Patterico's Pontifications

1/21/2013

Inaugural Poetry

Filed under: General — JD @ 12:27 pm

[Guest post by JD]

To quote a wise man, “it’s sad that anyone spends time writing such drivel, but it’s tragic that it’s seen as worthy poetry from a worthy poet. Isn’t this the same English language that was used by Shakespeare, Milton, TS Eliot, and Yeats?”

Inaugural Poem, by Brenda Shaughnessy

Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of the poetry collections “Our Andromeda,” “Interior with Sudden Joy” and “Human Dark with Sugar,” a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
To President Obama on his Second Inauguration
If poetry is truth that makes us more human,
then this poem’s already been written. Voting wrote it,
in booths on ballots. O you are still president
and that is our poetry. The plain truth made beautiful.

You look better than new, and we know better too.
This election wasn’t just you fresh and flush
in dewy new votes like first kisses raining down
your elegant self those hurricane days and worrying nights.

That first debate. Let’s face it, O you scared us
witless.  A couple slips—flat-toned, something off—remind us
you’re just a person, trying, tired, flawed. Let’s be clear.
That night we grew feverish and bright with fear.

Shipwreck?  O I wasn’t even on the boat and this election
nearly killed me.  Just watching felt like drowning.
Some nights Rachel Maddow was my lone flotation device
and even she was deflated.  I felt my life slide down

a sharp terrible world of rumor and fakepaste
and crazycrap and drowned mouth and what could happen
if someone wound up running the country
like a country club. To club us with. A national revival

of the belief that women are mere vessels for children
and for men. Where soldiers can only ever start poor
and end destitute if not dead. Where kids are cherished only
in the womb but loathed in the world.

Where the rich few deny the many poor and the poor
still buy the load. Where the fact and fate of my daughter,
my daughter’s body, everybody’s daughters’ bodies,
become matters of state. 

And O my little boy’s only five years old.  
He needs medicine the way the sky is up. 
He needs the hospital to stay out of the hospital,
the way the sea is both fierce and calm. 

Insurance companies always bet against the sea. 
Thank you for not letting them do that to my family.  
Thank you for knowing that a child’s surgery
shouldn’t bring the family to bankruptcy.

So we might be considered whole—not fragments,
fractions, a slice of number that could be spent,
we believed in you wholly. You always knew
what that meant. You never called us your 53%.

So we might have a song of our own, we voted, we sang.
We sang a song of saying so, singing O.
So we might be heard, we voted. O, out of many, one. 
Out of everyone, you.  You never left us, but welcome back. 

You’ve come so far, and you’ve far to go. You know
the way, O. Lifted up in a diner, adored and exhausted,
traveling in a motorcade, in love, in tears, entrusted, accosted.
Everywhere you went you knew what we meant.

We meant there were 100% of us. Some of us were old 
just trying to live. Students trying to pay.
Or female intent on staying president of our own bodies.
All of us fighting, O.

You always knew what that meant.
We were ourselves and we had nobody else to be
and we were barely making it.
We looked hard into ourselves and we saw you there.

We were stranded and we were beautiful,
O we were your many and your varied
and your weary, tear-filled people and you knew us.
You knew us and we knew what that meant, O President.

I will be over in the corner hurling.

— JD

42 Comments

  1. Still hurling

    Comment by JD (b63a52) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:28 pm

  2. If you got through all of that, I am deeply sorry for what it must have done to you. I got maybe 30% of the way through and wanted to weep for the abuse done to the English language.

    If this is what the other side feels…my goodness, are we in for a difficult road ahead.

    Comment by ChimpZilla (49c6dd) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:31 pm

  3. We sang a song of saying so, singing O.

    that’s not even Dr. Seuss level of verse it just sounds like something a babbling crack ho would say at open mic night if you promised her

    some crack

    Comment by happyfeet (4bf7c2) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:37 pm

  4. JD, you didn’t blockquote that, so I have to ask: is that the actual poem that was recited, or is it a parody you wrote yourself?

    Comment by gp (0c542c) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:49 pm

  5. she nails the part about how Team R thinks “women are mere vessels for children and for men” though

    they really need to work on that

    Comment by happyfeet (4bf7c2) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:50 pm

  6. That poem is seriously creepy, like the encomiums written to Mao and Kim Jong-il by “the masses.” That is some scary sick cult-of-personality stuff.

    Comment by gp (0c542c) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:11 pm

  7. “Vogon Poetry is described as “the third worst poetry in the Universe”. The main example used in the story is a short piece composed by Jeltz, which roughly emulates nonsense verse in style (example below). The story relates that listening to it is an experience similar to torture as demonstrated when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are forced to listen to the poetry (and say how much they liked it) prior to being thrown out of an airlock.”

