ATLANTA --- There's rarely a chance to deviate from routine in the House of Representatives.
Representatives are almost always outfitted in blazers, ties and polished shoes; doorkeepers smile warmly to welcome visitors to the floor; miniature water bottles double as paper-weights on desks; and legislators mill about the room until the Speaker's gavel calls them to order.
Other than the direction the day's votes will sway, sessions can become predictable.
To breathe fresh air into the mundane, Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, put to rhyme his daily task of approving the House Journal, which contains the record of minutes from the previous day's session.
"I thought it'd be sort of fun," said Mr. Sims, who pens his four-line doggerel the day before each session. "I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to make somebody smile or laugh or at least think about what we've done."
Having just passed the halfway point in the session, Mr. Sims is still cranking out a poem for each meeting.
"(Other legislators) didn't think I would continue doing it for 40 days," he said. "I think there's a running bet I'm gonna quit or somehow my mind is going to go blank, but so far that hasn't happened."
The funeral director and Citadel graduate has written poetry for years.
"Because I'm in the funeral business, I see people at the worst point in their lives. It's always been a motto of mine that you never miss an opportunity to make someone smile."
So far, his sense of humor has been appreciated. After a reading at an early February session, Speaker Glenn Richardson acknowledged Mr. Sims' work.
"We got two for the price of one," Mr. Richardson said. "The chairmanship's free and the comedy's free. The journal's confirmed but a lot more interesting."
Reach Amanda Woodruff at (404) 589-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEB. 12: The journal was divine with rhetoric and prose/keeping up with the session from start to close./If you will this weekend, remember old St. Valentine's./Give someone you love a little of your time.
FEB. 11: We perused the journal, and it was grand,/not a finer document in the land./That Citadel preacher yesterday was a lot of fun,/so let's start this day and get 'er done.