This is a town known more for verbal jujitsu and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo than for poetry.
And yet. And yet. The pols have some poetry in them, as an excellent new book, “The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry,” — out now just as we celebrate April as poetry month — explains.
Barack Obama, the poet-president, once used what we’re told is a “skillful reverse haiku” to sail through always tricky Mideast policy:
“Let me be absolutely
clear: Israel is
a strong friend of Israel’s.”
And Joe Biden often shows his poetic side, for example in talking about Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s mother:
“His mom lived in Long Island
for ten years or so.
God rest her soul.
And — although, she’s — wait
— your mom’s still- your mom’s still alive.
Your dad passed.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is most endearing with this:
“Biking through New York’s boroughs in 2005,
I thought about some old friends, Joe and Eileen Bailey.
Though they are imaginary,
I frequently talk to them.”
House Speaker John Boehner rates two entries. Here’s one:
“I’ve got real empathy for those who
as most of you know,
I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters
I know that three of my brother lost their jobs,
I’m not sure whether they’ve find jobs yet,
I’ve got a lot of empathy for those caught in this economic downturn.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighs in with a couple fine efforts:
“Today is a big day
Only 36,000 people
lost their jobs today.”
“My staff tells me not to say this,
but I’m going to say it anyway —
In the summer because of the heat and high humidity,
you could literally
The tourists coming into the Capitol.”
Former Rep. Eric Massa (R-N.Y.), who resigned shortly after some inappropriate behavior was revealed, has a long poem in the book, which ends:
“Now they’re saying I groped a male staffer.
Yes, I did. Not only did I grope him,
I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and four guys
jumped on top of me.
It was my 50th birthday.”
The book, by Kathryn and Ross Petras, who gave us the “365 Stupidest Things Ever Said” calendar, features about 50 current and former lawmakers and pundits — and about 150 other celebrity poets, such as Snooki, Bieber and Kanye West — taking things they’ve actually said and rendering them in verse form. Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro also have fine entries.
Pundit Ann Coulter, in a poem the authors titled “I Have a Dream,” gives us:
“If we took away women’s right to vote,—
we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.
It’s kind of a Pipe Dream, —
it’s a personal fantasy of mine,
I don’t think it’s Going to Happen.”
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 76, a renowned party animal, has a poem titled “Il Vecchio Sporcaccione” [meaning the Dirty Old Man]:
“Even though I am a little brat
33 girls in two months seems like
Even for a 30-year-old.
It’s too much
Former kinda presidential candidate Donald Trump has several entries, including this one entitled “I Always Go to Church Sometimes:”
“I go as much as I can.
Always on Christmas.
Always on Easter.
Always when there’s a major occasion.
And during the Sundays.
I’m a Sunday church person.
I’ll go when I can.”
And this from talk show host Larry King:
do people close their eyes
when they sneeze
do we still make razor blades
And there’s this from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:
“I have always said — heard — that it would not be strange
that there had been civilization on Mars,
capitalism arrived there,
and finished off the planet.”
There’s a wonderful “sonnet,” the authors note, by Rahm Emanuel when he was caught on an FBI wire raging against imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevic. But we can’t print it — even on-line.
Some readers will be keenly disappointed that there’s only one entry for Mitt Romney, and it’s not even one of his superb disquisitions — evoking the great Joyce Kilmer — on the perfection of Michigan’s trees and lakes.
But at least there’s Newt’s excellent explanation of how his “passionate” love of country led him to stray:
“There’s no question at times of my life,
partially driven by how passionately I felt
about this country,
that I worked far too hard
and things happened in my life that
The paperback is published by Workman Publishing.