May 2008 - THE POTOMAC

   Edward Field

After Milosz

What good is poetry
if it doesn’t stand up
against the lies of government,
if it doesn’t rescue us
from the liars that mislead us?
What good is it
if it doesn’t speak out, denounce what’s going on?
It’s nothing
but harmless wordplay to titillate and distract—
the government knows it,
and can always get rid of us if we step out of line.

That I believed in poetry,
even when I betrayed it,
that I came back to its central meaning
—to save the world—
this and only this
has been my own salvation.


My Favorite President

“What would you do if a nazi was raping your sister?”
“Interpose myself between them, of course.”

He was like all of us
who grew up on
D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller.

Still waving the banner of Sexual Freedom,
he demonstrated that nothing stops you,
you don’t let anyone or anything,

not even with the CIA out to catch you at it,
interrupt your sex life—
whatever the price.

He is the only President
I wouldn’t mind
going down on.

Listen, a friendly, good-looking guy like him?
Sure I’d suck that man’s dick—
anybody would.

Can you imagine doing it with any of the others— 
Nixon?  Harry Truman?
George Washington? Honest Abe?

He’s the first one in two hundred years
who looks like
he’d really enjoy it,

just a healthy southern boy
who loves to lie back
and be done thataway.

And most of the country
feels just like me—
that he’s got a right,

and even if he lies his head off when caught in the act,
swears on a stack of bibles,
we still want him to get away with it.

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