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Writing and Poetry by Tom Greening

Poetry about War and Peace
Poetry written since 9/11

Poetry written about Saybrook
Existential Poems

This is a collection of poems about Saybrook and some of the people, past and present, who make it what it is. Some of the poems are serious and some are humorous.

[email protected]
December 28, 2003

Attached are the lyrics to a song first sung at the closing session of the June 1995 Saybrook Residential Conference, plus verses I subsequently added with Stan Krippner's help about Charlotte Bühler, Laura Perls, Ida Rolf and Virginia Satir so as to include some women. The revised version has been sung at subsequent dinners after graduation.
I want to thank Saybrook student Frank Christmas for insisting that I try to fit the words to the beats, and for playing the mellow piano accompaniment at conferences. Frank died in 2003, and I think of the song as a sort of tribute to him. I also thank Sandy Smith for singing the song so beautifully and leading the singing.
Some of you may wish to write additional lyrics expressing your thoughts on "What Is This Saybrook All About?" for singing at future conferences. Perhaps I can help you fit your words to the song. The music is Jelly Roll Morton's "Buddy Bolden's Blues." This is a famous old blues that appears on many records. I recommend the version by Little Brother Montgomery on track #11 of a compact disk called "Rare Chicago Blues, 1962-1968," Bullseye Blues CD BB 9530, made by Rounder Records Corp., One Camp Street, Cambridge, MA 02140. The sheet music is out of print, but I can send you a photocopy if you wish.
What is this Saybrook all about? Well, along with many other things, maybe it is about making music together.

Tom Greening

Music: F. J. Morton. Lyrics: Tom Greening.
Adapted from "Buddy Bolden’s Blues"
by F. J. Morton (Edwin H. Morris & Co., ASCAP).

  1. I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout
    What is this Saybrook all about?
    What is this Saybrook all about?
    I thought I heard him shout.
  2. I thought I heard William James shout
    Transcend yourself and trip far out,
    Transcend yourself and trip far out,
    I thought I heard James shout.
  3. I thought I heard Harry Murray shout
    The study of lives you must not flout,
    The study of lives you must not flout,
    I thought I heard him shout.
  4. I thought I heard Charlotte Bühler shout
    Pursue your values, help them sprout,
    Pursue your values, help them sprout,
    I thought I heard her shout.
  5. I thought I heard Abe Maslow shout
    Put behaviorists on the rout,
    Put behaviorists on the rout,
    I thought I heard Abe shout.
  6. I thought I heard Laura Perls shout
    You must embrace the whole Gestalt,
    You must embrace the whole Gestalt,
    I thought I heard her shout.
  7. I thought I heard Ida Rolf shout
    Bodywork must have more clout,
    Bodywork must have more clout,
    I thought I heard her shout.
  8. I thought I heard Carl Rogers shout
    Your clients are persons, there's no doubt,
    Your clients are persons, there's no doubt,
    I thought I heard Carl shout.
  9. I thought I heard Virginia Satir shout
    Help families celebrate, not pout,
    Help families celebrate, not pout,
    I thought I heard her shout.
  10. I thought I heard Jim Bugental shout
    Let your authenticity out,
    Let your authenticity out,
    I thought I heard Jim shout.
  11. I thought I heard Rollo May shout
    Love and will are where it's at,
    Love and will are where it's at,
    I thought I heard him shout.
  12. I thought I heard all the students shout
    That’s what this Saybrook's all about,
    That’s what this Saybrook's all about,
    I thought I heard them shout.
    Poems for Rollo May
    Tom Greening

    As an undergraduate I couldn't decide between majoring in psychology and literature, so I created a program for myself with a muddled combination of the two. One year I learned about existentialism in a course on French novels, and about psychology in a course on rats. In graduate school I found it prudent to remain a closet existentialist. I wish I'd known then that Rollo May and others were in the process of creating a psychology about people integrating existentialism.
    The year I got my Ph.D., 1958, Rollo published Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology. Jim Bugental and Al Lasko, whom I had joined in their group practice, thought this was an important book. At last it was safe for me to "come out." No longer did I have to slink around bars searching for furtive existentialist conversations with strangers. I could be a psychologist and an existentialist. I could openly display my Camus and Sartre books in my office. I even published existentially oriented articles under my real name. To express my gratitude, I wrote this tribute:

    A remarkable fellow named Rollo,
    When told that existence is hollow,
    Said, "There's nothing amiss,
    We can fill the abyss,"
    And gave us directions to follow.

