One day I’ll run for POTUS, Says the Young Poet


This poem was originally accepted by POETRY magazine but was withdrawn by the author in protest.

And just like that, with most votes won,
the young poet’s presidency chariots in
a renewed reign of arts and letters:

each speech a thesis in meter,
pauses pregnant,
line work like embroidery
on beige tulle.

Literacy in the U.S. spikes its head upward—
groundhog from its burrow—perturbed
by camera flash and human laughs.

A June Jordan portrait in the Blue Room;
the Oval Office stacked with Langston Hughes books;
Adrienne Rich plaque in the Rose Garden
made of white stone
to match the colonnade.

Poems on billboards.
Poet shout-outs in hit pop songs.
Celebs spotted with books of poems picked by book stylists.

Poetry scholars convene to close read State of the Union addresses,
now their own elevated genre of broadcast art.

And shall we rename it a slam once the poet pours
bombs like pail over pot?

What’s the poetics glossary’s equivalent euphemism
for ‘collateral damage?’

How is the sonnet’s volta, its hard shift away,
like change in regime by outside force?

While they onboard,
will border agents need to read Whitman?

Will the anthem at last see a rewrite
by POTUS themselves?

POTUS poet, please write it as a villanelle
that’s also a blues poem
that’s also a bop
whose rhythm rocks the soldier’s boots,
shoulders slinging assault rifles lined
in lines from Hamilton,
no, not Alexander—Lin-Manuel, Kidz Bop hip-hop
for feel-good empire.

But let’s take the poet in best faith.
Let’s say the poet loathes extraction, war, money
as religion, religion as state,
hides it all well enough to take an election.

How does the poet answer to Congress,
to the Court?
What good is the poet’s heart to carrion,
unmoving: a tomb of checks and balances?

Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant wove verse in quatrains.
Warren G. Harding penned love poems.
Jimmy Carter wrote a collection of 44
titled Always a Reckoning, and Other Poems.
A mediocre poet, Michiko Kakutani called him.

The young poet comprehends precedence.
The young poet comprehends the president’s job.

The young poet comprehends the president’s job
and still wants it, and how

ironic—having lived among pheasants
in the oat rows, soon become the hallowed hunt.

How iconic of a poet
to gift writers more need to write.

How to Be Extraordinary in America

The O-1 extraordinary ALIEN Visa, aka the Genius Visa, is granted to an ALIEN who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, and who has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

Take Heart

history: each — animal migrates

Vote, or...

I believe we each have a fight, specific and distinct to us. I do not believe that toil begins or ends at the ballot box.