The process of owning up to all of this
will be like grating our own skin –
fine white shards swirled with red
and we will say “what heroes we are,
grating our skin for the minorities
that we have done so much for already”
and I’m not sure that we will get there,
to our own sunken place,
to the terrible realizations
that persist despite our deflections;
even so the pure light of love waits
at the center of centuries of guilt,
whispers softly, “this is the way.
You must submit to the oldest truths.”
You’re a rocketman, Donald.
Are you ever coming back?
Never, ever allow the histories
to drain the color from this moment. Stand
there, garbed in a suit from Indochine. Stand,
sir, while men of similar hues confer
and shrug, confer and shrug, tortoises and
dodo birds, jolly caucus race. Black folk
told you, Sydette says, and we can only
marvel that anyone could truly say
different. You stand there, sir, my lord, good king,
and we shall await your pleasure, cameras
in hand. In hands intent on holding those
few shreds of the flag we could gather. Stand.
It is the portraiture of darkness that
will lead us again toward some grey dawn.
Rain from a clear blue sky,
unseasonal or else simply wrong
for May. May I interest you,
Mr. Trump, in the ghetto statecraft
of the House? Jackals always bite
and snap and you, with your
certainty on this day, finally
something to crow about, would
do well to remember the bloody shards
in their teeth. Today I read
a voter’s pamphlet in which one
earnest lunatic running for the ESD
misspelled ‘their.’ Twice.
I’d put him in the office over you
any day, and likely so would that mob
you cracked a Bud with this afternoon.
If wishes were horses they’d trample you
while you tried to get them into a line.
There’s not a plot to lose.
Comey’s back in town, Donald,
and it doesn’t look good.
It looks like a shit show,
if I’m honest. All this energy
driving you forward last year
and now, the let-off, the
actual weight of the nation
settling onto your restless
shoulders as you toss the
house, wander the halls, loot
the fridge as the night staff
watches appalled from a corner.
Honestly, man, I wouldn’t
blame you for bailing. It would
be a welcome respite, wouldn’t
it? Back in the boroughs,
lording it over the hipsters
who think they know what
quality looks like? Their logos
aren’t hardcore – hardcore
is a gilt five-letter word
dropping like a bomb on another
country, all flash and sizzle
and, oddly, terrible food.
I don’t stand by anything.
It is a policy I adopted
through hard lessons in
the art of construction
project management. Stand
by things and you’ll get
killed. Things fall, they
drop from heights, they
perform erratically and
leap from the hands of
the person you were silly
enough to stand by. You
learned that lesson, see?
Don’t you stand by me.
Carmen’s inhalations like a slide whistle
thanks to post-flight sinus, a gentler
crescendo difficult to imagine. Not to steal
from Sean Maguire, but it is the imperfections
that reveal the wonderful truth about
perfection – that no one desires it, not really,
not once they’ve seen the other. She flies
to distant locales in this America
and tricks people into acknowledging love.
It is a marvelous and exhausting living,
but in lieu of snores last night, a whistle
that nearly drove me out of bed to obtain
a recording device, so perfect was the
scoop up to a major third. It is of course
rude to ask, but have you ever felt anything
like that? Donald: why does your wife live in NY?
It feels like America should be greater.
Jetpacks, at least. The collective
disillusionment that we are not, in fact,
special, that each individual, and all of us,
amount to nothing much. We’re grit
in a much bigger wheel. But people still learn
to spin a stone across ice while sweeping
furiously ahead of its path. Clearing grit,
see? Sometimes the guy comes out with
a dial measure to determine, in microns,
just how close a given rock is to the center.
You’re nowhere near the center, Donald –
none of us are. It’s the lie of progress,
brought low by the vastness of space.
I was gonna write a song for you,
she sings. Sing at such decibels that
all you’ll hear is sound.
She speaks to all of us and one of us.
Not one of us, reader, unless the whims
of some personified superstition can rally.
So amazing, to be the recipient of such a song.
Or the singer, really. To be the one that must
be made whole and safe and warm. We reach
in our finest moments to be that caring of
everyone, but we fall short, like those before us
but differently, maybe less often?
We each grow as we can into the shoes of our parents.
What, honestly, is nation to that? Sir Terry
would, I think, say “not too much.”
The sun rises on the next hundred days.
