I saw Mr. Trump sitting alone staring at his hands. I thought something was wrong and asked him about it. Trump asked, “Have you ever really looked at your hands?”
Trump continued, “Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout the years. These hands are terrific hands, really terrific; though tiny, orange, and weak they have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab money and power.”
“They caught my fall when as a toddler I and my silver spoon crashed upon the floor. They put lobster thermidor in my mouth and ill-fitting paunch-hiding suits on my back. As a child my father taught me to fold them around money. They tied my Italian shoes and knotted my made-in-China power ties. They held my micropenis and wiped themselves free of responsibility for any person other than myself.”
“As I have never actually worked with them, they have never been dirty, scraped, raw, swollen or bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold onto the chair when I fucked it in the second debate to calm my nerves. That was a catastrophe. Decorated with my numerous wedding bands they showed the world I was married, married, and married and owned some really glitzy trophy wives. They wrote my 2 a.m. tweets and trembled and shook when Hillary insulted me, that nasty woman.”
“They have held teen Miss Universes, fondled escorts, and shook in fists of anger when I didn’t get my way. They have covered my tax forms, combed my fake hair, and grabbed and groped anyone I wanted. They have been sticky and wet with the juices of women I took forcibly without asking. And to this day when not much anything else of me works real well these hands ball up into fists, flail around, and flap in mockery of people with cerebral palsy.”
“These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruthlessness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when He leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to grab the pussy of the Virgin Mary.”
(after Maya Angelou)
I’m a crock, a grabber, a disease
that proves a feces can be president!
I led the bastards on!
I’m a philistine! I leave dried cheetos
Of my sojourn here
gold plated on the planet floor.
You’d sounded alarms of my hateful spew;
you lost in the gloom of ignorance and craziness.
And today, I cry out to you, clearly, forcefully,
in words that are just beautiful, the best words!
Come, you may stand upon my orange
face and scream your distant nightmares,
But seek no haven in my looming shadow.
I will give you no hiding place up here.
I, created only a little lower than
The devils, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have sat too long
on my throne of golden greed.
My mouth spills words
that mean business.
(But also mean nothing)
I cry out to you today: you may stand upon me,
But do not hide your face.
I will need to find you later
and lock you up.
Across the wall of the world,
a great big beautiful wall.
Come, be hypnotized by my nonsense!
Each of you, a bordered country,
Gullible and, if white, made proud,
I thrust perpetually; you’re besieged!
I snuggle with my profit,
leave collars of waste upon
the shore, loogies of debris upon women’s breasts.
Yet today I call you my subjects,
If you will study reason no more. Come,
Clad in Trump ties and Ivanka’s boots, and I will
perpetuate the wrongs
My father did to me when I was young.
My lips were pouting roses, my side part hair
a prototype for Richie Rich. His cruelty
is to blame.
And you! Your cynicism is a bloody sear across your
Brow and you thought you knew
but you know nothing: all the polls were wrong.
The fat lady sang and sings on.
There is a base desire to respond to
at every point around the clock:
a steak, a chick, a power grab, my cock.
So to the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher…
I don’t hear you.
I don’t see you.
Are you even saying anything?
Your protests are like the squeaking of a bee.
or a dangblasted mosquito at Mar el Lago.
I’ll speak to the media today. Come to me, here up in the tower.
Plant yourself beside the restaurant.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, is an immigrant.
Except me – I changed my name.
You… you Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, get behind your walls.
We’re making pipelines. Oh wait,
I’m not even in charge yet.
Here’s to the employment of
Other seekers — desperate for gain,
Starving for gold, who will compromise everything
to be in my cabinet.
You, the Turk, the Arab – no –
the Swede, the German, – OK –
the Eskimo –nope– the Scot – OK
but not the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
Here, humble yourselves before me.
I am that fake xmas tree planted by the River of White Chocolate,
Which is made to be thrown up.
I, the schlock, I the grabber, I the disease
I am yours now, suckers– your votes meant nothing.
Lift up your faces, see my fierce greed
For this wretched mourning yawning before you.
All of history’s wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, and I
will make you live it again.
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking into noxious gasses for you.
Give birth again
whether you want to or not.
Women, children, men,
Take me into the palms of your hands,
Mold me into the shape of your most
Private need. Aww yeah. Sculpt me into
The image of your most noxious dread.
Lift up your hearts
for the dagger.
Each new hour holds new chances
For me to swindle you.
Do not be wedded forever –
I’m thrice-married!, not yoked eternally
To older bitches!
