My Eyebrow Curls Like the Devil’s 1955

This is the second in an occasional series of autobiographical poems….

The Gaylynn was only a quarter;
The serial started at ten.
Saturday, every weekend,
I walked to the movies with Ben.

The game, as we walked along North Street,
To walk swiftly, missing each crack.
And Ben, whose stride was much longer,
Left me hurriedly far in the back.

Head down, and stepping with caution,
I ran into a classmate named Sue.
I stumbled, and stammered profusely,
For beside her was Cynthia Drew.

Cynthia was covered with freckles.
She was small, with bright eyes, and brown hair.
And Cynthia made me uneasy,
And Cynthia made me despair.

Then Cynthia smiled at me sweetly.
And regarded me, cocking her head.
“Your eyebrow.  It curves like the Devil’s.”
And that was all that she said.


Two More Uncoupled Couplets

You can find my explanation of uncoupled couplets here.


On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore
…Removable, the Tattoo Artist swore.

A sweet disorder in the dress
…From sleeping in it, I confess.


Another Double Dactyl

Christopher Robin said:
“I’m feeling peckish;
I hope you won’t fret.
It’s merely a touch of my
A few bites of candy
Will fix it, I’ll bet.”

The Populist Imperative

My grandfather, John Conner, Professor of Government at Texas A&i University (now part of Texas A&M) was proud to call himself a populist.  For him, it  meant standing up for the little guy, for supporting workers and farmers, rather than the big business elite.  Above all, populism was about equality for ordinary citizens under the law.  He considered the Warren Court’s one man – one vote decision in the early sixties to be the most important of his lifetime.

Interestingly, he had little to say about Brown vs Board of Education, which most people would consider to be the most important.  I’m afraid he combined a lack of prejudice that was remarkable who was born in rural West Texas in the early 1880’s, with an apparent lack of interest in Civil Rights issues.

He wasn’t opposed to Civil Rights; it was just that populism was the ideology that had formed hum, and he saw everything from that perspective.   Looking back, I wish that he had been more sensitive to racial injustice, just as I wish his son, my father, had been more sympathetic to the Vietnam protestors.   But both of them were essentially populists, and that seems to me a very good thing to be.

Populism needs a revival in this country.   We are slouching towards oligarchy, and we are not doing nearly enough about it.   The Reagan era is over; maybe it’s time for Elizabeth Warren.

Grues (Also Knowm as Little Willies)

In the late 50’s , my father was fond of sitting by the fireplace in his underwear, sometimes with a beer in hand, and reciting verses.  Father William, Jabberwocky, and the like from Lewis Carroll were particular favorites, but the verse he recited most often, was this (it exists in many variants):

Little Willie, in the best of sashes,
Fell inn the fire and was burned to ashes.
Soon the room grew cold and chilly,
But no one came to poke up Willy

Little Willies, also known as Grues (which is what my father called them) are sick jokes in verse form.  They have been around at least since the early twentieth century.  An interesting collection as well as history and background  can be found here.

The following are a few grues of my own composition:

(Note: In the verses that follow, Papa and Mama are accented on the second syllable, which was not unusual when little Willies were in vogue)

Little Willie, full of pique,
Drowned the poodle in the creek.
He was punished, you can bet,
For money wasted on the vet.

Little Willie, did I mention?
Coveted Papa’s attention.
He chopped the backyard oak and dashed.
Papa came home that night quite smashed.

Little Willie, in a hurry
Put emetic in the curry.
Little Sister took a bite,
And hogged the bathroom, out of spite.

Little Willie, naughty fellow,
Punctured his Mama’s umbrella.
Came the downpour, you can guess,
It soaked her in her Sunday dress.

Little Willie, feeling tender,
Put his kitty in a blender.
Then he made his big mistake.
He served Papa a kitty shake.