Would it be any worse with candidates in verse?


October 19, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

From beneath the door of the meat locker on the second floor of the Sun building came the unmistakable sounds of a presidential debate.

"You want more gridlock, vote for the other guys," Moe was saying. "You want action; vote for me."

"But, gee, the White House is not a waffle house!" Thor was saying. "And, golly, I believe that sincerely."

Thor and Moe are the The Sun's enforcers. They pound on your door early in the morning and say: "You the Henrietta Smith who complained about the new stock pages? Pack a bag, Henrietta; it gets mighty cold up there in Allegany County."

And then they throw you in a van and take you to our Reader Re-education Boot Camp in Frostburg, where, after a few weeks of carrying a log around on your shoulders, you discover that you like our paper just exactly the way it is.

For a few weeks every year, however, Thor and Moe act as my Poetry Police.

Which is why I had to interrupt their debate.

"I am pretending to be Ross Perot," Moe said.

"And I am pretending to be George Bush," Thor said.

But who's playing Bill Clinton? I asked.

"We're just using a side of beef," Moe said. "All Clinton has to do is dummy up for the next few weeks and he's got this thing in the bag."

Maybe. Maybe not. But as luck would have it, the subject of my poetry contest this year is the three presidential candidates.

You were asked to write either a limerick or a haiku on each of the three men.

Got that? Three poems.

But one of the first entries I got was from Dominick Garcia of Dundalk, who submitted this haiku:

They all seem to be

Useless egomaniacs

Do we really care?

And I've got two thoughts about this, Dominick:

1. Lighten up, dude! It's only the presidency we're talking about. It's not like they're canceling "Seinfeld" or something.

2. Is that three poems? Or is it one?

"You want we should go pick him up?" Thor asked, cracking his gigantic, scarred knuckles.

"And you want we should teach him a little lesson?" Moe said, slapping his blackjack against his palm.

Later, I said. First you've got to pick up C.E. Suplicki of Owings Mills, who did manage to grasp the concept of three poems but had a little difficulty grasping the concept of a limerick:

There once was a man who played golf

While thousands of people were laid off.

He played for an hour,

Retired to the shower,

And said: "Oh, my life is so rough."

Hey, C.E., try a little experiment for me. Try saying "golf", "off" and "rough" out loud. And then tell me that they rhyme.

Better yet, don't tell me. Tell Thor and Moe. As they do a tap dance on your chest!

Then there was Douglas Mallouk of Baltimore, who thinks the grand prize . . . lunch with me . . . is inadequate.

"Forget the free lunch," he wrote. "Give the winner some small space in your column, say 250 words, on a subject of importance to him/her."

Let me tell you a little anecdote, Doug:

A few years ago I was at a party and there was this famous brain surgeon there.

"And what do you do for a living?" he asked me.

I write a newspaper column, I told him.

"Ahh," he said, "I was thinking of doing that when I retire."

What a coincidence, I said. I was thinking of becoming a brain surgeon when I retire.

Catch my drift, Doug?

OK, let's go over the rules:

1. Three poems. One on each candidate. Each a limerick or haiku. (A haiku is made up of three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven, the third with five. The lines do not rhyme.)

2. Send the entries to:

Roger Simon's Poetry Contest Clearinghouse

The Baltimore Sun

Suite 1100

1627 K Street, NW

Washington, DC 20006

3. All entries must be received no later than Monday, Oct. 26.

So hurry up! It's not like you have anything better to do.

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