Opinion | Songs, Poems and Parodies: Readers Compose ‘Variations’

A Few of His Favorite Things

(To the tune of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”)

Penthouses, power and plutocrat nations,

Rallies with cheering and standing ovations,

Big brassy buildings and homes fit for kings,

These are a few of his favorite things.

Girls in low necklines and eye-candy dresses,

Towering heels and long flowing tresses,

Diamonds that dazzle and clothing that clings,

These are a few of his favorite things.

When the press bites,

When The Times stings,

When he’s feeling mad,

He’ll simply remember his favorite things,

And then he won’t feel so bad.

Conflicts and chaos and selfish corruption,

Falsehoods and flare-ups, a Twitter eruption,

Favors for fawners that come with tight strings,

These are a few of his favorite things.

Putty for Russia and fodder for Turkey —

Links to their leaders are furtive and murky.

They may have sway in his policy swings —

Donald is one of their favorite things.

Erika Fine
Brookline, Mass.

Mr. Tangerine Man

Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, tweet a tweet for me,

I’m not thinkin’ and there ain’t no facts I’m listenin’ to.

Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, tweet a tweet for me,

In your jingle jangle thinking, I’ll come followin’ you.

Take me for a trip upon your mad and racist ship

All your senses have been clipped

Tiny hands can’t seem to grip

And your foes too stunned to quip

Wait only for a tax cut to be squanderin’

You’re ready to say anything, you tariff all the trade,

On to your great parade

Cast your cultish spell my way

I promise to go under it.

Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, tweet a tweet for me,

I’m not thinking and it’s just Fox News I’m listenin’ to.

Hey Mr. Tangerine Man, tweet a tweet for me,

In your jingle jangle raving

I’ll be followin’ you.

Shel Khipple
Wilmette, Ill.

A Visit From the Grinch

’Twas a year before election, despite actions by the House,

Not a senator stirred, they were quiet as a mouse;

The subpoenas were served, and yet should we dare

To hope that the truth would soon be laid bare.

When out from Ukraine there arose such a clatter

That we knew this was serious, it really must matter.

When the press got the news, and the headlines did screech,

The people were shocked, and a cry rose: IMPEACH!

When what to our wondering eyes was unveiled

But an overweight POTUS who we thought should be jailed;

And some willing few acolytes, who served as his tools,

Abandoning their Oath and the country, those fools;

In his tiny fat hands did clutch this overeater,

Not a weapon, nor golf club, but rather — a tweeter.

He whistled and shouted, and called them by name:

“Jump, Lindsey and Rudy, and don’t forget Mitch

On Barr, and Pompeo, we can’t have a glitch.”

To the top of the porch, for we still had no wall,

And the Mexicans laughed, ignoring his call;

With a sleigh full of debt, and alliances dashed,

He cared not a whit, a man unabashed.

On his back was a bag of Executive Orders,

Keep the immigrants out, and close all the borders;

Was he here for a visit, a thought that’s not thrilling

“I’m just pardoning soldiers, even ones who’ve done killing,

I’ll stay at my hotel, even though it is book-ed.”

Emoluments clause? Doesn’t apply to the crook-ed;

I thought he’s a grifter, lacking moral ideals,

Who ignores others’ pain, and can’t hear their squeals;

He filled all his own pockets, then turned with a jerk,

His oath had no meaning, his duties he’d shirk;

He pointed and said, “I’ll not take the blame.”

Pointing to everyone else in the game,

He abandoned the sleigh, and got into a car,

Saying “See, it’s not me, and it’s working so far.”

While his plan he believed he had worked to perfection,

What he couldn’t control was next year’s election.

Alan Miller
Eagan, Minn.

Time Is Running Out

Our planet is rapidly heating,

The window to fix it is fleeting,

But who can take notice?

Not dear leader POTUS —

He’s busy “No quid pro quo” tweeting!

Vicki Koestler
Alexandria, Va.

President Macbeth

Let us seek out some desolate shade and there

Weep our sad bosoms empty.

For our country sinks beneath the yoke.

It weeps, it bleeds and each new day

A gash is added to our wounds.

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure

Each new morn new widows howl

New orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven

On the face, that it resounds as if it felt

With Us and yell’d out like syllable of dolour.

This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,

So bloody, luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful

Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin

That has a name; this devil, none of which in the

Legions of horrid hell is more damned in evils.

Some say he’s mad; others that lesser hate him

Do call it valiant fury; but for certain,

He cannot buckle his distemper’d cause

Within the belt of rule. Now minutely

Revolts upbraid his faith-breach.

