Each day from January 7 to January 20, Rumpus Original Poems will feature work written in response to the coming presidential inauguration. Today’s poems are from Kyle Dargan.
The last thing my vision grazes
_____________ahead a red-eye
Obama’s smiling face on toilet paper
_____________at the gift shop
entryway. This is Washington-Dulles
_____________in his final year atop
_____________a tiring administration.
I lost a good friend over the vote
_____________this country cast
_____________in 2008. She believed
the moment to be revolutionary. I dissented
_____________that no radical seed
_____________had taken root
on our soil. Had I known she and I
_____________wither as friends,
I could have feigned exuberance, imitated
_____________upheaval. Now, nagging
statistics have since been tamed, as well as
_____________the white digits
_____________between the dollar sign
and the gallon. Nevertheless, eight years later,
_____________some things—some friendships—
_____________have not been restored.
Still, you do not see me wishing for the means
_____________with which to scour
_____________the President’s grayscale face
against my anus. The post-wipe sarcasm—Thanks,
_____________Obama—as a gesture
_____________of the body
cleansing the body. Though didn’t he run
_____________to clean and change
_____________a soiled nation’s bottom?
And even that, the privilege of allowing
_____________to wipe your ass,
this country could not receive from his brown
_____________in a white glove.
Twice, I have gripped the President’s bare hand—
_____________America’s shit pressed
_____________against my palm—
and asked him, silently, was it worth it? Tonight,
_____________I cross the Atlantic
my antecedent for that it. Maybe just eight
_____________years of static. A ratcheting
_____________whir akin to that noise
I always hear (do you?) as the plane taxis
_____________but I never bother
asking what is that sound when the pilot and I
_____________as we all deplane—
having jetted across time, finding ourselves
_____________towed only by anticipation
_____________of the baggage we do claim.
Let us commemorate his ascendancy
with a sale. How else to appreciate
a great retail politician, how to valuate
history? A Sale Unprecedented. A national
day of big-box store therapy. (Nothing
cyber. There’re are rarely peddlers
behind the pixel arrays.) Let us celebrate
proper the talents of salesmen—
this toolkit forgotten among recent days.
Be not mistaken. It isn’t a command
of product jargon, not a graceful
demonstration of the merch. A salesman
makes you feel triumphant about
trading your coin, about the chance
to be purchaser. No pressure to confess
that buying a piece of hate wrapped
in the common red felt good (or better,
at least, than the angst of not knowing
what your pale tender will be
able to buy you in five years, or two
or tomorrow). Whether or not it was
shrewd to shell-out for this Uncle Sam’s
club membership, you won’t care
once these great deals cross your eyes.
Low-cost swastikas. Free hijabs
pulled right from the heads of living
models. Free delivery, free returns
of those who no longer serve
your sense of nationhood. Too good
to be true this promotion. Though
we’ve already bought all we need,
can’t we buy again to be better
consumers, good citizens? Open
your wallet. Show respect for our once
in a lifetime tycoon—he who didn’t
fabricate these synthetic flags we wave
but was savvy enough to silkscreen
his name in the white space between bars,
stars, and sell each for triple markup.
Don’t you feel satisfied? How could you not
be convinced it’s still a steal?
– Kyle Dargan
Kyle Dargan is an associate professor of literature and director of creative writing at American University (Washington, DC). More information about his work can be found at www.american-boi.com.
Author photograph © Lucian Perkins.