VerseDay: "Campaigning"

In honor of Primary Season, which launched with a bang last night in Iowa, VerseDay today offers a poem about the campaign trail, submitted by reader and author Mary Hamrick.



“Strange how words can be true, and yet have no truth in them.”
–We Are Not Alone. Performer, Paul Muni. Warner Bros. film, 1939.

Politics is puffing like a steam engine.
It needs a serape to keep it warm.
It needs a little makeup on bright days
to hide the lines of wear.

Politics has lost its milk teeth;
nasty-nice, the bite is smart
and at times menacing: flip-flop.
Slogans (grapes with teeth)

smoke and ambush. Words,
so simple, evangelize:
they mope around in your head
like playfellows for your mind.

Under the hot stage lights,
Nixon and Kennedy knew
that politics was a game of beauty:
a black and white picture show.

Mingling here and there,
a naughty struggle for attention
is drunk with ritual–a geography of touch:
babies bubble-up on shoulders, arms are extended

as fingers crawl to pump a stranger’s hand.
Here in the south, political fellows
skedaddle through the day
wearing coconut cream trousers

and sipping sweet tea
through lion skin straws.
A politician’s washboard smile
stays with you like a picture post card.

Sitting mighty close,
we listen to magnolia words
between succulent morsels of the colonel’s chicken.
Coarse, dark-red spines jab at sleeping dogs

as sugary charm clings in cigar-chewing rooms.
>From moonshine to bottled water, smothered-slick,
politics is blooming with a toothy grin
and the playful pause of a Texas two-step.


Mary Hamrick was born in New York and moved to Florida when she was a young girl. Her writing often reflects the contrast between her Northern and Southern upbringing. Current and forthcoming publications include Arabesques Press, Architecture Ink, Cezanne’s Carrot, Howling Dog Press (OMEGA 6), On the Page Magazine, Pemmican, Poetry Repair Shop, Poems Niederngasse, Potomac Review, Scrivener’s Pen, Tattoo Highway, The Barricade, The Binnacle, The Subway Chronicles and others.

“Campaigning” was previously published in The Barricade.

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