Wounded and dazed, we’ve made it through the year.
We’re still alive, though threatened every day
By tweets and tantrums. A low-level fear
Thrums in each resident. Meanwhile, away
From sight, the undocumented disappear
And covenants fall into disarray:
Each news chyron displays a media pasha
Uncovered as a groper or a flasher.
Have we learned anything we didn’t know
In January? Have we changed at all?
Are the divisions of a year ago
Merely more visible, or does a fall—
A single, shocking, overwhelming blow—
Await? Will finally the toxic pall
Suspended over us evaporate,
Or will a nuclear blast annihilate
Korea and us? Will honesty and facts
Have any purchase? Will the mandarins
And pundits on the right who made their pacts
With this unstable boor repent their sins,
And recognize that sometimes one man’s acts
Are so repellant that they outdo “wins”
At any cost? And should we fear that beckoning
For all of us will be a day of reckoning?
Perhaps. Perhaps the endless sturm und drang
We live within is really but the quiet
Before the psychic ground cracks with a bang
Or slowly sinks beneath us. Though a riot
And protests may break out, the well-heeled gang
Who planned the heist won’t cop it. They’ll deny it
Was anything to do with them, and state
That all they’ve tried to do is make us “great.”
Mike Flynn has pleaded guilty—he who claimed
If he’d done one-tenth of what she’d committed
(Referring to she who could not be named
Without an epithet), he’d be outfitted
With ankle braces. Well, we can’t be blamed
For hoping counterfeiters are outwitted
For once; and more—that Flynn will tell the G-man
What’s needed to ensure that he’s a free man.
It’s mooted that young Jared will be next:
He of the dimpled cheeks and vacant stare.
It’s hard to imagine that he isn’t hexed
Simply by being so close to the lair
Where growls the wounded, maned one. What pretext
Will he devise so that each son and heir
Is punished for their deeds on his behalf,
And he can lay the fault on zealous staff?
It’s striking how this young administration
Has cycled through so many of its own.
Disgraced, resigned, let go—each abjuration
Predictably ends with them being thrown
Out of the window. One small consolation
For former staffers is they’re not alone:
A veritable army of the banned,
Could march on DC and raise their right hand.
If Jared’s sunk, what will Ivanka do?
Will she accept her husband’s going to jail
To save her daddy’s skin, or look into
A plea so that the family brand won’t fail
If father is impeached? Will she smile through
It all as she hammers a well-pared nail
Into her pater’s coffin? Then, as boss,
Will she make more gold of the empire’s dross?
You sense beneath the placid insipidity
A mind that’s busy making calculations;
Appraising pros and cons with some fluidity,
Surfing the tidal waves of allegations
With poised and carefully disguised avidity.
No doubt her measurement of fluctuations
In Dad’s appeal will reap their rewards:
He’ll sit in prison, while she sits on boards.
And if not she, perhaps Melania Knauss?
What sweet payback is bubbling in her head
For all the jibes she’s suffered from her spouse?
What murmured, half-confessions in their bed
Might she disclose? What compromising grouse,
Suggestive clue, or insight might she shed?
If she could safeguard her share and her son
Then what tidbits she’ll spill before she’s done!
Is she concocting plans behind those shades?
Are her glossed lips sealed by more than Botox?
Does she squint at him as his aura fades
Because she’s grasped how soon her fly-blown fox
Will feel the hens’ revenge? The sad charades
Of standing by your men although their cocks
And fingers wander . . . what might be her plan
To, in one fell swoop, stick it to The Man?
Is it fantastical to think each lady
Will move in concert when the time is right
And grab him right back? Could he be afraid he
Has lit the fuse that one day will ignite
A blaze that can’t be doused, and every shady,
Illegal exploit will be brought to light;
That even those who’ve studiously ignored
The horrors will say, “Throw him overboard”?
The strategy so far has been to pour
Contempt upon the accusers, and berate
Those who’d even consider that Roy Moore,
For instance, is not someone whom the state
Of Alabama should cast their vote for,
Or a man who would once more make us great.
Why let a little thing like child predation
Stand in the way of Judge Moore’s elevation?
The times call for more female leadership
Given how many men have feet of clay.
Some supercreeps and predators may trip
Yet they’ve not fallen yet. Meanwhile, their prey,
Exposed to trolls and bots are left with zip
But pleas for something like closure one day.
“Refute, dispute, impute, mute” show hardliners
You can survive assault charges on minors.
How touchingly naïve we are to think
That such reports would make the GOP
Reject or force a candidate to blink
And step aside! Since Clinton (he not she)
Did much the same and charges didn’t sink
His re-election or presidency,
Then why not parse, deny, and wait it out?
The playbook worked: when in doubt, then cast doubt.
Meanwhile, the lives of silent desperation
Continue: raddled, riddled bodies found
Collapsed in the men’s toilet at the station
Or near the fields the kids play on; or drowned
In one of the small creeks; a sad oblation
To consecrate the unforgiving ground
With poppy-blood, which stains its vivid red
Like scarlet letters on the living dead.
