Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Journals in which his poems have appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999).
A Modest Proposal
For all the ones who line up on the dais
Looking very serious
Behind their glinting microphones, who speak
In echoey tones with just a squeak
Of feedback, we make this demand:
Lock them up. Take a stand
Against the ones who testify, who swear
Under oath, one at a time, that they weren’t there;
We demand: lock them up.
For those who in the dead of night switch up
Their cars like Jason Bourne
To rendezvous in an undisclosed location, then warn
The press of grave concerns, we’re demanding:
Lock them up. For those who use a stand-in
To plot with foreign aides
In hotel rooms and on an Indian Ocean island,
Lock them up is our demand.
For the billionaires whose natural state is
Secrecy, intrigue, keeping one spray-tanned
Hand behind their back, our demand
Is simple: lock them up. What we
Don’t want: a sincere apology.
We don’t want them to extend their hand
Like at a joint press conference. No, this is our demand:
Keep quiet, and put your wrists out
So we can cuff them. We don’t want doubt
About the outcome, smoke and mirrors,
Distractions of us vs. them. Theirs
Is the fate they brought
Down on themselves. We want to make sure they’ve got
What’s coming. We want to wipe off the smirk
On their perp walk
Down the courthouse steps to the squawk
Of a cop’s radio. We want every jerk
To do hard time. That’s what we demand.
What we don’t want: to talk them up.
Stand up, solemnly raise your right hand,
And repeat after me. Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock them up!
Say you want to get away
From all things Trump? Look at the map.
His titular hotels and golf courses take up
Half the planet, from Turkey to Toronto to Hawaii.
Try a Voroni diagram, which plots
How far things are
Mathematically from each other. So how far
Do you have to go to completely escape the spots
Marked Trump? Northern Siberia? The far reaches of Australia?
(Not counting Antarctica,
Pretty unlivable.) The answer is a tiny island,
Baia dos Tigres—complete with an abandoned
Church and hospital, plus empty housing and factories--
Off the coast of Angola. Ameneties?
None. But if staying by yourself on a sandy spit
Is your dream vacation, this is it.
(Fun fact: Baia dos Tigres was formed
In the ‘60s when a heavy storm
Washed away the mainland link. There’s no package tour
That takes visitors to Angola, since civil war
Broke out in the ‘70s. The State Department’s blunt:
You may not want
To be a casual tourist here.
No electricity, cellphones, internet, or even water.)
Of course there may be an occasional attack
By armed rebels, who carjack,
Mug and rob any vistors with impunity.
But there’s an airstrip, so you can flee the country
On short notice, if you happen to have a plane.
If not, you’ll need a canoe
To come and go. It’s nothing if not isolated. Then again,
There’s no Trump-brand anywhere for thousands of miles. Yea you!
A Troll Speaks
I don’t own a car.
Much less a satellite truck
Or video suite. So what? Like I give a fuck.
It’s just me at the local bar
Or sitting at the kitchen table
With my laptop. Is my news any less quotable,
Less real? By whose definition?
I could wander with you into the Aristotelian
Funhouse if you like, but one could call
Everyone just walking around
Their own media brand, like found
Think Facebook Live, Tahir Square,
Huffington Post, anyone on Periscope, Twitter.
Me, I’m a former lawyer
And divorced self-help author.
But my anonymous source
In the White House, or very close, will call me
As a matter of course
To tell me things that honestly appall me.
Stuff that would give anyone PTSD,
That’s how big. Who’s he or she?
I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.
I tell them, just give me enough info
To prove that it’s legit.
Period. That’s it.
That’s how I got the scoop on the unmasking
Of Trump associates
Through incidental collection, just for asking.
Does that make me a putz?
What about Kellyanne, who linked to my feed.
Or Donald Jr., who tweeted
His congrats for breaking the story.
Does what people say about me make me worry?
No effing way. Sure, Sean Penn
Is a basic bitch, but he’s the one, not CNN,
Who got El Chapo. I may be
A ranting maniac, but the truth about me
Is more complex. I love to drive
The hoaxing media apeshit—that’s why I’m alive.
Get Me Roger Stone
Look for the grinning-Nixon tattoo
Between his shoulder blades, the chalk-striped suit, the silver tie
(He owns 100) and starched cuffs. But who
Is Roger Stone? A Miami-tanned wiseguy
Known as the dark prince of Republican sleaze?
Just ask Roy Cohn who he is.
Cohn, McCarthy’s pitbull, who taught him his first
Stone’s Rule: The only thing worse
Than being wrong in politics is being boring.
Boring, Stone is not.
He issues his maxims from the bottom of a shot
Glass, or the rim of a Stolichnaya martini: with the zing
Of a vermouth-soaked olive, a trick
He stole from Nixon, via Winston Churchill.
Stone’s Rule: Never defend; attack, attack, attack. (Like Tricky Dick
And his pal Donald.) Say what you will,
Stone has followed his own advice to the letter.
Here’s his CV: in the ‘60s, a rumor
That LBJ killed JFK (fast forward to Cruz’ dad
As accomplice). The Willie Horton ad.
Plus hiring a spy as Hubert Humphrey’s driver,
Dropping a suitcase of cash
To bribe New York for Reagan, and trying to bash
Eliot Spitzer by leaving obscenity-laced threats for his elderly father.
The list goes on and on
For the misadventures of Roger Stone.
Like a Zelig, he’s everywhere that something went wrong.
Stone’s Rule: Deny everything; admit nothing. There’s a long
List of politicos who want Stone’s skin.
Who call him a “little rat”
Leaving “havoc in his wake.” It may be that
Stone believes his own fabrications. Was he really in
A hit-and-run accident last week?
Was he actually poisoned by polonium?
Is Roger Stone an unwitting victim
Or circus freak
Who takes on roles the way an actor might:
Amateur bodybuilder, Las Vegas swinger, Zorro of the Far Right.
Prayer for the Hill
May the single mother
Who for her kids demands an answer
On where to turn for prescription money, be heard.
May the retiree, who’s going through a hard
Stretch, who has to pause to take a breath
Before he finds the right words to express the breadth
Of his anger, be listened to.
May the Iraq vet, deployed three times, who
Can’t stop seeing what he saw, begin to cohere
His rambling diatribe into a single clear
Plea: Help me.
May an inmate, who admits that he
Sold smack to all those people, receive
A second try. May his wife and family believe
He’s not a lost cause; he still has dreams.
For all the aides and interns, hear everyone who seems
Out of luck: a mechanic who can’t find
Work. A teacher who lost her job. A migrant whose mind
Fills with worry. Without papers, he’s afraid
To go to the cops for help—will there be a raid?
A father sends his medical bill.
A mother asks if her daughter will
Be ok, her Jewish daycare was evacuated after
A bomb threat. Every phone call, tweet, and letter
Piles in, hour by hour, 1.5 million a day.
What do they want? A human answer, a way
To stay connected, a live voice.
Anything, in these uncertain times, but Hobson’s choice:
Take it or leave it. But how could you leave
An unemployed land surveyor
Who clasps his rough hands in thanks at supper
Every night, seeking relief?