The Last President

That’s the last president in the picture,
looking as if he still leads our great land.
I can’t help to wonder about him; all
his talk of giving people their demands.
But don’t linger too long on him. You
should admire this painting of our founding
fathers. They understood the true purpose
of the republic, at first sounding
to give only land owners the right to
vote. Don’t even teach this in school these days,
do they? Preferring instead to fill
impressionable minds with fairy tales
about equality and good will. Kid,
what they wrote to Georgie the greedy king
was just trash. Only that dimwit Jefferson
actually believed it. You still looking
at that picture? No, I would not take it
down; he was a leader of the greatest
nation on Earth, and his election must
always stand—a reminder that (the best)
humble stockbroker like me can be
president. But that one, well, we can show
his heart bled the wrong color—not blue like ours.
If too many are free than none are, we know.
We must take our cue from the ancient Greeks;
the only true democracy to exist
had more slaves within her walls than franchised.
Neither he nor his party understood this.
Too generous to the masses by far.
And he was tough, charismatic, I confess.
We could not allow him to prevent us from
legislating power to big business,
indebting consumers to them for life.
Why couldn’t he see what we’d given him?
We could not tell him (he would not listen),
“Your ideas are nothing more than a whim.”
He disgusted me; he sickened us all.
Oh, sure, he respected the elite,
but he pretended to care for everyone.
No, it was not true, but he would still defeat
us, ruin us soon enough. Look at that
charming smile on his arrogant face!
As if he still leads this great land.
But we did not let that stand in place.
Now he leads no one, except perhaps the
assembly line. So you might as well forget
him now; Congress is meeting in
the chamber below, and I have no regrets,
only duties, there. You, my intern, should attend.
I promised to teach you all I know
about regulation. What is your name again?
Oh, not from a prominent family, are you?
Perhaps I’ve said too much.
Then again, you could make a fine
politician. You might have the touch.
Now here’s a portrait of a truly great man—
Alexander Hamilton in his study,
who had a fairly ingenious plan—
provided by our patron, the Bank of America!

(I wrote this for my poetry class at TU. It is an allusion to Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess.” At the time, I was stil naive enough to think Obama would be a good president. I should have known better, of course).


To a Rocket in the Empty Sky

You for my inspiration,
You through inertial wind and fire above, the zone, the edge of the atmosphere,
You in your rumbling blast, your exhausted fuel steaming, sonic boom compulsive,
Your sleek and phallic surface, shielding lead on a sword of steel,
Your unwanted sections, ejected and rejected pods, still tumbling, lonely in the void,
Through air or space, shoot high, shoot far, when the fire dies you still fly,
Hope for the future—reaching for knowledge and glory—penetrating the stars,
For once you contemplate the multiverse, just as I envision you,
Sun storm radiating plasma flares and photon spray,
Until your plunging, burning head swells and vibrates,
Until your steamy shell cools in the sea.

Mechanical monster!
Scream in my dreams of your chaos foretold from the moon to Neptune,
With atom-splitting silence, inflating, bursting like creation, you will rise
Above your own restraints, start surfing from world to world
(Instead of just from here to orbit and back again every time),
But even as you are, full of passion,
Undaunted by escape velocity,
Streak through blackness, unbound by philosophy.


(This is one I wrote for class, an allusion to Walt Whitman’s “To a Locomotive in Winter.” I’m not really a fan of Whitman, but I saw something in that particular poem that inspired me).