Those he commands move only in command,

Nothing in love; now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarvish thief. All his pestered

Senses recoil and start, condemn themselves daily.

Is such a one fit to govern? Speak! Speak!

No. No. No. O Nation miserable, blasphemed

By an untitled tyrant, bloody-sceptered, who

By his own interdiction stands accurs’d.

When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again?

Mike Sapic
Vancouver, British Columbia

The Brave New World of A.I.

(With apologies to Robert Frost)

Whose jobs these were I think I know

But now computers run the show

And track me as I drink my beer

They fill me up with dread and woe.

A.I. makes one thing crystal clear

Our future is but cog and gear

Unless you count the mind that’s fake

There’s really not much thinking here.

My useless head begins to ache

You kind of hope for one mistake

For we are going to the heap

Just so much garbage to forsake.

The rich eye profits they can reap

They treat us like a bunch of sheep

And brave new worlds form while we sleep

And brave new worlds form while we sleep.

Robert Seidenstein
Lawrenceville, N.J.

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

(An updated version of the Dr. Seuss classic)

“I have second thoughts about everything.” — Donald Trump, August 2019

You can think about this

You can think about that

You can think where you stand

You can think where you sat

Oh the thinks you can think

If only you try

You can think of one truth

Instead of 10 lies

And it need not end there

You can think of much more

Like opening your heart

Not just shutting a door

You can think about crowds

Of enormous size

Or maybe, just maybe

Of one baby’s cries

You can wonder aloud

Did I do what I could

Not just to do bad

But this once to do good

Think, think again

And then a third time

And maybe you’ll learn

Thinking is not a crime

Thinking can hurt

I know it’s hard work

But just think about

Not being a jerk

You can think of your buildings

That reach to the sky

You can think of your planes

That fly oh so high

But maybe, just maybe

Instead think of others

Those that have little

Those who just suffer

And if you think to yourself

Oh I can’t do that

That would cost far too much

Let me be where I’m at

Then know that we think

That you can do better

Just learn a new alphabet

With no “I” as a letter

Oh the thinks you can think

If only you try

The sky is the limit

In a world with no “I.”

Robert S. Nussbaum
Fort Lee, N.J.

Watch What You Click

“Escape” won’t work, ’cause it’s a fact:

Online, your every move is tracked.

Watch what you click, what data typed,

So that your info isn’t swiped.

Keyboarders need to get a clue.

Or someone might … “Control-U.”

Don Hauptman
New York

State of the Union

“How long can we go on like this?” she asked.

He cringed, and thought it was a question

About the condition of their marriage.

So he hemmed and hawed a bit

In order to gain time to absorb the shock

And come up with an acceptable answer.

Finally, he offered a reply.

“Tell me what I can do to make it better,” he said.

But she stared silently at the evening news, no response.

And he realized:

It wasn’t a marital inquiry at all.

It was about the state of an entirely different Union.

Thomas H. Martin
Kerrville, Tex.

Letters Should Not Be in Rhymes

I do not like this, New York Times.

Letters should not be in rhymes.

I’ve bowed my head and said adieu

To Safire, Baker, Crowther, too.

You had to let proofreaders go

Because your ad sales were so low.

I want the News That’s Fit to Print,

So, New York Times, please take this hint:

I do not like this, New York Times.

Please cease these desperate clickbait crimes.

Eve Golden
Lyndhurst, N.J.

‘Another One Bites the Dust’

Let’s go …

Which crook’s plummeting down this week

With the whole crew way down low?

Which one’s found with a check in his beak?

Subpoenas ready to go

Are you Zinke, or is that cork on your walls?

Are you flying in a taxpayer’s seat?

Out of the doorway the next one’s kicked

To the sound of a tweet!

Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

And another one’s gone and another one’s gone

Another one bites the dust

Hey, gonna get you too

Another one bites the dust

How many cronies did it take to conceal

The porn stars, plots and tax?

When something orange would throw them under the bus

There might just be some cracks …

Where’s the deal king, when the deals going down

Are the ones that take a plea to complete?

Out of excuses, the stooges flip

To the sound of a tweet!

(Chorus)

Hey, oh take it

Bites the dust

Bites the dust

Hey

Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust, ow

Another one bites the dust, hey hey

Another one bites the dust, eh eh

Hey prosecutor …

There are plenty of ways that Schiff can hurt a man

And fling him in a ditch

You can call it all a witch hunt, but then what do you do

When you’re actually a witch?

