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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.


  • Politics September 19, 2002

    A Scholarly Analysis of Developments (Including Satellite Photos,

    Osama's split and Wall Street's sagging.
    It's time to get that puppy wagging.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures September 12, 2002

    Building a Coalition, W.-Style

    We'll talk to Germany and France,
    Brief Russians and Chinese,
    Consult with Turkey and Japan,
    Then do just as we please.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Armed Conflicts September 5, 2002

    War Against Iraq: The Context

    The terrorism war begins to sag.
    The perpetrator we were meant to bag
    Remains at large, and wartime fervor fades.
    Then Bush and all his hawkish White House aides
    Drop sanctions as the way to tame Iraq
    And say, "Without delay, we must attack."
    If that war sags, there's still a backup plan.
    It's war without delay against Iran.
    And when the zest for that war, too, has faded?
    That's easy: North Korea gets invaded.
    But then it's hard to think of what to do.
    Destroy Bahrain? Bomb France? Invade Peru?

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics August 29, 2002

    Richard Perle: Whose Fault Is He?

    Consider kids who bullied Richard Perle--
    Those kids who said Perle threw just like a girl,
    Those kids who poked poor Perle to show how soft
    A mamma's boy could be, those kids who oft-
    Times pushed poor Richard down and could be heard
    Addressing him as Sissy, Wimp or Nerd.
    Those kids have got a lot to answer for,
    'Cause Richard Perle now wants to start a war.
    The message his demeanor gets across:
    He'll show those playground bullies who's the boss.
    He still looks soft, but when he writes or talks
    There is no tougher dude among the hawks.
    And he's got planes and ships and tanks and guns--
    All manned, of course, by other people's sons.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures August 15, 2002

    The Accidental Commoner

    Al Gore is a man of the people.
    At least, that's the case as we speak.
    The earth-toney Harvard elitist,
    Though gone, could return by next week.

    Calvin Trillin

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  • Business August 1, 2002

    George W. Bush and Dick Cheney Lecture CEOs on Corporate Responsibility

    "Creative accounting" is something we hate.
    From now on your numbers will have to be straight.
    No taking of options for stock you contrive
    To dump when insiders can tell it will dive.
    And loans? If you want one, then go to the bank.
    These sweetheart loans stink! They're disgusting! They're rank!
    This type of behavior we strictly forbid.
    Just do as we say now, and not as we did.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Corporations July 18, 2002

    A Spirited Defense of George W. Bush Against Accusations That He Dumped His Harken Stock Because of Inside Information

    He says he had no clue the stock would tank.
    About the details he is still evasive.
    Though "on the board but clueless" could sound lame,
    With Bush, a clueless claim sounds quite persuasive.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics July 3, 2002

    On the Congressional Response to the ‘Under God’ Controversy

    They pledge allegiance to the thought
    That every politician ought
    To take a stand that's foursquare for the Lord.
    They think if they say, "God is great!
    Don't separate him from the state!"
    Election is the blessing he'll afford.

    Calvin Trillin

  • 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