The thing about humanity
is that tomorrow will evaporate
before the echoes are done
bouncing off the empty halls of state.
One thing’s true, Don – this is
a dog & pony show. You bought in
hard before the inaugural
that was nowhere near as big
as your predecessor’s. Maybe
you should have guessed then?
Anyway, buddy, you’ll be fine.
I bet there’s an Alex Jones
retrospective on some weird channel
somewhere. You could maintain
your coiffure for a good three hours.
Saturday will pass before you can
say “I am terrible at this, and I’m
even terrible at pretending
I’m not terrible.”
In a way, you’re gifted.
Oh, are we revoking health care again?
No? Oh, it’s taxes. Oh, no.
It’s NAFTA? Really? Oh, wait,
it’s the wall. Oh, no,
we’re not building that, I guess.
Oh, you finally did the thing
where people can call in and report
crimes by immigrants.
In Portland this week
they ruled a police shooting
the days of suicide by ICE.
they endanger themselves.
In three days it’s 100.
In two days Sylvan Esso
and lord knows who else
will drop bundles of tightly-wrapped joy
into the ears of a desperate populace.
I’ll defer to them for messages of hope –
the long game feels like about a week
The privilege on this guy.
“I had no idea this would be
Donald you said that with your mouth
to a member of the press.
“I had no idea that if you
didn’t do the job, people would
rally and protest and yell
spiteful things and think that
I’m dumb and anyway, I sell
real estate. That job is hard.”
If only there was some way you could have prepared.
The energy of the streets is the same,
the little hints of spring reminding us
that this is all still here, despite
appearances, despite a certainty that
it will be gone tomorrow, the next week,
the week after the week after that.
It’s almost 100 and you’ve not blown us up.
We’ll cut all the taxes.
Show me a tax and I’ll cut it.
We’ll spackle over the cracks
with discarded regulations
and a little gold leaf.
It’s worked forever.
But the niggling suspicion
that someone’s on to you,
Donald. That out there
is not a secret but an
intuition that you are
a lying sack of-
The infidels are back in your brain,
whispering rationalities. Cast them out.
Makework for the interns:
identify things that we have
done more of.
Leave out golf trips – look,
you don’t want to talk about
how much you’re gone.
You don’t want to make
this a thing. Sure, you read
out your plan and none of it’s there,
Don, not a single bullet point.
But flurries of activity
have always carried you through.
This administration has more
swizzle sticks than ever before.
Do you think
if you shake hands
with the pontiff
and you’re, well, you:
that your bones will splinter;
that you’ll immolate on the spot;
that the heavens will crack
with the fury of the triune God;
or, that the earth would just open
and bring you low through
the simple expedient
of refusing to support you?
You’ve woven a narrative so foreign
to faith, even Rome must sigh.
State’s a mess, Rex.
Are you just going to
steer the ass-end
of the ship with an I-beam
and a dream of the shore?
None of y’all are any
good at this.
You demonized Canada
for heaven’s sake.
And I sit with a strawberry shake
on the one nice day
between the deluge.
River’s high, Rex.
Fixing to burst through somewhere.
You don’t need health care
if you’re living right.
You don’t need protection
from the cops
if you’re not a criminal.
You don’t need anything
if you’re a woman –
neither health care
nor protection from the state –
because women are magic fairies
who can visualize their own
Don’t need taxes
if you’re loaded.
They only get in the way.
Ten days to go, literally
nothing to show.
The forces pulling us are not
evil per se
more a concatenation of stupid.
A confab on the stoop
of the log cabin
where honest Abe first swung an axe
or loved a woman or had a dog
It’s hard, Donny, to know
which mythologies to weave
into your magnificent
fabrication (and that’s just the hair).
I’m sitting here paralyzed
at the thought of your library.
I’ve done what I could, but today
we invoke the memory of
imaginary president Jed Bartlett.
Crime, boy, I don’t know.
The peas came in regardless.
Shelling them is as it ever was.
The landscape so altered it’s
easier to notice things
that are the same.
It’s the time of year
that Portlanders go nuts
for patios at the barest
hint of sun. Yet, we
must count the days
on our fingers and marvel
at the speed of change.
I’m not sure there’s a place for poetry
on the eighty-seventh day.
Don’s blem for real,
he might just say how he feels.
