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The Two Who Strove

(a poem about the US Presidential election, with a humble nod to e e cummings)

anyone lived in a pretty big country
(where the people were one, as no-one would agree)
winter spring summer and autumn
a year for decision had now come upon them

the one-man watched from his castle of white
as collective foes sized themselves for a fight
the survivor to rise and be standard bearer
to challenge one-man, to call his reign over

it is hard to judge a race’s beginning
when runners spend lives on losing and winning
upon the heartland was where they converged
and gave ninety-nine their opening word

amongst them was omni, his father’s sequel
over time had amassed trappings without equal
in accord with everyone, for all the right reasons
someone felt that omni was man for these seasons

before omni could claim destiny’s lot
he would be confronted by seven he was not
one-man gleefully watched on from afar
hoping for rhetoric to both wound and scar

an iron one rose first, and then rusted fast
confused about retards, she finished dead last
a tex-one blazed above, but fell like a stone
aimed to cut costs but forgot where to cut from

an able one promised a different angle
dialled up 9-9-9 but delivered a scandal
whilst an omni-clone named himself as a moderate
but moderate support was all that he could get

returned a wilderness voice, and it tried to remain
turned chaos to splendour, and then back again
deployed legions of words to battle omni’s warchest
but mostly fell short of even second-best

a surprising rival emerged from the heartland
spoke to all ninety-nine, who elected him not-man
but outside the south, was thought not-quite-right
so retired from the race with his home state in sight

defeated before, an old one soldiered on
fought for a new movement, and perhaps for his son
wangled more delegates, right up to the end
but found that convention was never his friend

tea spillers bemoaned the split at their core
someone hoped to delay, until conference floor
but it mattered not, the delayed endorsement
because no-one could defeat the establishment

omni was chosen as most severe conservative
one-man feared his rival would be most competitive
what lines were drawn during all the preliminaries
would be etch-unsketched from anyone’s memories

the first skirmish won, it was on to the war
for political metaphors must all reference gore
spring summer autumn and winter
no-one could remove this nation’s splinter

one-man attacked, started preaching his verse
offered little by change, but spread fear of reverse
better the government you knew, than taking a chance
on offshoring schemes and tax-fleeing scams

the primaries left omni’s coffers depleted
outspent the nots in order to beat them
but whilst he worried about his great lag
he hoped super PACs would close up the gap

the hacks always must find something to disparage
one-man obliged by favouring gay marriage
omni waded in by knowing owners of Nascar
and revealing the people that he liked to fire

omni tied his dog upon the roof,
and was slow to defend a non-prostitute
one-man was accused of persecuting religion
and kept being asked for his certification

when stories were few, hacks wrote fantasy
like suggesting one-man would change deputy
but the clint-one most vital to one-man’s side
was clint-one 42, not clint-one 45

omni’s fans all scoffed at one-man’s barrage
“you keep telling tales, but have done no damage!”
summer autumn winter and spring
but they could not tell how deep the rot had set in

attention shifted to one-man’s omnicare bill
which promised to punish those uninsured against ill
the judges split on the bill’s constitutional health
the top judge approved, saying fines were tax stealth

aggrieved and furious, the tea spillers proclaimed
that the judges had put the constitution in flames
but now anyone agreed the right route to decision
was not through the courts, but through the election

so manyone raised money, and manyone donated
robocalls were made, and tv spots created
ground games were devised, and volunteers enlisted
and the media were wooed, thanked, disparaged, and resisted

one-man said “didn’t build that”, which caused a big fuss
someone felt he said it, whilst looking at us
but despite one-man’s words, they all knew what he meant
which was perfectly clear to “forty-seven percent”

omni went abroad, to seem like a statesman
but was roundly booed by the very first nation
hinted he knew about olympic success
but about diplomacy, he clearly knew less

omni went to Israel, a place he would defend
then Israel’s leader flew back to the UN
one-man did not see him, said he lacked the time
more likely was wary of tripping the red line

several auditioned to be omni’s second
some steady, some loud, some pushy, some beckoned
the rye-one was chosen for his fiscal rigour,
to excite the base, and a comeback to trigger

on to the convention, went the ry-namic two
but both were upstaged by a supporting duo
omni’s dear wife made her husband seem human
but a film star with chair caused much bemusement

then another convention, where one-man was king
his wife mimicked omni’s, saying much the same thing
though one-man could not draw a really big crowd
clint-one 42 made someone feel real proud

and so the momentum was in one-man’s favour
the polls told omni a story of great danger
his supporters then rallied, and claimed poll bias
said one-man’s supporters would surely come out less

omni needed gamechanger, in the first debate
prepared and prepared, he was first rate
one-man showed up, but was stuck in first gear
could it be one-man felt too little fear?

the polls swung right back, now people liked omni
and felt he was best to kick-start the economy
to make matters worse, the Arabs turned murderous
and one-man’s response made him look ponderous

in the other debates, one-man struck back
he was much the rougher, going on the attack
omni remained calm, appeared to be reasonable
both men felt prey to mistruths unseasonable

so when the storm struck, it brought some peace
campaign hostilities would briefly cease
whilst turned asunder, anyone drew a breath
and thought about what anyone wanted next

on the last day of voting, omni campaigned on
he knew turnout would determine who won
in some places the pundits were proven wrong
by the lines of voters, which were so long

when the polls closed, there came some relief
to two who had striven beyond rational belief
given their all, knowing in competition
two may choose to run, but only one choice will win

the reckoning came, the results were pored over
but soon became clear who was winner, who loser
the pollsters were right, though margins were thin
one-man’s campaign had prevailed again

with recovered grace, the two spoke once more
omni offered his prayers, then left the floor
autumn, winter, spring and summer
at the last hurdle, fell this inveterate runner

the seasons had turned, but one-man was perennial
promising a country much less adversarial
he gladly stepped back into the snare of governing
no man willingly leaves the maze made of him, by him, for him

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