    Hooray, Hooray For Rollo May
    Read at the Saybrook National Meeting, January 1985.

    Back in '58 I bought
    a book on existential thought.
    Little did I know, of course,
    that this fine book would be the source
    of this occasion here today
    at which we honor Rollo May.

    Those of us who raptly follow
    words and thoughts from our friend Rollo
    know he has a vast potential
    to cure our crises existential.
    If your temperament's distonic
    he'll turn you on to the daimonic.
    If you've got a void to fill
    he'll strengthen both your love and will.
    Depressed about the slim results
    you've gotten when you've joined those cults?
    Here's the man who'll guarantee
    there's meaning in anxiety.
    If your mood is turning dour
    it's innocence you need, and power.
    He's got a book about those too--
    he's really written quite a few.
    A shrink who reads and quotes Lord Byron,
    who knows how to escape a siren,
    the Lapps all loudly sing his praise
    for ridding Lapland of malaise.
    In Russian, where he's read a lot,
    they publish him in Samizdat.

    His home is perched above the bay,
    half way to heaven, some would say.
    And yet, of course, he's not a saint,
    flawed as he is by just one taint--
    Clandestinely, when no one looks,
    he plagiarizes from my books.
    But if you find that life's a bummer,
    let this man be your distant drummer.
    Here's to this scholar distingue,
    here's to our mentor, Rollo May.

    Rollo Comes Of Age
    Read at Rollo’s 85th birthday party, April 1994.
    A few years back we joined to say,
    "Hooray, Hooray for Rollo May,"
    but there's a fact we can't deny:
    Our tempus fugit, and goes by.
    Once more his birthday's come around,
    so let's all try to be profound.
    Our Rollo's really come of age--
    This kid's become a grown up sage!
    In spite of Angst he's learned to thrive
    and reached the age of 85.
    He wrote some books and tried to paint,
    but sad to say he is no saint.
    I'll skip the details of his sins--
    It isn't how one's life begins
    in dark daimonic storms and strife,
    but how one lives the rest of life.
    When he was young he broke some rule
    and got himself thrown out of school.
    Soon he reformed, earned a degree,
    and thought he'd try the ministry.
    They made him pastor of a church,
    but he had just begun his search,
    and though he had a family,
    decided he'd prefer TB.
    This holiday helped him to see
    the meaning of anxiety,
    and thus he turned a dread disease
    into a source of royalties.
    Eventually he wandered west,
    and so it is that we are blessed.
    His scribbling culminated with
    a treatise on the cry for myth.
    Let's celebrate Paul Tillich's heir
    who wrote his way out of despair.
    Salute Dasein's distinguished don--
    All hail the Sage of Tiburon!

Tom Greening

A Russian friend gave Rollo the nickname "Rollushka."
There she sits so old and sad--
Have pity on the poor babushka.
Life is grim in Petrograd,
but she is cheered by our Rollushka

He redeems her Slavic gloom,
and gives her existential meaning,
brightens up her dreary room,
and offers her a karmic cleaning.

Russian nights are cold and grim,
and Russian hearts are plagued with malice,
so she turns her soul toward him--
Rollushka always gives her solace.

When she pines and cries for myth
dear Rollo writes a book about it.
Thus his words provide her with
a faith so strong she'll never doubt it.

Stalin's gone, Krushchev is dead,
and Lenin failed our poor babushka.
Whom should she revere instead?
Let's crown as Czar the great Rollushka!

Tom Greening


No need for us to feel downhearted
because our Rollo has departed.
The searching artist now can rest
in the fulfillment of his quest.
As he ascends, we can rejoice
that he is soothed by Beauty's voice.
Transcending our poor earthly grief,
let us imagine God's relief
to have in heaven such a man
to help him thwart the Devil's plan.
Dear Rollo now is God's resource
for channeling daimonic force
to aid us sinners left behind,
as Huxley urged, to be more kind.

Tom Greening

Read at Rollo’s memorial service at Grace Cathedral, October 29, 1994.

Faculty Memo
The faculty of this famed institute
now finds itself engaged in much dispute
about the proper way to run the place,
and how to do it with some sense of grace.