You see their sleepless nodding on the street,
Bent double, swaying gently in the breeze,
As if they are examining their feet
Or strange plantations of exotic trees;
Curled up on benches, or seeking the heat
Of subway vents so that they do not freeze:
Contracted pupils, bodies limp and slack,
The telltale signs of the half-death of smack.
This is one thing that all of us now share:
Communities across the USA,
Flooded by this expression of despair,
Call for assistance, someone who will say
Their pain is heard and not another prayer;
Who marshals resources that will convey
To areas of blight, good jobs and hope,
That’s truly federal in cash and scope.
Another thing we share is our rage.
Facts, policy, and history are infested
By false equivalence. Each Facebook page
Is splattered with fake news: myths we’ve invested
With totems and taboos we use to gauge
How furious we should be—until they’re bested
By even more frenzied denunciations,
Colored by arbitrary execrations.
And I’m as guilty as the rest of them:
My arms carving the air, head in my hands.
With rolling eyes, I bellow (specks of phlegm
Upon my lips) that no one understands
How wretched things are, how we must condemn
All those who voted for him. My demands
For “something to be done” aren’t acted on.
Conspiracy! Betrayal! All chance gone!
These fever fits, however, bring no closer
A resolution that delivers healing.
For every downer—something even grosser
That has me gasping and all senses reeling—
Another person gets a rush-filled dose, a
Much-wished-for righteous lift, without a ceiling.
For hits of joy or rage, who would avoid a
Mainlining of such endless schadenfreude?
And that, c’est vrai, is what he’s hoping for,
On which his presidency’s predicated.
That it is him we worship or abhor
Is all that matters: we must not be sated,
Indifferent, or dulled; we must want more.
Whether we are dejected or elated,
He’ll act without restraint so he can train us
To focus on him, let him entertain us.
In his convention speech, he made the claim
That he alone could fix what had gone wrong
With the U.S. Just mentioning his name
Would make forgotten men burst into song.
No longer would we feel a sense of shame
At being left behind, or (in vain) long
For a lost past. He would reverse the date
And take the U.S. back to what was great.
Most of that rambling speech was plainly crap.
One thing proved true: he was, and is, the fix.
We’re all hooked on him now: each day we wrap
The tourniquet of news around us; pricks
Inject plague-ridden cocktails of foul pap
Into the sickened body’s politics.
We spend the days and nights strung out and wired;
Loathing ourselves for what we’ve most desired.
Unable to think outside the addiction
We cannot see the way the crooks and thieves
Are stealing what we own, selling the fiction
That, since at some time everyone deceives,
Nothing is not for sale, and that conviction
And continence are dumb. He who believes
The weak will be rewarded, strong brought low,
Is a failed, lyin’ loser and a schmo.
In this way, he has made us in his image.
Petulant, easy to offend, and tribal,
We turn debates into a form of scrimmage
Where questioners are pounced upon, and libel
Is summoned up on those with but a slim, midge-
Sized disagreement. Or we throw a Bible
At anyone who doubts, so we can scuttle
What’s thoughtful, measured, reasonable, and subtle.
No one is guilty, no one innocent.
The high road’s potholed and the moral heights
Have been bulldozed and razed. Meanwhile, cement
Has been poured on the common ground; the nights
That once beheld a bright dawn are now spent
In fitful, sleepless tossing. While the lights
Of faith that once illuminated us are dying,
Extinguished by the endless, endless lying.
He’s made us all as crazy and untethered
As he is. Madcap days pass in a flurry
Of tweets, alerts, and blogs that must be weathered
And not reflected on; a kind of slurry
Seeps into our mind’s groundwater, blethered
And toxic filings that scar and burn, worry
The conscience, spirits blanche, leave souls abraded:
A dump where freedom’s soil is degraded.
Coarsened, obsessive, guzzling down the junk,
We splutter to the ending of December,
Aware that, though it may indeed be bunk,
We’ll beg that next year’s one we will remember
Not as the nightmare that was this one. Drunk,
We’ll toast the future, as the final ember
Of these twelve sad months at last fades away
Leaving us bitter ashes, cold and gray.
But it’s from ashes that the phoenix rises:
More women now run for a seat in power.
If nothing else, we can expect surprises
If not each minute, surely by the hour.
If Bob Mueller is fired, or arises
A crisis where the usual pout and glower
Is not enough to hold forces at bay,
Then the old hound dog will have his last day.
By this time next year it could all be done:
His office, future of a free world, life!
We could be lying in jail or the sun;
He could be shacked up with a brand-new wife
In Florida, pardoned by Pence. Or, more fun,
A new House could be sharpening the knife
To slash at backroom deals, graft, and sleaze.
To which I say, “Oh God. If Only. Please.”