Opinion poetry by Times readers


Rhyme and reason

Anthony Russo / For The Times

Who knew?

When we put out a call for Op-Ed poetry, we had no idea how many budding poets were out there. But by the time the Aug. 16 deadline rolled around, we’d gotten more than 1,500 submissions, many of them including multiple poems. There was even one, by E. Milton Wilson of Claremont, addressing the plight of the opinion editors: “The deadline nears. The poets have spoke. Editors wish about now it had all been a joke!”

But we have now read every single poem that was submitted, and from them we have, with great difficulty, culled this batch for publication. If you’re reading this in the paper, check our website,, for additional selections we couldn’t fit on the page.

How do you judge opinion poetry? That’s something we grappled with. Literary quality was important. But so were newsworthiness. Clarity of argument. Humor didn’t hurt either. The poems we selected are certainly representative of what we received, and we think each of them makes a strong point with eloquence — and sometimes with wit.

We hope you enjoy them.

—Sue Horton, Susan Brenneman and Cherry Gee

  • 1

    Not for your sake, but mine, at airports and on planes I act extra nice.

  • 2

    When Washington listened to what Summers said They shot the economy right in the head But since evidently it isn’t quite dead They’re thinking of making him chair of the Fed.

  • 3

    Will our children have those same long sunburned stretched out moments of immortality, lying in the sun thinking of nothing; or have we collapsed the world around them with our childish fears?

  • 4

    We revel in our candy bars And cookies, cake, and pie.

  • 5

    There’s a family fight Going on in the Middle East. Outsiders: Stay out! The author lives in Duarte.

  • 6

    the glass is not half-empty the glass is not half-full the glass is completely empty we drained the bottles just in time for your arrival so cheers to the new generation!

  • 7

    They taught us in school that a Red Was a person one really should dread: They spied on one’s mail, Banished suspects to jail — Perhaps we’d be better off dead.

  • 8

    Knock and it will be opened.

  • 9

    My sister thought Her wedding Might never happen For we lived in a world Where an arbitrary line was drawn Between those who were allowed To express their love in public And those Who were not As if love Were so over abundant We could afford To throw some away Today The sun has come up On something entirely new The decision was made At last That all love is equal We still need to weep For the billions who’ve died With their love unexpressed But today We can start Planning My sister’s wedding The author is a poet and playwright who lives in Burbank.

  • 10

    The west side of the street belongs to Miles, While Quincy rules his kingdom to the east, As they, with all their cunning feline wiles Receive in homage each their daily feast.

  • 11

    Do you not know we connive against you?

  • 12

    We work for cheap, settle easily.

  • 13

    Have you felt my husband’s pain Senator?

  • 14

    Remember that time your dog died and I didn’t tell you for months Because you had deployed and George Bush was shouting, Bring it on and we were all thinking that Korea was fixing to blow.

  • 15

    Thank you for not killing me in the metal-grilled cross-hairs of your monstrous SUV as I crossed the street cautiously, in full view, in daylight, in the crosswalk where I thought I had a lawful right to be and indeed once did in a different, slower world when I could meander and even take a peek upward at a trail of pelicans or outward at a glorious pod of dolphins, but now I must deal with the likes of you as you fight for space, wrecking the world with anger and the awful weight of your toys.

  • 16
  • 17

    Top tier doing well Their employees not so well “Trickle down” didn’t.

  • 18

    This must be L.A.

  • 19

    If anybody cares: When I die Burn me to ashes Gather my critics together And blow me in their faces The author is a writer in Los Angeles.

  • 20

    Clippety cloppety!

  • 21

    We are hearing a constant refrain That we must build a new bullet train Some push it as seed For a great future need But as broke as we seem is it sane?

  • 22

    Whose words these are I think I know; He quit the House two years ago When first he threw us all a curve And then, found out, was brought down low.

  • 23

    The English language has no more deadly cliché than “Boys will be boys.”

  • 24

    In the name of Trayvon Martin, just Americans must rise up and stop this monstrous domestic brutality motivated by bias and bigotry, justified by fear, a vigilante violence that has claimed too many lives to count: Like 19-year-old Michael Donald, kidnapped at random and beaten to death in Mobile, Alabama, on March 20th 1981, courtesy of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • 25

    Dear Senator, Dear Congressman I’m writing you today, For something’s going on here That is causing me dismay.

  • 26
  • 27

    This morning the sound of a helicopter wakes me. It hovers in the sky over a park two blocks away.

  • 28

    Sandberg tells women, “Lean in,” But her message is seemingly thin To women who’ve tried, And whose stories collide With Filner’s political spin.

  • 29

    I helped my banker build his house. I dug postholes, stretched wire, laid foundation.

  • 30

    I want to walk the streets again And watch young people dance the jarocho Wearing T-shirts that say “Undocumented” Surrounded by a sea of brown faces A celebration, An affirmation of self, of dignity, Surrounded by history, As a young man on the simplest wooden platform Tips his baseball cap with elegant respect And the rhythm of tapping feet pronounces That the longer the struggle The more precious the legacy of pride handed down.

  • 31

    O ye who giveth Word to every town, Who doth decide when Windows shutteth down, Who taught thy servants how to interface And lordeth over stars of Cyberspace: We call to Thee, though Thou shalt not reply; Let us not be the Apple of thine eye.

  • 32

    Consider giving up ings vowels complex sentences abandoning adjectives nothing left to parse spin a weave of silent sound bytes paperless symbols unrestrained by punctuation string word remnants together until naked towers of abbreviations slang and symbols strip bare the raw meat of language once the essence of human experience spit out the masticated pulp decorate with a smiley face not all that much to lol about A retired attorney in L.A., the author is a published poet.

  • 33

    ObamaCare, ObamaCare, you really are no fun.

  • 34

    At edible curbside gardens, city officials look askance. Come on guys: Lettuce give peas a chance!

  • 35

    A moneyman, sent to Detroit, Whose math skills were less than adroit, Thought, We’ll pay off this debt With some art sales!