There are so many groups we try to please--
ourselves, the students, WASC and the trustees--
and thus, to teach psychology it seems
we must resort to rather drastic means.

The outcome of this strife is still unclear,
and this creates an anxious atmosphere,
so while we struggle with unwelcome stress
I thought perhaps it's time that I confess--

My mind is hardly fit for such discourse
and jumps about much like a skittish horse.
Just when my colleagues need me to be sane,
I write these lines that really are inane.

But if my poem lightens up our mood
and makes us somewhat less inclined to brood,
then I will feel that I have done my part
to demonstrate the value of bad art.
Tom Greening

My Self-Review
To the Dean:
    In the service of brevity
    and preserving my sanity
    I'm sending to you
    this succinct self-review.

Here's my attempt at honest self-review:
My virtues are immense, my faults are few.
To list my wonderful accomplishments
would generate great piles of documents
and over-shadow lesser colleagues' deeds,
so why indulge my narcissistic needs?
Thus modestly for now I'll simply state
my contributions once again were great.
Because of me the world's a better place—
I'm helping Saybrook save the human race.

But if as Dean you sternly still insist
that I from wretched doggerel desist
just say the word, and I won't question why,
and with more facts will cravenly reply.
               Tom Greening

Bad Bard
Sometimes I find it very hard
to be our Saybrook's merry bard.
The atmosphere is tense and grim,
the prospects are too often dim.
Surrounded by these poor lost souls,
my words are lost on squabbling trolls.
But who am I thus to decry
my colleagues who have gone awry?
At least they are not getting worse,
while I keep writing poorer verse.  

Tom Greening

Request to Students
Writing that's obtuse and vague
fulminates a dreadful plague.
Reading it is too much work—
teachers often go berserk.
Students have been crucified
when their prose is ossified.
Spare your readers brain meltdowns—
wisely choose your verbs and nouns.
Dense and convoluted prose
only makes us bellicose.
Just delete the fancy fluff—
simple syntax is enough.
Please indulge our urgent need—
write us prose that we can read.

Tom Greening

Saybrook Planning Conference
Bravely gather we to plan
Saybrook's future if we can.
Trust your sixth sense, drop your guards,
bring crystal balls and Tarot cards,
divining rods and sheep entrails,
and ESP that never fails.
Our minds are clear, our motives pure--
Saybrook's success we can assure.

Tom Greening

For Jim Bugental
Authentic persons everywhere,
Be empathetic, show you care,
Transcend your existential guilt,
Don't let your will to meaning wilt,
Turn off TV, forsake the mall,
Come honor our Jim Bugental.
Though he has been here eight decades
His brilliance never dims or fades.
It's he who guides us straight and true,
Who sees the soul in each of you.
But who's behind those books of his?
It's not some wizard, no—it's Liz!
So let us cheer and celebrate
These lovebirds whom we think are great.

Tom Greening
December 1995


For Bill Bruff
As Dean he really knows his stuff—
He doesn’t con, he doesn’t bluff,
he is not mean, nor is he gruff,
but can be tender and be tough,
and when the going gets real rough
he doesn’t merely huff and puff,
or shower us with flack and fluff,
or let our sails go slack and luff—
Of virtues he’s got quite enough,
so let’s all hail the great Bill Bruff!

Tom Greening

For Don Cooper
Want to see a far out movie,
an esoteric film that’s groovy?
He’s the man who’ll turn you on
to cinema that’s long bygone.
Saybrook students count on him
when their hopes are growing dim.
If your spirits have grown slack
see the man all dressed in black.
He also plays a mean guitar,
and for those of you who are
interested in fine art,
he creates it from his heart.
He’s our super-dooper trooper—
He’s our own beloved Cooper!

Tom Greening

For Robert Schley

His Saybrook job is so complex
it is enough to sorely vex
a lesser soul, but not this man
who always proves to us he can
resolve all problems instantly
and handle snafus graciously.
When students protest, growl and bark
he’s saintlier than Joan of Arc.
When faculty get in a snit
he calms them down with grace and wit.
When Bill Bruff freaks and starts to groan,
and even Maureen gives a moan,
it’s he who keeps our spirits high—
let’s worship now Saint Robert Schley.

