Mobile’s political feuds hit a high point in the past few days. We all expected the County Commission election to leave plenty of blood on the floor, but then the open Circuit Court judge contest went haywire. Not to be one-upped, the Mobile City Council stole most of the Super Tuesday headlines by making a move to politically castrate the mayor, only to choke on it three days later after the public outcry got too loud for them.
Now, I know many people feel like the types of feuds we’re seeing between political officials lowers the discourse and turns voters off. But as usual, there is a silver lining, if you just look for it. In this case it’s the rise of “Port City Political Poetry.”
After Colby Cooper, the mayor’s chief of staff, took to Twitter last week and made some ill-advised and personal tweets about the City Council in general and Councilman Fred Richardson in particular, Richardson fell back on his formidable skills as a wordsmith to pen a poem calling Cooper out for living in Fairhope, eating hay and perhaps having some constipation issues. Maybe it’s not “The Road Not Taken,” but it’s better than several limericks I’ve seen written on bathroom walls. Here it is:
Ode to a Bully — By Fred Richardson
BULLY, BULLY, WATCH HIM RUN
BULLY, BULLY, FULL OF DUNG
OVER THE BAY IS WHERE HE STAY
RUN BACK HOME, EAT YOUR HAY
BULLY, BULLY, SNORT & KICK
FULL OF HOT AIR AND SOUR SPIT
I’ll leave it to the poetry majors out there to debate where Richardson falls between Frost and Cummings as a poet. Certainly his use of the caps lock button is unique, as are the “slant rhymes” between “run” and “dung,” as well as “kick” and “spit.” The “Ode” will surely be studied by poetry/poly-sci majors for decades to come.
Thankfully Fred’s poem did not land upon deaf ears, and, in fact, appears to have inspired several other politicos to put pen to paper to express what they might not otherwise say. The result is Lagniappe’s first-ever Political Poetry Slam. We had quite a few entries, and I’m happy to now share some of them with you.
It only seems fair to first offer Cooper’s poetic response to Fred and the rest of the council regarding the way he fought to keep them from passing a resolution that would keep Mayor Stimpson from being able to place items on the council agenda.
My apologies — By Colby Cooper
dearest council, i have been too rough
but i came from D.C. where it can be so tough
sandy asks me to please play nice
but i learned busting heads from condi rice
accept my apology and all will be fine
but jam your rule where the sun don’t shine
Certainly heartfelt and touching.
Of course Cooper versus the council isn’t our only political feud. County Commissioner Connie Hudson went all out to see her colleague Jerry Carl booted out of his spot in this election, only to have it blow up in her face. Connie was going door to door, waving signs and throwing whatever political weight she has behind State Rep. Margie Wilcox’s efforts to unseat Carl. But now she has four more years working with someone she obviously can’t stand.
Carl says he’s going to forgive and forget, but this free-verse entry suggests a pain and sorrow lurking just beneath the surface.
Why? — By Jerry Carl
We aren’t so different.
She would not admire your designer style.
Her secretary would not be titled chief of staff.
In my dreams I see you at the debates.
I still see you waving signs.
Margie sticker, Margie sign, Margie sticker,
Margie sign, Margie sticker, Margie sign.
I must forgive.
Your soccer complex is toast.
Truly haunting. Hudson’s entry is no less poignant, although it is certainly more pointed, as haikus can sometimes be.
For Jerry — By Connie Hudson
I don’t want you dead
At your graveside wearing red
My name on a field
That one sends chills up my spine. It’s nice to know there are no hard feelings.
Margie Wilcox’s entry came as something of a surprise since she’s certainly no fan of Lagniappe and had a policy of not speaking to us during her race. But she’s obviously a poet at heart.
If only I had more time — By Margie Wilcox
If only I had me more time,
To trash Jerry Carl on air and online,
My commercials were starting to work,
To make ol’ Jere look like a jerk.
I pounded on him all night and all day,
I’m so glad I hired Jon Gray,
It don’t really matter if the ads was all true,
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Now back to Goat Hill, my own walk of shame,
Glad I’ve got that rag Lagniappe to blame.
Not terribly complex, but the author’s emotions are terribly raw.
Our final entry came from District Attorney Ashley Rich, who saw her handpicked candidate, Allen Ritchie, beaten in the Circuit Court race. Ms. Rich submitted this short-but-powerful poem that focuses on her feelings in the wake of Ritchie’s loss.
What happened? — By Ashley Rich
How Allen lost still mystifies me,
Everyone who matters I took him to see
He’s a personal friend, and not even sleazy,
Wife’s brother’s a judge, this should have been easy
His opponent could have been an easier out,
It leaves me wondering, did I lose all my clout?
You can see the author really dug deep there.
That’s the cream of the crop. Most of the other entries either used too much profanity or had so many spelling errors they couldn’t be included. Even so, I hope they’ll keep trying. Maybe if our politicians spend more time writing poems they’ll spend less time fighting.