When People Move Here, They Stay Here


As a kid (having already fallen under the influence of cartoonist Walt Kelly) I found great humor in the excesses of advertising pitches and promises. I would make up my own outlandish ad claims for fake products, or create fake slogans for real products, because I understood there was something pretty funny about the idea of . . . well, of people hiding or stretching the truth just to make a buck. And by funny I mean tragic. But I also mean funny.

Oh, look how nicely that segues us into the second found poem I compiled entirely of phrases culled from the pages of the “Washington DC Official Visitors Guide, Fall/Winter 2014-2015” (which is, by its very nature after all, one long advertisement). [If you’re unsure what a “found poem” is, see the brief explanation in the earlier post The City Our Eyes Cannot See.]

Because not everyone has the time to read the DC Visitors Guide from cover to cover, I set out (purely as a public service, I assure you) to distill all of the promised excitement of our nation’s capitol into a one-page poem. I hope you’ll be able to sense the tidal wave of contagious enthusiasm that the Tourism Department is brimming, buzzing, and bubbling over with. In the end, it can hardly be contained. And, by golly, I do love me some exclamation points!


100 Free Things To Do In DC
Here are some ideas to get you going:

Explore the city! Come out of the woodwork!
Merrymaking awaits!

Bundle up and venture out for some romance:
Meet one of the derby girls.
It’s relatively guilt-free because
a tour escort will get off the bus with you.

Get your ducks in a row! Pay homage to horses!
Hear survivors’ stories! Picture yourself here!
The nations’ capital has something going on all the time!

Visit the US Supreme Court for fun, legendary snowball fights!
Democracy continues its reign!

Indulge in the world of whiskey.
Now stand in a dramatic display!
(Enjoy this classic winter activity in the energetic glow
of the nation’s capital.)

Go on a treasure hunt! Go on a mission!
Get deeper into nature!
Relive the decade of the turbulent sixties!
You’ll be given a parka to keep you warm.
Cheer and be inspired!

Looking for something peppered with romantic possibilities?
What’s more romantic than – you guessed it – espionage?
You can woo like crazy with these great date ideas:

Dress up! Put on the moves!
Fall in love! Zip through the treetops!

Take a self-guided walking tour of a shrine dedicated
to the 100th anniversary of all things!
Highlights include live butterflies and a touchable
lunar rock! This is Washington at its funniest!
Art is all around you!

See the original 200-year-old First Ladies of America,
patched and stitched together! Prepare to be awestruck!

Take a twirl! View commemorative trees!
Skate around and around the Darth Vader gargoyle (just steps from the White House!)
Good to know: The options are high-end!

For the ultimate souvenir, MacCorkle’s pick is a baby panda.

Also cool: nighttime.

Doug participated in the early work of Charlie Peacock’s Art House Foundation, an organization dedicated to a shared exploration of faith and the arts. In the decades since, he has worked as an author, song lyricist, scriptwriter, and video director. He has penned more than 350 lyrics recorded by a variety of artists including Switchfoot, Kenny Rogers, Sanctus Real, and Jason Gray. His newest book is Every Moment Holy (Rabbit Room Press). His other works include The Angel Knew Papa and the Dog (illustrated by Zach Franzen), The Wishes of the Fish King (illustrated by Jamin Still), Subjects with Objects (with Jonathan Richter), and Stories We Shared: A Family Book Journal (with Jamin Still).


  1. Kristen P.

    Doug – I’m loving these DC posts. I enjoyed going through that poem and picking out the true pieces (Darth Vader gargoyle, live butterflies, and legendary snow ball fights, I’m looking at you) woven together with fanciful and out of context exclamations. Thank you for giving me new eyes with which to see my city.

  2. DougMc

    Thanks, Kristen. I sat in on a Supreme Court session this past December, but much to my disappointment, the proceedings did not devolve into a snowball fight.

  3. Jessica Boniface

    “See the original 200-year-old First Ladies of America,
    patched and stitched together! Prepare to be awestruck!”

    Bahahahaha! I enjoyed the whole confection, but (and maybe it’s because I’m a seamstress) these two lines totally got me. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. 🙂

  4. DougMc

    Jessica, I’m glad you got a kick out of those lines. They probably required the most delicate balance of anything in the poem. I rewrote them several times. The earlier drafts were perhaps funnier, but were also, shall we say… less kind to those dear, 200 yr. old first ladies.

    Jonathan, as you well know, my nomination was filibustered due to unanswered questions concerning the earlier incident with the pony and the alligator.

  5. Emily

    Thanks for sharing this. I would really like to see the Darth Vader gargoyle. 🙂 I’ve never heard of a “found poem,” but I like the idea. Maybe I’ll try it out sometime.

  6. Cyr

    I don’t care if it’s tacky or not, to comment on this two-year-old post. I just read this for the first time and by the time I read

    “See the original 200-year-old First Ladies of America,
    patched and stitched together! Prepare to be awestruck!”

    I could no longer breathe and was just making a sound like a punctured tire. So glad I came out of the woodwork to wander down this forgotten path this morning.


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