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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 October 25, 2001

    Day-O, an Afghan Calypso

    (With apologies to Harry Belafonte, among others)

    Bombed all night by dat Yankee bunch
    Daylight come and de bombers go home
    Now dey'll drop some cashew crunch
    Daylight come and de bombers go home

    Day-o, day-o
    Bad guys hide in dere catacomb
    Day-o, day-o,
    'Til dose bombers have said shalom.

    Hey, Mr. Taliban, shoutin' your hosannas
    Daylight come and de bombers go home
    You're de Kool-Aid makin' dese Guyanas
    Daylight come and de bombers go home

    Day-o, day-o,
    Daylight come and de bombers go home
    Day-o, day-o,
    Daylight come and de bombers go home.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics October 18, 2001

    On V.S. Naipaul’s Nobel Prize

    So V.S. Naipaul finally gets the prize.
    It's said he's willing, through unblinking eyes,
    To make his observations, then recall
    The bleakest Third World countries, warts and all.
    While valuing his writing, I still think
    It wouldn't hurt if, now and then, he'd blink.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics October 11, 2001

    A Two-Pronged Approach to the Afghan People

    By night our missiles rain on them,
    By day we drop them bread.
    They should be grateful for the food--
    Unless, of course, they're dead.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics October 4, 2001


    (An old Nat "King" Cole song, as sung by Rudy "King" Giuliani)

    Indispensable, that's what I am.
    I'm an icon now, like Uncle Sam.
    I'm the rock this town is built upon.
    Après moi, no one could carry on.
    No one but me
    Could possibly be
    (bah, bah, bah)
    Indispensable, the mayor for life.
    No one worries now about my wife.
    So, you see, I've simply got to stay.
    I'll be mayor forever and a day.
    And I'll still be indispensable then.

    Calvin Trillin

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  • Cities August 23, 2001

    The Sultan’s Brother Does a Service to Humanity

    The brother of the Sultan of Brunei
    Set out to see how much a guy could buy,
    And fifteen billion's what he finally spent
    Before the sultan voiced some discontent.
    The guilt of many shoppers was assuaged.
    The most committed shopaholic gauged,
    "I'd really have to spend a lot more dough
    To be a spendthrift like the sultan's bro."

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics July 27, 2001

    The Leader of the Last Remaining Superpower Asserts Minimal Qualifications

    To those who say he cannot do it,
    Who claim his head is filled with suet,
    He says that he is plenty able
    To deal with issues on the table.
    Though he may have no depths to plumb,
    He says for sure he isn't dumb.
    It's almost more than we could hope:
    The President is not a dope.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics July 12, 2001

    A Strong Dollar Clouds Prospects For Quick Rebound

          --Headline, New York Times

    The dollar's strong. That must be good.
    It's doing what a dollar should.
    Not so.
    The world cannot afford our junk.
    You see: It's never what you thunk.
    Go know!

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics June 28, 2001

    A New, Simpler Analysis of the Recent Bush-Putin Summit

    Bush and Putin talk together,
    To each other's charms succumb.
    Bush thinks Putin can be trusted.
    Putin thinks that Bush is dumb.

    Bush and Putin end their meeting,
    Smile until their mouths are numb.
    Bush thinks Putin can be trusted.
    Putin thinks that Bush is dumb.

    Calvin Trillin