Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

May the devil write your obituary in weasel’s piss. –old Irish curse

Hold on — how did that get there? Either the devil made me do it, or me computer is up to no good (which wouldn’t be the first time). To be sure, me fine lads and lassies, this post is about curses in verses, but a curse alone does not a poem make. As for that derelict curse above, there are no weasels in Ireland unless you count the sloat (which is often mistaken for a weasel) or the lowly human (which often acts like a weasel, but technically is not).

Be that as it may, I haven’t got all (St. Patrick’s) day, so let’s get on with it. Here is a cultivated selection of VERSES WITH CURSES which, not least among its Hibernian virtues, could serve to show America’s petulant President how to insult his inferiors with a bit more savoir fairy (class, in plain English) than is typical in his limited vocabulary:

THE CURSE by John Millington Synge

Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.

Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I’m your servant, J. M. Synge.

from THE CURSE OF DONERAILE by Patrick O’Kelly

Alas! how dismal is my tale,
I lost my watch in Doneraile.
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal,
Pilfered at once in Doneraile.
May Fire and Brimstone never fail,
To fall in showers on Doneraile.
May all the leading fiends assail
The thieving town of Doneraile,
As lightnings flash across the vale,
So down to Hell with Doneraile.
The fate of Pompey at Pharsale,
Be that the curse of Doneraile.
May beef, or mutton, lamb or veal
Be never found in Doneraile,
But garlic soup and scurvy kale
Be still the food of Doneraile.
And forward as the creeping snail,
Th’ industry be, of Doneraile.
May ev’ry churn and milking pail
Fall dry to staves in Doneraile.
May cold and hunger still congeal
The stagnant blood of Doneraile.
May ev’ry hour new woes reveal
That Hell reserves for Doneraile.
May ev’ry chosen ill prevail
O’er all the imps of Doneraile.
May not one prayer or wish avail
To sooth the woes of Doneraile.
May the Inquisition straight impale
The rapparees of Doneraile.
May curse of Sodom now prevail
And sink to ashes Doneraile.
May Charon’s Boat triumphant sail
Completely manned from Doneraile.
Oh! may my couplets never fail
To find new curse for Doneraile.
And may grim Pluto’s inner jail
Forever groan with Doneraile.

RIGHTEOUS ANGER by James Stephens

The lanky hank of a she over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked on me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master, he’d give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.


And so we can see, Donald T.,
What the problem may well be:
In your entire immigrant ancestry,
Of Irish blood, you’re entirely free.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, luckily,
Every man is an Irishman, glory be!
So depart for today from your family tree,
Uproot this curse, branch out, and be free!

From ass act to class act, verily
This very day, you can transformed be….
Therefore, by virtue of the Irish in me,
I dub thee, please God, President Donald O’T.




I have never been able to discover anything disgraceful in being a colored man. But I have often found it inconvenient. –Bert Williams

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Yesterday marked the 96th anniversary of the death of the great “colored” comedian Bert Williams, whose humorous 1920 song I WANT TO KNOW WHERE TOSTI WENT (WHEN HE SAID GOODBYE) appeared in my last post. You can learn a bit more about this pioneering black entertainer in the racist America of the late 1800s/early 1900s by clicking here:

To commemorate the anniversary of the day Bert Williams said “Goodbye forever,” I thought I would extend that post’s theme with a curtain call of several later “goodbye” songs from America’s Golden Age of Popular Music (if not yet America’s Golden Age of race relations). Just a little something to keep in mind, every time we say goodbye (courtesy of Cole Porter):

So, what’s good about goodbye? I’m glad you asked (courtesy of Harold Arlen):

Perhaps next post, I’ll transition into some ‘hello’ songs. It would help the transfiguration if I could put this song title in reverse:

P.S. The first several readers of this post may have been confused by changes made in the last clip after I posted it. What I initially thought was a clip of another vocalist singing “Hello, My Lover, Goodbye” turned out to be in error, so, left with few choices, I hastily tried to switch to a clip of Doris Day (NOT one of my favorite vocalists) singing the song. After a few ‘haste-makes-waste’ starts, I made the substitution, but probably left a few of you wondering if I hadn’t said goodbye to my mind. But all’s well that ends well (I hope).



