By Justin Hixson
(on the occasion of the retirement of the honorable N. Barry Greenhouse at the “Beaten Path” in New York City on May 5, 1995, with apologies to William Strunk, jr., Fred Perry, Monsieur Lebau, and edward estlin cummings)

The time has now come I’m afraid,
For Barry’s old debts to be paid.
                        We’re not talking money,
                        but something more funny,
                                                his debt for his poet’s charade.

It seems that for twenty odd years,
through laughter, good times, and some tears,
                        our tall hairy friend
                        has not had to contend
                                                with the rhymes of those whom he fears.

Before I turn over the stage,
I have to read one final page.
                        For if not me, then who,
                        would tell all of you,
                                                about an athlete of his advanced age.

If you think his words are a menace,
you should see him when he’s playing tennis.
                        His serves, although strong,
                        are most often long,
                                                and sometimes go over the fennis.

As an athlete, he has no peer,
and as marathon time draws so near,
                        you will find him training,
                        whether sunny or raining,
                                                at home with a six pack of beer.

I’m not trying to imply he’s not gritty,
or to say that he’s not really witty.
                        After all’s said and done,
                        the man’s lots of fun,
                                                but let’s face it, him poems are . . .
                                                                                          quite good.


For You, Barry
by Anonymous 

For all those moments you looked at my feet
And noted two laces that didn’t quite meet
And for the times you were none too discrete
And asked if, perhaps, I was wider in seat

And for comparing your hair black and neat
To mine that is turning as white as a sheet
And mostly, dear Barry, for each tennis defeat
I offer you this egg, and say “bon appetite!”


by Georgia Tsikaris

After 20 years of service with the State,
Most of which time he reported late,
Because of working he did tire,
Barry has now opted to retire.

To see the world is his aim,
And now and then a tennis game,
When time permits a little run,
And other things in the name of fun.

We’ll miss your humor and your wit,
Even your whining – just a bit,
In closing, Barry, have a ball,

And, when you can, give us a call.




There once was a Special Assistant named Barry,

Who toiled for several “Govs” including Carey.

Coming to work, he was known to often tarry,

And then performed like Moe, Curly and Larry.

His judgment and acumen were often contrary,

Although he was right when Linda he did marry.

He dresses in clothes both dog-haired and varied,

His deportment could never be considered harried.

A marathon runner & tennis player unwary,

More like a giraffe than a dromedary.

So let’s toast our unforgettable Barry,

For a public service career extraordinary.


                                                   Jan Goorsky





by Kathleen McQueen

He’s not Cary or Harry or Larry or Gary

To tell you the truth, he’s not even Barry

That’s right, he’s not Barry I learned with chagrin

‘Cause before there’s the Barry, there first come the “N”

It’s a thing that I pondered on more than a little

It’s right there in front instead of the middle

That “N” that damn “N.” What the hell could it mean?

Did it hold some significance I couldn’t glean?

I puzzled and wondered. What sense could I make”

Does it really belong there or is it just a mistake?

Now George “E.” Pataki’s at home in the State House

And William “J.” Clinton belongs in the White House

But who does the Insurance Department have in house?

None other than that “N.” Barry Greenhouse

That “N.” that damn “N.” Is it short for a name?

Perhaps Norbert or Nicholas or Nelson to blame?

Perhaps Norman or Norville. That “N.” just obsessed me

Then I stopped and I asked what all has possessed me?

He’s retiring, he’s leaving. I don’t have to care

About that damn “N.” not the why nor the where

So let me just close with a toast to the man

Who has driven me daft with his lopsided name

So come on and join me. Let’s bring down the house

For the One and the Only “N.” Barry Greenhouse



by Kevin Foley

moustache long tangled
camouflaging at times
a grand canyon heart



Introduction and Poem

by Sal Curiale

Before I read my poem, I’d like to present a poem Barry’s sister asked me to read – it was written by Barry’s Mom when she was pregnant with Barry 55 years ago. It’s entitled – “Sonny Boy” – it’s very touching and it goes like this:

Is that you movin Norman?
How’s your body formin?
Is your mind distorted?
I wish I had aborted.

Very touching. Obviously, Barry gets his talent from Mom.

And now my poem.

Bent in mind, with tortured spine
Can’t eat eggs. But loves his wine.

East chicken rare, sea urchin fare
He and Linda, a gourmet pair.

You’ll find them, where? The loft they share.
If you like neat, stay outta there.

Good spouse, no louse – he’d help a mouse!
He’ll make ice cream or a jade necklause.

Without a topcoat, he’s never cold.
On many a civil servant, he over sold.

Yes Hairy Barry, a true Good Fairy.
But doggy “Alex” would bark contrary!

This faithless pooch would brook no smooch,
and sooner bite that weirdo mouche!

But does he care, no not our Barre
Some day he’ll eat that mutt, cooked rare!

Oh Norman, Soreman – you close the office door man
to lay those crooked bones out on the hard, cold floor man.

With mustache flair and quizzical stare
Making funny faces everywhere.

But visage scary, to those unwary
Hides heart of gold, like Mother Mary.

When came Potack with fires lit
You saw fit, your job to quit.

We’ll miss your soul, we’ll miss your wit
Please one last time, “I don’t believe it.”




by Joanne E. Jenkins 

There once was a man named Barry
Who had incredible talents literary
His penchant for verse
Some lengthy, some terse
Made him an Insurance Department luminary.