Nightmare rabbits are real, too.
They play the anthem at the egg roll
like it’s baseball or something.
That’s what threw you off, prolly.
It couldn’t have been you wafting
into smug contemplation of
your phenomenal success.
Build the wall around Toronto
because milk does a body politic
and anyway, syrup.
Build the wall around Toronto
because otherwise the Jays
will one day win the World Series.
Build the wall around Toronto
because Drake is stealing
hardworking American hip hop jobs.
Build the wall around Toronto
because Trudeau could kill a man
on 5th Ave and still poll better.
Build the wall, build a wall,
build the wall around Toronto
because Toronto will come for you.
If it were Donna rather than Donald
I can’t imagine.
This is a poem about failure.
maybe if we don’t mention
the button, he’ll forget –
not dementia forget
(though I’ll take that)
but regular old “life
is busy and I’m out
of my depth” forget –
trusting to conscience
is surely a fool’s bet
Nanchoff in the center doing Nanchoff things
and consider sport, Donald.
Consider the aspirations of tier 2.5 soccer
in your America. Mikey’s as American
as they come. He’s a whippy, compact player
who had a deal with the Timbers. He puts
his shoulder through the sternum
of a Cincinnati player in the thirteenth
minute. He just wants a time share in the Keys
and a coaching gig in twelve years.
Who knows if he voted for you. Probably not.
But he’s a guy with dreams in a tough industry.
He’s your guy, Donald. This is an American man.
You juked on every thing you promised him.
Still behind but closer –
the pressure to endure
and persist is losing
to the ennui of this
in one house.
We see the man get beaten
and dragged out
and I think “this is Trump’s
but I’m full of it.
This is the same America,
The orange interregnum
is not the birth
of new racism
but the validation
of the old
and you there, with
a pair of thumbs
and a hatred of
I bid you stand.
You can only have three foreigners in your
matchday squad. You can only have three
foreigners in state government. You can
only have three foreigners in a company.
you can only have three foreigners in your
immediate vicinity. You can only have three
foreigners in the bath. You can only have
three foreigners in the fields. You can
only have three foreigners in heaven. You
can only have three foreigners in hell and
purgatory too so Dante had better build
a shantytown, in which you can only have
You can only have three foreigners per line.
So many museums in DC
and which ones will you kill
with an errant wave of your pen?
You’re honestly worried
about your team?
neither fin nor feather,
it nonetheless swims or glides
across the consciousness
and whispers sweet lies
to those in dc’s environs
your constituents think like this,
you’re totally in an aaron sorkin movie
and you’re the hero
and you’ll get the girl
[replace sorkin with, like, travolta
or noted ayn rand adapter
for the rightmost]
As a youth I was outraged
at the train car buried at Hanford
full of dead beagles who
were subjected to radiation tests.
It seems an unbelievably
innocent thing to hate, now,
and also like walking past the homeless
and worrying about their dogs.
They lie scattered across the globe,
victims of the endless churning maw
of capital and statecraft,
and our chief and his chief diplomat
have no clue how to respond.
Cannot comment, will not acknowledge.
I say to you: be angry about whatever.
Pick the fight you prefer.
But dear heavens, you must fight.
hey america do u think heaven was reserved
for whites who never tried oral
& won at least one ribbon at a fair?
do u think hell is so packed
that they’re returning to earth
through a fissure somewhere in
is there a distinction to be drawn
between closeted gop paedos passing
& the ‘corrupted’ people being crushed?
asking for a friend who cannot speak
but lives in yr neighborhood.
orange juice is ruined
who does that.
What in the world could be simpler
than signing your name?
It’s everywhere, man, and you use
sharpies like they’re
0.5 mm Pilots.
You would wield a Markwell
like it was a Sarasa,
purple, .7 for extra sass.
Phone phreaking it in all day,
Why not now? Humans
had a good run, good numbers.
it’s probably due.
We break forms, again,
instantly, before they can
They ask “by what right”
but the question spoils mid-air –
who said they exist?
Who died and made you
pope? Who speaks? Whose song
is on the swift breeze?
Donald it’s coming.
It’s coming so soon.
Vida passageira, man.
Pedro & Bruno have it right. We sit
in husks and ripen, color,
grow warm in the sun and elsewhere,
processes spin up that mean
our doom but now, sun peeks out
from ceaseless rain,
folks burning out their full spectrum lamps
and you, Donald, you okay?
