Rhyme time: Policy and poetry collide in Observer contest


Welcome to the Observer’s 21st Politics & Public Policy Limericks Contest, in which we welcome readers with a penchant for poetry to express their musings on current affairs in the venerable – and often humorous – limerick format.

We were not surprised to find thoughts of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump coursing through some of the best submissions for Week 1 of our contest. But other entries tackled everything from foreign policy to sports.

This week’s winner, Bill McGloughlin, is a past champion who submitted a handful of strong entries about political news local and national. Among his best was this one on the debate over transgender bathroom privileges:

With this transgender bathroom bill row,

Raleigh’s having a bit of a cow,

And the session, each day,

Costs at least 40K.

I’ve heard of pay toilets, but wow!

Steve Dunn submitted this ditty on Trump:

He brays on the campaigning stump

With the charm of a dead horse’s rump

But with each hateful gaffe

His supporters just laugh

And his polls get a nice little bump

Frank Koconis also sent in several strong entries. He wasn’t a Trump fan either:

Donald Trump has the lead by a mile,

But we’ve seen one before with that style.

Blame the Muslims or Jews

For all the bad news.

Very soon we'll be saying “Sieg Heil!”

Wes Long took notice of Trump’s penchant for marrying foreign-born women:

Seems his immigrant stance is askew,

Cause the Trumpster’s been married to two.

Illustrating, once more,

That they WILL do a chore

Most Americans just wouldn’t do.

McGloughlin made fun of Trump’s description of his rallies as “love fests”:

With protesters, he’s not spared the rod,

So the phrasing just seems a bit odd.

Are his rallies love fests?

Maybe if you’ve been guests

At a party with Marquis de Sade.

In this piece on annoying campaign ads, McGloughlin broke out a word so impressively obscure that it sent at least one editor scurrying for the dictionary:

For weeks they came here to implore us,

In a discordant candidate chorus,

Now they absquatulate

From this flyover state,

And for months I expect they’ll ignore us.

Trump came out a little better in this one from Lou Breaux:

Cheer up little Marco, said Trump

Give up your political stump.

I'm too quick on the trigger,

My tax package is bigger,

And I'm huge on that winning fist pump!

Trump wasn’t the only politician who got zinged. Stephen Kardisco tackled Bill Clinton:

There once was a lecher named Bill

Who never needed that “little blue pill”

He chased women for ages

But now in life's later stages

Finds most nights that he’s over “the Hill”

Phil Clutts took the road less traveled, poking fun at obscure presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente:

To many it’s like a bad joke

But De La Fuente is going for broke,

He’s running for prez,

“I sizzle!” he says,

Though mostly his spark’s up in smoke.

It wasn’t all presidential politics, though. Give Mike Tuggle bonus degree-of-difficulty points for rhyming the word ‘criteria’ and going the foreign language route to finish his piece about the Interstate 77 toll lanes:

I can't understand the criteria

That mandate toll lanes from Iberia.

The gain from those lanes

Stays mainly in Spain.

It's Charlotte's camino mysteria

John Long offered this piece on news that Charlotte’s competing to host the Summer X Games extreme sports competition:

Hearing X Games may come here, I see,

Drove state lawmakers right up a tree.

To keep Charlotte in line,

They said Games would be fine,

But the X must be raised to PG.

The contest will run four weeks, and will appear in this space each Thursday and online on Wednesday afternoons.

Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten and the rest of the editorial board will award weekly prizes and a grand prize, of a stature that a competition such as this deserves.

Send entries to Batten at The deadline is 9 a.m. each Wednesday. Entries should concern themselves with current events, preferably politics and public policy.

Read the tips below. And may the best rhyme win.

How to write a limerick

Limericks basics: Five lines, with a rhyming scheme of A-A-B-B-A. The meter is like that in McGloughlin’s and Breaux’s examples. It generally is da DUM da da DUM da da DUM for lines one, two and five; and da DUM da da DUM for lines three and four. In lines one, two and five, you can add a 'da' at the beginning or end of each line.