Category Archives: Poems

Saga of the DC Schools

The children of the District should not be ignored,
The condition of the schools must be deplored.
Urgent repairs, on average, take a year,
And schools without textbooks are nothing to cheer.

Thirteen thousand per student, puts spending near the top   
But the money’s mismanaged, the programs are a flop.
Test scores are so low, everyone should be hissing,
But it’s hard to do homework when the textbooks are missing.

But the schools now have a champion, he’s the Mayor, Adrian Fenty,
He’s taken over the reigns, and there’s energy a plenty.
There’s been champions before, and they’ve been slain by the dragon,
Mismanagement and abuse, caused spirits to be saggin.
Will it be different this time, when Fenty makes his bid,
I know we all pray so, for each and every kid.

He’s brought in his own Chancellor, her name is Michelle Rhee,
She’s not from within the system, and she’s tearing through the debris.
She found a warehouse full of books, right under our nose,
Then, she got them cataloged, everyone’s on their toes.

The battle’s far from over, it’s just at the beginning,
But if we stay on this course, there may be a chance of winning.
It’s truly up to Mayor Fenty, he mustn’t forget this dimension,
Things will continue to get done, where he focuses his attention.

My Retirement from the Army

In “Another Catch-up Poem,” I told you that the 1990 Christmas Poem would explain why we were back in D.C.   In the Summer of 88′, we moved to D.C.  In the Fall of 89′, we left D.C. (never to return) and moved to Fort Leavenworth.  Then in the Summer of 1990, I retired from the Army and we moved back to D.C.

I had worked for Major General Jerry Curry at V Corps in Frankfurt, West Germany.  Then, he retired from the Army and ran for Congress in 1988.  Following his unsuccessful bid, President Bush appointed him the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “NHTSA” (when I’m talking to someone who has never heard of NHTSA, I say, “you know, the auto recall people”).  General Curry asked me to retire and come be his Chief Counsel at NHTSA.  He called me in January and after five traumatic months, I had wrapped up my military career and moved back to D.C.  We purchased a home in a neighborhood very close to where we had sold our house nine months before.

So the poem below sets out the trauma of three major moves in three years.  In the Army,  the transportation people joke that regarding your furniture “three moves equals one fire”.  The difference as I see it is that you can put a fire out!

A Christmas Poem – 1990

(Surprise, again)
A new address, egad I fear,
We’ve done it again, for the third straight year.
We packed our belongings, in a van they were carted,
As crazy as it seems, we’re back where we started.

(Historic Post)
Our tour at Fort Leavenworth was really the most,
We loved our old quarters and living on post.
But opportunity knocked and it was a hummer,
But nine month tours are really a bummer.

(Loving Wife)
Carole understood the move and she really had to scamper,
Her life was turned up side down, she was not a happy camper.
But now she is settled in a house she selected,
Enjoying friends at the Thrift Shop and stores she’s detected.

(The Job)
I was appointed Chief Counsel in the traffic safety field,
My credentials were suspect, only knowing Stop and Yield.
But I passed all the tests, allaying all their fears,
After all, I’ve been driving for mucho, mucho years.

After 28 years of Army, it’s hard to leave the scene,
Of spit-shined boots and dining-in hoots, we’ll miss our friends in green.
The secret folks is continue the jokes and drive away the blues,
Dive into the job, and don’t be a slob, spit-shine your wing-tipped shoes.

As the kids moved West, we moved east,
Which made this move just more of a beast.
As the grandkids get larger, there’s not much to see,
So we’re giving our money to AT&T.

Becky and Kerby Ross moved more West than you can see,
They’re in Prescott, Arizona, teaching ROTC.
Grant is now four and Brandon’s almost two,
A pair of delightful kids, who’ll bring a smile to you.

Missy and Terry Hansen have reason to be happy,
At any moment now, he’s about to become a pappy.
He’s still designing buses, and she’s still teaching Headstart,
When the little one comes to Hutchinson, they both will need a jump start.

Paul graduated this month, a Mizzou alumnus,
We’re hoping this Christmas, that he’ll be among us.
He’s trying to decide which job will be right,
But, wherever he goes, it will be more bright.

(Closing — at last)
If you read this far, I’m sure you are bored,
For making these rhymes has become untoward.
If I were more careful and cautious of what I say,
Then this missile wouldn’t arrive until Independence Day.
So it’s Merry Christmas, and love and kisses,
And all that’s good, from me and the missus.

Christmas Together – 2003

Hey, I want you to see my old Christmas poems.  If you are family or close friends, you probably saw them some time back.  Just humor me.  I will eventually run out of them – but, not for a while!


