Youth is Not Wasted on the Young

There once was a man of an uncertain age
Who felt his life slipping, that he’d turned a page,
So he dumped the Mrs. and gave her some dough,
And set off to find self, where’er it might gough.
He tried Grecian Formula to blacken his locks,
Wore slim-fitting sweaters, bought new argyle socks.
A little red sports car was of course required
And a personal trainer was quickily hired.

His friends and companions, they noticed the change
And more than one came soon to think he was strange.
His vocab was sprinkled with “awesome” and “skeevy,”
He watched Jersey Shore on his new high-def TV.
He’d buy rounds of drinks at a bar that had ferns
He studied the ways of the young, and he lerned.
He found you have friends if you freely spend money–
Folks hark to your talk, and think your jokes funny.

Once he was settled in his brand new skin
He looked round himself, and he took it all in.
He’d mastered the art of playing the dandy
And now it was time for some major arm candy.
He took up with a bleach-blonde aerobics instructor,
He briefily wooed her, then brieflier fucked her.
She found him too fast, “like a bleeping Niagara.”
She told him to get lots of full-strength Viagra.

One word to the wizened was more than enough–
He went to the drug store and purchased the stuff,
And when next the lovebirds climbed into the sack
He was like his old self at the beast with two backs.
He huffed and he puffed through the first time, then twice,
He recalled all he’d read of Hugh Hefner’s advice.
He would have been golden, except for one fact,
He lay back and suffered a mass heart attack.

Moral: If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Trump Inaugurated, Springsteen Hardest Hit

COLTS NECK, New Jersey.  While protestors marched in Washington and women across the country mourned as Donald Trump took the oath of office as 45th President of the United States, another outspoken opponent of the man many think will usher in a long, dark night of fascism over the land was licking his wounds privately at his modest 378-acre farm here.  “I honestly don’t know what I could have done differently,” says Bruce Springsteen, who played a benefit concert for vanquished Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in the campaign’s homestretch.  “I sang all of my biggest hits.”

“I’m thinking of bidding on the 2022 Summer Olympics.”


The New Jersey rocker, who regards himself as a spokesman for the common man even though he made $60.5 million in 2016, may in fact have turned the tide in Trump’s favor, according to exit polls in former Democratic strongholds that voted for Trump last year.  “Springsteen’s the king of faux po’ boy rock, no doubt about that,” says music critic Lyle Abenhold of Screw magazine.  “Not sure that’s a selling point outside of San Francisco, Cambridge and Brooklyn.”

Red = No Springsteen zones.


Springsteen appeals to very few of the working class types he sings about, but his fan base is bipartisan, as it includes both liberals and overweight Republican governors who consider an extra-large 42-ounce bag of M&M’s a single serving.  His record sales mirror the precincts Clinton won, a bad omen for a candidate who needed to win a majority of electoral college votes.  “You can literally walk from the Atlantic to the Pacific and not go through a town where anybody has a Springsteen album,” says Michael Mariaia of Election Strategies, LLC, a political consulting firm.  “In retrospect, Clinton should have gone to Nashville instead of New Jersey for her musical accompaniment.”

“This is MY bag–get your own!”


Springsteen’s concern over income equality is evidenced by the $4,639 in real estate taxes he pays annually on 200 acres he owns, a dramatic savings he achieves by claiming to be a farmer.  “Just listen to some of my albums,” he says.  “There’s no way I could pack so much empathy into a song if I didn’t know how hard it is to make ends meet busting sod.”

O’Connor:  Uh, no Bruce.


Springsteen has in the past compared himself to Flannery O’Connor, the unaffected Southern gothic writer known for the lack of sentimentality in her short stories of the south.  When told that he did not resemble a devout Catholic spinster with lupus, Springsteen asked “Well, can I be Eudora Welty?”

The People Who Won’t Get Back to Me

Literary agents, also editors,
But most assuredly not my creditors,
Someday they won’t mean jack to me—
The people who won’t get back to me.

Old girlfriends I find on the web—
One’s named Robin, the other’s a Deb.
I wonder whatever attracted me—
To the women who won’t get back to me.

