Candidatus Non Compos Mentis

Joe lacks the humility
To see the futility
Of running for office
While fighting senility.

With growing pugnacity,
He aims his mendacity
At all who object to
His clear incapacity.

I hold it self-evident
A nursing home resident
Should not run for mayor,
Much less U.S. President.

But at last Dems consented
To be represented
By an ancient has-been
Who is likely demented.

So farewell, Bernie Sanders.
You fell short of our standards.
Beijing might be hiring—
Go annoy their commanders.



Broken Desk

When you returned that broken desk—
The one with the defective drawer—
Did you suspect it might affect
A Chinese social credit score?

Who knows? Perhaps your petty wish
For inexpensive furniture
Kept Comrade Ling from visiting
Her son in Hotan Prefecture.



Nota Bene

Does satire make you feel distressed?
Spit out the poison, drink the jest.



Rob Crisell is a writer, actor, teacher, and attorney in Temecula. After two decades in publishing, national non-profit work, law, and commercial real estate, he’s now a full-time writer, actor, and educator. He is an outside instructor with the Murrieta Valley Union School District where he teaches poetry and Shakespeare. He also teaches at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac School and other area schools on behalf of Shakespeare in the Vines (SITV). He runs SITV’s annual high school monologue competition, which he began in 2013. Currently, he is playing Iago in SITV’s August production of Othello. He’s the author/actor of Red, White & Bard! A Celebration of Shakespeare in America and Hamlet’s Guide to Happiness: 7 Life Lessons from the Greatest Play Ever Written, one-man shows he has performed for SITV, schools, and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He’s a graduate of Yale University and George Mason University Law School. He lives in Temecula with his wife and their two children.

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14 Responses

  1. Lannie David Brockstein

    To the reader at SCP: Methinks the speaker in the final stanza of Rob Crisell’s “Candidatus Non Compos Mentis” is a tad presumptuous, as it is likely that Sanders will rebrand his 2020 presidential campaign to that of an independent candidate, now that the Democrat Party’s delegates have allegedly conspired against his candidacy for a second time.

    As for its preceding four stanzas, with two slight modifications they could just as easily have been written by a radicalized leftist about President Trump, which goes to show there isn’t anything other than a superficial difference between any radicalized leftist and an alt-rightist:

    Line 1: “Joe lacks the humility” to “Trump lacks the humility”.
    Line 13: “But at last Dems consented” to “But at last ‘Pubs consented”.

    Such is the regrettable fate of every satirist: God will always have the last laugh, until we choose to laugh at ourselves first.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Has anyone here noticed that this idiot Brockstein always addresses his posts to the general readership at SCP, rather than to anyone in particular?

    This shows the man’s agenda. He wants to proselytize a wide audience into acceptance of his leftist ideas, rather than actually engage in debate with an opponent.

    His latest ploy is to suggest that there is no difference between the extreme left and the extreme right. This is another way in which he can “hide in plain sight,” and work to change the tone of this strongly conservative and anti-Communist website.

    We know what you are, Lannie. And we’ll call you out on it, every time you post something.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Well, Joseph, his agenda seems not to be going anywhere here at this site. I don’t mind hearing from a fool now and then, because baiting a fool is good sport. People of Lannie’s ilk don’t realize how silly they come off, or how their anserous comments only show the vacuity of their world-view. I hope Bernie does go independent, because that will be good for all sensible people.

    • Mike Bryant

      First, I love the poems. They are very cute and well executed. Second, I really agree that the first commenter is trying to push his particular brand of politics. The problem, in my view, is less about what individuals believe, and much more about force. The United States has always been about freedom. Now, if the radicals don’t like what you believe, they will shut you down. For most of my life, the “free-thinkers” endlessly pushed tolerance. I did not know that my tolerance was fueling their totalitarian urges. Tolerance is a two way street. The great fight of our time is not against each other but against authoritarianism which must not be tolerated.

      As for the alt-right comment. Where are they? Are they the people of every belief and color who showed up in Virginia to demonstrate against the authoritarianism of the newly elected state government. As far as I’m concerned, the word alt-right is just another among the plethora of words and ideas skewed and abused by authoritarians in order to force their view of the world on us.
      Our language has been hijacked for the purpose of control.