Tom Greening

William James?
I have a friend who vainly claims
that he himself is William James.
Now frankly, if the truth be told,
that fact would make him very old.
Two things about him that are weird:
He really does have James' big beard,
and views our cruel world through the lens
of multiple entheogens.
He lives in Cambridge, as did James,
and from his high horse bluntly blames
the sad state of psychology
on lesser beings such as me
because I, beardless, prefer malls
to academia's hallowed halls.

Tom Greening

Our Dean Departs and Is Replaced
A fest, a bash, a gala orgy
to honor Amedeo Giorgi!
He has decided he must wean
us from demanding he be Dean.
We'll struggle on without our Andy
while he departs just fine and dandy.
He's leaving us while still alive,
but will poor Saybrook this survive?
True, he's arranged a substitute,
a colleague wise and quite astute,
but who could take Dean Giorgi's place
with equal wisdom, tact and grace,
and help us overcome our loss?
Our future Dean? It's Medard Boss!

Tom Greening

To Zonya
A "get well" verse from Tom to Zonya:
I thought at first that I would phone ya,
or maybe send you a begonia.
It's been two years that I have known ya—
at least, I thought, I ought to loan ya
some help in case they try to stone ya.
Those doctors act just like they own ya—
watch out or else they'll try to clone ya....
Please get well soon, because the strain
of writing like this hurts my brain.
My colleagues think that it's pathetic
and caused by too much anesthetic.
So get well soon, then rescue me
it's I who need your sympathy.

Tom Greening

Advice for Zonya
Do not bite the hand that feeds you.
Wait until he really needs you.
That's the time to vent your spite,
time for your ungrateful bite.
Now when he is being kind
hide from him what's on your mind.
Store it up until the day
he needs you in some dire way.
Then attack with jagged fangs
free of any guilty pangs.
Anyone who's dumb enough
to give us love and mushy stuff
merits unrepentant hate
and brings upon themselves this fate.

Tom Greening

More Advice for Zonya
Don't discard those opiates--
A drugged out haze well obviates
the harshness of reality,
the facts of life's banality.
Your broken leg's a great excuse
to cultivate your drug abuse,
a most acceptable pretext
to dodge what challenges are next.
You didn't break your leg for fun,
but why not honor what's been done?
Instead of suffering your fate
gulp morphine 'til you're feeling great.

Tom Greening

Krippner, Exposed
Well, some of you believe that Stan
is usually an honest man,
and sure, you've heard his sad refrain
about his accident in Spain.
The trouble is, it's just a myth,
a tale that he's embellished with
some lurid details so that we
will feel for him more sympathy.
The truth behind this tale of woe
is something else, as I will show.
I've learned from sources in Madrid
that this is what our Stanley did:
One afternoon he got too full
of booze and tried to fight a bull.
The bull fought back, as bulls will do,
and Stanley did not have a clue
for how to dodge, and so he ran.
The bull went roaring after Stan,
who shrewdly climbed a nearby tree
and tried to use psychology.
He said, "I'm not you enemy;
how would you like a Ph.D.?
I am a man of high repute
and teach at Saybrook Institute.
You seem to be a brilliant bull--
I'll find a way to use my pull
to get you in, so you can be
a bull with an advanced degree."
At this the bull knocked down the tree
and said, "You keep psychology--
I'd rather poke my horns in you."
The next thing that our Stanley knew
he woke up sore and badly bruised,
and really not at all amused.
Embarrassed to admit the truth
(a failing that he's had since youth),
he claimed that as he jogged through town
an errant car had knocked him down.
This story helps poor Stan save face
and shield his ego from disgrace.
Let's humor him and act as though
the part about the bull ain't so.

Tom Greening

Krippner vs. Spider
Let's honor and applaud brave Stan,
this brilliant and heroic man
who once again has fallen prey
to evil forces sent his way.
A spider managed to outwit him,
and savagely and slyly bit him.
How'd Stan respond to this attack?
Our hero bit the spider back!

Tom Greening

For Georgia May
She shines with such a glorious luster—
Who is this lass, and can we trust her?
She's robbed no banks like Clyde's girl Bonnie,
Nor is she Nancy nagging Ronnie.
I'm glad that she's not Typhoid Mary,
Because I'd find that much too scary,
And clearly she's not Mata Hara,
With soul submerged in crass samsara.
She's never been assigned a warden
For acting out like Lizzie Borden,
And certainly we can't suppose
She broadcast lies like Tokyo Rose,
Nor is she like Lucretia Borgia—
Instead, thank God, she's our dear Georgia.