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:15 pm

  8. ” The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning ” four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived only by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled “My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles” when his own major intestine–in a desperate attempt to save life itself–leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex, in the destruction of the planet Earth. “

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:17 pm

  9. I’m still hurling from the “poetry” committed at Bill’s two inaugurals.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:21 pm

  10. I will be over in the corner hurling.

    Headline via Drudge:

    Broken Jumbotron frustrates thousands on National Mall…

    Headline via me:

    Working Largescreen TV threatens to sicken dozens trying to keep lunch down at local Chili’s…

    Comment by Steve57 (4c041b) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:28 pm

  11. Paul Ryan booed as he leaves Capitol for Inaugural;
    reportedly instigated by DoJ lawyer.
    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/ryan-booed-at-inauguration/2013/01/21/id/472300?s=al&promo_code=121DD-1

    More Civility from the Compassionate Corpse, and Bringers of Social Justice.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:51 pm

  12. This is the same kind of poetry Monica wrote for Bill Clinton. These progressive stalkers are all the same.

    Comment by Birdbath (716828) — 1/21/2013 @ 1:52 pm

  13. Actually I quite liked it. Oh yes, I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective.

    Oh and interesting rhythmic devices too, which seemed to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the humanity of the poet’s compassionate soul, which contrives through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other, and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into whatever it was the poem was about.

    Comment by Uppercase Matt (cad867) — 1/21/2013 @ 2:45 pm

  14. Good grief. I write better poetry than that. :hands a bottle of 7up to JD: :and opening my own:

    Comment by htom (412a17) — 1/21/2013 @ 2:46 pm

  15. I wonder why there is no similar poetry for Ron Paul.

    Paul was a true hero.

    Comment by Michael Ejercito (2e0217) — 1/21/2013 @ 2:57 pm

  16. I thought this was a joke, at first. The emperor and his poet have no clothes.

    Comment by CC (eac19d) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:01 pm

  17. I’d like to teach the world to sing.

    Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:10 pm

  18. And, there we were, all in one place – a generation Lost in Space
    With no time left to start again
    So, come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick – Jack Flash sat on a Candlestick, ’cause…
    Fire is the Devil’s only friend
    And, as I watched him on the stage my hands were clenched in fists of rage
    No angel born in Hell could break that satan’s spell
    And, as the flames climbed high into the night to light the sacrificial rite, I saw…
    Satan laughing with delight the day the music died

    I met a girl who sang the Blues, and I asked her for some happy news
    She just smiled and turned away
    I went down to the sacred store where I’d heard the music years before, but…
    The man there said the music wouldn’t play
    And, in the streets the children screamed, the lover’s cried, and the poets dreamed, but…
    Not a word was spoken – the church bells all were broken
    And, the three men I admire most: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, they…
    Caught the last train for the coast the day the music died

    Comment by scott (b8618e) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:21 pm

  19. Creepy. Like the lunatic prof who wrote a book on how he is a prophet or angel or something.

    Comment by Patricia (be0117) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:21 pm

  20. Comment by gp (0c542c) — 1/21/2013 @ 12:49 pm

    is that the actual poem that was recited, or is it a parody you wrote yourself?

    I see nobody;s answered this.

    No, it wasn’t the actual one recited at the inaugural, which was not at all political, but made a lot less sense.

    This was the actual poem:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/today-richard-blanco-poem-read-barack-obama-inauguration/story?id=18274653

    This poem: http://news.yahoo.com/brenda-shaughnessy-poem-for-president-obama-inauguration-234559874.html was not a parody – it was quite seriously intended and posted I think around or at midnight (eastern time) today on Yahoo.

    That poem looks real.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (067111) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:30 pm

  21. I suspect a conspiracy, Sammy. You should dig into this.

    Comment by JD (d420da) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:34 pm

  22. Richard Blanco means “white dick” in spanish just for so you know

    Comment by happyfeet (4bf7c2) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:42 pm

  23. No, pikachu, it’s means Walter White’s brother, Richard,

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:45 pm

  24. leave a pikachu his petty ironies

    it’s really all he has left anymore

    Comment by happyfeet (4bf7c2) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:47 pm

  25. 17. I’d like to teach the world to sing.

    Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:10 pm

    Funny. President Tiger Beat would like to buy the world some a coke.

    And by “world” he means himself.

