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Calvin Trillin

Verse Columnist

Calvin Trillin, the author of Random House’s Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Election in Rhyme, is The Nation‘s “deadline poet.” He has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for forty years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His wry commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice—a 2007 New York Times best seller that was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece”—followed two other best-selling memoirs, Remembering Denny and Messages from My Father.


  • World February 28, 2002

    On the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence

    The OSI's intent to disinform
    Received responses that were less than warm.
    The Pentagon now says it doesn't need
    An office just to lie and to mislead.
    There is, though, one false fact they're not eschewing:
    The notion that the brass know what they're doing.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Campaign Finance February 21, 2002

    Campaign Finance Reform

    We're told that this campaign reform is not
    The end-all of the sleaziness we've got.
    But it must have some worthwhile changes in it
    If Tom DeLay and Hastert are agin it.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Corporations February 14, 2002

    Kenny Boy

    (A Houston version of the Irish folk song)

    Oh, Kenny Boy, your friends are disappearing.
    They don't know you, much less your kvetchy wife.
    Yes, it's sad when pols that you've been shmeering
    Now hope that you'll get twenty years to life.
    They sang your song: They passed deregulation.
    They passed your laws. They bent the regs your way.
    But now they track your every obfuscation.
    Old Kenny Boy, their Kenny Boy's now Mr. Lay.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Corporations January 31, 2002

    Enron Hearings

    (With apologies to Stephen Foster)

    The Enron hearings stretch ahead,
    Doo-dah, doo-dah,
    Until the final soundbite's said.
    Oh, doo-dah day.

    Pols will posture night,
    Pols will posture day.
    They'll show the voters just how tough they are,
    Browbeating some CPA.

    They'll talk of all the laws they'll make,
    Doo-dah, doo-dah.
    And meanwhile they're still on the take.
    Oh, doo-dah day.

    Pols will posture day,
    Pols will posture night.
    The guy who's shmeered them for a dozen years
    Now is the guy they'd indict.

    Calvin Trillin

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  • Law January 24, 2002



    Calvin Trillin

  • Corporations January 17, 2002

    The Sinking of the USS Enron–A Free-Market Metaphor

    The pirate ship has sunk beneath the waves.
    The swabs who haven't gone to wat'ry graves
    Row desperately, though all of them now know
    Their water and their food are running low.
    They row their wretched boats and curse their lot.
    Receding in the distance is a yacht
    That carries all their officers, who knew
    The ship was doomed but didn't tell the crew.
    The officers stand tall. They saw their duty:
    Desert the ship by night and take the booty.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics January 10, 2002

    Lesson Learned

    Bush says he'd take a thousand whacks
    Before he'd let the income tax
    Of all the richest people go back up.
    Remember Daddy's tax-hike fix.
    An old dog may not learn new tricks,
    But demonstrates the flubbed ones to his pup.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures January 3, 2002

    Rudy Giuliani, Triumphant

    So Rudy is the person of the year.
    We join the world in offering a cheer
    To him--a man, some thought, was sent by heaven
    To guide us through the shock of 9/11.
    At certain times, it now must be conceded,
    A paranoid control freak's just what's needed.

    Calvin Trillin