We’ve struggled and muggled our way through the year,
High points and low points, but not without cheer.
But as the days grow short and as the year ends,
It’s great to be surrounded by loved ones and friends.
Based on that criteria, there won’t be any hysteria,
Because all of our children will be in the area.

Becky and Grant and Brandon, the Cool,
Will fly in from the West, here for the Yule.
Missy and Tyler and Kristin and Terry,
Will drive up from Florida, arrivals may vary.
Paul and Josh and Jack and Sandy,
Live two hours away and that’s real handy.
Together at Christmas, won’t that be fine?
Last time it happened was 89.

Carole is the organizer responsible for the fete,
She’s a cook extraordinary, there’ll be plenty to eat.
Carole’s new hobby of which I may grouse,
Is buying new furniture and filling the house.
Couches and chests and knick knacks galore,
It’s like running a maze, just finding the door.
But there is a new rule about which I shout,
When a new piece comes in, an old one goes out.

Jack’s still enjoying life at the Fox,
There’s been a refocus and energy rocks.
No more a merger maiden, we’re playing to our strengths,
Focused on core areas and going to all lengths.
Heading for the best year ever, the third time in a row,
Picking up Twosies and Threesies and watching our numbers grow.
We’re branding the Fox, shortening our name, to pull right out ahead,
We’re struggling over trivia, like should the Fox be blue or red,
And even more a scuffle, will it appear on our letterhead.

Another good travel year, with a Great Lakes cruise,
RAJA in Vegas, no time to snooze.
We ducked by to see Becky and Mary on the way,
The visits were too short, no time in the day.
Golf School in Florida, what a crazy game,
I’m hitting much better, but the score is the same.
Cherry blossom time brought us Brother Bob and Sue,
We walked the Tidal Basin, but our fingers all turned blue.

Our cards are late this year, but really for a reason,
We’re planning a group photo, to capture the season.
We’re thankful for so much, the turkey and the ham,
An early Christmas present, when the Army caught Saddam!
For soldiers stationed far away, for friends from far and near,
For the spirit of the season, for love and good cheer,
A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Another Catch-up Poem

(Please note that I will be away from my computer until the last week in July.  But, I will be thinking of silly and  provocative things to post when I get back).

In September, 1989, I was reassigned from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, in Washington, to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  The SJA at Fort Leavenworth retired with no notice and I was tentatively scheduled to go there in the summer of 1990.  So we moved it up nine months.  With six weeks notice, we sold our home, never to return to the DC area (Of course, DC is where we have been for the last 17 years.

This is the Christmas poem for 1989.  The poem for 1990 explains why we are back in DC.

Christmas Greetings

The postmark’s correct, the summer’s a haze,
The Army works in mysterious ways.
I requested Ft. Leavenworth for next summer’s rotation,
Four weeks later, had my orders – to our great elation.

With just six weeks notice, we moved to the west,
Sold our house, banked the bucks, that’s the part I like best.
It’s tough to leave friends, with those sad goodbyes,
But, It’s good to be back, with family ties.

Becky and Kerby had their second boy,
Brandon came in April, a bundle of joy.
Kerby completed command in October this year,
Next comes CAS Cube, which, of course, is right here.

Missy and Terry started their second year,
They’ve purchased a house, but not quite so near.
Hutchinson Kansas is farther away,
But they’re still in the state, so what the hey.
They both have new jobs, to pay their bills,
Missy’s teaching Headstart, to cure old ills.

Paul’s at Mizzou, wrapping up his degree,
It won’t come too soon for my wallet and me.
We saw Mizzou twice, K-State and K.U.
Not like the old days, strictly P.U.
We missed the crowd’s roar, the old rootem-tootem,
If the players were horses, I’d say we should shoot’em.

We visited New England before we went West,
Visiting old friends is the part we like best.
Newport mansions and the Vermont maple tree,
Boston baked beans and West Point history.

Moving’s no fun, it gets harder each time,
With no kids to help, many stairs to climb.
Great Army quarters with hard wood floors,
Strange shaped windows and too many doors.
Steam heated radiators that go clank, clank, clank,
But, old Army elegance, you can take to the bank.

We’re excited about Christmas, the holiday season,
Our children are coming, that’s the main reason.
Sweet Candy is ten, still spry and hearty,
We’ll put her upstairs for our Christmas party.

I’ve written too much, but you are the reason,
We want you to have a great holiday season!

