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December 02, 2012


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Quemoy and Matsu--what 12-year-old, secretly afraid that the Democrats just might, in fact, be soft on Communism, as the Republicans alleged, wasn't relieved to find Quemoy and Matsu just waiting around to be signified by a Cold Warrior signifier like JFK? Whew, it was close; the Cuban missile crisis was still three years away, and Nixon was vaunting his five-o'clock shadow at Premier K--what to do, what to do? And then--Quemoy and Matus! In the nick of time! The Tooty and Muldoon of offshore China! Yay. The triple threat--Quemoy, Matsu, and Richard Dailey--would give the presidency to JFK. Quemoy and Matsu then disappeared into history, except for surfacing in 1968 to beat the hell out of protestors at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Brilliant. I believe the Missile Crisis was just two years away (Oct 62) and may (like the Berlin Wall) have been due to Khrushchev browbeating the new president in Vienna in '61. I love the trio of Quemoy, Matsu, and Mayor Daley, except that it underestimates the power of Sam Giancana. But that is a quibble. I was eleven years old during those debates and have always been astounded at the role they played then and their subsequent disappearance from history. Thank you, Mark Sheera. -- DL

Okay, I know I'm young, but Quemoy and Matsu? I thought "Matsu" was where you get "Matsu balls"! JK. Seriously, though, what're you two playing here?

Aren't they Spanish? "Mi casa es Matsu casa"? Also, I think Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, and Lincoln had a Mercury named "None Of Your Business!" Oh well, as the critics used to say, "What hath Roth got?"

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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