Weekly poem on Trump Presidency


Poem For The Gaylord Opryland Hotel,
Christmas Eve, 2016

Ice skating in fifty-degree weather
only helps it feel a little less
like we’re in Tennessee, a little less
like there are fat men in camo
T-shirts with slogans like
all rifles matter and
black ducks matter­.

Why is camo so bad
at being inconspicuous? A little
Chinese-American boy
named Matthew
is very concerned
that the hot chocolate
is no longer hot. His dad is
his hero. Matthew thinks
his dad skates great.

We used to come here
to look at the Christmas decorations
when I was little, but I never noticed
that there are bars
every fifteen feet. You can pay
an extra ten dollars to get
your Merry Margarita in a cowboy
boot-shaped glass with mini Christmas lights. 

A waitress named Amanda
misgenders me (??? she thinks),
and then is very sorry about it, very sweet,
not able to stop talking about it, says she’s very ______
(accepting, open-minded, choose a synonym), that she
herself is obviously a woman, but that she’s very alternative. I know
I have it so much easier than so
many people, but I’d like
to go
one day
without having
to make someone feel better
about the way
they’re making me uncomfortable.

Back in the room, we watch
an animal documentary. There has been
a 3000% increase in rhinoceros poaching
just in the past three years. In Chinese medicine,
it is believed that rhino horns can cure all sorts of ailments,
but David Attenborough doesn’t take it seriously.

Every black rhino in Africa is a target.

Every black rhino in America is a target. In this
stanza, black rhino means black man, means brown man, means
woman, Jew, Muslim, means queer, means
Camden who doesn’t catcall on the streets of Pittsburgh, means  
Robbie whose full name is Robinson, means
my partner giving pap smears at the clinic, but
there’s always the hope that one day the black rhino will make it
off the endangered species list.

I choose to place my hope
in this group of women who show up
at an old money hotel in Middle Tennessee
during Christmas, decked out in hijabs
and purple lipstick, who are fucking owning it, and

I choose to place my hope
in the tiny old woman in the H&M, furtive
and nervous in her burka, and

I choose to place my hope
in this new generation: these straight boys in skinny jeans
and eyeliner; these statuesque goth girls, taller
than their chubby boyfriends, and

I even choose to place my hope
in the red-necked ex-drug-addict working
at the Tex-Mex restaurant, who doesn’t know
whether to call me sir, who thinks it’s weird
that my blood orange margarita
isn’t the color of blood or oranges, but who knows
enough not to ask if my partner and I want separate checks, and

I choose to place my hope
in my partner who was so proud
of herself for referring to the high schooler
at the ticket booth as they.

Tyler Friend is the name of a genderqueer apricot enthusiast from Tennessee. Their chapbook Ampersonate is available from Choose the Sword Press, poems have appeared or will soon appear in decomP magazinETin House, and others, and he is currently pursuing an MFA in the inaugural class of VCFA's Writing & Publishing program where she is focusing on poetry and choosing a preferred pronoun. 

illustration:  anna_croc01

illustration: anna_croc01