9/11 Christmas Poem

I wrote this poem a few months after the 9/11 terrorist’s attacks.  When some outsider attacks the United States, they bring us all together and we become a formidable force.

Also, I represented Firestone during the Ford Explorer tread separation ordeal.  In fact, Firestone was to meet with the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on September the Eleventh.  By the time we arrived at the DOT Building, the Pentagon had been attacked and no visitors were permitted in the building.  We just had to find a safe way home.  All the pundits said the Firestone name was dead.  They were wrong.

Holiday Greetings 2001

A time for reflection, a time for pause,
The world is now different, and we have a cause.
They don’t understand what they sowed with their hate,
What they stirred up in us makes America great.
The moral of this is under our hat,
“Be careful who you spit on, you may just get spat.”

But we’ll put that aside for this annual report,
It’s a time for the family and things of that sort.
The news is all good, the year was a riser,
All generations seem healthy, not wealthy, but wiser.

We made a decision to spruce up the place,
Rip out this, shut off that and add on some space.
Five months without peace, workers Carole had to dodge,
Doing dishes in the bath tub and cooking in the garage.
But, it’s finally done, and done with precision,
And, believe it or not, as we envisioned.

And travel, we traveled, and traveled some more,
With a Canyonland trip, you see rocks galore.
Reunions with RAJA and a High School class,
And we bopped around Disney till we ran out of gas.

We saw all our kids and our mamas too,
Not often enough, but the best we could do.
But the year’s not over, and we’re not through,
And we’ll crank it up again in 2002.

For Jack it’s been Firestone, every long day,
A struggle for survival, against birds of prey.
It’s the Congress, the Government, oh what a mess,
And each day you could count on the torch of the press.
But, Firestone hung in there and did the right thing,
They fought for their tires and accepted the sting.
Now the clouds are parting and the message inspiring,
Just one simple phrase, “Firestone is hiring.”

So, it’s time to shut down this trite little jingle,
But the thought behind it makes us tingle.
To greet and report to special friends,
To perhaps bring a smile as the verse wends.
To wish good fortune, a smile and good cheer,
Glorious Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Paris, Oh Paris (Hilton)

Paris, oh Paris, what is it with the media,
I think we’ll even find you, listed in Wikipedia.
Your notoriety is well deserved,
You’ve made a career at getting observed.

But if you’re driving drunk, you don’t want attention,
You’ll end up arrested with a license suspension.
You say you drove legal, there was no abuse,
But ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Two trips to the jail, the first was a hoax,
But the sheriff got nailed, no more jokes.
So, back to the jail, please read the sign,
Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.

Time off for good behavior, I really don’t want to know,
She got herself scrubbed up, and appeared on the Larry King Show.
Larry tried to have her search her soul, but there was nothing there to glean,
He avoided touchy subjects, like her time as a video queen.

The appearance was a nonevent, she really left no doubt,
She said she’d like to work for MADD, I don’t think they’ll go that route.
So, it’s quiet till the next time, when she does something outrageous,
Perhaps she has an illness, I hope it’s not contagious.

A Very Late Christmas Poem

I have written a lot of Christmas poems.  They are my annual report to friends and family.  Now that I have RICEQUIPS, I intend to publish them.  They will be out of order and out of date.  Fair warning.

I retired from the Army in 1990 to take a political appointment as Chief Counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the first Bush administration.  President Clinton was elected in November, 1992, and I had to go find a job.

A few inside things I need to mention.  While working at NHTSA, I forfeited my military retirement pay.  Kerby’s history.  Baby Kristin is now 14 years old.

A Very Late Christmas Poem

I know it’s February,  I know I’m late,
Blame it on Clinton, he gave me the gate.  
Politics stinks – it’s so confusing,
All of a sudden, your side is losing.

As the vagaries of politics spun and twirled,
Carole and I went to Disney World.
I have a new job, coat and tie I will don,
For the firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn.

92′ had some high points, but also some sad,
Both Moms came to visit, but we lost my Dad.
Carole had surgery, with all its travail,
Down for the summer, but she’s back in full sail.
Her Christmas party was super, as great as in the past,
And for the fifth straight year, Carole swore it was her last.

The children are all well, and out on their own,
Paul’s in southern Virginia, the girls are far from home.
Paul’s still at New Dominion, setting teens right,
But since his promotion, he gets to go home at night.

Kerby, Becky’s husband, is no longer wearing green,
He works for Embry Riddle,  out on the recruiting scene.
Missy and Terry are parents, this time a little girl,
Kristin’s so new and precious, just like a shining pearl.

That’s it, I’m done, what can I say?
93′ should be great in every way,
And I’ll even see my retirement pay!

