Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Michael Bazzett





The President Explains Things

When people question my policies,
raising their questions and concerns,
I nod respectfully then take scissors
and stab them in the meat of their leg.
When people question my credibility,
I stab them in the leg. If they disagree
with me in public? Stab! Private? Stab!

Late at night, after cable news shows
have fallen silent, I open the scissors
wide and use a single blade to scrape
the horn my son brought back from
killing big game in Africa, honing it
to a point. It’s a kudu horn. Or Ibex.

In any case, huge horn. I shave away
bits of bone and it relaxes me. Then
I lift it like some crazy spear and stab
you! In the leg! For wasting your time
reading poems. That you insist upon
doing so means you think you’re free.


Things To Do During Your American Visit

Put your mouth on a gun. Lick it everywhere
including the dark hole. Bedazzle its barrel with

sequins. Name it after your cat and announce,
Behold, my pussy. This obscures the violence

of dismembering words from their meanings.
Visit your local craft store to buy the solution.

Soak the word in oil then peel it from its hide.
Sometimes you have to tug a bit, like the farmer

from Iowa who came ashore with a fish-basket
full of whiskered bullheads. We used to call them

trash-fish. He used a filet knife to knick a curled
brown flap at the base of each skull then took

pliers to inch off the dark skin like a damp sock.
The whole fish made tiny stretching sounds.

It was probably still alive. But not enjoying it.
You can then handle the word like the naked

muscle it is, opalescent and weeping. This will
come in handy when the headlines try to froth

mobs into frenzy without explaining exactly
how the streets will be cleansed by the rivers

of blood. The curled lip of power is petulant
and smug. Check out the Roman statues. They

say plenty when they’re clamped shut. Stoned.
Nothing’s more delicious than licking the salty

fat from your enemies’ bones. Tastes a bit like
chicken. When you get home, please tell your

neighbor. It’s as easy as π. Easy as explaining
freedom to a hive full of seething venom.

Michael Bazzett’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, 32 Poems, Copper Nickel, and The Iowa Review. He is the author of three poetry collections: You Must Remember This (Milkweed 2014), a winner of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, Our Lands Are Not So Different (Horsethief 2017), and The Interrogation (Milkweed 2017)—as well as a forthcoming verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh (Milkweed). The recipient of a 2017 NEA Fellowship in Poetry, he lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children. More from this author →