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Thursday, April 07, 2016


by Ned Balbo

Piñata by Dalton Javier Ramirez, Piñateria Ramirez.

"He knew human folly like the back of his hand . . . "

He said the things we didn’t know we felt—
hard truths that showed us what we really feared,
and whom. We listened as he lifted guilt
from our collective conscience. What we heard
reached to the core, though each of us heard something
different that convinced us he was right.
We heard, beyond our borders, rumbling;
within our borders, reason taking flight—
It felt like freedom. In our neighbors’ eyes
we saw a common light, or signs of doubt
that marked the enemies he’d brutalize,
the former friends we’d learn to live without…
His jokes amused us, booming from the stage—
We dreaded—and looked forward to—his rage.

Author’s note: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies” (Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal, 1987).

Ned Balbo's The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems received the Poets' Prize and the Donald Justice Prize. His previous books are Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Prize; ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal), and Galileo's Banquet (Towson University Prize). A new book, Upcycling Paumanok, is due out soon from Measure Press. He currently teaches in the MFA program in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University.