Publishers, magazines, infamous authors–
I’ve sent them all emails, they can’t be bauthored.
Their silence speaks loudly this fact to me—
The people who won’t get back to me.

The people who’ve said to me “Let’s do lunch!”
Over the years I’ve collected a bunch.
There may be a hundred, I don’t know exact-I-ly.
The people who won’t get back to me.

Prospects to whom I’ve sent urgent wires
Urban mass choirs that I’d like to hire
Black, white or brown, they all turn their backs to me,
The miserable people who just won’t get back to me.

As Trump is Inaugurated, Queens Landlords Reflect on How Far They’ve Come

QUEENS, New York.  The Jamaica Bus Terminal here was abuzz this morning as chartered behemoths of the highway were loaded to the gills with men like Fred D. Kalinoff, a spry 64-year-old dressed in a loud plaid sports coat and dress slacks with an elastic waist.  “This is going to be the trip of a lifetime,” he said with a smile as the attendant punched his ticket for the five-hour drive to Washington, D.C.  “I’ve been to all five boroughs, but no further south than Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey.”

Lookin’ good in the hood!


The journey that has Kalinoff and his professional colleagues excited will take them to our nation’s capital for the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the son of a Queens landlord, as 45th President of the United States.  “For too long, the landlords of Queens have been looked down upon as something you would scrape off your shoe, and I don’t mean chewing gum,” says Art Moskolitz, the incoming president of the Small Property Owners of Queens, a trade association.  “With Trump in the White House, we’ll have the ear of the most powerful man in the world when some deadbeat tenant tries to walk away from carpet stains at the end of a lease.”

“And out the back, you have a breath-taking view of the back of another apartment building!”


Trump will be the first descendant of a Queens landlord to ascend to the Presidency, a fact which historians say may be the source of the real estate magnate’s apparently bottomless reserves of tackiness.  “Lyndon Johnson had the highest previous TQ, or ‘tacky quotient,'” according to Lyle George of the Institute for the Study of the Presidency at Waldham College.  “Showing off his scar from gall bladder surgery, lifting up dogs by the ears, making jokes about sex with goats.  Trump bids fair–if I may wax poetic for a moment–to pass that record in his first 100 days.”

Who could’ve guessed it would be downhill from here?


The word “tacky” refers to a person who lacks good breeding and taste, and who reveals the same in the course of social climbing to overcome a sense of inferiority.  “It originated in the South, where parvenus would get all sticky washing their cars in the street,” says linguist Armand Noersdorf of, an authority on American slang.  “Tacky people lack self-awareness when they sweat like a bitch wolf in heat.”

Fred Trump


Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump amassed a fortune from apartment buildings in Queens, giving his son a taste of the luxe lifestyle one could achieve by chiseling tenants on security deposits and deferred maintenance of boilers and roofs.  “Fred was one of the great ones,” says Kalinoff, who owns several buildings in the Flushing neighborhood.  “He perfected the technique of making tenants file written requests for refunds on coins they lost in his washers and dryers.  He parlayed the float on that change into an empire that stretched all the way to Brooklyn.”

“Look at your lease–until the cockroaches get bigger than this, they’re your problem.”


As hopeful as they are of their prospects under a Trump administration, the men on this bus say they will not be blindly partisan in their support of the 45th President.  “I have to think of the national interest and not just the man in the office,” says Moskolitz.  “If I were the federal government, I’d ask for first month, last month and security deposit on the White House.”



Obama Pardons Pee-wee Herman for Foil Ball

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Courting controversy in the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute of his Presidency, Barack Obama yesterday granted an end-of-term pardon to Pee-wee Herman in exchange for Herman’s 8-foot high aluminum foil ball, which will become part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

“Listen Pee-wee, it’s the whole foil ball or the deal’s off.”


“It’s time for America to put the past behind us and honor one of our greatest living artists,” said Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who brokered the deal.  “Should someone be banned for life from hosting children’s television shows just because he likes to spank the monkey in movie theaters?  I think we as a nation are better than that.”

Herman’s foil ball: Not shown actual size.


