The Swan Song of N. Leroy Gingrich

May the ghost of T. S. Eliot forgive me.

Let us go then, you and I,
Before Right politics passes both of us by
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain Washington streets,
The lobbyists’ retreats
And chicken dinners in one-night swank hotels
And taking time for whatever sells
Lobbyists that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “Why is it? ‘
Let’s take the money and make our visit.

In the room, that Palin comes and goes
Talking at everyone, ya know.

The yellow foe in the White House brings me pains
The yellow foe who sits and smiles and gives me pains
Licks his tongue and smiles so elitely of an evening.
Lingers in his office and stands tall, he claims.
Lets fall off his back the attacks from his enemies.
Slips by the terrorists, makes the nation cheap,
And losing on that grand November night,
Spurred the Senate and the House, and made me weep.

And indeed there will be time
To beat the yellow cur with our tea-party street,
Making sure he feels their imagined pains;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to beat the faces that I meet;
There will be time to lie and to create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a donation on your plate;
Time for me and time for me.
And time yet for a hundred new decisions,
And for cynical visions and revisions,
Before taking back the White House—for me.

In the room, that Palin comes and goes
Talking at everyone, ya know.

And indeed there will be time
To pander, “Do I care?” and, “Do I care?”
Time to turn back and ascend the stair,
With no bald spot in the middle of my hair–
[They’ll not say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin–
[They won’t say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I care
I deserve the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and campaigns which nothing will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the fights in small backrooms,
I have measured out my life with others’ tombs;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So shouldn’t I presume?

And I have known the ayes already, known them all–
The ayes that back me with a formulated phrase,
And when foes are formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When they are pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of their days and ways?
And shouldn’t I presume?

And I have known three wives already, known them all–
And aides that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Aides that lie along a table, wrapped only in a shawl.
And shouldn’t I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I boast, I have paraded through narrow streets
Watched by crowds that rise from the hype
Of wealthy men in shirt-sleeves, lying through their windows? . . .

I’m glad I’m not a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the populace, the voters, sleep so peacefully!
Soothed by right-wingers,
Asleep. . . lied to . . . by paid-off singers,
Stretched on the floor, here below you and me.
Should I, after Sarah and Tim and Mitt,
Have the strength to grab it and make the hit?
But though I’ve never wept nor fasted, wept nor prayed,
Though I’ll see Mike’s head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am the prophet–and here’s my great matter;
I once saw the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And, coming back, I’m not afraid.

And it would have been worth it, after all,
After caucuses, the primaries, the C,
Among the delegates, among some talk of me and me,
It would have been worth while,
To have added to the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the competition to a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “ I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”–
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That’s the way to win it all.
That is it, go for all.”

And it would have been worth it, after all,
It would have been worth while,
After the conventions and campaigns and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teaching, after the skirts that trail along the floor–
And this, and so much more?–
It is possible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
It would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow, or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That’s the way to win it all,
That is just what I meant, get all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am a successful lord, one that will do
All to make progress, will tell a lie or two,
Be above the prince; no doubt, made tool,
Presidential, K Street cash to use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At no time, indeed, seen as ridiculous–
Never, at times, the Fool.

I grow bold . . . I grow bold . . .
The money in my trousers is rolled.

Shall I pat an aide’s behind? She seems such peach?
I shall wear a president’s blazer, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the lobbyists singing, each to each.

I do now think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them waving cash wads on the waves
Combing their white hair over bald spots in the back
When their whim blows donations white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the banks
By donors wreathed with checkbooks red and brown
Till human voters wake us, and we drown.

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