Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
Don't Get Me Wrong, I Love A Good Wall
to avoid oncoming traffic, or the one
between a woman’s legs that breaks only once.
India has a living wall, a hedge
that goes on for thousands of miles
trimmed as a row of people
with their arms around their neighbors
like a UNICEF greeting card, and did you know,
said my son, that if we all joined hands
we’d circle the world three times,
like a ribbon, I thought, around a present
we re-gift as soon as we get it.
Then there’s the Wailing Wall that’s inspired
thousands of men over thousands of years
to stand in front of crumbling stone all afternoon
reciting into their empty hands the words
they believe will make them better, whispering
with an intimacy intended for the living.
I’ve seen men whisper to a long list of names
etched into black polished granite, a tomb
into which you have to descend, what clear sky
reflected blue in the stone
a distraction more than relief
once you’re in it, once you’ve traced a name with your finger.
Banksy used the wall in the West Bank
as a canvas to spray paint a whole
made as if by the wrecking ball of irony
through which you could step to paradise,
a white beach and a single palm
that makes the bombed-out tenements on one side
and the shelled terrain on the other
sadder and uglier. But the beauty
in the concrete sprawl of the city, its broken
glass and snarling dogs, is why Liza Lou
spent two years on her hands and knees
threading a chain-link fence with thousands of steel beads
that shimmered under the fluorescent lights of the museum,
a luminosity I had to touch because
I wasn’t supposed to, the defiance
part of that wall’s pleasure.
My wall is like a Chuck Close portrait
with whorls of paint inside little squares
like storms on distant planets,
all those small terrors
you have to get up close to see.
But if you want a wall between countries
that looks good on our side,
let it be a mirror, so we can see
exactly what we look like when we keep out
the people who well, would you look at how good I look?
Valerie Bandura’s HUMAN INTEREST (Black Lawrence Press) is slated for publication in 2017. Her book, FREAK SHOW (Black Lawrence Press, 2013) was a 2014 Patterson Poetry Prize finalist. Her recent poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares, among others. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University where she lives with her husband, fiction writer Patrick Michael Finn, and their son.