Not Much Rhymes With “Kondratieff Waves,” Alas

by Scott McLemee on December 12, 2006

My old friend John Palattella is taking over as poetry editor at The Nation. The news brings to mind an image of him surrounded (menaced, even) by large sacks full of envelopes containing manuscripts that are very earnest indeed. The announcement from the editors notes that, as critic, John has shown “sensitivity to form, historical erudition, and a refusal of the provincial dogmas that so often balkanize the small world of poetry.” Quite right, and it will be interesting to see how he translates personal sensibility into editorial policy.

The fact that I am mentioning this has nothing at all to do with the considerable progress this past year on Nikolai!, my epic about Bukharin, composed entirely in limericks.

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12.19.06 at 5:38 pm
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12.21.06 at 10:05 am



Matt 12.12.06 at 3:03 pm

Are the filthy limericks? Those are the highest kind, after all.


marcel 12.12.06 at 3:04 pm

There once was a young man named Nikolai
Whom Iosif Vissarionovich gave the evil eye…
After it got dark at noon
He died very soon
Despite some dissembling that was very sly.


Adam Roberts 12.12.06 at 5:07 pm

There was a young Bolshi called Bukharin
Who wasn’t exactly a looker — in
Contrast to Trotsky
Who looked rather hotsky
And shagged like a divebombing Stuka. Mmmn…


Shelby 12.12.06 at 8:16 pm

Kondratieff waves,
But Jesus, he saves!
Confucius invests,
And Moses contests
Our Talents will make us ex-slaves.

(With apologies to pretty much everyone, especially you, dear reader.)


Steve LaBonne 12.12.06 at 9:25 pm

There one was a man named Bukharin
Whose wife said “Your cock is too far in!
When I got screwed by Lenin
How easy it went in,
But you’re tearing me so, there’ll be scarring!”


Cryptic Ned 12.12.06 at 11:18 pm

Dilemma of a Young Stalinist, 1930

Should I trust the textbook that was pennedsky
By Bukharin with Preobrazhensky?
Yes! Although he led thosevk
Who opposed Brest-Litovsk
He is now one of Stalin’s true friendsky.


ben wolfson 12.12.06 at 11:30 pm

An attempt to render a well-known joke in limerick form:

Called “Lenin in Zurich”, a painting
Showed at its première undraping
In bed with Krupskaya
A Trotskyite guy—a
fact which caused spectator fainting.


abb1 12.13.06 at 4:07 am

Forget limericks. Nikolai! can only be written in chastushkas.


Daniel 12.13.06 at 9:26 am

best I could do over a bun and a cup of coffee

The Economist

He divides his life
between university, home, colleagues, wife
car, garden, patio; slaves
away drawing Kondratiev waves
and Phillips Curves
and hopes he gets what he deserves.


abb1 12.13.06 at 9:37 am

Btw, the joke is ‘Lenin in Poland’, not in Zurich and the guy with Krupskaya is supposed to be Dzerzhinsky.


Adam Roberts 12.13.06 at 9:40 am

I think we need guidance on whether Bukharin is pronounced BOOkarin or BuKAARin. So much depends upon etc.


radek 12.13.06 at 10:28 am



Michael Greinecker 12.13.06 at 10:57 am

Following Hume, he treated all men as knaves,
But still he forgot to adjust for Kondratieff Waves.


Daniel 12.13.06 at 1:16 pm

Song of the Decent Left

Mart Peretz, Norm Geras, Vic Hanson, Mike
(call him Michael)
Ignatieff, Dave
Aaronovitch, gushing out history like
surfers on a
Kondratieff Wave


Marc Mulholland 12.13.06 at 1:50 pm

Song of the Decent Left #2

Disappointing was the proletariat,
Modern bourgeoisie is where it’s at,
So sing their agency,
Bombs will make ye free.


abb1 12.13.06 at 2:31 pm

Calm evening
Bukharin listens
Kondratieff waves roar


ben wolfson 12.13.06 at 5:42 pm

10: not the way I heard it.


ajay 12.14.06 at 4:55 am

11. Neither – it’s boo-KHAR-een. That’s a “kh” as in “loch”, not a “k”.


patrick 12.14.06 at 10:00 am

What about:

“Vainglorious knaves”, my ass?


bad Jim 12.15.06 at 3:53 am

No place else to put this:

They’re onto my con. Drat! I have
to catch the next Kondratieff
wave to the shore
or else there’ll be more
debt to piss Hannity off.

The last line needs work, but even an evening spent staring at the stars, alert for Geminids, pondering tortured rhymes, produced nothing better.


Glorious Godfrey 12.15.06 at 9:35 am

I’m so sorry about this…

When I hear about Ragnarok
I always go “WTF?”

Horus Thelemite and his Aeon
have always left me cold;
I’ll take the end of fiat money,
squatting on a heap of gold.

Indeed, a Von Mises groupie’s
talk of deflation
gives me more hope than the Rapture
and the Tribulation.

Zoological, Malthusian, hard-nosed
is the crackpottery I crave;
demographic time-bombs will sink my sanity
under Kondratieff waves.


Henry (not the famous one) 12.16.06 at 12:20 am

There once was a young apparatchick
Named Bukharin, whose friends called him Nick.
He turned left and then right
But try as he might
He died a young Old Bolshevik.

When someone comes up with a rhyme for Nepman I’ll try to give this some historical depth, man.


bad Jim 12.17.06 at 3:24 am

You might think you’re hep, man,
but you ain’t.

The weirdest rhyme I know is from Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”:

Romance is mush,
Stifling those who strive.
I’ll live a lush life in some small dive

wherein “mush/stife” rhymes with “lush life”. Top one that before you claim there is none.


Henry (not the famous one) 12.17.06 at 9:26 pm

And I always thought that “trough full” and “awful” from that same song was the weirdest of them all. As much as I love that song I always flinched inwardly at that word.

But then I never noticed the rhyme that bad jim pointed out. I’ll still stick with trough full

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