Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stupid Word Tricks

What you see below grew out of playing with words that mean different things in different languages. For example, in my native Russian the phrase "O CHE" can mean "about a dream" or "about sleep", depending on the context. How do I connect that to Che Guevara? Now how do I do it in verse? Here's the result:

O CHE

I dreamt of Che last night, not sheep.
Here's what this dream entailed:
Che said he could not fall asleep.
He tried some meds. They failed.

"Screw meds," I told him, "Never use
That capitalist crap.
I think it's clear that self-abuse
Leads quicker to a nap.

And if at first that does not work,
Imagine a cute chick
Who shouts 'O Che!' and goes berserk
While looking at your pic."


In French the next title means "how people talk".

COMMENT ON CAUSE

"How come we talk the way we talk,"
Jacques asked his friend Gaston
While they were going for a walk
Through streets of old Lyon.

"Would you agree that our words lack
Precision, purpose, flare?"
The other promptly answered back:
"My friend, I just don't care.

I'd rather talk about the cause
Of substance and the void,
Of being, essence and the laws
Revealed by Sigmund Freud.

I'm sorry, Jacques, but you'll admit,
Compared to all of that
The silly topic you submit
Would lead to mindless chat."

"Your view is wrong," said Jacques to this,
"I know the cause of it."
"You do? Then tell me what it is."
"You are a pompous twit."


I know, I know, I could have gone more "adult" with the next one. The title means "thick fur" in German.

DICK FELL

Meet Dick - a hunter by his trade
Who specialized in bears.
Throughout the winter he was paid
To shoot them in their lairs.

He risked his life and mental health
To get their thick, brown hides.
Though not a certain road to wealth,
This work had some fun sides.

One day, while sipping Absolut
In tropical Ceylon,
He saw a bear, but could not shoot -
His ammo was all gone.

This beast had fur that was so thick,
It looked like a huge mop
As it was charging for our Dick
While slobbering non-stop.

Dick fell while running from this bear.
Alas, he died at work.
At least no PETA nerds were there
To laugh at him and smirk.

The title of the next one means "that sea" in Russian.

TO MOPE

I've come to the seaside to mope.
The sea - it has swallowed my hope!
I had a good girlfriend, you see,
Until I encountered that sea.
But then on a fateful cruise,
Quite probably led by booze,
She cheated on me with the crew.
With every last one of them, too.

Now all I have left is to mope.
But also, perhaps, to hold hope
That one of those days
She gets a malaise
And no VD clinic can cope.

The next title means "the weight" or "the burden" in German.

DIE LAST

You've gone to your high school's reunion dance
And everyone laughed at you.
You wouldn't have wowed anyone, not a chance.
Some did, and that made you blue.

One's failure in life is a terrible weight,
A hideous burden to bear.
However, I do have advice for you, mate:
Die last and you'll beat them all square.

Deny yourself things you would normally crave,
Don't smoke, only drink half-and-half.
And maybe some day, when they're all in the grave,
You'll have your belated last laugh.


The next title happens to mean "Willis' corridor was light" in German.

WILLIS' GANG WAR HELL

Bruce Willis was shooting a movie
For which he was paid pretty well.
His character, chief of a juvie,
Taught kids to transcend gang war hell.

Before he could play this jailer
An obstacle had to be faced:
A hall in his giant trailer
Had way too much light for his taste.

"Can I really focus on drama
When everything's so freaking bright?"
He whined to his favorite llama
While looking away from the light.

As crew members fixed this, perspiring,
Production was hastily shut.
That cost lots of money, requiring
Three mentoring scenes to be cut.


Believe it or not, in Russian the next title means "Vlad, the book about poppies goes to Kate but sake goes to us." Sake, of course, refers here to Japanese rice wine. You'll notice that the title has BOB, where its translation has Vlad. Why? The name Vladimir is usually shortened to Vova in informal Russian speech. Since the Latin letter V normally corresponds to the Cyrillic B, VOVA ends up being spelled as BOBA in Russian. Russian grammar decrees that in the imperative case (used for giving orders and drawing people's attention), a given name's final vowel needs to fall away, making a BOB out of BOBA. This is purely coincidental, since the names Robert and Vladimir have nothing to do with each other etymologically.

BOB, TOM O MAKE KATE A HAM CAKE

Professional cook Tom O'Dell
Enjoyed a worldwide renown
Since business was going quite well,
He hired a sou-chef, Bob Brown.
Tom O and Bob B
Cooked dinner for three
One day for a bash uptown.

A different Tom, his ex-girlfriend Kate,
A Russian mob hit man named Vlad
Were all ringing in a new year till late
The two chefs were cooking like mad.

As Bob added ham to a bowl of cake mix
Vlad took out his gifts from a sack:
Some sake for Tom and a book full of pics
Of poppies for Kate who liked smack.

However, in haste Vlad made a mistake,
Delivering booze to the girl.
This gaff almost made his good buddy shake:
"Old Vlad," he said, "you're such a churl!
The book is for her, the booze we can take,
And later on, try not to hurl."

The title of the next one means "so cute" or "so beautiful" in Spanish.

TAN LINDA

Linda was a real looker,
Pretty as a peach.
Jealous girlfriends often took her
Tanning to the beach.

They would tell her she'd look better
Like a lobster burned.
That she'd be a real trend-setter,
Never to be spurned.

Then they'd badmouth her like crazy
Right behind her back.
No, you wouldn't call them lazy
Once they start to yak.

But when summer turns to fall,
Normal way prevails:
Linda - fairest of them all.
Jealous friends - beached whales.

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