Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hey Diddle Diddle: A Nursery Rhyme For Our Anguished Times

Dear George, 
Our Poetry Writing Workshop began anew last week, and I was happy to start up again.  Our first homework assignment was to take a fairy tale, a nursery rhyme, a Greek myth, etc., and tell the story from the perspectives of two or more different characters.  It took some thought, but finally I settled on the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle.”  You’ll remember it goes as follows:

            Hey diddle diddle,
            The cat and the fiddle,
            The cow jumped over the moon.
            The little dog laughed,
            To see such sport,
            And the dish ran away with the spoon.

I chose “Hey Diddle Diddle” because it has multiple characters who are clearly reacting in very different (strange) ways.  The hitch is that the reader has no idea what’s going on, and the various events appear unconnected.  To make it comprehensible, I decided, one has to set the rhyme in a specific context.  I started thinking about the recent happenings in the news, and, once I’d done that, Diddle Diddle seemed to fall into place.  Here’s how my poem wound up.

            Hey Diddle Diddle, Donald Trump

The day that The Donald took charge of the race
The world was turned topsy turvy
Carly Fiorina defended her face
And Jeb tried his best to be nervy

Our cat got out our fiddle that night 
So distressed by the Trumpmaster’s lead 
She played sad songs till the morning light
Haunting ballads of bluster and greed

Our cow tuned into a Fox News show
There was Donald berating Hispanics
The cow leapt so high he left Earth far below
That can happen when a thoughtful cow panics

Our little dog Spot found it all very merry
Bon voyage to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker
And what the heck happened to Governor Perry?           
That Donald’s the noisiest talker

Our friends in the kitchen can stand it no more
Said the dish, “Let’s exit this dump.”
“Hooray,” said the spoon, “it’s you I adore”
“In Aruba we’ll never see Trump.”

So it’s Hey Diddle Diddle for Donald Trump
He’s worth eighty times more than the rest
His hair stands up in a bright orange clump
That’s why Iowans think him the best! 

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