Poetry

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Second Inauguration

by Lionel E. Deimel

 

Once again, Barack Obama,

Hunter of the dread Osama,

Author of Obamacare,

And bane of every billionaire,

Lifts a hand and swears an oath,

And to our Union pledges troth.

 

Thus begins a second term

In which, perforce, he must be firm

When steering through the rocky shoals

Where Congress often smashes goals—

Progressive measures have no chance

When retrograde ideas advance.

 

The President must deal with debt,

With war and peace and terror threat;

He must confront the climate’s warming

And how the power grid’s performing:

Guns and jobs and immigration

All will vex Obama’s nation.

 

Barack Obama, President,

For four more years the resident

In the highest seat of power,

Goes forward from this hour;

Hope abides, and prayers ascend

That change our future may attend.

 

Obama Forward logo

 

I wrote a poem for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. “Hail, Barack Obama” expressed high hopes for an Obama administration. Perhaps it was a bit naïve, but many Americans were anticipating a dramatic break from the administration of George W. Bush. Expectations for a second Obama term are perhaps more realistic. In any case, I felt compelled to write a poem for the 2013 inauguration. I began writing “Second Inauguration” on January 20, 2013, the day Mr. Obama formally took the oath of office indoors. (I don’t know why we are reluctant to have an inaugural celebration on Sunday, but we have been avoiding Sunday inaugurations for most of our country’s history.) I finished the poem as the President began his speech. (I was watching the event on television.)

The first stanza sets the context for the poem. The second alludes to the problems Mr. Obama has had with Republicans in Congress. Stanza three enumerates some of the issues that are expected to occupy the country’s attention in the next four years. I hope readers will smile at the notion of retrograde (i.e., reactionary) ideas advancing.

I was not totally satisfied with the line about the power grid. The electrical grid has been a low-level concern for a while and has become more of an issue after the power disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy. It seems less significant than some of the other issues mentioned in the poem. I wanted to rhyme “performing” with “warming,” and I would like to have written a line involving the economy. The four syllables of “economy,” however, seemed to make it impossible to include it in the line without violating the poem’s meter.

The final stanza expresses hope for the future, though hope informed by the modest victories of the past four years. When I began to write the poem, I  intended to incorporate campaign slogans as I did in my 2009 poem. “Second Inauguration” incorporates the word “forward” from the 2012 campaign, as well as “hope” and “change” from 2008.Obamai This stanza deviates metrically from the earlier stanzas, but, in the end, I do not consider this a problem.

— LED, 1/25/2013

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