03.10.17
Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
 

ELIZABETH POWELL

Inaugural With Elixir In It

Not an epilogue, but a beginning.

Time’s arrow quivers with desire,
that’s what propels it so far.

All the men on white horses have cantored off the side of the earth
or have become women.

The right hand on the bible grabs
pussy. I’ve had to suck
up to enough of these kind of dudes
to fill my sister's empty above ground
swimming pool,

in order to get this far, i.e.

this parking space and this sense of entitlement.
On the stage our fearless leader
has made this cunt-tree great.

Some, some are good people.
They’ve made me pledge my allegiance

to my Macbook and Mastercard and meanest managers at the mall
because America isn’t great. Not yet.

First comes winter, as it must.
And then comes post-truth, as if it has been recycled
into coffee cups for Americanos at the Green Bean café

down the street where protests take place on Sundays.
For years no one would let me believe in Beauty or Truth
or Truth and Beauty. Dear Professor, look where that’s got us.

On the TV I watch my daughter sell millions
of dollars of iconic handbags
on a home shopping T.V. network.

She got her start
interviewing poets for a community TV program.

Sure there was truth in those poems she hid in the handbags,
messages in a bottle so to speak.

Like the note found in the handbag sold at Saks
(made in China) with a desperate note for help,

the bag made in a work prison, so
everything could be great again.
Still my daughter didn’t believe how it used to be.

She tells me just because I had no food growing up
it doesn’t mean I have to overbuy
at the grocery store every single time.

My mother was a displaced homemaker
that was the title they gave her then.

Really she was Butch and very busy, hung out in the city
while babysitters told us there was no man

on the moon and that the Kennedy’s ate their young.
Still I was glad I wasn’t a Catholic,
always looking for the bright side.

Truth was a dream I woke up from
in the old pine bed at my grandmother’s farmhouse. When I was eight,

and Jimmy Carter read his bible in the White House
and gave his peanut farm away because of the emollients

clause. Our choice is how we react
to randomness & the oldsters
said Old fashioned Truth was a strong drink.

It will put hair on your pussy, my cousin whispered.

My great-grandfather used to mix it at Christmas.
I wish I had it now. Cold January day, five weeks before
My daughter’s wedding.

I try to impart the wisdom of the ages.
Some facts include:

My great-grandfather wasn’t a pussy grabber, but he kicked
my great- aunt out of the house for cutting her hair.

I try to give her ring to my daughter.
The grandparents knew a thing or two about truth.

Sometimes we’d sing about it after a few elixirs.
Truth was an old friend or famous politician
who once saved our county from the banks.

Once we were scared of what could happen.
Maybe now it happens anyway. Truth was delectable then,
made of fruits my uncles found in far away battles in the Pacific.

I took the elixir’s chalice to my lips under the wool blankets
way before comforters, fleece
sheets, echinacea tablets, fancy lettuces.
The blanket that was itchy and now dates me.
I had the flu the whole summer when I learned
the whole of the Truth and how Truth’s dark farmhouse lights

the night with mysterious breath. The Truth
who also broke our first electric blanket
and something smelled not right for a good long while.  Then

the real Truth became the lemony punch
my grandmother gave me to take to the men

outside haying. It was sweet. And it was good,
and my grandmother made whole recipes from its yeast
starter that she had saved from the war when
there was no butter. In a crystal bowl

on my birthday, she’d let me have a taste. More and more
each year, until I could finally handle a full cup and not be disheartened.

At first it tasted like sherbets and ginger ale,
and then something heavy, olive like, when my taste buds came in
and I could taste the whole truth.

Soon enough the old folks died. Soon they were buried.
I became the eldest in my family, and I needed to find the pages

ripped out of my grandmother’s cookbook. The New Year
was changing into another. This was a secret
champagne I wanted to give my kids so they would know.
All the children looked at me excitedly, eyes up from their Iphones
as if finally noticing the moon
isn’t following us.

Someone turns on the TV in the other room.
The inaugural stage has been made terror ready.

Please don’t die, Jimmy Carter. I still need you
like a night light, even though

in one month I will be mother
of the bride in my blue
suit, proud and how did I get this old.

All the men on white horses have ridden off onto icebergs
which were melting and the unconscious, 7/8ths beneath
the surface world was beginning to show.

This is very different from when I wrote the poem
about the first Bush’s inauguration

and I was still young and thought I’d find love
at the young people’s inaugural ball
where Lee Atwater gave George H.W.
an electric guitar. Bizarre.

Maybe instead I will find late love despite
alternate facts. I’ll catch the bouquet with all the single ladies
and sing along to Beyonce on the dance floor
where there might be an invisible guitar

the kind the great leaders play
with such small fingers.
Such small molecules of air.

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Elizabeth A. I. Powell is the author of “The Republic of Self” a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Her second book “Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances” won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry.  She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College.
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illustration: anna_croc01

illustration: anna_croc01