Occasional light verse, mostly political. If you're looking for a certain cold medicine, try here. But we can put you to sleep cheaper.

Monday, May 30, 2005

the French say "non!"

Oh zut alors! and quel dommage!
Monsieur Chirac, the big fromage,
Has found his hopes a mere mirage,
And all his talk but persiflage
As France's voters choose to dodge
New Europe's Constitution

Oh sacre bleu! Mais non! Euille vaît! *
The progress of Fraternité
Has hit a little bump today
And all the voting went the way
Of hanging onto Liberté.
So vive la dévolution!

A gallic shrug, a "c'est la vie,"
Is really all there is to c'est.
It's "non", not "aye"; or "I", not "oui";
Turn back from Avenue Fortie **
And take a walk down Rue Dider. **

If unfamiliar with this * French exclamation or these ** Parisian streets, pronounce them slowly.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I'll take movies for 500, Alex

Today we take a break from both poetry and politics. The answer is:


The question was overheard by a junior editor at the nightquill entertainment desk, who was recently in New Orleans covering the local music industry. Our staffer shared an elevator with a couple who remained silent during the descent. As they were leaving the elevator ahead of him, the young husband asked his wife, very suddenly and distinctly:

"What movie was Mary Magdalene in?"

Notes: Our staffer never heard the reply. Actor Marlee Matlin played Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God. As far as we know, Republican political operative and author Mary Matalin has never appeared in a motion picture.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

back on page 1

The cover of USA Today (May 25) and the wire services are filled with pictures of centrist heroes John McCain and Joeseph Lieberman. Funny how the two with presidential ambitions are the only ones of the Filibuster Fourteen to get their faces associated with the deal....

There they are in the paper again,
The feral grimace of John McCain
And the leprechaun grin
Of Lieberman.

Fourteen senators blocked the bluster
Surrounding judicial filibuster.
Fourteen votes caused the plot to thicken
And put an end to this game of chicken.
Fourteen faces showed joy and pain,
But in the spotlight just two remain:
The feral grimace of John McCain
And the leprechaun grin
Of Lieberman.

So many wrongs for a knight to redress!
So many piles of fresh, hot press!
So many chances for showing the artisanship
In rising above all the other guys' partisanship!
'Til 2008, if we stand the strain,
We'll hear their plain speaking in endless refrain
And the papers will show us, until we're insane,
And their images rattle around in our brain,
The feral grimace of John McCain
And the leprechaun grin
Of Lieberman.

Monday, May 16, 2005

oh, Howard

According to The Washington Post, Democratic chairman Howard Dean recently called the Republican leadership "brain-dead" during a speech in Toronto, and has lately used equally inflamatory language in other settings.

Howard Dean is getting mean,
And brands the opposition
"Corrupt" and "evil", "brain-dead" too.
Division's not your mission!
As party head, you must, instead,
Seek out the moral high ground.
These bitter games of calling names
Are not your ground -- they're my ground.
Howard, please clean up your act,
And better do it pronto.
And, Howard -- they don't vote
In our elections in Toronto.

for The Master

If you haven't, take a look
At Mr. Calvin Trillin's book.
If poems were money (heaven willin'!)
I'd find it more than merely thrillin'
To be one-tenth as rich as Trillin.
When my muse has flagged, I galvan-
Ize it quick by reading Calvin.
The book's not all; just take a peek
As every single blessed week
All our major right-wing villains
Are skewered by that pen of Trillin's.
Among The Nation's leading lights*,
Ingeniously on he writes.

*(His work this way I'd gladly tout
Both with italics and without.)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

News poems in the Post today!

The media desk here at nightquill is abuzz with the results of this week's humor contest (The Style Invitational) in the Washington Post. The contest was to do what we try to do here every week -- make light verse on the news -- but was restricted to articles appearing in the Post three weeks ago. We have obtained special permission from one of the entrants (and the Post) to repost his entries here. So here are three of the winning poems, from David Smith of Santa Cruz. You are encouraged to go to the Post to see the rest of the entries, particularly those of the winner, Brendan Beary, who rules.

Placing at first runner-up: a poem based on an article about the arrest of Anna Ayala for fraud in the finger-in-the-Wendy's-chili case. One of the tidbits (sorry) in this article was the ruling-out of a finger which had been bitten off another woman by her pet leopard. In case you're interested, it has recently been established that the finger came from an associate of Ms. Ayala's husband, so you should go back and eat at Wendy's just as much as you always did.

What a perfect news concoction:
Grand Guignol and farce! Any
Reader loves a story mixing
Leopards, limbs and larceny.
Things look bad for Ms. Ayala,
But diners' doubts still linger:
Everybody's still not sure
Who gave whom the finger.

Earning an honorable mention from the Post was the following poem about the reservations of moderate Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations committee concerning the nomination of John Bolton for ambassador to the UN.

Lincoln Chafee may defect;
White House rage is molten;
From the ambassador-elect
Others may be boltin'.

White House spokesmen never cease
Their bold, defensive mania.
Condoleezza says her piece
From distant Lithuania.

Chafee, Hagel, Voinovich,
Stoppin' now, and thinkin';
Could it be? Some sanity?
The party, still, of Lincoln?

For Bolton's bid, it's not too late
To hear of things that taint it.
The Senate's right to full debate
Is truly sacred -- ain't it?

Finally, this poem, based on an article about a meeting between representatives of Sony and Toshiba who are trying to agree on the next generation of DVD technology, was one of a set of extra honorable-mention poems not appearing in print but available in the online edition of the Post.

Sony and Toshiba Corp.
Rolled out tatami floor mats,
Sat down and started haggling
On DVDs' new formats.
Who will get to set the trends?
Who remain alive?
In the end, it all depends
Who's got the greater drive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

nucular option

The leaders who control the Senate,
Like a thousand-pound gorilla,
Don't abide by any tenet
Which could curb them; no scintilla
Of regret they'll show, no smidgen,
When judicial filibuster
(Thousand-pound-gorilla buster)
Goes the way of the Passenger Pigeon.

This move would be extremely clever
For those who plan to rule forever.
But will they long for lost tradition
Next time they're the opposition?

If overreaching strains your wrist,
Go complain to Dr. Frist.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

See it done right

Gene Weingarten, the former Czar of the Washington Post's Style Invitational, writes a great weekly column in the Washington Post Magazine called "Below the Beltway." We only just found out that on December 19 he did this superb set of poems on the news. We are envious, but we always knew he was The Man.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Eighty years have passed since Scopes,
But somehow Darwin's on the ropes,
The circus, this time, in Topeka.
Creationists exclaim "Eureka!"
And see a venue for their hopes
Of rolling knowledge back a smidgen
(Not just bad science -- bad religion!
What could any faith be worth
Which stands or falls on dating Earth?)

Yet it's not the pious sages
Yearning for the Middle Ages
Who disturb my sleep the most;
Rather, it's the greater host
Of those from whom the works of science
Meet the same morose defiance
Given by our jaded youth
To anyone who claims "the truth".
The proofs mount up with each new fossil,
Yet multitudes are always leery,
Despite the evidence colossal,
Of anything that's "just a theory."
That's what chills me to the marrow.

Where the hell is Clarence Darrow?