Have a Wonderful 1993!

Tony Soprano Lived Happily Ever After

Tony Soprano’s history, now that’s a fact,
I’m not sure what happened, but he didn’t get whacked.
It’s hard to kill that old amicable thug,
When you thought it might happen, they just pulled the plug.
That’s fine with me, I don’t need to know,
Let’s not forget, it’s a TV show.

Some thought he should die, he’d killed so many,
If you crossed old Tony, you weren’t worth a penny.
Since the show was ending, it wouldn’t be a loss,
But, let’s face it, old Tony’s our favorite crime boss.

But, listing his virtues would not take long,
When he had a choice, he’d do it all wrong.
He loved is family in his own way,
Not faithful, not honest, but hey, what the hey.

I think the shrink was helpful, she worked him by the book,
The stress attacks disappeared, and Tony’s a better crook.
She stuck with Tony through the years, it really wasn’t her druther,
And finally Tony realized, his problem was his mother.

I’m happy with the ending, I’m not one who whined,
I constructed the ending, in my own little mind.
The guy at the bar just had to go,
It’s a natural phenomenon, don’t you know.
With the family assembled, with Journey music and laughter,
For the Soprano family, it’s happily ever after.
               (At least for that night).

Teel Times Forty

I was the V Corps Staff Judge Advocate in 1983 to 85.  Two of our great friends were Ken and Barbara Teel.  We had some wonderful times with them, including a few days right before Christmas in Nuernberg.  When they let us know that they were getting ready to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, I wrote the following poem.

Oh, the RAFT came from the first letters in our last names (Rice, Arwood, Fitzgerald and Teel).

Teel Times Forty

Ken and Barbie, Barbie and Ken,
Forty years and back again.
Some people are special, some people are kin,
Ken and Barbie, Barbie and Ken.
We’re not talking dolls, no this is for real,
They’re warm, loving people, with the last name of Teel

Just one assignment with the Teels, but memories to cherish.
Sometimes formal with our Deutsche Freunde, and sometimes downright garish.
We formed a social group, with Fitz and Arwood staffed.
Restaurants in Frankfurt were invaded by the RAFT.
We stuffed four trees in the red wagon, the holiday was a treat,
But turning the wagon around proved a very difficult feat.

Memories of Deutschland in l983,
Christmas in Nuernberg was all that it could be.
Could breakfast really last three hours?
I can’t believe it’s true.
But it takes time to laugh that hard,
and we laughed till we were blue.
We visited the Christkindlesmarkt, that capped an incredible year,
We ate bratwurst and sauerkraut, and washed it down with beer.
The restaurant had four stars, but the waiter was a bore,
We ended up with couscous, and then we laughed some more.

So here’s to the Teels in their fortieth year,
To their family, their church, and to all who can hear.
This couple is special, the salt of the earth,
For working together or just making mirth.
We are better and happier because we’ve known them,
So we’ll stop this poem and sit down and phone them.

BYRD-Man From C’Ville

Byrd Eastham was a Department of the Army Civilian who had worked at the JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia for a number of years.  I was there in the early Seventies and again, in the late Eighties.  He was there both times.

I don’t know what his title was, but he was the commercial artist in our media group.  He could draw anything and bring an artistic flair to any School project.  The JAG School had a reputation for being a cut above in those things it accomplished, and in many cases that translated to the “Byrd-man.”

A few months back, he retired and the School had a gala affair for him.  The Judge Advocate General came down from Washington, DC to officiate over the ceremony.  I was unable to attend, so I prepared the following poem to commemorate the occasion.

The BYRD-Man From C’Ville

It had to happen, and no one’s the blame,
The Byrd-man’s retiring, it’ll never be the same.
He is the institution, the brightness of the School,
Everything he touches, comes out really cool.

By the side entrance stands a pillar,
It came with the new addition.
It was Byrd’s idea as a filler,
For the new entrance’s transition.

For these many years, he’s added humor and style,
Plus energy and competency, and did it with a smile.
The School has many missions, and accomplishes so much,
But nothing goes out the door, without the Byrd-man touch.

To receive a “Byrd original,” will make one shout with glee,
To my extreme good fortune, I ended up with three.
But the tip of the Byrd-man’s pen is the beginning and not the end,
The true value of the Byrd-man is having him as a friend.

This town has an exciting history,
There is even intrigue and mystery.
We JAG’s have added to the lore,
Molding in the city our wonderful Corps.
The task was easier with Byrd’s shinning light
May his future retirement be ever so bright.