The Last Election

By John Haines

suppose there are no returns, 
and the candidates, one
by one, drop off in the polls, 
as the voters turn away,
each to his inner persuasion.

the front-runners, the dark horses, 
begin to look elsewhere,
and even the President admits
he has nothing new to say;
it is best to be silent now.

no more conventions, no donors, 
no more hats in the ring;
no ghost-written speeches,
no promises we always knew 
were never meant to be kept.

And something like the truth,
or what we knew by that name – 
that for which no corporate 
sponsor was ever offered – 
takes hold in the public mind.

each subdued and thoughtful 
citizen closes his door, turns 
off the news. He opens a book, 
speaks quietly to his children, 
begins to live once more.