In Competition No. 3121 you were invited to submit a song entitled ‘50 Ways to Leave the White House’.
While the brief steered you in the direction of Paul Simon’s 1975 hit (the inspiration for whose distinctive chorus was a rhyming game played with his infant son), I didn’t specify that you had to use that as your template, and some competitors drew inspiration from other well-known songs.
Over to the winners, who win £30 each.
The problem is all about having a legacy.
You need to be sure they will remember you, you see.
When it comes down to it I think you will agree,
There must be 50 ways to leave the White House.
Once you’ve left office there is something they’ll all know,
Whether you’re Lincoln, Cleveland, Garfield or Monroe.
One thing that you’re famous for, a legend that will grow,
One of the 50 ways to leave the White House.
A new nation you forge, George.
Make sure you’re well liked, Ike.
No need for a trick, Dick,
Or impeached you will be.
For JFK it’s a real boon,
If we can go to the Moon soon.
See the Soviet Bloc gone, Ron,
And its people set free.
At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Take it from me there will be plenty more like you
No matter if you’re full of fake or full of true
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House
What you became you couldn’t know it at your birth
We voted you to host the greatest show on earth
Until you realised exactly what it’s worth
To be the loner and the loser in the lighthouse
Shoulda snuck out the back, Barack
Just gone for a walk, Polk
You needed the push, Bush
Your days were all done
Time came to rub ya, Dubya
We didn’t trust a word, Bird
Oh boy were you daft, Taft
Now each of you’s gone.
And did those feet in former times
Walk proudly through the White House doors?
Did Lincoln, Wilson, Eisenhower
And Reagan know these famous floors?
How did they leave, these powerful lords?
Bequeathing us some famous phrase?
Do echoes of their acts remain
Today in half a hundred ways?
How did they leave their hallowed halls
Who wore a crown of thorny fame?
With gladness, sadness, and renown?
With sorrow, with regret or shame?
With gentle humour, hope or hurt?
With cruelty, kindness, blame or praise?
The whisper of their last goodbye
We sense perhaps in fifty ways.
Well, why not die pneumonic’ly, although it is embarrassin?
That was the studied exit plan of William Henry Harrison —
He briefly sneezed to death, a chief with fine but fatal quality.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House and its polity.
Or take a bullet in the gut, and wait till it is gangrenous —
(The man who shot McKinley said, ‘Dear Sir, you have been ang’rin us’) —
He died inside a fortnight in a small Niagara snuggery.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House’s skulduggery.
Or eat raw cherries, bag yourself a case of general cholera —
Like Taylor (known as Zachary), a very careless swallerer —
He also drank some freezing milk, which gave achilly lactic hiss.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House and its practices.
Or feed the world some fibs until it’s filling to capacity,
As Richard Nixon did, since he was porous with mendacity –
When he flew out, Columbia was torchless and wore tattered hems.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House and its stratagems.
‘Jobs in the Oval Office can lack longevity,
Some folk leave on their hands and knees,’ Trump said to me.
‘And others end up in the penitentiary —
There’s more than fifty ways to leave the White House.
‘It’s very easy when you work for me to fail,
“SAD”, exclamation point, coz you may be facing jail.
The best you can hope for is a pardoning or bail,
There’s more than fifty ways to leave the White House.’
Get fired by a Tweet, Pete,
More time with your spouse, Klaus,
Just fall on your sword, Maude
And your penance is done.
Give the whistle a blow, Joe,
No need to confess, Jess,
Zip your lip when in court, Mort
And your penance is done.
No. 3124: it’s a date!
You are invited to compose a clerihew about any date in the calendar. Please email entries (up to three each) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 6 November.