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Friday, August 03, 2018


by Ned Balbo

President Trump . . . can usually be counted on to blame “both sides.” Be the topic race relations, international affairs or the “civility” debates, Trump often refuses to point a finger.’ —Eugene Scott,  Washington Post,  July16, 2018

“We’re not so innocent—I blame both sides,”
the President declares. The sound bite fades,
and one more false equivalence provides

fuel for our growing fears . . . What purpose guides
the morning tweetstorms that alarm his aides?
He says he’s innocent but plays both sides—

victim, aggressor . . . Taking aim, he chides
“fake news” or deep state Dems for his misdeeds,
reporters stonewalled when his staff provides

truth-challenged briefings . . . Shrugging, he abides
the torch-lit violence of Alt-Right brigades,
or followers gone rogue—“I blame both sides,”

he tells us—but when bribe or blackmail leads
him to berate our allies, order raids, 
or mock due process that the law provides

for refugees, he bellows forth, divides
us,  stands with tyrants proudly, adds, “Besides, 
what’s done is done. There’s no point taking sides”—

Who profits from the chaos he provides? 

Ned Balbo’s books include Upcycling Paumanok (Measure Press, 2016) and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line), awarded the Poets’ Prize and Donald Justice Prize. 3 Nights of the Perseids (University of Evansville Press, forthcoming) was selected by Erica Dawson for the 2018 Richard Wilbur Award. He recently concluded three years as a visiting faculty member in Iowa State University's MFA program in creative writing and environment. He is married to poet-essayist Jane Satterfield.