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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.


  • Regions and Countries April 4, 2002

    The Middle East Troubles: A Summary

    They give each other tit for tat.
    The next tat may get Arafat.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics March 28, 2002

    Nixon Library Woes

    The daughters, Trish and Julie, now aren't speaking.
    Without more dough, the roof will soon be leaking.
    It really isn't clear just who's in charge.
    Most tapes and papers still remain at large.
    The tapes may show, when they're where they belong,
    The Jews have caused these troubles all along.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Religion March 21, 2002

    2002 Remake of Boys’ Town

    He ain't heavy, Father, he's my brother.
    I can take him by myself from here.
    Also, after what we've all been reading,
    We don't like to have you priests too near.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Racism and Discrimination March 14, 2002

    Billy Graham’s Explanation of His Taped Conversation With Richard Nixon

    He says that what he said about the Jews
    (They own and thus manipulate the news)
    Is not, of course, reflective of his views.
    So what part of the news did those Jews lose?

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics March 7, 2002

    The Bush Plan for a Shadow Government

    A place was found for Mr. Cheney
    Where, even if the missiles rain, he
    Can carry on his governing nonstop.
    They then found bunkers down so far
    That closed-lip Bushies even are
    More secretive than they have been on top.

    So if some heinous act occurred,
    Our continuity's assured:
    The government will run forevermore.
    And since the Congress has no caves,
    There'll be no Waxmans to make waves--
    Which should make things much smoother than before.

    Calvin Trillin

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  • 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