Don't Carp and Curse, It Could Be Verse

March 17, 1994|By PETER A. JAY

HAVRE DE GRACE — Havre de Grace. -- Our old friend the Duke of Doggerel stopped by for the local St. Patrick's Day celebrations, carrying his guitar and a yellow pad. He drank some green beer while discoursing about political verse, and other intellectual subjects.

''Remember the '60s?'' he asked. ''That was a great period for poetry. Those eight-line things, I forget what they're called, were popular. Two quatrains. One line had to be a politician's name, and one line had to be one word with six feet. Metrical feet, I mean. There was one about Robert Kennedy before he was killed, when it looked as though he were going to get the Democratic nomination instead of Hubert Humphrey. You remember that one?''

No one did.

''Oh, sure you do,'' said the Duke:

Hippity hoppity

Bobbidy Kennedy

Bounces up mountains and

Barrels down streams.

Toodle-oo Huberty!

Nothing beats puberty!


Destiny screams.

''It was wonderful, a great art form. There were lots of them. But today, nada.''

''Why don't you write one,'' some fool said.

''Well, if you insist,'' said the Duke, riffling through his yellow pad. ''How about this?''

What could be driving our

Peter G. Angelos?

He buys a new ball team,

Is much on TV.

Asbestos millionaire!

Now, maybe, Schaefer's heir!


What it must be.

There was a stunned silence, but he looked around him happily, perhaps thinking we were too impressed to applaud.

''See? Nothing to it. Now you all write some, too. It's fun. Once you get into the swing of it, you can hardly stop. You read a political story in the newspaper and you want to write a poem or make a song about it.''

Before we could stop him he had the guitar out. He strummed a few bars of ''Yankee Doodle,'' and started to sing.

Mickey Steinberg came to town

With Teddy Venetoulis,

Said he was the people's choice

And pledged he'd never fool us.

Now the folks in Steinberg's camp

Are mad as all creation.

Teddy's gone and he and Mick

Are deep in litigation.

''Nothing to it,'' said the Duke. ''Think of a tune, and the words just seem to flow.'' He picked out ''Pop Goes the Weasel.''

Parris Glendening went up on the Hill

To meet with Steny Hoyer.

Glendening's the pride of honest Prince George,

And hey, he's not a lawyer.

Then he was into the mournful strains of ''The Streets of Laredo.''

As I walked out in the streets of Arbutus,

As I walked out in Arbutus one day,

I spotted diminutive Barbara Mikulski,

Out mending her fences and comin' my way.

Hey Babs, I said brightly to Barbara Mikulski,

As we walked along in Arbutus that day,

What in the world's going on with the Clintons?

They're up to their necks in Whitewater so gray.

It's only Republicans, said Ms. Mikulski,

A-tryin' to make some political hay.

Good Democrats really should try to ignore them.

We can trust Bill and Hill, she said. Have a nice day!

The Duke drained his green beer. ''I don't know the name of this tune,'' he said, ''but you'll probably recognize it.''

William Brock from down in Tennessee

Came to Maryland to help the GOP.

He's a smooth and wealthy man

From a candy-making clan

Who would like to make the Senate Sarbanes-free.

Mr. Brock reminds us that in days of yore

He defeated the old father of Al Gore.

He's got speeches and addresses

In his carpetbag's recesses.

But can he draw six votes from Baltimore?

Some in the group suggested forcefully to the Duke that perhaps this was more than enough, but a poet with the bit in his teeth is hard to stop. He put away the guitar but kept on reciting.

Helen Bentley, Helen Bentley,

Goes tip-toeing gently

Into the gubernatorial race,

Feeling it seems just a bit out of place

But showing the voters a new, improved face,

Helen Bentley, Helen Bentley.

Helen Bentley, Helen Bentley,

Campaigning intently,

At ease in the 'burbs where blue-collar votes grow,

She brushes past issues which she doesn't know

and speaks never a word about Sarajevo,

Helen Bentley, Helen Bentley.

''Shut up, Duke!'' everybody shouted. His eyes were glazed.

Mary Boergers took a tax

And gave the voters 40 whacks.

When they saw what she had done

The voters wondered why she'd . . .

Somebody clapped a hand over his mouth, and I went to my truck to get a rope. ''What's that?'' he mumbled, as we dropped the noose over his neck. I told him it was my poet lariat.

Peter A. Jay is a writer and farmer.

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