Four Score and Seven Beers Ago
by Brian T. Shirley
Trafford Publishing

"Don't put all of your eggs in one basket, you might want to hide some of them."

Wit, sarcasm, and the unexpected use of song titles coincide in this collection of short poetry from Brian T. Shirley. These epigrams (a satiric or witty short poem) have a broad focus in generalities, but all are humorous, poignant, and at times political. Concise poems that poke good-natured fun at politicians are interspersed throughout the book such as "George Washington had the toughest job as president, because he couldn't blame the guy before him," and the prologue includes a brief caption portraying Abraham Lincoln as saying "I should have passed that gun control bill." The tongue-in-cheek quality to the poems is not exclusively limited to making fun of the government. Odd and hilarious advice is given via poetry. "When you make a mistake, fake some sort of abdominal pain." The brief poems are all untitled and apparently unrelated, but each can be enjoyed solely for its own merit.

Considering that the most famous author of epigrams is Ben Franklin, Shirley takes direction from the master well. He delivers both political and sage advice with the timing of a well-rehearsed punch line. It is not surprising that the author has the background of a comedian. Each poem has a beat and a rest, lending a bigger literary wallop to the turn of thought or phrase at the end. For example, Shirley asks "What does it profit a man if he has all of the rhythm in the world, yet no soul?" The timing at the end of each epigram, whether it's a one-liner or a couplet, is always delivered with impact and is the joy in reading this book.

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