AUF WIEDERSEHEN (German): until we meet again, a temporary farewell or goodbye

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In a comment to my last post, I included a clip of a great German vocal group singing AUF WIEDERSEH’N, MY DEAR (a 1932 composition by American songwriters, not to be confused with AUF WIEDERSEH’N, SWEETHEART, a song which was a hit in 1952).

As it happens, there are a number of “goodbye” songs, but some are more extreme than others. For example, the Italian composer Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) wrote a famous (in his day) song titled GOODBYE, in which that word appears ten times, including five times in the last two lines:

What are we waiting for, you and I?
A pleading look, a stifled cry.
Goodbye, forever! Goodbye, forever!
Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!

Bye and bye, such an effusive edict of terminal temerity caused famed black vaudeville comedian Bert Williams no end of alarm:

And then, amigo mio, there’s the Spanish word for goodbye, which has a more soothing sound….unless you happen to be a gringo facing a bandito….

….which would be enough to give anyone the….

THE END (but comments are open, if you have any final thoughts).


The title of my last post got me thinking about how much time I spend on the first paragraph of most of my posts, introducing or setting up what I’m getting at — sort of what I’m doing now, except I realize that some set-ups are necessary and others could just as well be dispensed with, thereby freeing time for better things, such as reading your stuff (if that doesn’t ingratiate me with you, you’re just plain un-ingratiateable). My point is that this set-up is necessary in order to explain what I’m getting at here, OK?

Now where was I? Oh, yes — inasmuch as the drain on my brain is a pain to explain, each of my next x number of posts will consist of a single poem, un-introduced and un-set up….so don’t be upset if you’re on your own to navigate the depths of such odes as this:


Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray there’s been one helluva mistake.

No need to get all hot and bothered if you don’t ‘dig it.’ Simply send $100 cash or money order (if you order before 10:01 a.m. next month, add $10.01 because I’m kinda busy right now) to the address on your screen, and you’ll receive an explanation that’s as transparent as the address on your screen. Satisfaction guaranteed, or double your dissatisfaction back. As our gift to you, the first 100 callers will also receive who-knows-what absolutely free (simply pay an additional $101 to cover the cost of bs&h*). This offer is limited to the first 100 callers, and because I’m not giving out my phone number, the odds against your being the 101st (or later) caller are all in your favor. So act NOW! And pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

*bullshit and handling

A com-POSE-r BY ANY OTHER NAME (Part 2 of 2)

I am pleased to announce (as is often said when making an announcement) the proper pairings of birth names with noms de plume listed in Part 1:

a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5
e. 6
f. 1
g. 10
h. 9
i. 8
j. 7

Next (as is often said when making another announcement), I am pleased to announce that I have selected the following song from the requests made by readers of Part 1 to be played in Part 2, which I am pleased to announce totaled one request, which was a considerable help in deciding the final choice. So, after much soul searching — not to mention weeping and gnashing of my remaining teeth — here is the request winner:

But wait — there’s more! I have my own favorite song from the list. Composed by Eubie Blake with lyrics by Andy Razaf, here is MEMORIES OF YOU, with vocal refrain:

I close with the 1930 instrumental version played by Eubie Blake & His Orchestra:



If you haven’t been following this series, you don’t know what you’ve been missing (athough some might claim ignorance is bliss). If you are a follower, you may think the humor has been pretty juvenile. This first selection of Part 05 should assuage all concerns:

3 to 1 you now think this series is for the birds….but you ain’t heard nothing yet. Here’s a real turkey:

OK, I don’t need a straw vote to tell me the next selection has nowhere to go but up….

Now that’s what I call ending on a high note (as opposed to starting on a high chair). And so we come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for….

You’re welcome.