Photo: Ana Venegas
Politically Correct Sonnet
It’s time to run the Redskins out of town,
The Braves as well—and Indians and Chiefs,
The tomahawk chop, Chief Wahoo (Cleveland’s clown),
And similar insensitive motifs.
The Vatican objects, not once, but twice:
To bounty-hunting “Saints,” for raising hell;
To Devils, who do not belong on ice,
Where they’ve been posted by the NHL.
Belligerent, the Russians now demand
A name change for the Reds they find obscene.
Somalis want our Pirates to disband,
And Royals are offensive to the Queen.
Eagles, Blue Jays, Orioles, begone!
(You’re being challenged by the Audubon.)
— Bob McKenty
Firing the Fireman
The fireman was fired today.
The barber’s now on severance pay.
Crestfallen are the lumberjacks
Since their employment got the axe.
The cobbler got the boot; what’s more,
The carpenter was shown the door.
And I’ve just learned, with some alarm,
Of lay-offs at the poultry farm.
The sailor got the old heave-ho;
The trapeze artist was let go.
The burlap weaver won’t be back
Now that he too has got the sack.
Redundant is the copyist.
The beauty pageant queen? Dismissed.
Designers of her lingerie
Were given their pink slips today.
Discharged, the local electrician
Currently seeks a new position.
The notary was disinclined
To take a pay cut, so resigned.
The cannery is closing and
The workers there have all been canned.
And given this, I’m not surprised
The dietician’s been downsized.
In English there is no vocation
Sans a term for termination,
So when the recession looms
The only worker, one assumes,
The threat of job loss won’t deter:
The humble lexicographer!
The Book on Alex Rodriguez
He seeks out BioGenesis
To help him beat Ruth’s Numbers
And Barry’s tainted Mark (boo! hiss!),
While A-Rod’s Wisdom slumbers.
If Judges don’t reject the facts
Of Revelation‘s probe,
It’s Exodus for him, whose Acts
Refute his claim he’s Job.
An Honest College Brochure
This playground was built just for you,
so all of your dreams can come true.
Check out the new residence
we’ve built for our presidents
so you’d have a beautiful view.
We’re sensitive stewards who care
for the delicate planet we share.
We’re ranked “The Most Green”
by High Times magazine,
“Most Hipster” by Vanity Fair.
Our campus has handsome young men
who’ll provide for you, care for you when
you’re healthy or sickly,
but make your move quickly:
the ratio’s seven to ten.
The Ivy League played out of bounds
by passing you by on the grounds
that your math scores were low.
Honey, we won’t say “no,”
and we’ll teach you how interest compounds.
I nap on my back in the afternoon.
If I do so at night, I gargle, and croon
A phlegmatic and most unmelodious tune,
So I nap on my back in the afternoon,
And I wake from it fresh as a bird in flight.
God’s in Her Heaven, and everything’s right
with the world and the world is a beautiful sight.
If only it looked that way at night!
But at night I sleep on my side and groan
An ugly, unmusical, elderly moan,
And I wake in the middle and go take a piddle,
And all that I see I would like to disown,
Except for that woman who keeps putting up
With this drivel I constantly pour in her cup.
— John Ridland
Emily Dickinson Crushes on Edward Snowden
I love—his pasty Skin—
And most of all—his Lips—that blew—
If Amherst—were in Russia—
Then He—were here with Me—
We two Recluses—snowed in—
A wintry Privacy—
An Ideal Husband
I wonder what on earth she could have meant,
The day she left, by calling me a slob?
I’m always there on time to pay the rent,
Although, it’s true, with money from her job.
When she gets home, a glass of wine is waiting
Before she has to go and make our dinner;
Then, while she does the chopping and the grating,
I watch TV; does that make me a sinner?
And every night, I help her do the dishes
By making sure I don’t get in her way,
So why she keeps insisting that she wishes
I’d shift my butt, is more than I can say.
I always lift the toilet-seat to pee,
And sometimes even put it down again.
If I can do it, surely, so could she,
And yet she never ceases to complain.
I try to squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom,
But absent-mindedly may hit the middle.
That time I fried some eggs? I just forgot ’em;
The firemen kindly doused the flaming griddle.
I told her I’d be looking for a job
Quite soon, but that I’d given up for Lent.
She left that day, still calling me a slob;
I wonder what on earth she could have meant?