There once was a procrastinator named Barry
Whose tendency to delay was extraordinary
Good thing for him
Others were willing to step in
To cover his exposed derriere.


There once was a colleague named Barry
Whose disposition was usually quite merry
The office won’t be the same place
Without his smiling face
That he will be missed is elementary.


There once was a friend named Barry
Whose ability to endear himself didn’t vary
As shown by so many who came here
To share with him good cheer
For Barry, this is indeed complimentary.


The Flight of Our Crane
Jim Conti

Now cometh truly a certain pity –
that ne’ermore will be heard throughout this city –
the familiar, pleasant type of ditty –
in cadenced phrases profound yet witty –
for our own true laureate departeth

To what verbal heights might he yet aspire –
If we could yet our gallant sonneteer rehire –
But quoth he in terms of blazing fire –

So as this year winds down to a cold December –
and all hope of a new laureate we surrender –
Alas, N. Barry’s stanzas alone are left us to remember –

Still, dare we yet dream of his returning –
for a special occasion with his rhymes a-burning –
into the souls of his loyal colleagues left yearning? –

Ah, ‘tis doubtful for his weary
countenance shows that he’s
been feverishly learning
again, that dreaded and final word –



Though I cannot attend your merited function
I wish to impart to you a deserved unction.
Yea! Though I endured insufferable pains
listening to your preposterous quatrains
I offer this unremarkable composition
as you retire from your enigmatic position,
and while your captive audiences through the years
refrained from shedding pent-up tears,
We know you had naught but good intentions
when you read your poetic pretensions
But now as you’re bid by us “adieu”
We hope that the income from your new vocation
will not depend on your poetic evocations.


                                                                  Good Luck!

                                                                   Tony DiPaola


An Ode to Barry, The Muse of the Insurance Department


Oh, sorrow! Our dear, strong and funny voice is prematurely leaving us

Leaving for the Elysian fields of early retirement

Does Barry know what he does to us?

Leaving the rest of us, voiceless, to fend for ourselves.


But woe to those who think only of themselves,

For shame!

If Andre Soltner can retire and leave us New York gastronomes,

why should we reproach Barry for what he does?


Let us instead rejoice in the happy knowledge that the man who for so long was

our voice is not departing from this world,

but merely changing his lifestyle for a far better one.

May another arise from our ranks to be our new muse.

For that will be the greatest legacy that Barry could leave us with


So, let us all wish Barry, our muse, the best.

May his days of retirement stretch out before him

and be filled with activity and the exploration of new opportunities,

exciting and enjoyable


From all of us who remain at the Department,

We wish you all of the happiness in the world as we declare the death of the

Tyranny of iambic pentameter at the Insurance Department.

                                                Barbara Kluger



(Time to go Home, Boy)

Written by Wayne Cotter
Performed by “M.C. Kool”

He’s a long, tall dude with an attitude
A rude dude, a shrewd dude
A semi-lewd dude
Skinny-as-a-rail-but-sure-loves-his-food dude

Well I wouldn’t call him mean, but I wouldn’t call him jolly
Got a big ol’ moustache like Salvador Dali
When it comes to tennis, he sure can volley
And I’m here tonight to mark his finale

You can catch him in mid-town, walkin’ his dog, man
Dude’s too cheap to tip his doorman
Has a bad back so he lies on the floor, man
Just like a victim of Big George Foreman

He can’t eat eggs, they make him feel icky
Drives an ’81 Rabbit with a clutch that’s sticky
Uses TransMedia cards because he’s so thrifty
Thinks he looks pretty young, but he’s half-past fifty

Linda’s his mate, his numero uno
They were married long ago in the month of Juno
Now they sit around and watch the sumo
Thinkin’ ‘bout the good ol’ days with Mario Cuomo

They sleep on a futon with their ol’ black box on
They got plenty of bagels to spread their lox on
Their dog bites toes so they sleep with their socks on
He’s a ninety-pound retriever; they shoulda got a Daschund

He runs the Marathon in Central Park now
He trains real hard, this ain’t no lark now
This year he’s gonna make his mark now
Maybe he’ll even be home before dark now

He’s a long, tall aide with an attitude
A funster, a punster
Office like a dumpster
Skinny as a rail, but runs like Herman Munster

He lives his life by a few simple mantras
Don’t pay for parking, unless you hafta
Always go French, when it’s wine that you’re afta
And read The New York Times on issues like NAFTA

He’s a bon vivant who’s lived in Paris
Reads movie reviews by Andrew Sarris
He speaks his mind, he’s never embarrassed
Has all his hair, eat your heart out Marty Carus

He’s worked for Insurance and the Department of Banking
And the Labor people, who gave him no thanking
He once promised Sandy Siegel a spanking
For that he was written up by Lloyd Franking

He’s a long, tall aide with an attitude
A hip guy, a flip guy
A shoot-from-the-lip guy
Skinny-as-a-rail-cause-he-don’t double-dip guy

Now it’s come down to the crunch now
No more poems to be read at lunch now
No more time cards to be punched now
We’re gonna miss ya a whole big bunch now


  ATTENTION: The poetry archives of N. Barry Greenhouse are sadly incomplete. If Barry has done a poem in your honor and you still have a copy, please scan or re-key it and e-mail it to Wayne Cotter at We'll add it to the collection.  
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