    Comment by Steve57 (4c041b) — 1/21/2013 @ 3:59 pm

  26. There might be some similarities.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ04KhQra6M

    Comment by scott (b8618e) — 1/21/2013 @ 4:00 pm

  27. https://www.facebook.com/sarahpalin?fref=ts

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 1/21/2013 @ 4:01 pm

  28. I got an advance copy, it was from the NRA and it didnt seem as hurle worth as JD found

    To President Obama on his Second iteration
    If poetry is truth that makes the reporters swoon,
    then this poem’s already been written. MSNBC wrote it,
    in broadcasts for ballots. O amazingly, you are still president and that is our propaganda.
    The plain tripe made digestable.
    You look better than new, BUT we know better too.
    This election wasn’t just you fresh and flush
    in lie after lie simply packaged as tripe
    your elegant self those hurricane days and thank god for that.

    I dunno, I just dont know

    Comment by EPWJ (c5f1fc) — 1/21/2013 @ 4:16 pm

  29. My favorite:

    Insurance companies always bet against the sea.
    Thank you for not letting them do that to my family.
    Thank you for knowing that a child’s surgery
    shouldn’t bring the family to bankruptcy.

    Really a poem written for the ages.

    I gotta say that Tom Lehrer would have been a far better choice.

    Comment by Kevin M (bf8ad7) — 1/21/2013 @ 4:44 pm

  30. 0, I must pinch myself now. It’s like I’m in a dream state… or a funk.

    0, it’s a t0tal suckfest. A Cult of Personality.

    Comment by Colonel Haiku (e71ca2) — 1/21/2013 @ 5:01 pm

  31. Anyone want to guess where Brenda Shaughnessy was “educated”? How about this:

    Master of Fine Arts, Columbia University
    Bachelors of Art, University of Calfiornia, Santa Cruz, Literature/Creative Writing and Women’s Studies

    I mean, if I had asked you to guess the educational background of a stereotypical witless Obama-worshiping left-wing poet, wouldn’t you have come up with pretty much exactly this? The link above also lists all of the fine universities at which she has served as an adjunct instructor, guest lecturer, or writer in residence teaching young mushminds how to write insipid poetry of their own.

    Comment by JVW (4826a9) — 1/21/2013 @ 5:02 pm

  32. The link above also lists all of the fine universities at which she has served as an adjunct instructor, guest lecturer, or writer in residence teaching young mushminds how to write insipid poetry of their own.

    For future reference, we would request that you not include this type of drivel in reference to our organisation.

    Sincerely,
    Insipid Poet Society

    Comment by JD (b63a52) — 1/21/2013 @ 5:09 pm

  33. Stalin would have done a much better job of this.

    Comment by Dirty Old Man (0c7e45) — 1/21/2013 @ 5:57 pm

  34. 0 woe is me 0
    my nation melting away
    0 E 0 yo ho

    Comment by Colonel Haiku (e71ca2) — 1/21/2013 @ 6:09 pm

  35. Scott,

    Just hope this marching band will leave the field in 4 years.

    Another bit that seems apt:

    I am just a poor boy
    Though my story’s seldom told
    I have squandered my resistance
    For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
    All lies and jests
    Still a man hears what he wants to hear
    And disregards the rest

    And disregards the rest.

    Comment by Kevin M (bf8ad7) — 1/21/2013 @ 7:06 pm

  36. Why not just jerk Obama off too while the poet recites it?

    Comment by EBL (f71fce) — 1/21/2013 @ 7:24 pm

  37. obama’s associated press wants you to understand that people are right now in america getting fracked to death

    yup fracked to death

    don’t be a statistic remember that fracking is just as scared of you as you are of it and take precautions accordingly

    Comment by happyfeet (ce327d) — 1/21/2013 @ 7:38 pm

  38. Where does Al Jazeera end, and AP begin?

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 1/21/2013 @ 7:41 pm

  39. al jazeera probably doesn’t swallow

    Comment by happyfeet (ce327d) — 1/21/2013 @ 7:41 pm

  40. Kevin M,

    As I’ve watched the House leadership get rolled, the MSM relinquish their responsibilities and the arts on life support, it’s hard not to throw your hands up in disgust and say “I am leaving, I am leaving”.

    Comment by scott (b8618e) — 1/22/2013 @ 3:21 am

  41. Hickory Dickory Dock
    Obama can suck my….

    Comment by CrustyB (69f730) — 1/22/2013 @ 9:30 am

  42. The most important poem was the one delivered by Barack Obama. Because his whole address basically was a poem.

    I think his poem was better than the official poem,.

    He even had a pun:

    We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (d22d64) — 1/22/2013 @ 11:06 am

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