Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
How We Got Here
We were walking in a desert caravan
and all the camels were starving. Or
something hazy rolled in every morning
with the red mist. The empty clatter of a basketball
in small courts all over, the sacred passing of pills
between children like the banished texts of forbidden
religion. Everyday we learned the meaning of America
and that meaning was perhaps. It wasn’t a story
but there was a theater where two women each night
feigned poison in the belly. A man walked into a library
with twelve years of reasons to fall sobbing
on the naked ground. Sobbing because monsters
don’t care or hear. Because failure is million-faced
and knows our names. Because blood at any angle
is still blood, and to fall requires faith
in nothing. I could tell you it might have been otherwise,
that those writhing actors on stage were not poisoned
but laughing. That we were as lucky as finding a matchstick
in a bat’s ear lost in the woods of California
and cold. That this is not the devil’s dream
of heaven. That we stayed alive
because the Ever-wise willed it.
The blood became a mist leaving the eye
and the eye became a simple memory
unremembered. It involved cornucopias
and a county fair where children go missing
for hours between metal bars, in wedges
meant for mechanics. Saturn in the darkness each night
devouring his son like a chicken. How did we ever get here?
Genghis said from the other side of the great wall.
Everything that could burn would soon be his.
Jeff Whitney is the author of The Tree With Lights in it, available from Thrush Press, while Radio Silence (Black Lawrence Press) and Smoke Tones (Phantom Books) were co-written with poet Philip Schaefer. Recent poems can be found in 32 Poems, Adroit, Glass: A Poetry Journal, Muzzle, and Sixth Finch. He lives in Portland.