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Monday, November 23, 2009


by Michele F. Cooper

Barack salaams the Emperor,
cameras rolling and Fox lit for joy.
“We don’t bow,” they insist.
“He’s a Muslim, a fake, has links
to terrorists, wasn’t even born here,”
all on prompts before the President
straightens up and CNN’s showing tapes
of Nixon and Eisenhower bowing low.

No salaams for an old lady,
stooped as she walks to the bus.
She’s been cowed by the years
since she lost the twins
in Qandahar , caught in crossfire
on their way to a temple station,
plus the neighbor's boys in Iraq ,
scared to death, they were,
saying their last goodbyes at Hood.

I asked Barack, after shaking his hand
and keeping my posture tall,
why he salaamed that skinny emperor.
“In a word?” he asked. “Respect.”

Michele F. Cooper is the first-place winner in Poetry Canada's Rhymed Poetry Competition and the TallGrass Poetry Competition, second-place winner in the Galway Kinnell Poetry Competition, author of two books and numerous published poems, founding editor of the Newport Review and Crone's Nest literary magazines, and of a chapbook series, Premier Poets. She recently won honorable mentions in the Emily Dickinson and New Millennium Poetry Competitions. Her book Posting the Watch has just been published by Turning Point, the narrative poetry imprint at WordTech. She is listed in Who's Who in America, Contemporary Authors, and the Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers, among others. She recently moved from the edge of a small horse farm (not hers) to Providence, RI, and now to the Cleveland area, where she writes and works as a book editor.