Tom Greening
February 1997

The Great Melone
When Saybrook floundered, veered and yawed,
And felt abandoned by its Gawd,
Who held the fort sometimes alone?
Our valiant chief, The Great Melone!
A garlic connoisseur and chef,
A mentor, coach, umpire and ref,
He walked on water, showed the way,
He worked all night and saved the day,
He kept us going through tough years,
So all hail Rudy--thanks and cheers.

Tom Greening

For Gerry Bush
We are going to miss you, Gerry,
miss your moods, morose and merry,
your bombast and your winsome blarney,
for you could charm us like a carney.
Your Irish temper flared at times,
(I fear you'd shudder at these rhymes)
and though sometimes you had us scared,
still through it all we knew you cared.
You guided us, you gave us vision,
and launched a prayer with each decision,
and when we faltered, thwarting you,
thank God you'd only briefly stew
and grumble for a little while
before you'd bless us with a smile.
Your stay at Saybrook was too brief—
Your early death is like a thief,
a vengeful raven, not a dove,
who's stolen you from those you love.
But you're in heaven, making merry—
We already miss you, Gerry.

Tom Greening
July 1999

Poem read at the Saybrook ceremony awarding
an Honorary Doctor of Letters to Don Michael:

For Don Michael
The multitudes from near and far
have come to crown him, make him czar,
and he deserves each hymn of praise
for he’s the one who lights our days.
He consorts with the Club of Rome,
his name is known from Nice to Nome,
and if you want to plan and learn
this Don’s the one who can discern
the path to take from here to there,
and who is who, and where is where.
With Zen-like wisdom and keen mind
he wakes us up and helps us find
the stories that will set us free
and save us from inanity.
A sage we can depend upon—
all hail and praise omniscient Don!

Tom Greening

Saybrook awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Huston Smith.

For Huston Smith

Hurray and cheers for Huston Smith!
Praise him, fête him, laud him with
yet another high degree,
a party, words, and gaiety.
He helps expand realities
and guides us to the deities.
He understands our holy yens,
and why we use entheogens.
To muddled dark he brings new light,
thus Saybrook honors him tonight!

            Tom Greening

A Tribute to John Vasconcellos
Assemblyman John Vasconcellos
is dedicated, wise and zealous.
It's clear that he was heaven-sent
to help improve our government.
He's one of those impressive guys
who's both compassionate and wise.
He learned to work within the rules
to upgrade California's schools,
and then somehow he found the time
to look into the roots of crime.
On top of that he had a dream
of ways to raise kids' self-esteem.
His methods are both humanistic
and eminently realistic.
How can we let our John retire,
just when our straits are extra dire?
You've worked to make the world more just
and launched a "Politics of Trust."
We've so much come to count on you—
left on our own what will we do?
Still, you have earned the right to rest,
thus will your coming years be blessed.
May you in Maui blithely dwell;
we'll let you go and wish you well.

Tom Greening

Poetic comments on student papers:
Not many graduate school professors provide comments on students' papers in the form of rhymed poems. This is certainly not a service I planned to offer when I joined the Saybrook faculty. However, I was reading a paper by Saybrook student Meredith Marsh that must have triggered something in my unstable brain. She acknowledged the high odds that human's misdirected creativity may lead to the annihilation of life on this planet, but did not feel pessimistic enough to "pine for days of yore." At that point I wrote the following poem:

Don't let nostalgia fixate you,
Don't pine too much for days of yore.
It may be sad, but still it's true--
Those bygone times were full of gore.
We're better off in modern times
With science sanely at our side.
We perpetrate more tidy crimes
And hygienic homicide.

On the next page Meredith described a psychotherapy client who had a long history of medical and psychological problems and failed treatments. She approached him with an open mind to see "...whether a close, understanding relationship could make him more at home in the world."
So I launched into the this verse:

Night Journey
As I perused the gloomy paper trail
that marked this patient's lengthy fall from grace
I realized that I would also fail
and write him off as just a hopeless case,
unless I sprung us both out of our trap
and met him in a place we'd never been.
But for this pathless journey there's no map,
and just a rusty gyroscope within.
We wandered in and out the prison gate
and passed each other in the dark unheard,
then met at last before it was too late
and found we did not need to say a word.
In searching for a better way to care
without a ray of hope or guiding star,
the only way to get from here to there
is learning how to be the place we are.

