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“In This Phase In The 58th American Presidentiad (United States)”

 “In This Phase In The 58th American Presidentiad (United States)”

. . . in this phase of the American

experiment acts of systemic

oligarchic thievery crushed

into the body of a child in a chain-

linked cage in a row of tents

in an old warehouse clutching

a copy of her mother’s ID card; amped-up

signs. Whitman’s To the States, To Identify

the 16th, 17th, or 18th Presidentiad:

“What deepening twilight—scum floating

atop of the waters. . . What a filthy

Presidentiad! . . . is that the President?”

Precious, preening, blond cotton candy hair,

swastikas are his aura—capable,

very capable of changing into

whatever he wants, he says, lips puckered,

his bombs, they’re beautiful bombs,

his generals, they’re beautiful generals,

beautiful the word he uses to describe

missiles he sells to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

His own hell, he owns it, in his own shit,

feet of lackey weasels clamped

onto his pot-bellied stomach, teeth stuck

in his puffed-up jaw. Equities levitating higher,

capital-captive carbon dioxide

unleashed, prison construction

outsourced to Party-regular racketeers—

no, we can’t restore our civilization

with someone else’s babies, no, they’re not innocent,

they’re not people, they’re animals

and we’re taking them out of the country

at a level and a rate like never before

into foster care or wherever—sing-song voice

almost a whisper, his eyes—are they eyes?—are dead.

And his Attorney General—is that his name,

really, Ku Klux Kluxer III?—invokes not just law

but God’s law, Paul, Epistle to the Romans 13,

God’s will, the divine order of things demands

government agents treat the poor like inventory,

identities lost, irreparable damage to the structure

of brains. Hatred their brand, they love to hate;

to make their money and to hate. Killing—

is jubilate a word? They jubilate at it. Killer

robots, drones, artificial intelligence powered

ships, tanks, planes and guns, in air and on sea,

under sea and on land, the future:

lethal autonomous weapons systems—LAWS—

in this phase in the 58th American Presidentiad.


tales of two planets

This poem appears in the anthology Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World, edited by John Freeman. Excerpted with permission from Penguin Books. All rights reserved.

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