The horizon shrinks backward,
Offering me space to get kickbacks
from building “infrastructure”
in flyover country.
Here, on this repulsive day
You may have the courage
To get up and look out the window
at your ruined country.
I am Midas. You’re all mendicants.
I’m a macho mastodon.
Here, on this repulsive day
You may with nausea get up to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, into your pitiful country
And say simply
No hope –
MY reason aches, and a drowsy horror pains
My sense, as though of a billionaire’s roofies I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull quaaludes to my brains
One minute past, and Trump-wards we have sunk:
‘Tis not through pity for thy sorry lot, 5
But being too crappy in thine crappiness,
That thou, plastic-wingèd mascot of the apocalypse,
In some discordant plot
Of backroom smoke, and shadows numberless,
shrieks of bummer and full-blown dictatorships. 10
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
stewed a long age on the warming earth,
Tasting of Monica and the country-green,
Dancing the macarena like some partial birth!
O for a cleansing of the racist South! 15
Full of the fake, the ignorant hypocrites,
With beaded slogans twinkling at caps’ brims,
And their slur-stainèd mouths;
I want to slink, and leave the world unseen,
And fade away, misanthropic, into the future dim: 20
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the evil hast never known,
The pussy-grabs, the emails, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other boast;
Where drone-bombs shake a few, sad, last kids, 25
Where Jill Stein grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
From all the radiation on her phone.
Oh, leaden eyes and eyelids!
Melania cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
She’s sold her soul and there is no to-morrow. 30
Away! away! or I will fly from thee,
Not charioted by Mike Pence and his tards,
But on the gormless wings of Poesy,
Though my dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night, 35
And haply Queen Hill will take her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry-eyed cronies.
Here there are no rights,
Save what our old constitution has with its amendments abused
by gun-toting goons and religious phonies. 40
I cannot see Paul Ryan and his giant ears,
Nor what soft scrota hang inside his pants,
There, in embalmèd darkness, musky sweet
Wherewith unreasonable endless cant
The cretins, the crackers, and the macho go wild; 45
Whitely supreme (would be), grand and elephantine;
Teen miss universes cover’d up in fear;
Of a superannuated child,
Campaigning in gross prose, full of juicy lies,
He haunts the stage like Lurch on autumn eves. 50
Darkly I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Said to him, oh baby, in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it wise to die, 55
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such idiocy!
Still wouldst thou squawk, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high per diem become a sod. 60
Thou wast born for this crap, jingoist Bird!
No hungry Sarah Palins tread thee down;
The screech I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 65
Through the sad heart of Hillary, when, sick for power,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm’d magic pipelines, opening on the tower
That Trump built, in gentrified cities forlorn. 70
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to Bernie Sanders!
Adieu! the fancy always cheat so well
As Trump is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! his tiny orange hands 75
Roving near pudendas, over the frozen teen,
And up her little hill-sides; and now they’re buried deep
In the national psyche:
Was it a nightmare, or a waking dream?
Soon is the election:—do I wake or sleep? 80
photo by Antima Moe
Thinking gratefully and continually about my amazing experience with the Myanmar poets in late May in Yangon, where I facilitated a poetics workshop called “Lies and Dreams,” and of how many wishes and visions for poetry we share despite our quite different contexts.
It was in a hot (but then, everything was hot, so hot that I described the weather as feeling like one had been wrapped in a wool blanket that had just been boiled) narrow room painted aquamarine in downtown Yangon,up several flights of stairs, at the PEN center. Just outside was the constant chaos of traffic, the almost uncrossable street filled with the candy colors of fruit and vegetable stalls and longyi (sarongs), the streets lined with majestically decaying colonial buildings.
Here is the workshop in a nutshell: we began by brainstorming things that others have told us that poetry should or has to be but that we disagree with (lies). I then gave them the task of writing something that followed those criteria. This elicited laughter, naturally. Since it was an anti-colonialist workshop, I welcomed them to write in their own language. Some chose English anyway.
We then took rather a longer time writing our own desirous visions for poetry (wishes), and the rest of the workshop consisted of going around the table, reading our wish lists, and discussing in some detail.
The younger poets (Flarf fans) who define themselves as “online poets” seemed to share a common vision in that they seemed most to value two things in poems: amusement and what they called “shock.”
One poet expressed desires for poems to wed with other art forms such as images or video, and said that for him poetry is everywhere, if not so much in poems.
Another said that poetry is a form of traveling, of going someplace else. One said that she wanted her poems to be able to speak to many different types of readers on different levels simultaneously.