Herman was arrested in 1991 on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct after he was caught masturbating in an adult theater during a showing of Nurse Nancy, a pornographic film.  He paid a fine and made several public service announcements, but the arrest and resulting charges have not been expunged from his record.

Herman:  “I’m really sorry–okay?”


Herman’s return to the public eye has been cautiously orchestrated, beginning with a Broadway show and culminating in a so-called “weblog” or “blog,” such as the one you’re reading right now.  He has also appeared on a late-night talk show wearing an abstinence ring and worked as a celebrity usher at the Naked Eye Cinema in the Combat Zone, Boston’s adult entertainment district.

Presidential pardons are often controversial because they are not reviewable by the other two branches of government, and thus give the nation’s chief executive the latitude to do something really stupid.  Notorious pardons include Bill Clinton’s pardon of his brother Roger Clinton for cocaine possession, and Gerald Ford’s pardon of former President Richard Nixon for wearing wing-tip shoes on a federally-protected beach.

Nixon:  “I could say ‘Yippee’–but that would be wrong.”


Herman’s foil ball is reputed to be the largest of its kind in the hands of a private collector, and has been coveted by Obama since he first saw it in an episode of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”  “It’s the Holy Grail of foil balls,” said Eric Montrose of Sotheby’s, a fine art and collectibles auction house in New York.  “You would hate to see it broken up into pieces and used to freeze hamburgers or fish.”

Take Two Llamas and Call Me in the Morning

          A Massachusetts nursing home that doesn’t believe in antipsychotic drugs uses alternative methods to calm patients including a llama named Travis, whom a caretaker leads through the halls.

                                                              The Boston Globe

Over-the-counter generic.


We had tried everything with Mr. McKelvey–drugs, electroshock, Wheel of Fortune–but nothing seemed to calm his agitated mind.  He would wander the wards, enter other patients’ rooms and move their personal items–family photos, eyeglasses, much-beloved tchotchkes–not out of malice, as we ultimately learned, but from a deep-seated sense of aggrieved mischief-making, which is totally different.

Still, he was at times a danger to himself.  He would wander off the grounds seeking–we didn’t know what.  I thought it was time to call in a specialist from Boston’s extensive camelid-based therapeutic community.

Crack team of specialists


“Do you have the LLamatologists Directory?” I called to the young woman who was interning with us in the geronto-petting zoo ward.

“Right here, doctor,” she said in a voice made husky by the long nights she was on call, tending to the various South American fauna needs of our patients.  “But are you sure a llama is . . . appropriate?”

I gave her a look that spoke volumes–nos. 2A through 4 of the International Encyclopedia of Camelid Medicine.  “And what, may I ask, do you propose as an alternative?” I asked skeptically.  You have to put these young people with their “holistic” medicine in their place before they start questionning tried-and-true methods the elder statesmen of the profession have perfected after years of stepping into llama poop.

“You sure stepped in that one.”


“Perhaps an alpaca, or a guanaco–maybe even a vicuna,” she said, looking for all the world as if she had just stepped out of a particularly overwrought episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

“Shouldn’t you have added a tilde to the ‘n’ of that last species?”

“It is the internet–there is only so much I can do by way of punctuation,” she said, her eyes narrowed scornfully.  I knew what she was thinking; I was past my prime, old-and-in-the-way, a hidebound relic of a bygone . . .

“Would you stop with the internal monologue,” she said finally.  “We only have so much time.”

I granted her that much.  “How many llamatologists are there?”

“There’s Llama, Dr. Llance; Dr. Llarry; Dr. Llamont; and Dr. LleMoyne.

“What’s up with the last guy?” I asked.

“He’s from Missouri–what did you expect?”

I’m not an East Coast snob–even though I’ve never been further west than Kenmore Square–but still, I didn’t want to be questioned in hindsight.  Or foresight.

“Where did he go to school?”



“The beaver–nature’s engineers.”

Chicks dig beavers!


“Is he board-certified?”

“Looks like it.”

“No record of disciplinary proceedings?”

“He’s domesticated–and lanolin free.”

I’ve never understood why that last factor was important, but in my head I could hear myself defending the referral by saying “I checked him out–not a drop of lanolin on him.”

