Every year for the past three or four years I’ve written an end-of-the-year poem in the NJJN. (See here and here, for example.) I admit I was inspired in part by those “Greetings, Friends!” poems that Roger Angell used to write for The New Yorker.
“Greetings, Friends!” is back this year, Mr. Angell said, because he missed writing it and because he had a few flashes of inspiration while on vacation in Maine last summer. “I got a few lines down,” he said. “And once it gets going, it’s terrific fun to do.”
After some months of tinkering, and asking younger New Yorker colleagues for help with some of the poem’s more up-to-the-minute references (Suri Cruise, Sergey Brin), Mr. Angell took the results to David Remnick, the magazine’s editor.
“After SOME MONTHS of tinkering”!?!
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve written my poems on deadline day, and while the finished products could have used a little more tinkering, I still managed to rhyme “Abbas” with “impasse,” “Condoleezza” and “amneeza,” and “Mearsheimer and Walt” with “Israel’s fault.” I know Angell wasn’t working on the poem full-time, but could it really have taken months to rhyme “Bernanke” with “Yankee”?
So here’s what I am going to do. It’s Monday morning, 9:31 a.m. My poem is due tomorrow at around 2 or 3 p.m. That’s longer than I normally devote to my column, but I’m going easy on myself. I’ll be working on the poem between now and then, and posting stanzas as I finish them. I’ll keep a stopwatch going and post how long it took me when I’m done. If you have suggestioins for rhymes and topics, send them in.
So here’s the first installment — about 28 minutes worth of work in total. Remember this is a draft:
This year’s like the joke: Two guys, each a Jew.
One says to the other, “How are things by you?”
His friend says, trying to hold back a tear,
“Certainly better than it will be next year.”
You heard of B. Madoff, that number one shvantz? He
Concocted a scheme that was worthy of Ponzi.
He robbed from the rich, and made the rich poorer,
Reducing the mighty to the ranks of the schnorrer.
And speaking of shvantzes: Poor J.J. Putz.
The Mets’ new reliever is gonna need guts.
When he blows a big game at some crucial junction,
The crowd’s bound to blame projectile dysfunction.
In Israel folks marked their sixtieth year
With more agita than unbridled cheer.
‘Cause more than the peace plan seemed to unravel
As its prime minister feared the rap of a gavel.
And Hamas and Fatah, the bitterest of frenemies.
Could agree on just this: That we were their enemies.