“You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”
– Mario Cuomo

But here’s a secret: the halls of Congress
burst with would-be poets, those marble-faced men
in dark gray ties who strive each day
to govern in sonnets or even haiku,

but inspiration – so radiant in their minds –
dies before it hits the pencil’s tip,
and what survives is just the sour prose of law.

It isn’t only poets. Among these columns
are painters and sculptors too, their fingers
numbed by icy governing, and
opera singers filibustered into permanent silence.

Saddest of all is the junior senator from Kansas,
the gymnast who campaigned in flips and twirls,
aloft in winds of promise, who now moves
only to commit, defer, adjourn,
his sashays clicking, clacking
in a soldier’s rhythmic march.

Thomas Seay passes his days in the halls of Congress, which very rarely inspire poetry. His fiction has appeared in Boys’ Life, Realms of Fantasy, Fantastic Stories, and other publications. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Kansas, and he is an administrator at the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers, held each summer in Pittsburgh.

Campaigning in Poetry by Thomas Seay (c) Copyright Thomas Seay; printed by permission of the author. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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