By now I was exhausted, and content to read Meredith's paper with no further poetic excursions. But as Meredith described how she worked with her client she used the expressive metaphor of a painter who concentrates less on techniques and "...more on the dialogue between each new brushstroke and the ever-changing painting as a whole." That led me to write this poem:

Who Is Painting?
When I am in a rush,
a fervor to create,
I grab the nearest brush
And messy is my fate.

But when I slow my pace
And tell my brain to hush,
Thanks to the muses' grace
The painting guides the brush.

Tom Greening

Bob Flax was slow in responding to my request that he review an article submitted to the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. He wrote to me:
"I am totally guilt-ridden about this. I hope to review the notes I made and have something off to you within the next few days.
Bob (groveling for forgiveness!)"

To Bob Flax
Huddled there in your gross hovel,
I hope that you will duly grovel,
beg and plead and piteously pray
for me to take your guilt away.
But your sad cries all go unheard,
your hopes for freedom are absurd.
Write the review, and then we'll see
if there's a chance for clemency.

Tom Greening

For Maureen
What has made Maureen so miffed she
now resorts to turning fifty?
Was it not enough attention
for the ways she flaunts convention?
She's adept at deconstruction,
blatant and demur seduction,
obtuse and astute critiques,
empathy with kooks and freaks,
serving causes feminist
with a charm we can't resist.
Maybe she has felt neglected
'cause we haven't genuflected
quite enough to show respect--
Let's atone for this neglect!
There is none who can surpass
such a brilliant, regal lass.
I propose we crown Maureen--
make her California's Queen!

Tom Greening

Here are three poems for Sabrina Zirkel, on the occasions of
her marriage to Chris and the births of their two children:

Congratulations to Sabrina
That Turner gal by name of Tina,
the soulful singer known as Lena,
in Italy the gorgeous Gina--
None can compare with our Sabrina.
Let's celebrate, let's all take pride
in Saybrook's lovely blushing bride.
Her marriage on her month's vacation
is cause for heartfelt celebration!
For George
Let's drink a toast, let's guzzle, gorge
to celebrate the birth of George.
Here's our excuse to act like kids,
to sing and dance, indulge our Ids.
But wait—we ought to act mature
so by this means we can insure
that George soon learns to be adult
and promptly joins the Saybrook cult.
Let's tell his mom it's only fair
that he takes on the job of Chair,
or if we're really feeling mean,
let's draft young George to be our Dean!
For Lily
Here's a poem, short and silly,
honoring the birth of Lily.
Life unfolds quite willy-nilly
with plateaus, but often hilly.
As she gets her act together.
may she climb in sunny weather.
May she charm her older brother
and her father and her mother.
Will she join the ranks of scholars
scribbling away for dollars,
or become a movie star
cast in roles that are bizarre?
To such questions I say "maybe."
Let's just let her be a baby.

For Hallie
Trust our valiant, loyal Hallie
to harness the dark might of Kali.
She tames the vagrant imps and elves,
and saves us from our very selves.
She cheers us up when we are blue—
Our thanks to you for all you do!

I had a crisis, had a fit
when I learned you plan to quit.
Few minds there are quite so perverse
as to applaud my clumsy verse.
Life for bad poets is quite scary—
we fret and whimper, always wary.
We count on people like you, Hallie,
to help us pick up pen and rally.
If you're not there, I'll soon be mute,
no longer daring to write cute.
The academic life is harsh—
sometimes it seems like just a farsh.
So if you leave us, we'll recall
the many times you cheered us all.

Tom Greening

Paean to Deanna
Let’s all praise Deanna Large—
she’s the one who’s been in charge.
Saybrook needs a saint to run it,
but somehow Deanna’s done it.
When she’s gone what shall we do?
We’ll just grumble, fret and stew,
thrash about in dark despair,
lose our wits and tear our hair.
Calm Pacific will be stressed,
all of us will be depressed,
faculty will have it bad,
staff and students will go mad.
Please, oh please, you cannot leave us
Try for now just to deceive us.
Promise us you’ll soon return.
Tell us we can somehow earn
your undying loyalty,
then go, but temporarily.

