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Friday, September 04, 2020


by Ed Shacklee

Famed for toxic prattle and gelatinous physique,
combining theft with battle, it assails the poor and weak
while herding mulish cattle with its games of hide and seek.

Exhibiting surprise if folk decry its sly venality,
it mocks with blatant lies. Its crooked, looking glass morality
enables wolves’ disguise of greed with sheepskins of frugality.

Partly turtle, partly snake, a spineless omnivore,
the terror of Kentucky, this dystopian dinosaur
has lined its nest with feathers but is always plucking more,

and creeps through halls of power like a sleepy Southern breeze.
Its purse-lipped, goggled glower bringing cowards to their knees,
it stalks a fatal hour or a moment it can seize.

But piles of cash are paper thin and make for flimsy armor,
and miles of rural roads can never daunt the brave reformer,
and while the trail has gotten cold, I’m told it’s getting warmer;

for babies vilely kissed in past campaigns will not forget
the rabies it has spread, or tears we’ve shed—which are still wet—
and maybe time will tell us why the Russians play roulette.

Resist, my heart! and choose, so there may be a morning when you
wake to light a fuse and then demand a change of venue—
that longed for, lucid day when turtle soup is on the menu.

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who lives on a boat in the Potomac River. His first collection, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was published by Able Muse Press in 2017.