He changed the way that millions eat &
Embraced this as his duty
Yet somehow did this without sounding
Like an obnoxious foodie.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Cutoff Point

My old pal, Jim Jensen, recently told me that for a while
the receptionist at the beauty parlor his wife went to was
... Lorena Bobbit.

Yeah, that Lorena Bobbit.

I promised Jim I'd find the poem I wrote about her and
post it.


The Cutoff Point

While he was asleep, Lorena Bobbitt
Sliced off her husband’s penis, went
For a drive and then tossed it out the

Window like it was a flyer that she’d
Found under her windshield wiper
For teeth whitening or rug cleaning.

In court, Lorena claimed John Wayne
Bobbitt persistently denied her any
Orgasms. I’d hoped the fallout would

Be husbands with unsatisfied wives
Would overnight all become the most
Attentive lovers. No such luck.


“The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” was on
Then. I sensed that Robert MacNeil hated
This story & desperately wanted no part

Of it. But the following year, 1993, when
The verdict in this case was finally going
To be announced, MacNeil had to mention

This because the Bobbits had found a way
To become legitimately newsworthy. He
Did the wrap-up on world events and then

Brought up the end of this controversial
Trial. I wondered exactly how he would
Convey all of the sordid details. The wall

Behind MacNeil now was suddenly like this
Enormous dam with multiple visible cracks
And water beginning to leak out. Still, he

Single-handedly attempted to keep it in
Place and prevent the coarsening of the
Culture and harm to all things decent and

Proper. “Lorena Bobbitt was found not
Guilty of ‘malicious wounding’ against
Her husband for severing his … payniss.”

MacNeil elected to mispronounce the
Offending word to make it seem genteel.
But the dam broke anyway as cable TV

And talk radio and O.J and Fox News and
The internet would soon wash away all of
The decorum that PBS and their flagship

News show had fondly cherished. Looking
Back, it was inevitable but I now can see
MacNeil bravely trying to stop the tide like

Some Canuck King Canute and despite my
Mockery back then, I now salute MacNeil
For giving it the old college try.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Downward Spiral

In my teens,
I met Mary twice.
A friend of a friend.
Pretty. Nice.

A few years later
At twenty-one
Mary’s short life
Came undone.

Atop an office building,
Unanswered prayers.
Descended to street level:
No elevator, no stairs.


Mary was the first
Person I’d
Met who committed

In the heyday of shame
Such events
Created a silence that
Was immense.

Her death was hushed up
Efficiently banished
Like mishaps where nuclear
Missiles vanished.

It took many
Many years
For whispers about Mary
To reach my ears.


A Golden Gate Bridge
Documentary provided
Glimpses of people
Who had all decided

They’d had it with the world
They were living in
And took leaps without faith
Into oblivion.

These images helped me visualize
Mary’s fate ---
Battling gravity means punching
Above your weight.


Over 200 feet in the air
Should be a corrective
To supply any missing
Life perspective.

But speeds approaching
75 miles an hour
Will deprive anyone from
Having the power

To think very clearly when
What beckons
Is a death wish whoosh of
Four seconds.


If you swallow pills, there’s
Always the chance
To invite salvation by calling
An ambulance.

But jump off a building & things
Are as bad as they can be.
No cavalry left to summon ---
No Hail Mary, no Plan B.