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Monday, January 25, 2021


by Thomas R. Smith

January 20, 2021

The helicopter circling Washington
before the inauguration—what was it
really we were seeing in the sky over
the Capitol going farther away,
growing smaller in the eyes of the nation?

Almost pure archetype, the Unloved One
inflicting his unlovedness on the kingdom.
And perhaps nothing human could have changed that.
Too late, the damage done in the cradle
cemented, a secular damnation.

Everything ruined, everything fallen, and
worst of all nothing learned. I don’t want
to wallow in the pathos of that self-
inflicted doom. Far better to save our
tears for those four hundred thousand who

needn’t have died, and for the uncounted
number of injured he’s left in his wake.
Air Force One lifts off from Andrews
to the strains of “My Way,” a last bloody
handprint blazoned on the wall of ego.

It didn’t have to end this way.  Or more
terribly, maybe it did.  Do you
remember how Mary Shelley ended
Frankenstein? “He was soon borne away
by the waves and lost in distance and darkness.”

As the wind blows the clouds away from
the sun on a January day above
the Capitol, a helicopter like
a dark airborne wound grows smaller and
smaller until it can no longer be seen.

Thomas R. Smith is a poet and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His most recent poetry collection is The Glory (Red Dragonfly Press).