The Collected Poems of Willard Mitt Romney

| Tue Nov. 22, 2011 4:17 AM PST
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney reads an original composition to an unsuspecting Nevada retiree.

It has been said that Mitt Romney is awkward.

It is just a vicious rumor, of course; there is nothing to it. But the tag has stuck. Blame the Daily Show; blame the former Massachusetts governor's GOP rivals; blame deadpan press reports like this one. Viewed in that light, Romney's ordinary encounters take on an altogether different complexion. "Andrew is a great name; a lot of good Andrews out there," he told a supporter in New Hampshire on Sunday. "Ian—that's kind of a British name," he told a man named Ian in October. They're fairly ordinary statements (and both true), except Romney is considered awkward, and so those exchanges are, consequently, very awkward.

But there's another way of looking at the wit and mannerisms of the occasional GOP frontrunner: underappreciated poet.

Consider this passage, from a November speech in Troy, Michigan:

I love the lakes.

I love the Great Lakes.

You know, we’ve been to Massachusetts—I love the ocean, too.

I do love the ocean.

Mitt Romney/FlickrMitt Romney/Flickr

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This composition, from July, is called "Des Moines":

Beautiful area.

I love water.

[Eats pork chop]

Romney dabbles. It's the consultant in him, more focused on the act of identifying and solving a problem than on applying his own rigid methodologies. Here's an example of a minimalist work, "On the Untimely Departure and Heavenly Ascent of the Golden Retriever Seamus Romney," recited in Derry, New Hampshire:

This has been a mosquito-infested year with all the moisture.

                               They

                                         flew away

                                                           

 

 

                                                             with my dog.

It doesn't quite pack the same punch when it's spoken. This one, "Breakfast Special," is only nominally about breakfast:

I saw the young man over there with eggs Benedict,

With hollandaise sauce.

And I was going to suggest to you that you serve your eggs—

With hollandaise sauce in hubcaps.

Because there’s no plates like chrome—

For the hollandaise.

Mitt Romney/FlickrMitt Romney/FlickrNot everyone gets Mitt Romney's poetry. And that's fine. Your ignorance is what drives Mitt Romney, what gives Mitt Romney that Mitt Romney edge. Omnipresent but often imperceptible, it forces its way to the surface when you least expect it, like an elephant seal struggling beneath an ice floe in the first throes of spring. To wit, "Baha":

Who's got your camera, though,

Who?

Who let the dog's out,

Who? Who?

And here's a bonus volley (condensed and edited), via Emily Friedman. "Unleashed":

Oh, this is great—

Little bacon pieces keep falling out.

Today this is me,

Just raw and unleashed.

Poetry's great. Words. Aren't they something?

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