faked by Friday, March 13th, 2009

Like everybody else, I’ve been using the whitehouse.gov contact function. Sending comments to political types makes me feel helpless, so I made a sort of sport of it by coming up with rules. I wanted my comments to be short (under their word limit) and figured there was no point trying to talk about more than one subject at a time.

Since I’m a poet, I naturally thought of a poetic form. What I came up with is a variation on an old standard, the heroic couplet (two lines of rhyming pentameter). My variation is eight lines or only four couplets long, way under the limit, but who wanted to say that much anyway? Naturally, I use the movement of speech to jazz up what would otherwise be the monotony of meter.

I’m writing them whenever the mood strikes, whenever a subject coalesces from the general furor and seems to merit a comment. A bonus: Though technically speaking I am sure I am just as powerless, the act of construction required to put my thoughts into a form, even a slight one, has done away with my sense of helplessness.

Here’s the first four. There will likely be others.


When Venus reached its height as evening star,
we chose a president, an exemplar,
we hoped, a quiet man who understood
no good comes of being up to no good.
What holds us all together is fair play
and mutual respect. It aint the U. S. A.
without the principles. Not shock and awe,
but truth approximated in the law.


They’re slow and fat, easy to out-maneuver.
Let them filibuster till hell freezes over.
They’ll take the money, but swear they voted
according to principle. Duly noted.
How healthy would you be if you wrote off
ten percent of your cells, you had a cough
that wilted flowers, and you got no sun at all?
And speaking of health—here comes a new roll call!


You told them, gathered together in that room,
that, like the banks, they were inviting doom,
the ax that would reduce their firms to kindling,
to wit: overvalued assets and a dwindling
customer base. Those are the facts of the case.
Oh call it universal health care, Ace,
who cares? Why not save what you can of your wealth
while getting credit for caring about our health?


from them there “entitlements” with your hands in the air.
Social Security doesn’t need your “repair.”
If it isn’t my money, what did you take from my check?
You want to tinker? Fine. First give it all back.
Won’t even charge you interest. What a deal!
You think we wouldn’t notice? Good buddy, get real.
You think you can keep your job behaving this way?
—Be sure and read my lips election day.

3 Responses to “octals”

  1. Ha! These are swell. I think “Stimulus” is my favorite but reserve the right to change my mind. And I’m very much enamored of the idea that giving form to inchoate thoughts can provide a sense of agency.

  2. plok says:

    Ah! Fun!

    For me it’s 4, 1, 2, 3.

  3. brd says:

    I like the fact that you have given yourself rules for this style of communication with the government. I’d suggest that you try a sonnet, but I’m not sure that your target is worth the exquisite effort.