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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.


  • Business June 27, 2002

    A Crisis of Faith Brought On by Martha Stewart

    Agnostic's what he was, had always been.
    He'd never prayed a prayer, confessed a sin.
    He's thinking, though, if Martha goes to jail,
    On Sundays henceforth he will never fail
    To be in church. In fact, forevermore,
    He'll be in synagogue the day before.
    It's not as if this man's the sort of pill
    Who wishes fellow human beings ill.
    But he's convinced: If Martha takes the fall,
    There is a God in heaven after all.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Business June 20, 2002

    In Martha Stewart’s Kitchen

    The camera pans across the room
    To see what she has made:
    An omelette or a spring bouquet
    Or just an inside trade.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Climate Change June 13, 2002

    Department of Earth Security

    The EPA cites chapter, and some verse,
    To show this warming's making matters worse.
    It's getting worse no matter how you score it.
    So here's the plan: They think we should ignore it.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures June 6, 2002

    Cheney’s Head: An Explanation

    One mystery I've tried to disentangle:
    Why Cheney's head is always at an angle.
    He tries to come on straight, and yet I can't
    Help notice that his head is at a slant.
    When Cheney's questioned on the Sunday shows,
    The Voice of Reason is his favorite pose.
    He drones in monotones. He never smiles--
    Explaining why some suspects don't need trials,
    Or why right now it simply stands to reason
    That criticizing Bush amounts to treason,
    Or which important precept it would spoil
    To know who wrote our policy on oil,
    Or why as CEO he wouldn't know
    What Halliburton's books were meant to show.
    And as he speaks I've kept a careful check
    On when his head's held crooked on his neck.
    The code is broken, after years of trying:
    He only cocks his head when he is lying.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Terrorism May 30, 2002

    Joie de Vivre in the Land of Color-Coded Terrorism Alerts

    I got up Monday feeling mellow:
    Expected red, but it was yellow.

    Calvin Trillin


  • Law May 23, 2002

    Dick Cheney’s Primer on the Constitution

    So what's it called if during war you criticize the President for any reason?
    And how long does this war go on (and this is where this theory's really pretty clever)?

    Calvin Trillin

  • Regions and Countries May 16, 2002

    A Solution at Last

    Likud says it does not anticipate
    That Palestinians will have a state.
    So they, in turn, are meant to stop this shrying,
    And try to make their peace with occupying.

    Calvin Trillin

  • World Leaders May 9, 2002

    A Short History of the French Presidential Election

    In Paris it began to look
    Like Jacques Chirac was just a crook,
    But voters voted for him when
    He ran against Le Pen again.
    Though graft is certainly a curse,
    They figured there are things far worse.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Environment May 2, 2002

    The Saudis and Their Oil Rigs

    (Sung to the tune of "The Farmer and the Cowman" from Oklahoma!)

    The Saudis and their oil rigs are our friends.
    Oh, the Saudis and their oil rigs are our friends.
    They can bomb us when they please, we need gas for SUVs.
    We're infidels, but we can make amends.
    Petrobusiness pals must stick together.
    All the guzzlers' gas tanks must be filled.
    We'll protect the Saudis' border
    While they preach we should be killed.
    They teach their kids the Protocols of Zion.
    It's jail for women if their hair is showing.
    They say that we're corrupt and that we're wicked.
    We say, "Whatever. Keep that petrol flowing."
    Petrobusiness pals must stick together.
    All the guzzlers' gas tanks must be filled.
    We'll protect the Saudis' border
    While they preach we should be killed.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures April 18, 2002

    A Survey Offering Democrats Two Responses to the Return of Al Gore

    Al Gore is back:
          (1) Alas
          (2) Alack

    Calvin Trillin