Tom Greening

For Colton Jaffe
Lava when it's hot is molten,
But it quickly cools back down.
How about this baby Colton?
He's the hottest kid in town!

He's the pride of San Francisco--
Broadcast it on radio,
Spread the word to every disco,
Put him on a TV show!

Cynthia and Dennis Jaffe
Ought to get a prize for this--
When young Colton drives them daffy,
They think it's parental bliss!

Tom Greening

For David Lukoff
Let’s give three cheers and take our hats off
to celebrate with David Lukoff.
We all think it’s really nifty
that at last you’re turning fifty.
We know you’re very spiritual
and live on planes quite virtual.
Aikido’s taught you how to go
just like the river with the flow,
but we don’t think that you’re all wet—
you’ve got some good years in you yet!
So here’s a toast and all the best,
and blessings on your mythic quest.

Tom Greening
June 1998

For Donald Rothberg
I must admit I stand in awe
of you who will submit your jaw
to surgeon's skill to be repaired,
while I, who must admit I'm scared
to let the dentist clean my teeth,
and breath a sigh of great relief
when told I have no cavities,
attempt to hide in levities
from any sort of mortal pain
and frantically attempt to feign
embodiment without a flaw
while clenching tight my fragile jaw.

Tom Greening

Welcome Tarafina Marie

Oh how Jeannette's warm heart did leap
when reunited with Philippe,
and just imagine their shared glee
in greeting Tarafina Marie.
May they now pause and rest a while,
while basking in her infant smile.
They've struggled hard with matters weighty
distressing their beloved Haiti.
Beset by loss and harsh defeats,
the world much needs some swinging beats.
Let's welcome this petite newcomer--
she's sure to be a different drummer!

            Tom Greening

The Roots of Saybrook

The roots of Saybrook are obscure,
but I'll say this, they're less than pure.
Some claim it is a commie front,
or else a sick, misguided stunt.
Perhaps it is a mafia plot,
a symptom of postmodern rot,
a travesty of Western thought,
a place from which degrees are bought,
a sinkhole of obscure research,
a den from which wild theories lurch,
a wily plagiarist's delight,
a sordid source of mental blight.
I've read some dissertations there
and found they gave me quite a scare.
The human race is in a fix
and all the evidence predicts
that scholarship is on the wane
and Saybrook is just one more bane.
But don't despair, we shall rebound,
we'll turn this sorry place around.
In spite of all the evidence
I'm drunk with manic confidence
that somehow we can still succeed
and meet the future's urgent need
to put an end to war and greed
and all the starving masses feed.
We'll valiantly this madness stop
and Saybrook will emerge on top.

            Tom Greening

Ode to Eugene Taylor

Tinker, Taylor, soldier, spy—
whom can we count on to decry
the foibles of psychology?
There's no one does it quite like he.
We look to our astute Eugene
to root out thinking that's obscene
and ways of being Pleistocene
that our true nature so demean,
that portray humans as machines
and denigrate what real life means.
He champions old Willyum James
and holds us to our higher aims.
Whenever I am prone to be morose
and all my colleagues diagnose
as hopelessly reductionistic
and with bad theories quite sadistic,
our brave Eugene takes on our foes
with rhetoric and deathless prose.

Tom Greening

Faculty Review

Let's keep this just twixt me and you–
I dread my faculty review.
Through yet another year I've fumbled,
too many weighty tasks I've bumbled.
My peers all tried to be supportive,
but my best efforts were abortive.
I waste my time in writing drivel,
when criticized I whine and snivel.
I quickly get on the defensive
and make remarks that are offensive.
Diversity eludes my brain
and tolerance I find a strain.
When talk with colleagues gets too deep
I cannot help but fall asleep.
I've tried to remedy these flaws
but constantly more self-doubt gnaws
away at what was once my pride
and I just want to flee and hide.
To keep my tattered record clean
I guess I'll have to bribe the Dean.

            Tom Greening

Thomas Greening, Ph.D.
1314 Westwood Blvd. Suite 205
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone 310-474-0064

e-mail:[email protected]


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