Here’s to those lost in ’21—
our woes continue; theirs are done.
At year’s end we salute them, gone
(while we contend with Omicron).
Our purpose here is less to mourn
than to be glad these folks were born—
though surely each remembered face
is one we’ll never quite replace.
Joan Didion—now there’s a scribe
with whom to start our diatribe.
(That some thought magically this year
didn’t make Covid disappear.)
There’s sadness in the world of books
without Anne Rice, without bell hooks.
Children’s librarians grow teary
for Eric Carle and for Bev Cleary.
Taking lyrics far beyond rhyme,
who will equal Stephen Sondheim?
Today’s hip poet’s cool, and yet he
is no Lawrence Ferlinghetti,
nor can posterity deny
that bard of iron, Robert Bly.
And should we undertake to book
the peer of actor Hal Holbrook
the effort would be just as vain
as searching for a third Mark Twain!
How many years must pass until
we see the like of gruff Prince Phil?
A royally dramatic bummer,
losing him and Christopher Plummer.
Speaking of plumbers, we’ve all seen
Jane Withers playing Josephine.
(The child star little dreamed she’d come
to don a uniform and plumb!)
Justice’s flame burns brighter due to
the work of Reverend Desmond Tutu.
The world, now lacking F. Lee Bailey
and notably less Fritz Mondaley,
misses Ved Mehta, Tom T. Hall,
and Norm Macdonald and Mort Sahl,
Lina Wertmuller, Betty Lynn,
and Chick Corea and May Wynn
and Jackie Mason and Pat Loud
and Leon Spinks, who wowed the crowd,
and George Shultz, frequently misspelled,
and twice-Defensive Don Rumsfeld.
Generalizing, we ask how’ll
we fare now without Colin Powell?
And that wry Senator, Bob Dole—
he’s one our memory must extol!
We’ll sing his praises in this verse an’
speak of ourselves in the third person.
One solon’s party disagreed
with Bob: Nevada’s Harry Reid.
As for more senators? Try seven:
Johnny Isakson, Carl Levin,
William Brock and Mike Enzi,
Adlai Stevenson number three,
and Max Cleland and Mike Gravel.
Protester Rennie Davis? Well,
a world without ol’ Ramsey Clark’ll
lack some idealistic sparkle.
To a far continent we wander
for F. DeKlerk and Kenneth Kaunda.
A silver thread of fame connects
Chuck Close, Mike Collins, DMX,
and, further stretching that connector,
Charles Grodin, James Levine, Phil Spector.
There’s John McAfee’s tech appeal,
the gadgetry of Ron Popeil,
and wouldn’t we all be overjoyed
to live as long as Norman Lloyd,
age one-oh-six? (Don’t answer that!)
When Henry Aaron came to bat
he HR’d with consistent force—
the ultimate human resource!
Speaking of which, can teams afford a
manager like Tom LaSorda?
Madden was injured; what a shame—
he might have made a football name!
It seems unfair that Willard Scott
a centenarian was not.
Now Michael Apted’s gone, one fears
we’ll miss him every seven years.
Cicely Tyson made each part
a work of high thespian art,
and what a debt filmgoers owe
to Monsieur Jean-Paul Belmondo!
Farewell, Dean Stockwell and George Segal,
Olympia Dukakis, regal
as her name—and the better-fed
Beatty, Ned, and Asner, Ed,
and to Ed’s castmates, Leachman, Cloris
and McLeod, Gavin. Heaven’s chorus
now lets Don Everly sing “Dream”
while Mary Wilson reigns Supreme
and the celestial bar pours shots
to the drumbeat of Charlie Watts!
Remember Larry King, by golly,
and Life magazine’s Richard Stolley?
Ah, this year’s picture show’s the last
for L. McMurtry, who has passed
with Roger Mudd, who had it made—he
was more famous than Ray Brady.
But what’s a correspondent for?
Neil Sheehan warned us of a war
we hadn’t any business in.
Now, ere the next fool war begin,
let’s honor those remembered here,
their obits sprinkled through the year,
and, whether we have fame or none,
say our goodbyes to ’21
and see what we can try to do
to have a splendid ’22!
Postscript on the evening of 12.31.21:
I’d hoped to reach midnight tonight
having no further lines to write.
Alas, that’s not the case, not quite.
Thanks for the laughter, Betty White!