Clinton and Clinton
The critics didn’t stint on
Their bile for William Clinton
And also chose to pillory
That other Clinton, Hillary.
A Valentine from Jesus??
I found it on my windshield—that’s a fact—
where some well-meaning soul had gently placed it,
inscribed “Beloved in the Lord” and tacked
behind a wiper blade. I hate to waste it.
I’ve always thought Jesus was quite a dude
and just as inspirational as Ghandi
(Mahatma), who taught never to be rude
whether you drive a Chevy or a Hondi.
But now I fear I have been singled out.
What Solomonic gesture netted me
this card, unlike my neighbors all about?
Wait, there’s a flash of light and now I see:
It’s not that Jesus wants me any nearer.
It’s just that Buddha hanging from the mirror.
His left hand upon a Bible,
The other in mid-air,
A President again stands up
And firmly says, “I swear…”
And all across this wide, wide land
You can be sure it’s true
That those who did not vote for him
Are firmly swearing, too.
My chair is too hard and too small for my bum.
One side has got cramp and the other’s gone numb.
Brunhilda’s sung flat since a quarter past eight
And Siegfried has made several entrances late.
The scenery wobbles, a surfeit of gin
Has affected the ear of the First Violin.
So roll on the time when the heroine goes
For her final vibrato and turns up her toes—
Though, sadly, we know she’ll not really be dead;
And just as we think we can go home to bed
She’ll rise like the Kraken and open her jaws
For a posthumous chorus and several encores.
This evening’s not over, it has to be said,
Till the Fat Lady’s sung and been certified dead.
Unwelcome Come-on XXIII
For breakfast: pickled herring, eggs and beans,
but then I brushed and flossed like every day,
sucked mouth strips redolent of Germolene
and smelled my breath to check it was okay.
I’ve gargled twice with FreshBurst Listerine;
I’m sweeter than a sprig of mint in May.
So come on Darling, give your man a kiss—
I’ve spent a ton on chemicals for this.
Putting My Affairs In Order
A friend has told me I should do this, just in case I die.
I’ve thought about it quite a lot, but still can’t reason why
there is a need. She seemed insistent, so I’ll have a try.
* * *
I’ve cast my mind back years: my first affair was with Joe Green.
He liked to make love in the open but I wasn’t keen.
Alfresco sex is not for me; what happens if you’re seen?
The next one was a chap called Stan; now Stan was four foot ten.
Although he was quite nice I really do like taller men,
and after several dates I thought, “I won’t see him again.”
I think that number three was . . . wait a minute . . . it was Bob.
He knew which buttons he should press, but wouldn’t get a job,
and so he had to go. The man was just a total slob.
Hang on, I may have got it wrong, and Bob was number four.
Or was it Charlie, Bruce or Steve? I really can’t be sure.
This “putting them in order” business really is a chore.
My next affair—where am I, up to seven? Oh yes, Jim,
a famous politician, so that name’s a pseudonym.
He told me lies (yes, really!) so I very soon dumped him.
Before—or was it after?—that came Billy, on a cruise.
I don’t remember much except we sank . . . a lot of booze.
He’d moan and sweat excessively when . . . taking off his shoes!
Let’s see, I hope I’ve got it right: Joe, Stan, Bob, Charlie, Bruce,
then Steve and Jim and Billy; quite a few, but my excuse
is that I’m rather gullible, and easy to seduce.
Although I’ve done the sequence, my dramatis personae,
I still don’t see the need to write this down before I die.
When one’s “affairs are all in order,” who d’you notify?
I live on the Moon in a comfortable house,
I sleep in a comfortable bed.
But one thing I never find comfy one bit
Is a cow jumping over my head.
The Moon is the cheerfulest place you could live,
And the friendliest place you could visit.
But mooing and swooping a path through our sky
Every night isn’t courteous, is it?
I totally get it—the party got wild,
The spoon and the dish ran away.
Natural enough that a frisky young calf
Should be up for a new way to play.
But let’s all agree it’s gone on long enough—
Night after night the same leap,
The same horns and hooves flying by overhead,
Disturbing a Moon-dweller’s sleep.
If the cow wants to jump now and then, that’s OK,
Every creature deserves a good lark.
But spare us some nights with our sky undisturbed,
Just earthglow, the stars and the dark.
So, please, if your family has a pet cow,
Or you plan to acquire one soon,
No matter what else you may train it to do,
Teach it not to jump over the Moon.