I hesitated for just a moment, then said “All right . . . ring him up.”

Baby llamas–kissing!


He was there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, which the lamb didn’t appreciate one bit.

“You are in need of a llamatologist?” he asked as he stood at my doorstep.

“Not me–Mr. McKelvey.  One of our toughest patients.”

“What seems to be the problem?”



“Advanced dementia, but he’s not responding to standard petting-zoo therapy.”

“It may be too late,” LleMoyne said.  “Which ward is he in?”

“Down the hall, to the left,” I said.

He slipped on the short, white coat that is the trademark of the healing profession.  I followed him as he went and could tell from his gait–and the huge chunks of dung he left behind–that he was a true professional.

We entered the Alzheimer’s ward–Alzheimer was out, so he spoke to the nurse on duty.

“Which one’s McKelvey?” he asked sharply.

“The cantankerous old coot over against the wall.”

LleMoyne sized him up and said “I can handle him.”

Bachelor party llama


We approached the old man’s bed and LleMoyne turned on his bedside manner.

“Well, well,” he said apropos of nothing in particular.  “How’s the world treating you?”

“Damn nurses won’t let me have my CAKE!” he screamed into the air, not looking us in the eye.

“Have you finished your vegetables yet?”  A well-trained geronto-llamacologist will encourage a patient to dig into his past in order to relate to the world around him.

“No.  Not gonna finish vegetables.  Don’t like ‘em.”

LleMoyne turned and gave me a look.  “He’s going to be a tough nut to crack.”

“Do what you gotta do.”

LleMoyne leaned over the bed and said softly “I’ll bet you’d like to pet me–wouldn’t you?”

McKelvey gave the llama a look of wild surmise, as Cortez’s men did when they first saw the Pacific Ocean, as described by Keats in On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.

“Could I?” he asked hesitantly.

“Of course you could . . . llamas feel good,” LleMoyne replied.

The old man began to stroke the regal creature, who responded by lowering his neck and nuzzling the patient on the cheeks.  “You really need to shave,” animal said to man.

“You do too,” McKelvey said right back, although his face had softened to a smile.  I took the patient’s pulse, and his heart rate had slowed to a crawl.

“You’ve done it!” I exclaimed to the llama, as McKelvey started to munch on yellow beans, cottage cheese and pureed carrots.  We’re known for our 5-star cuisine.

“It’s what I’m trained to do,” LleMoyne said as he tried to write out a prescription in his illegible handwriting–even worse than human doctors!

“What’s this say?” I asked as I turned the scrip every which way, trying to decipher it.

“Take one llama every day before meals,” he replied.   “And don’t use the generic stuff.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Wild Animals of Nature!”

How to Improve Just About Any Poem

. . . how every sunny Saturday afternoon, Hey, diddle-diddle, the dish ran away with the spoon.

                              November, Late in the Day, John Ridland

half seas over under up again and the barnacles white in the moon the pole stars chasing its tail like a pup again and the dish ran away with the spoon

                              archy experiences a seizure, don marquis

You can improve just about any poem
that you write high brow, middle or tres low
By adding a particular singular phrase
From a nursery rhyme learned long a-go.

I speak of course, of Hey Diddle Diddle,
The all-purpose doggerel solvent.
It will loosen any poetically rusted nut
Like a large can of Liq-u-id Wrench.

If you’re stuck for a rhyme for “moon” or “June”
(although I can’t imagine how you could be)
Just throw in the line ‘bout the dish and the spoon
And you’ll be a pro poet, not a would-be.


Whose woods these are I think I know
I hope to see him soon,
He will not see me stopping here
’cause The dish ran away with the spoon.

Don’t think it’s a crutch, classy poets and such
Resort to it daily and weekly.
And when they are done, they don’t cite their source,
They just keep on writing unmeekly.

It’s public domain, you can use it again,
And again and again ever after.
The surprise effect gets ‘em right in the neck
And after the shock comes the laughter.

But if I were you—I know, I’m not—
And you wanted to borrow it nicely,
Like a cyanide pill to cure all your ills
You should do it just once, not twicely.