Another, a doctor, said that she had recently delivered a baby, and that that was poetry.
One waxed philosophical and described poetry as a trace of Being, phenomena and noumena. Another said that he wanted poetry to always give him something new. I apologize for not naming names here; I do know the names of most of the attendees but not all, so I thought it fairest to leave them out here/
My brainstorm about my desires for poems:
I want poems to be capacious — not necessarily in volume — to have a richness of surface and language —
even when minimal — the spaces between words in a minimal poems should BREED thoughts/images/hallucinations
so…a kind of sublime drugginess…
simultaneously personal — no–motivated — I want to feel the reason for the poem –that reason can just be the reason
and also impersonal — but not…”distanced” — located in the stuff of language, its feel on the eye/ear/tongue
I want it witty — can express “truths: but oughtn’t to settle in them — better, momentary insights
and I want it to resist descriptiveness
I want new chemical combinations in language — not just for the sake of weirdness like surrealism…too obvious, negates its own weirdness
generally I want it to avoid making points that it doesn’t subvert
I want everything to be in question
like being in an unfamiliar city — each corner turned should to something startling —
maybe beautiful, maybe squalid
but anyway unexpected
I want codes
I don’t want identity (or at least not any simple definition of what identity might mean) so much, since going beyond it is a kind of nirvana
at my last comment a kind of ripple of understanding and agreement went thought the room. They come from a Buddhist culture and so they got that…Also, despite the intense governmental oppression they have always known, some said they didn’t want to always write overtly politically or in any case “as Burmese.” Not all felt that way but some deemed that a kind of pressure and roundly rejected it.
They asked me, “Why don’t you become a Buddhist?””I’m not really one for -isms,” I said, “but Buddhism resonates for me in certain ways – its emphasis on compassion in the midst of the absurd suffering that is existence- and for some reason I am always attracted to Buddhist cultures and spaces”
Reading over my notes now several months later I realize of course that I’m not saying anything in my notes of desires for poetry that I haven’t said a thousand times before, and also that it isn’t a particularly novel set of wishes for poetry. I do think it is important for me now in what are very trying times in the US poetry world (I hope a painful growth period that leads to blossomings; indeed, what else could happen? the dialectic is always swinging, although I think it’s more like one of those pendula that go in whatever direction that “energy” is compelling them to go in) to keep clarifying to myself what it is I seek in poems.
I find it bizarre that I hadn’t known about the work of Robert Seydel before I saw an exhibition of his work a couple of weeks ago at the Queens Museum. Almost every ride out on the 7 train yields wonders (the big globe in Flushing Fields is reason enough, on a hot day, with its spewing fountains and gleeful children), but this trip especially did so: Seydel’s delicate, odd collages and exquisitely constructed poems –some of these displayed in his precisely handwritten notebooks – reveal a world shivering with receptiveness.
I never met him. He died in 2011, at 51 years old, of a heart attack. He was a recluse whose life was entirely devoted to his intertwining text/image artwork. Neither image nor text takes precedence; rather they seem to grow out of each other. What takes precedence is attention, or shall I say, attentiveness. Only a very attuned attentiveness can produce such work, and because of its fineness, it elicits attentiveness too – at least from me and the several others who looked raptly at the exhibit and listened as Monica de la Torré and Peter Gizzi read some selections from his work, including a poem that was displayed high up along the wall of the exhibition room.
He wrote in personae, including the persona of his aunt Ruth Greisman. It seems not at all an improper appropriation how he inhabits the (her) feminine. It seems a way of liberating utterances.
The poetry is extremely beautiful. Here are some lines from his “Formulas and Flowers” published in The Book of Ruth (2011, siglio press):
Sad men fail art relentlessly.
Schmutz is my sign.
I rearrange time. It’s confused in me.
Imagination is foolish. Mine hops like a rabbit.
A trembling animal at the edge of thought.
The page is operatic.
I see creatures in my urine.
The images are beautiful, too, and can’t be faulted for relying too much on the surrealist technique of putting a new head on an old body, for that is a trick of which one never tires. There is a little of Schwitters in them in that one can feel the recuperation of things that would have otherwise been discarded. Especially intriguing to me were the altered daguerrotypes (or maybe just very old sepia photos) since it seemed a way of both destroying and embellishing historical imagery.
The show is on view through September 27th and is well worth the train ride. Besides, you can go to Flushing Mall afterward for Szechuan food and have a simply perfect day.