Another December? Another rotten poem


By Royal Calkins

Twas the night before Christmas
And all of us older fellows were already asleep
For we had spent so much time
Writing poetry that, in the light, seems terribly cheap

No poetry prizes awarded for things like
Wishing happy eggnog to Karen (Caring) Araujo 
And lumpy old coal to Stevie McShane
A wrapped ounce of sense to public water supporters
They shan’t listen to Cal Am as they spin to explain

But this stuff has been on so many pages like this
And times seem shaky now to conjure up bliss
Goodness, they’re killing kids and calling it holy
Everything they all say is an unblessed fib

Farther east in Ukraine a crazy Russian pol
Seeks to wipe out every city and village
He should be jailed, beaten and jellied
His soldiers are hungry but still they can pillage

And here at home, it’s as worse as it gets
Because actual people, some skinny, some plump
Have forgotten common sense and recent history
And’ll vote for mobster Donald “Loser” Trump

Really? Can’t they read? Do they not have a clue?
He’s a grifter, a bum, a fumbling Mr. Magoo
All he’s done for those who would elect him
Is stir their ire for everything not red, white and blue

So, you see, it’s hard to get in the spirit
The end of the year, Happy New Years theme
When the news of the day is so darn depressing
When even good things aren’t as good as they seem

But “buck up,” my bosses are yelling
No more excuses, old boy, it’s time to get moving
Get on with it now, out of bed, juices flowing
Crank out some rhymes, get that nonsense grooving

So we’ll give it a try and forget that we’re weary
With more time here, something might emerge
If I do the job right, most of you won’t get teary
And the lines that don’t rhyme, you can just purge

Then it’s time for the happy end of December to
Bill Lipe, Arlene Haffa and Wendy Root Askew
Get them votes out, and some leaflets, and banners
Let’s fix the red voting pockets and turn them all blue

Some goodbye carols are due for some favorites
Like sweet Mary Adams and cunning Les Girard
Her votes weren’t perfect but her intent was good
While his legal advice left some people screwed

On a Peninsula where it seems that no one works
Here’s a happy holidays for the underpaid many
Who raise and cook the food and tote the bales,
And come from Salinas Valley to scrape for a penny

In a place like this where good fortune reigns
We still have food banks, soup lines, hunger pains
Some sleep in tents and eat out of cans
While about Kauai and France, others are making plans

The fat cats are getting fatter, the strays are all wet
The water table’s crashing, rental rates are way up
California’s growing almonds and strawberries
When we need veggie soup in a cup

But there I go again, out of step with the season
Instead of spreading greetings and holiday joy
I’m grousing about the rich folks and their ilk
So forgive me, now, and fetch some warm milk

Feliz Navidad to Natividad, and you, Kate Daniels
May your Xmas socks be filled with spaniels
Libby Downey, Leland Rosenblum, Monica Sciuto
Afraid I can only end this line with prosciutto.

Cheers to J. Tinney, L. Livernois, sweet V. Manley,
W. White, D. Jackson, Molly Gibbs. Sandy Nunnelly
Geo. Riley, of course, M. Brown, J. Shriner, but
About Jason Campbell, there’s something kinda funnelly.

Eric Souza, Ann Hill, the Dukes, Dave and Vicky
Let’s hope your Xmas dinner contains nothing icky.
Mel Mason, Hugo Morales and Carlos Castro
When they give out Christmas candy, there you go.

Hey George Ferrell, Dave Salinger, Steve Hunt
Whatever happened to that old Peter Funt?
Speaking of which, we forgot to farewell
Gordo Smith and Tony Dann, who lived life so well

Did you notice the rhymes aren’t working out right
Sometimes they seem to connect right away
But sometimes they don’t and then
Like this here, there’s just no rhyme at all.

That’s what it’s like in a world with little poetry
Where there’s mostly just worry under the tree
Where dangerous droughts don’t cause reflection
And new forms of genocide get no attention

But we do what we can, don’t we?
We try to maintain
Some semblance of sanity
That overrides, overwrites the pain

Let’s end on a better note then, one that’s up
And send out an inclusive holiday message to 
The trust fund babies, the poor others and you
To the couch surfers or real surfers who Do Wacka Do

To the cannabis cowboys, the merchants and clerks
The holiday help, wait staff, big tippers and jerks
Sheriff Nieto, Deputy Dogg, M. Luther, B. Pickens
To the low-car cruisers and dear Charles Dickens

Now, no bleak houses for Kathy Gieger, Ron Weitzman
Nancy Amadeo, Brian McCarthy, have some flan
With Clem Zavala, Eli Ramirez, and Little Tommy
And books to be read by Jenny, his nice mommy

Some hope to families with boys or girls in the jail
We’re sending coupons for discounted bail
Get them out if you can before they need help
The kind Wellpath gives will just make them yelp

A big Christmas kiss to Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Who told the fed sleuths to investigate
Wellpath and the jails and prisons that hire them
To coarsely care for those who live in a crate

To the Car Week People and the Rodeo People, too
Jane Anderson, the Ragsdale-Cronins, nice Mr. Doo
Buddy Barker, Buster Livernois-Hess, Rin Tin Tin
And to some of the preachers, a season without sin

To the unschooled, Trump-fooled, unspooled
Who actually seem to enjoy being tooled
May all your bad Christmas wishes for others
Arrive unwrapped on the porch of your brothers

Merry December to all except to those who 
Should but don’t know better
For those hardly getting by, the fluffiest sweater
To the grinches and stingy, a good-cheer vaccination
And to old fools like me, a winter vacation

Happy holidays, happy December and January, even February, happy day after Christmas, black Friday, blue Tuesday and whatever day the Warriors win again

Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter or leave a comment below.



About Royal Calkins

Contributing writer Royal Calkins has worked for newspapers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Fresno. He can be reached at