Poems from O, What a Luxury


Was Ethel Merman a Mormon?
And how about Jessye Norman,
General Sherman or Uma Thurman?
Mormon? or German?

In an enormous auditorium
The former Mormons stood
Performing “Stormy Weather”
As warmly as they could.

I’m not a Mormon, nor are you,
Neither was Harmon Killebrew.
The Little Mermaid used to be.
She murmured “Mormon” once to me.

There was a New York doorman
And a dorm of sophomore men
Who adored Marilyn Monroe—
Was she a Mormon? I donno.

Are former ermine farmers Mormon?
Jorma Kaukonen, Norman Mailer
Or Popeye the Sailor?
Pee-Wee Herman or Norma Shearer?
Was there a Mormon in their mirror?

Thong Song

To people raised in a railroad shack
It is known as your butt crack.
To people who are more verbally deft
It is known as the gluteal cleft.
Either way, it’s at the bottom of your back
Between the one on the right and the one on the left.

Some ladies’ swimwear of slender heft
Displays freely the gluteal cleft.
On this matter, my mind is shut:
Don’t walk around showing off your butt
Please desist at least
Until I am deceased.

Your gluteal cleft, I must insist,
Should be seen by your dermatologist
When treating a rash, or cyst,
And nobody else. No daughter of mine
Wears thongs. That’s the bottom line.

Minnesota Rouser

Let winter come and walk roughshod
With sleet and freezing rains.
We fear it not, we trust in God
And jumper cables and tire chains.

We’re prepared for the good fight,
We shall be cheerful though the blizzard blows.
Though it is ten below, a long cold night,
We trust in coffee and warm clothes.

From Worthington to Grand Marais,
From Lake Vermilion to Red Wing,
We thank God for the coldest day
And offer up our suffering.

From Bemidji to Anoka,
From Rochester to Roseau, Winter makes us finer folk, a-
Las we’re modest and can’t say so.


The seventeen-year cicada crawls out of the ground
And looks around From a wall or a low-hanging limb—
He looks for her and she discovers him.
Courtship does not extend for months.
Their only job is to have sex once.
No long interlude of pleasant reminiscing about days gone by.
Just buzz and whir and thank you sir and then you die.
Cicada love does not involve poetry or song.
Was it good for you? Thanks. So long.


Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
Who rode along with Sam Prescott
And William Lawes, but Revere got
The nod cause he rhymes with “year,”
So “One if by land and two if by sea”
Was given to Mr. Revere, though he
Was only one rider of the three,
And Sam and Bill gave many alarms
To various Middlesex towns and farms
But wound up in obscurity
Because the names Sam Prescott
And William Lawes simply were not
As pleasant to the poet’s ear,
And so we revere one cavalier
And two were denied their rightful fame.
It all comes down to the sound of your name.
If Henry Thoreau had been Wally Ballou,
Would we still esteem Walden as we do?
If Emily Dickinson’s name had been Misty,
Would she have gotten so much publicity?

So listen, my children, and you shall learn:
Life takes many an unfair turn.
Many a hero goes unsung.
And I will make this simple assertion:
Though you’re idealistic, and brave, and young,
Get yourself a publicity person.

Baker’s Dozen

I used to do avant-garde dance
With a blowtorch, blue paint, and no pants,
Which many folks guessed
Was genius, and the rest
Left gladly when given the chance.

A barber who lived in Connecticut,
Regardless of whose patron’s head he cut,
Liked to sharpen his shears
And snip off their ears,
A grave violation of etiquette.

A liberal lady of D.C.
By day was tasteful and p.c.
And then after ten
She went out with men
Who were rednecks, vulgar and greasy.
“When it comes to the masculine specie,”
She said, “Believe me, I’m easy,
But liberal guys
Tend to theologize
And I am not St. Clare of Assisi.”

There was an old liberal named Kurt
Who wore his heart on his shirt.
The poor pay of teachers
Or the death of small creatures
Left him shaken and visibly hurt.

A vegan who lives in Seattle
Does not eat fish, fowl, or cattle.
No meat, blood, or bone,
Or greens that were grown
On or nearby a field of battle.

There was an old man quite embittered
By how he had wasted and frittered
His best years away
In listening all day
To reruns of All Things Considered.

There was an old singer of Syracuse
Who was startled to hear his dear accuse
Him of losing his marbles
Cause sometimes he garbles
The words that the writers of a lyric use.

A vegan with nothing to do
Picked up a sandwich to chew
And took a big bite
And cried out in fright,