NaClerWriMo: "To Real Poets Everywhere"
To Real Poets Everywhere
My regrets to real poets, whether living or dead
Whose genuine verse of the heart and the head
Is sullied by clerihews published in this space.
To poetry, such doggerel is quite the disgrace.
NaClerWriMo: "Keith Moon"
Moon drummed with a fury so rarely surpassed
Impossibly busy, unimaginably fast
His life was the same, jammed with parties and booze
Spent it freely, as if he had nothing to lose.
NaClerWriMo: "Tom Waits"
Waits, irrepressibly brave troubadour
Of the downtrodden, those of less not of more
His compassion inborn and not just of choice
Heartening the luckless with life-ravaged voice.
NaClerWriMo: "George Bush"
Wants to be king
But rules not a thing.
NaClerWriMo: "Gerald Ford"
Farewell to President Gerald R. Ford
The Stopgap-in-Chief whom the lefties abhorred
For forgiving the Tricky One of all his crimes.
Letting bygones be bygones was best for those times.
NaClerWriMo: "James Brown"
Give it up for the Godfather, Mr. James Brown
Hard-working man of such fame and renown
Who richly deserved the great Soul Brother name.
He always felt good, and made us feel the same.
NaClerWriMo: "Santa Claus"
Santa Claus, old Saint Nick
Being good does the trick
To get his free gifts, as goes the tradition,
Behaving yourself is the only condition.
NaClerWriMo: "The Grinch"
Could the quite sour thoughts of that angry old Grinch
Have really been caused by shoes that did pinch?
Ne'er mind, for he found what makes Christmas worth living
Is not in the getting, but rather the giving.
NaClerWriMo: "P.D.Q. Bach"
Incorrigible progeny P.D.Q. Bach
Imagined by Schickele, whimsical doc
With so many kids, even mighty J.S.
Sometimes, regrettably, settled for less.
NaClerWriMo: "Edgar Allan Poe"
Edgar Allan Poe
Troubed Edgar Allan Poe
Tells of terror, tells of woe
Into the maelstrom his soul sails
Heart forever telling tales.
NaClerWriMo: "Sherlock Holmes"
The shady streets and foggy moors of my imagination
Solving mysteries and conundrums to my constant delectation.
NaClerWriMo: "Michael Richards"
The man once beloved as that goof Cosmo Kramer
Is now widely reviled as an angry defamer.
Ugly slurs hurled at hecklers, when jokes all fell flat:
Yes, Michael, there is something quite wrong with that.
NaClerWriMo: "Mark Sandman"
Mark Sandman sauntered right into the room
The cold March night sweltering, somehow, like June
Had a drink at the bar, then strapped on his bass
Deep grooves, musky voice permeating the place.
NaClerWriMo: "Mud and Spike"
Mud and Spike
Mud and Spike,
What's not to like?
Always catch z's
With greatest of ease.
NaClerWriMo: "Billy Bragg"
The socialist folkie named Billy Bragg,
Whose passionate compassion might well never lag.
He's got brains and heart, of that there's no joke
But best of all is, he's a regular bloke.
NaClerWriMo: "Kevin Guilfoile"
The mystery writer Kevin Guilfoile’d
Prefer to write fiction that’s rather hardboiled.
But a father who never could say au revoir
Kept his fine debut from descent into noir.
NaClerWriMo: "Dr. Seuss"
Words run loose
The phrase-wrangling Geisel steers all into rhyme
Importful and humorish both at the same time.
NaClerWriMo: "Rex Grossman"
Oh how you perplex
One week Joe Montana, but next Henry Burris
Which one shows for the playoffs has us rather curious.
NaClerWriMo: "Sammy Sosa"
Sosa, the (possibly chemically) inflated
And smiling slugger once had us elated.
But his towering homers soared not far enough
For pennant-starved Cub fans so fickle with love.
NaClerWriMo: "Mike Royko"
Royko, the late renowned newspaper scribe,
When not hounding the City Hall pols might imbibe
A beer at the Goat after, parish to parish,
Playing sixteen-inch softball the locals so cherish.
NaClerWriMo: "Kirby Gann"
Kirby Gann is the one
Whose Southern Napoleon,
Hay Keebler, dared dream about saving the world,
His quest sadly doomed before even unfurled.
NaClerWriMo: "B.B. King"
The man sure can sing
What makes him the real deal
Is the notes coaxed from Lucille.
NaClerWriMo: "Barack Obama"
With Barack Obama,
Each word and each comma
Is perfectly placed. But what sets him apart?
The depth of his mind and the depth of his heart.
NaClerWriMo: "Ander Monson"
From north of Wisconsin
Where kids move away or else stay and grow old
Electricities linking souls hid from the cold.
NaClerWriMo: "Studs Terkel"
Studs Terkel’s histories have as their lessers
The dense tomes of cloistered old college professors.
Lively books tell of working and hard times and strife
With everyday stories of everyday life.
NaClerWriMo: "Nelson Algren"
Algren, the great bard of the Northwest Side
Of Chicago, wrote much, for he could not abide
As society ignored, or dismissed with a laugh
The have-nots and their struggle for what little they have.
NaClerWriMo: "Pete Anderson"
A bonus clerihew, at my expense, courtesy of Fred.
A working fellow, name of Pete
Would not kiss the bosses feet
Neither heel nor toes nor sole -
Guess what? Now he's on the dole.
NaClerWriMo: "Keith Olbermann"
Olbermann, Olbermann, valiant knight Olbermann
Sinks teeth into Bushies with zeal of a doberman
Speaks truth to power, the mighty are shamed
He knows where our troubles should rightly be blamed.
NaClerWriMo: "Howard Zinn"
Heart's not of tin
Speaks for the less fortunate
In manner most importunate.
NaClerWriMo: "Ed Champion"
Ed Champion, with praise, repeatedly showers
The great works of Pynchon and Vollman and Powers.
Breathless he waits for their books from the postman
While feuding with Tanenhaus, Penzler and Grossman.
NaClerWriMo: "Golden Rule Jones"
Golden Rule Jones
There once was a blogger named "Golden Rule Jones"
A shadowy phantom who had quite the stones
Took a fine nom de blog from his home's golden era
But he's not from New York, hence no "Stiller & Meara."
Now that NaNoWriMo has ended (more on that later), I'm suddenly inspired by a new writing project. The December 1 entry for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day is "clerihew":
clerihew \KLAIR-ih-hyoo\ noun
: a light verse quatrain rhyming aabb and usually dealing with a person named in the initial rhyme
Example sentence: My favorite of Edmund C. Bentley's clerihews is the following: "What I like about Clive / Is that he is no longer alive. / There is a great deal to be said / For being dead."
Did you know? Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) was an English writer whose book Biography for Beginners was published in 1906 under the name E. Clerihew. It was a collection of simple, humorous four-line verses about famous people. Bentley had begun writing them as a bored high school student. He didn't call them clerihews himself, but his readers began to do so after the book appeared. How soon after, we can't be sure, because so far we've unearthed nothing earlier than a 1928 description of clerihews as "nice slack metres and sly points." In any case, people have been having fun writing their own clerihews ever since Bentley shared his.
In the spirit of well-intentioned but generally pointless writing exercises, I'm declaring December to be National Clerihew Writing Month, or NaClerWriMo. I vow to write a clerihew every day this month, and post it here at Pete Lit. Here's my first effort, in honor of my oldest and dearest friend, a former college roommate of mine:
A slacker named Fred
Could oft pass for dead
As he slept until noon
From July on through June.
Incidentally, "noon" is being rather generous to Fred, at least during our college years.