You seem refracted in the shards
of our hopes. It’s gotta weigh you down.
Maybe take a weekend. Hit a few balls.
Rural America cares about the big box
coming or going, about the jobs that
follow or flee, about the bathrooms
that the alleged virgins are exposed to.
Rural America thinks that marrying an animal
is silly. That laws that slip the slope
into that sort of thing are crazy. That we
just need to get back to when whites
did white things like get married and eat
Jordan almonds at the reception before
running to their cars to get home in time
for Murder She Wrote.
It sounds like I’m judging.
Rural America doesn’t like that.
Only a witling – the basest gull –
would believe at this point in the nation.
The risk is substantial but loose,
like a roux turned to dumplings.
Too hot too fast.
He hit the atmosphere like a semi,
bellyflopping sideways, ripping
instantly, the foil-wrapped
morsel shredding and igniting
at the speed and the heat.
Miraculously, he survived that landing
and now stands in a crater
surrounded by sycophants and raccoons.
Obeisances scattered like lilies.
Falling behind, Don
how is it that you are not
yet indicted? Boy.
Down among the reeds and rushes
and organic sludgy muck,
the most nutrient-dense mud
from which to craft your golems.
It can’t be this easy.
Is it really just a parade and
a round of golf every weekend?
You expected some late nights,
at least, and yet the engine
(you are assured)
is performing magnificently.
The unknowns are reducing each day.
We’re reasonably sure it was Arnold
who wiretapped you – for Obama.
TGIF. The kitten’s single claw
embedded in the twine,
its orange face a portrait
Hang in there!
When I was a boy there was an enormous guy
on my bus route. He was easily 6’4″ by ninth grade.
Everyone was terrified of him, for decent reasons
(I believe he’s dead now – a fight at a party).
We shared a bus stop, so my assumption was that
I was in for endless torment. But on the first day
of my freshman year, we were talking and he chuckled
at an observation I’d made about a comment he made.
That was that – I was insulated from all threats
(for the most part, it’s high school after all).
Just by listening and reflecting back some tiny
thing, a thing I don’t remember, in a conversation
with a guy who maybe felt a little underheard.
Suddenly I was all right. Compare to now –
one manic orange doofus whose glossolalia
contained enough meaning for the huge angry white guy
in our hearts to feel responded to & validated.
They were his from the moment he ranted about
whatever thing it was that was the last straw.
In that sense, we got the president we deserve –
the one who took the pent up hate and stroked it gently,
said “I get that you’re sad about the failure
of the universe to center you.”
It’s all they’ve heard from that moment.
I don’t think God got this one right, Rex. It
happens from time to time that men are called,
but here, my man, the lines were crossed. Before
you rush to answer, think: was any man
less suited for the role of God’s barker
than Donald Trump? Commandments ain’t his strong
suit, any more than that man holding codes
is an attraction for fat whites at Mar
O Lago – o tempora o mores!
We shit where we eat and are surprised, nay,
stunned to uncover e coli in meals.
Best served cold, this grim reality. Rex,
digressions aside, we are in the dark.
The light you see is not your God’s or mine.
On this day when sunlight edges out dark
nights and the evenings glimmer with rainbows
amidst the deluge we look up to the
heavens and speak, full voice: “The darkness fades
and here, you, me, all of us join together
at the table we made of this nation
and we decide together not to take
this garbage anymore. We are bound for
a different democracy than the one
scraped off the bottom of Donald Trump’s shoe.”
Still we must, prostrate, plead for persistence
of senators, reps, average joes and jills,
child molesters, complicit murdering
villains, to remember the nation, the pact.
So sorry Donald,
I fell behind. Your prattle
like cherry blossoms.
Build the wall around Sesame Street
because the undocumented muppets
are the real problem.
Build walls around the courts
where the article threes hide
and say things that are hurtful.
Build the wall around Congress
because they can’t seem to operate
solely on lies.
Build the wall in each of your
crawlspaces where dark conscience
from the insistent peal of truth
occluding the narrative.
I can imagine getting stoned
and staying stoned
for the duration of this presidency.
If they were truly evil geniuses
they would let everyone
do just that.
Don’t think for a moment
that these people
are good at anything.