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Photograph by Jean Menjoulet

Dear President,

Oh president! Not my president! Our fearful trip is just beginning, I fear. The ship has begun to crack, the prize we sought is not so near.

No doubt, you picked up on the Whitman reference in those lines. It’s National Poetry Month, so I’m taking more time to write about the world using concise language. Your tweeting habit could lend itself to poetry, but that doesn’t seem your style – introspective, expressive with feelings, insightful…

Your recent budget proposal slashes the arts in unfathomable ways. Poetry, however, has historically always been culturally important. As John Keating (played by Robin Williams) said in Dead Poets Society, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Maybe your wife’s absence has made you forget these things. I suggest taking a break from your twittering – buy a journal, and start writing down observations and thoughts. You’re already cryptic in your speech; shoot for a certain depth of thought that comes from mulling over things before one speaks and from using a more expansive vocabulary. Sometimes models help. Here are a few, accessible poets: Taylor Mali, Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni, and our U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera (who has some comments for you, too).

Here’s a found poem based on a comment you made recently (words inside the parentheses are mine):

“I think (that’s debatable)

Our dollar

Is getting too strong (is that even possible?),

And partially that’s my fault

(you could take the blame for so many things…this is not one that you should Take credit for)

Because people have confidence in me

(I don’t have confidence in you…and I have millions and millions of friends). But that’s hurting — that will hurt ultimately.”

(Hurt who? Not the American people. Having a strong dollar could financially Hurt you and your billionaire buddies. Or did you mean that having confidence in you Will hurt the American people ultimately. Now on that we can agree.)

You need to instill more confidence in us as you work with other countries. You spar with volatile countries like North Korea as if you’re playing a game of Risk. This isn’t a game, Mr. President. Poetry can help here, too. Considering every word before you speak/write, brevity, and listening/considering your audience feed poetry and would, I’m sure, help you in delicate negotiations abroad and across the aisle.

Here’s a final poetic stanza about your Democrat/donkey colleagues:

The caged donkey sings with a fearful scream

Of things known and longed for in a dream

And her tune is heard on the distant scene

For the caged donkey screams with animus and anathema.

No doubt, you picked up on the Angelou reference in those lines.

As for the last two words…look them up…and get used to them.




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