Category Archives: Verse

(Or, This Body Will Come to Alphabetical Or-der!)

She speaks with that half-hearted Ardor

from her perch in the whiteness of Bangor

mouthing what she thinks passes for Candor

with her eye on who might be her next Donor.


She reigns as our national Equivocator:

It’s the one thing that makes her a Factor.

Having failed in her bid to be Governor,

Maine elected her their main Hesitator.


Lacking creds as a dogged Investigator,

Susan presents herself as an impartial Juror

(disregarding the con-job by Kavanaugh)

and the Senate’s most serious Legislator

always ‘troubled’  by some gross Misbehavior.


She’s never been much of a Negotiator

but simply another shrewd Operator

in the dress of a centrist Protector

and the voice of the dullest of Question-ors.


Her true calling was probably a Realtor

instead of a mealy-mouthed Spin-doctor,

a half-truth and quarter-truth Tolerator

whose motives are reliably Ulterior.


Ms. Collins found her niche as a Vacillator.

So who needs to be a gender Warrior,

And who needs to be a government X-rayor,

when you can be a fence-sitting Yea-sayor

and get elected as Senator Zig-zaggor?


Madame Senate-Or Susan M. Collins

No relation, no, none at all

Playing both sides, A to Z, clumsily.

Maybe the only poem ever written about her

The mediocre poem she’s long deserved.


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We take our breaths

Together or alone

Just two breaths

betray the difference


I step, you step

we practice our sidesteps

to avoid brushing arms

to avert linking eyes

to divert our attractions


I speak, you speak

we whisper cheek-to-cheek

you hold harmless myths

I claim to know truths

we agree to not disagree


I wish, you wish

we wish upon the clouds

to sweep away the shroud

that hides the last clue

the brass locket of life


I fall, you fall

we both reach for a hand

we both hope it is strong

Is the hand really out there

or does our empty grasp

imply the bleak answer


I pass, you pass

together or alone

my breath, your breath


private untold tales

at very last




Staggering rock

Your heaviness weighs on me

Your mountain soul has edges for ledges

Your mean terrain offers no hope of rescue

How did I get stuck here, how did I luck out here?


Then! from your grim granite face emerges a bear

Its dull-eyed stupor only heightens my panic

Blank rocks, blank bear, blank fear

My escape paths turn to crusty shale

Advance or retreat, defeat

A step falters…




The sidewalk storefront of Hediard grocery, Paris, April 1995.
Hediard was in business from 1854 to 2015.


Hello, my hipster listeners!

How best may I address you?

Cunning foxes? Steadfast turtles? Timid mice?

No, among the many creatures whose personae I devised,

I would say you, my TED audience, are… Ants!


Yes, industrious, entrepreneurial Ants!

A bit self-righteous, according to fable,

and sometimes sharp of tongue

(we know that Ants have one!)

but otherwise you comprise one of the finer families

of the Animal Kingdom!


Now that I have sufficiently flattered you,

stroked your antennae, so to speak,

I was invited here to recite one of my best-known tales…

You’ll like it, as Ants have a prominent role therein.

But mmmm… now that the lights have dimmed,

I believe I see some Grasshoppers amongst you.

Which is fine, there’s a lesson here for everyone.

So let’s jump in, with all sixes!


Ants were taught their ways in Ancient times…

to gather the Goods that befell them,

to preserve their gains and consume them judiciously.

Ants were also bestowed with powerful jaws

to give them an edge in Matters of Law!

Thus Ants were granted a smooth climb to the Top!

So it seems to me, your friend, Aesop.


Now I myself have had a small taste

of what it is like to be an Ant:

Like most of you attending this talk,

I worked many Summers (when others did not)

to collect enough grain from the rugged terrain

to nearly fill my own cavernous cellars!

Not to share with others but to demonstrate

my stupendous talent to accumulate.

(Oh sure, I ate a few! Wouldn’t you?)


One day, a Grasshopper showed up at my door.

I originally wrote, Lazy Grasshopper, but!

Blanket statements about personal industry

would not endear me to this diverse audience.

Your friend Aesop considers himself lucky

that TED would even allow a worn-out fabulist like me

to address you, illustrious Ants!

…and assorted Grasshoppers.

That said, let’s return to the tale,

as I’m running short of both time and esteem!


As I was about to say…

One day a Grasshopper came to my door.

(Not visibly lazy – more forlorn.)

The Grasshopper had spent all her Summer singing

but, though her legs were long, nimble and bare,

she was not the Taylor Swift of the Grasshopper clan

and by Fall she was hungry and near penniless.


Ms. Grasshopper had heard of my ancient fame

and the modest wealth that I had attained

so hence she hopped, to find your friend, Aesop,

and possibly get some advice

if not sustenance.


While I was pleased to receive a visitor,

especially one so down with my renown,

it was clear that Ms. Grasshopper wanted more

than a tête-à-tête with an old tale-teller.

Nonetheless I invited her to take a seat

Which she took, awkwardly.


Ms. Grasshopper didn’t want to sing anymore,

she confessed, her long barbed legs extending

well beyond the modest cushions of my banquette,

ready to jump, it seemed, at any sign of threat.

Her day-to-day struggle, she struggled to say,

was finding a way to be both Grasshopper and Ant

– performing and thriving –

when traditionalists like me stood in her way,

having insisted one can’t.


What is so sinful about music and dance

being one’s great purpose in life! she cried.

If I were, say, in the ballet,

You would be not so dismissive! she ventured.

Ants would have pleasure and I would be treasured!


Hmmm! I said aloud, as I considered how she

might have soared gracefully in venues

like the one in which I now address you!

Were her ambitions all that different from mine?

My lectern more hallow than her chorus line?


It was time for Aesop to resolve this dilemma…

Should I do what The Ant did so long ago:

Insult the poor Grasshopper and tell her to go!

Or should I act in a more enlightened way

more befitting how things are done today

and set aside my time-honored Moral?


Suprisingly, it turned out to be

Ms. Grasshopper who enlightened me.

She would share not just my dinner

but, as it turned out, her whole life with me!

She is in the audience now, in fact,

and I would point her out, but if I did

my own eminence would surely be eclipsed,

which your vain friend Aesop could not endure,

a traditionalist to the bone in that respect.


So the moral of this story, dear Ants,

is that it takes a hard shell

to protect you from Love.

Thank you for listening, TED friends.

Good night, and rhyme well.


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