    • Karl Vinsek

      You are correct, there is very little difference between far right and far left. I find the satire humor to be acceptable, no matter which way it leans. Recognizing the ad hominem nature of both is the most important takeaway.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    All three of these were very sharp, Rob — ouch! The last one could have been published in THE ASSES OF PARNASSUS. It’s right down their alley. But even more seriously, I like what you have brought to the table these past months, and I hope to read more. And I did indeed notice the double rhymes you placed in the third lines of each stanza of the second poem. This is great craft, which you execute because you can.

    • Rob Crisell

      Thank you, C.B. Wrote Candidatus in a few hours yesterday. It’s a work in process. God willing, it will be my last Biden poem. I think it’s becoming clear to Dems that they need a Plan B if they want to compete in November. And Plan B will NOT include Sanders.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Many thanks to Joseph Salemi for dealing with Brockstein!

    Candidatus is an amusing poem–and the sad truth of it must become more and more apparent as this candidate goes on talking. The contrast with the opposing candidate will also become more and more clear.

    The perfect poem of these three is the Nota Bene couplet. Great work!

    In “Broken Desk,” I believe there are two misused words. “Comrade” (I think) refers to a Communist Party member, that is, someone of more elevated status than a mere factory worker–although there are Party members among the workers. Again according to my knowledge, “prefecture” is the term for a region in Japan, while the corresponding term in China is “province.”

    • Rob Crisell

      Thank you, Margaret. I appreciate your comments. Prefectures are certainly associated with Japan, but they exist in China as well, including the Hotan Prefecture. With regard to “comrade,” I think it’s still appropriate in this context, though (as far as my research goes) you’re correct that it is more common these days when applied to a Communist party member. See

      • Margaret Coats

        Thanks for the interesting link showing that the Chinese term “comrade” is very much a word in flux. I was particularly intrigued to see that the Chinese Party has taken measures to enforce its use among members. Recalls Mussolini’s failed attempt to ban Italian honorifics, which are mostly feminine and therefore not strong enough for Fascists. Language has ways of outsmarting totalitarians who try to use it for their purposes.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Absolutely correct, Ms. Coats. Italian honorifics like “Eccellenza” and “Eminenza” were disliked by the Fascists because they are feminine (just as their Latin etyma are). For the same reason, Mussolini’s state tried to extirpate the use of “Lei” as a polite pronoun form (comparable to Vd. in Spanish), because “Lei” could also be used as a feminine reference.

    Besides this, the Fascists tried to suppress all the local Italian dialects, and force everyone to learn and speak standard schoolbook Tuscan. This is typical of all totalizing governments (including Germany and France!), which hate local autonomy and cultural particularism.

  6. Monty

    In British-English, Rob, the word ‘petty’ means ‘insignificant’.. ‘small-minded’.. ‘contemptible’.. etc. Has it got a different meaning on your side of the pond?

    I ask in regard to your use of that word in ‘Broken Desk’ above: “..your petty wish for inexpensive furniture..”. For those folk whose financial position precludes the buying of ‘expensive’ furniture (indeed, expensive ‘anything’) – which may be considered to be the majority of people – one must ask why their wish (their ‘need’) to buy inexpensive items could be described as petty?

    • Rob Crisell

      Thanks, Monty. It’s a fair point. I took “petty” to mean .
      of secondary or lesser importance, rank, or scale; minor, which in the grande scheme of things, furniture is. I had in mind a comfortable American (like me) returning furniture without mind to possible ramifications–if any–to factory workers in Asia where the furniture is (likely) made. I don’t think my poem should be taken too seriously, though I appreciate your close reading.

      • Monty

        Yeah, I understood the gist of the poem, Rob, and what it was REALLY getting at . . and I appreciate your suggestion that the poem “shouldn’t be taken too seriously”. It was just the word ‘petty’, and what that word conveyed in the context it was used. When I first set eyes on it, it jumped from the page and head-butted me!

        You’ve since said that ‘petty’ was referring to the furniture, but the way it’s worded – ‘your petty wish’ – it clearly refers to the person who’s wishing to buy. To put it as you meant it, it might’ve been better wrote as: ‘..your wish for petty, inexpensive furniture’.

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