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Monday, March 13, 2017


by Thomas R. Smith

Late afternoon sun on snow. Intense
flare concentrated in the west, skimming
cold shadows pooling below the dam.
On the path I stop a moment to commiserate
with a friend, both of us scalded by
the daily piss shower out of the White House.
Still January and the open river
hosts hundreds of ducks, geese, and swans. The new
EPA head listens to oil and coal
companies but not the community
of beings. I see my neighbors the water-
birds almost every day. I must owe them
something. Does money and power have
the right to disregard their fate? Ryan
and Pence stand smirking behind T***p while
the lit fuse sparks past their ankles.
Do they really believe that only
the President will be burned? Things can
get corrupted so inconspicuously—
a file, water, air, democracy—that we often
notice only when the screen’s gone blank.
The body politic knows it’s infected,
will the immune system mobilize?
The purveyors of “alternate facts” tried to
smear Rachel Carson too.  Heroically
she saved us from ourselves. Do we have it
in us to save us from ourselves this time?
I look out past the fliers and swimmers
at home on the river, toward the sun’s
setting splendor.  Our twilight will be
uglier, like the men at the top. To them
say, Earth first! You can’t be my government
if you won’t be the government of the geese.

Thomas R. Smith has had hundreds of poems published on three continents.  In the United States, his poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  His poems were included in Editor's Choice II (The Spirit That Moves Us Press), a selection of the best of the American small press, and in The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner).  His work has reached wide national audiences on Garrison Keillor's public radio show Writer's Almanac and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. His most recent book of poems is The Glory from Red Dragonfly Press.