My dad, Ed, just celebrated his 93rd birthday over the weekend. As I noted here a month or so back, he recently started dialysis, but that's a good thing. After almost two years of having a near-total sedentary life within his apartment, it's given him back a quality of life that had been almost entirely gone. He now goes out to dinner several times a week, a chronic pain he had is now gone, and he's even talking about going to a football game for his beloved Northwestern Wildcats this fall.
Separate from all that, at least as far as I know, are the emails I get several times a week with the subject line, "Today's effort." For reasons inexplicable to not only All Known Man, but to himself, as well, he has started writing poems. These are little pieces that he tends to write lying in bed and (most impressively of all, to me) remembers them to write down. Some are quite long. Hey, I couldn't remember these if I'd written them. He does. And then sends them off to me.
(He's always written things. He wrote a very nice memoir, filled with jokes at the end of each chapter, all on topic of that particular chapter. But he's especially always written poems and doggerel -- he wrote his camp musicals back at Camp Ojibwa when a counselor. One of the campers who performed in them went on to become a pretty well-known character actor, Mike Nussbaum, who does a lot of things for David Mamet and perhaps is most recognized for Men in Black as the store owner whose body opens up and reveals that it's been holding the head of the aliens. A few years ago, we saw a two-man play by Larry Gelbart he was doing in Chicago opposite John Mahoney. We waited afterwards to say hi, and he was overjoyed to see my dad. It wasn't the first time they'd spoken since kids, though the first time in about 10 years.)
This may be my favorite of his Morning Poems, since it's so odd. I thought I'd post it here, in honor of his birthday. He wrote it about a month ago. I'd say it was one of his more recent, except there have about about 10-15 since.
On the surface, it's just your basic limerick. But it goes beyond that. The reason it's odd is that It's a double-poem. The first limerick, you see, is -- bizarrely -- written in four languages! (English, French, German and Yiddish.) And then, after having accomplished that impressive bit of legerdemain, he translates the poem into its own, fully-English limerick.
Here it is.
LIMERICKS IN THREE QUARTER TIME
Je sais que le monde il est ronde
Ca ne pas quelque chose tres profonde
Das is recht sagt der vintner
Du herst das fon der kinder
But it’s flat when you stand on the ground
I know that the world is quite round.
That thought is nothing profound.
“Right” says the wine grower.
Though kids respond slower,
"But it’s flat when you stand on the ground."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor