I’m cogitating on this, when appears
Before me a familiar compound ghost.
The wry smile, weary mien beyond his years,
And fierce disgust bear witness to a host
Of agonies imposed upon his peers—
Of murder, beatings—which would break the most
Resilient of souls. And yet his air
Betrays no trace of loathing or despair.
He turns to me: “No doubt, you’ve been advised
To reach beyond the base to comprehend
What happened and why pollsters were surprised,
And what message the voting might portend;
I’m sure you’re pondering quite why the prized
White working-class to whom you condescend
Would place their bets upon a slug and fop
Being the one who should come out on top.”
He says, “Always remember: from the start
The ‘patriots’ made a determination
Of who would be considered ‘us,’ a part
Of the rich fabric, who an aggravation.
No war, no act, no president, no art
Can sound the depths of such repudiation,
Until together, honestly, we face
The scourge that is our legacy on race.
“Obama isn’t dumb, he knew his place
In history could be a divagation;
That one black president would not erase
The original error of discrimination.
He realized we’d work to do to chase
Away the fantasy that our foundation
Did not bake in injustice, bigotry,
And violence against people like me.
“How much this monster must hate 44:
To be so pointedly and soundly mocked
By him—a witty, bright man, who could score
Without assaulting women, and who rocked
With Jay Z and Beyoncé, and what’s more
Was not emasculated. He cockblocked
White male assumption and entitlement
That a black man could not be president.
“You see it in his jutting chin, his stance,
The swollen chest and extra lengthy tie;
His dread of being unmasked, the sidelong glance,
And fear of ridicule; his need to lie
And claim that he’s the victim and enhance
His image of himself as the good guy.
His confidence is obviously a trick;
A Jenga stack held by a single brick.
“The man’s a patsy, but even a sap
Can dog whistle. The birth certificate;
The Central Park Five, the ‘worst leader’ crap—
All these tell whites that what he means by ‘great’
Is that he’ll make black people doff their cap
To massa once again, and what of late
We’ve gained will be rolled back. On this, he’s sure:
Whiteness is normative, blackness impure.
“His posse of ‘alt-right’ supremacists
Shows noxious whiteness continues to fester;
Each washed-out, knock-kneed, sad sack that exists
Believes George Washington is his ancestor;
Your pallid, toothless, inbred jerk insists
That he’s a paragon, the very best a
Country like ours produces: but for proof
Who are they going to point to? Dylann Roof?
“Now, liberals like you want to be cleared
Of guilt by melanin association.
But name a time when black men were not smeared
By similar slurs: sexual predation,
Assault, rebellion? Or black men feared
White women’s words against them? Friend, this nation
Is steeped in hate and fear that’s so extensive,
That your weak ‘It’s not me!’ is plain offensive.
“That’s why I’m tired of being told to wait
For white America to ‘get it.’ No,
It’s said, it’s not their fault that what was great
To them leaves out Friedan, Vietnam, Jim Crow,
And whom you couldn’t love or even date
Without some buzz-cut clown or GI Joe
Beating the shit out of you every day,
Joined by his righteous pals, the KKK.
“It’s hard to face such privilege: to admit
That poor and sick and jobless though you are,
You don’t, won’t ever, think that you don’t fit;
That your translucent pelt bears you so far
Beyond your brother’s tanned hide. To submit
To such a truth would throw off your North Star.
For Liberty’s and Uncle Sam’s pale skins
Absolve you of a multitude of sins.
“Ironically, we black folks want to cleave
To what this nation promises to all.
In spite of crackers telling us to ‘Leave!
Go back to Africa’ each day, we fall
For all the jingoistic humbug, weave
Our beautiful illusions that the small
Improvements in our lives will one day lead
To a day when no more black children will bleed.”
He stops and draws upon his cigarette.
“Well, there it is. ‘My country, ‘tis of thee.’”
He looks me up and down. “Now, don’t forget,”
He adds, “That words can soothe too easily
The soul of heartache. And it’s a good bet
That’s what you’re hoping for; that you will see
A way through all the muck. But it’s much harder
To stoke your rage and reignite your ardor.
“Write what you will, you’ll never be Du Bois.
You cannot claim to ‘sing America.’
Red, white, or blue—your color is a choice
Where we are always black.” He paused. “We are
Always the other. So, you use your voice
In any way you wish, take it as far
As you can go. I wish you luck, you’ll need it:
A middling gift with only pique to feed it.”
At that, he disappears into the haze.
I breathe out and reflect. It’s seems my fate
Is not to wreathe my head with laurel bays
But to be shown by writers, live and late,
The insufficiency of my poor lays
In apprehending the affairs of state.
Dejected, I trudge slowly to the exit,
When from the mist a Frenchman cries out, “Sex it.”
I raise my head and, lo, in some decay,
Is none other than the Marquis de Sade.
Chuckling and gibbering, déshabillé,
Scratching his flaking scalp, clearly half-mad,
He bows extravagantly. “Bonne soirée
(It’s always evening here): You’re feeling bad
About your prospects as a satirist.
Might I, a humble sybarite, assist?”
I nod. What, really, do I have to lose?
“Your trouble, m’sieur, is that you’re too polite.
Even Ms. Dowd—her talent’s to amuse
Not scandalize, the other’s to be right.
But real satire doesn’t pick and choose
Whom to be friends with and with whom to fight.
The point is not to be banal and pensive;
But to be universally offensive.
“What better way than sex to spill the bedpan
And pour forth all the effluence and stink;
You may ejaculate or stick to deadpan,
Evoke a burlesque babe or slim-hipped twink,
But whether you give or like getting head, man,
Dig ‘in your face’ or more ‘nudge, nudge, wink wink,’
Sex breaks down every barrier and taboo,
Because whom you shaft will in turn shaft you.
“The priest caught pants-down with his catamite,
The statesman rifling through his mistress’ drawers;
The moralist found naked at dawn’s light
Bound by a dominatrix on all fours;
The socialite whose sateless appetite
For rough trade goes beyond her menopause:
These illustrate desire is unrestrained,
However we might wish it be contained.
“The judges thrashed by minxes in their nighties,
The wiseguys felled by languorous brunettes,
The cops fellated in their tighty-whities,
The dixiecrats impaled by black coquettes,
The honeytraps who snare the high-and-mighties,
The teens on the back seats of their Corvettes:
All testify to the lordly misrule
That renders sex the satirist’s best tool.
“The MILF who finds the plumber’s snake most handy,
The blonde who dives into a mogul’s pocket;
The lingam that licks each yogini’s candy,
The tux who fires the deb off like a rocket;
The cad whose mick slips in the virgin’s shandy:—
As every plug fits snugly in its socket
So sex supplies the necessary juice
That kneads and fluffs our mountain of abuse.
“The Mennonite who trolls for ladyboys,
The imam who courts his hermaphrodite,
The Hasidim cruising the streets for goys,
The monk who stains his habit every night,
The nun whose bedside table’s full of toys,
Renunciates whom lust comes back to bite
Reveal a strain of sex that’s anti-clerical
But cannot be dismissed as just chimerical.
“So, my advice is stop being so pious
About what’s wrong. Ignore the arty-farty;
When has there ever been a time when bias
For one’s own blood, land, ethnic group, or party
Did not rule hearts? The politicians ply us
With nostrums that lead us to think we’re smart, we
Compound our vanities with the fixation
That history bends to amelioration.
“But hate and prejudice are unremitting,
In every decade thoughtlessness renewed.
Elites gain pleasure regularly spitting
Upon the schmucks who itch to be subdued.
They let the shysters take their power, pitting
Themselves against their fellows to collude
With hucksters whose main message (finely honed)
Is, “I’ll make sure the other guy is boned.”
“So, damn each conscientious Pharisee
Who never votes because ‘it’s all a sham’;
The mouth-breather who drawls, ‘He speaks for me,’
When douche-y hacks upchuck their aural spam;
The selfish tightwad who only feels free
To get involved when he is in a jam:
These bozos with their manifest hypocrisy—
Are nothing but the ass-wipes of democracy.
“Through their inertia or their votes they got
What they deserved: a venal, oily fake,
As disengaged and ignorant as the lot
Of them; a lazy, good-for-nothing rake
Who aims to yank the handle of each slot
Machine of government to cash in, make
A ton more money on cable TV,
And once again bankrupt the bourgeoisie.
“Your task, then, is to let it all hang out.
Imagine those two Russian hookers humping
Above his orange corpulence; the lout
(Wearing a shower cap) enjoys them dumping
Their piss into his navel; but the sprout
That is his dick he can’t prevent from slumping
Each time a golden drop lands with a splat,
For fear that this might all be kompromat.
“We know the pussy-grabber craves patootie.
He longs to let his grubby fingers roam.
Think of his sweaty crevices, the fruity
Pong of his cheap cologne. When he gets home
And boasts to gamesmen playing ‘Call of Booty,’
Imagine women smearing cleansing foam
Within each orifice the mountebank
Has pawed, or into which his damp lips sank.”
The old lech stops and grins. “Feel better now?”
He leers. “The artist’s role is overrated,
In Hades no one ever has a cow
At what you wrote. So much of it is dated
And all the names forgotten, anyhow.
Whether you’re scandalous or understated
Most will ignore your thoughts in all respects
But one—and that is when you speak of sex.”
He waves me off and, fortified, I rise
Until the surface of the earth I meet.
Before me spring has lightened up the skies
The flowers bloom and songbirds dart and tweet.
My time in hell has given me supplies
With which to hone my wit and scrub my feet.
My task is clear: without doubt or revision,
To stand and fight in total opposition.