Are you betting, Putin saves this for you?

Cause Giuliani’s mouth is full of his feet …

Out of the midterms, the House will sue

Impeaching to the sound of a tweet!

(Chorus)

Oh prosecutor, hey hey, all right

Dale Edmondson
Santa Clara, Calif.

Greener Than Thou

I’ve ditched plastic straws,

Which means that I’m good.

I compost my waste

As everyone should.

I reuse my bags,

Which surely shows how

I’m greener than thou.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Providence, R.I.

‘How It All Fell Apart’: A One-Minute Movie

Scene: An elaborate office in the Kremlin, circa 2015.

Characters: Vladimir Putin

Alexander Bortnikov, who runs the F.S.B., successor to the K.G.B.

Fade in …

PUTIN:

Alexei, old buddy, how many

moles we got in Washington today?

BORTNIKOV:

Well, Putzi — er, um, actually,

right now we got none.

But I got a way better idea.

PUTIN:

Yeah, well, go on …

BORTNIKOV:

Why wait forever for a mole

to inch up to a high-level slot?

We can start an asset at the very top

in plain sight.

PUTIN:

Whoa! If I’m thinking what you’re thinking,

we get to run him free and clear for

four years, maybe eight. Right?

BORTNIKOV:

Right, barring a courageous act

by the U.S. Senate; a k a “Neva Hoppen.”

PUTIN:

And the capitalist stooges feed him,

house him and pay his salary. I love it!

BORTNIKOV:

We can do it easy. A couple, or maybe three hackers

can totally screw up their elections.

We proved this last year in a runoff.

PUTIN:

Alexei, darling, you’re a goddamn genius.

But wait a minute, wait a minute.

Where we gonna find an industrious

butthead to play along?

BORTNIKOV:

Ya’ ever seen that sappy TV show

about startups called “The Entrepreneur”

or something?

PUTIN:

You mean that “Yer fired” Goldilocks character!

Sweet Jesus! If we pull this off

that overinflated kielbasa will totally wreak havoc.

Bye Bye American Pie. Hello Civil War II.

We WIN! WE win!

Let’s do it.

Fade out …

THE END

Bill Bell
Brookline, Mass.

Post-Poll Haiku

Smart, strong and kind, but

misogyny persisted.

“She’s not likable.”

Lila Silverstein
Seattle

Healing the Wounds Twixt Arab and Jew

If I could conjure, as magicians do,

I’d heal all the wounds twixt Arab and Jew,

I’d gather their children in dance and in song,

With a wave of my hand, I’d right every wrong.

If I were a wizard, with potions and spells,

I’d send all their haters to the deepest of Hells,

I’d fund all their schools, but nary a gun,

I’d change all their wars to laughter and fun.

If I had the brains of the Arabs of yore,

To name all the stars and calculate more,

If I could reason as the Talmudists do,

I’d inculcate peace ’tween Arab and Jew.

If I had the wisdom to end their long fight,

I’d replace their warfare with doin’ what’s right,

I’d rewrite their myths and their histories, too,

To show them as one, as well as two.

Eliot Kalman
Athens, Ohio

A Sonnet: The Sand Trap

Astride his golf cart Trump rides o’er the dale,

Through turf and sylvan groves with sand traps nigh,

A Sphinx leaps toward him, waving claws and tail.

“I’ll ask one riddle. Get it right, or die!”

Says she, “Throughout the morning, noon, and night,

What walks on legs first four, then two, then three?”

“I’ll WIN,” says he. “My genius shineth bright.

It’s easy-peasy, ’cause the answer’s ME!”

“Me, ME! Four billion worth, two terms, three wives —”

“How wrong thou art! So sunk in vanity,

Thou hast no care for other people’s lives,

Nor Truth, nor love for anyone but thee!”

“The answer’s MAN, whom thou hadst vowed to cherish.”

She snarls through clacking teeth, “Prepare to perish.”

Margaret Panofsky
New York

Dear Rudy

Dear Rudy, we thought that we knew ya.

We praised you and sang “Hallelujah!”

But now I’m not sure

Your motives are pure —

You don’t heed the law lately, do ya?

Marion Wolf
Bergenfield, N.J.

Truth and Lies

So Facebook says it won’t try,

to tell what is true from a lie

It will allow any fiction

with no interdiction

And spit in democracy’s eye.

Rich Paolino
Hutchinson Island, Fla.

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