Thursday, June 7, 2018

For art's sake: Some people write poems the way Donald Trump makes deals

This morning, as part of a feature on how the administration is approaching the summit meeting with North Korea next Tuesday, NPR played an audio clip of Donald Trump praising his "art of the deal."

With a Google search, I found this boast was also a tweet from way back in December 2014: "Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That's how I get my kicks."

That got me to thinking about how five great American poets could function as Trump conduits, in revisions of one famous poem each, if they were around to represent his manner, his style, and his values. The titles of the actual poems on which these Trumpified verses are based appear in parentheses after the poets' names. My shorter versions reflect the President's short attention span.


Hart Crane (Proem to “The Bridge”)



How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest,
Bob Mueller’s wings shall dip and pivot him
Shedding fake rings of tumult, building high
A witch hunt aiming for my Liberty.

Then, with fake-news charges, fool the eyes
As apparitional as media double cross
On pages of commentary filed away
Since that escalator dropped me into play.

O sleepless vigilance that undermines
The best president this nation ever had
And stalls our pledge to make America great
With baseless fears of Russian meddling. Sad!


E.A. Robinson (“Miniver Cheevy”)

Crooked Hillary, child of scorn
Grows mean as she assails the season
Of 2016 — just hear her mourn
     Lacking any reason.

Hillary thought I had no chance
And said she won the popular vote:
She counted illegal immigrants,
     It’s only fair to note.

Hillary sighed for what was not
And dreamed a Clinton dynasty,
But I won bigly, I was hot
     With most people. See?

Hillary lost the prize she sought
And still can’t stand to be without it;
Hillary’s thought and thought and thought
     And thought about it.

Crooked Hillary can’t relate
“What Happened”— her book clearly fails:
Hillary’s dreams are lost to fate
     With those e-mails.

Robert Frost (“Fire and Ice”)


Fire and Fury

Some say my term will end in fury,
Some say in fire.
We’ll see; the answer’s kind of blurry.
I tell my base they should not worry.
Try to relax, sit back, admire:
I’m bigger than the ones that hate,
My power to pardon rises higher
And it’s so great:
Am I a liar?


Walt Whitman  (“Song of Myself”)

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to you as good belongs to me....
Maybe better, to tell you the truth.

I loafe at Mar-a-Lago and invite my soul.
I lean and covfefe at my ease…. observing the spears of Fox & Friends.

Houses and rooms are full of fake news… Cyberspace is crowded with fake news.
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and do not mind it too much, maybe a little.
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

My atmosphere is not a perfume….it has no taste of the distillation… it is odorless,
It is like the bubble Scott Pruitt lives in… I am in love with it.
I will go to the banks and my hotels and become undisguised and naked
Except for my dark suit with the flag lapel pin, white shirt and long red tie.
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


Emily Dickinson (“Success is counted sweetest”)



Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To close a deal the victor
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all my family, friends,
Who benefit from Me
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory,

As those defeated, crying,
To whose foreboding eyes
The constant strains of triumph
Are tweeted. No surprise!