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Segment | Commentaries

Villatoro: Inaugural Poetry

It was music to my ears when I learned President Obama had asked poet Elizabeth Alexander to share the spotlight on one of the world's biggest stages -- the Presidential inauguration.

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I enjoyed your segment and your underscoring of the importance of metaphor. You inspired me to write the following verse. I'm no Elizabeth Alexander, but I hope my ten syllable lines and rhyme helped to describe the historical events in an entertaining fashion:

By Joan E. Stern

As all administrations come and go
Transition seems so exceedingly slow
A longer span than in other places
Stakes are high after election races

Yet not by caprice but by amendment
Is the time set for changing government
History is filled with harsh lame duck woes
Stories of candidates nearly at blows

The name lame duck is a century old
When those in London’s Stock Market were told
They could not pay a penny of their debt
Without capital—no quick safety net

Jefferson’s dislike for president two
Meant Adams made appointments to undo
Buchanan passed the baton to Lincoln
While seven states announced their succession

Wilson declaimed he could solve the delay
Resign the presidency in the fray
A second term he just managed to win
The idea of quitting became a sin

Hoover was by far the lamest of all
No words from FDR—not a short call
He crafted the New Deal soon as he could
Undermining all for which Herbert stood

Fast forward to fragile 2008
The most powerful man one day quite late
Had shoes thrown at him—actually a pair
Giving the new guy more than his fair share

Attention and accolades from the press
Can lead to a diminished chief’s distress
But only one president at a time
Not even a poet can change this rhyme

Don’t hand over the “codes” as Reagan did
Core of authority cannot be slid
Until noon on January 20
When there will be expertise aplenty

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