November 3, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Joe Flood photo



Wally Swist




Ringmaster of the Ridiculous



You wear that put-on

scowl on your evil clown face because

you want to look as imposing as


Teddy Roosevelt or Winston Churchill,

but if they were both alive today

they would revile your dishonest ways.


While addressing the boy scouts,

who are instructed in their acquisitions

of merit badges that living a life


is all about the honor you bring to it,

you could not even imagine what to say

about what living an honorable life


could be.  One lie for you is as good

as another, and you might even believe

them for the moment they are issuing


from your mouth, but if your catchphrase

rhetoric of draining the swamp has any

element of truth to it, you can find


the origin of what needs to be dredged

within the cesspool of yourself.

Dark harbinger of nuclear war, wretched


palaverer of the insidious, foul-mouthed

encryptioner of what is fabricated and

false, you set people apart instead of


bringing them together for any purpose

of merit.  It’s not that you lack integrity but

you don’t even know what it might be.


The fires of the afterlife smoke around

the envisioned caricature of yourself

on Mount Rushmore, wound in the razor


wire of your lies.  Any pardon you might

grant yourself or your family will not be

enough for your exoneration in the eyes


of the citizens of the world.  Your

wife, Melania, is boycotted in Canada for

participating in Invictus, an athletic


competition held for disabled war

veterans, because you have disparaged

the disabled.  How ironic that she also


supports an anti-bullying campaign

while you bully anybody who stands in

your disadvantageous path.  Merchant


of madness, ringmaster of the ridiculous,

impertinent loudmouth whose falsehoods

stick to the flypaper of your forked tongue,


may the karmic wheel come to a stop

at where, as with all of us, the actions

of our deeds come due, and may we


reclaim our world before your errant

schemes lead into launching us

into an act of desperation and the fallout


of your ballistic temper rains

improvidently across the intemperate skies

with the ultimate despair of no return.





Smudge Stick



Regarding a portrayal of Trump as being

a tepid as tap water, I believe that is correct.

But he is as dangerous as a Mussolini.

That is his quiddity and an ingredient of his

odd strength: he is and he is not.

And the allusion here to an insane magician

is keen here.  He has crafted a life of being

a slippery fish and a slippery fish is he: a real

stinker of a bottom feeder.  I once caught

a sucker fish so large I had to wedge it

between my left arm and chest so that I could

take out the hook stuck in the cartilage below

its lip with my right hand.  I had been trout

fishing one morning and I brought up this

monster from out of its daze in the river mud.

I threw the fish back into the water, and it still

may be there years later.  However, we don’t

have the same option with Trump.  We can’t

just return him to our metaphorical river.

He is just a sheer bane on the existence

of mankind and its chance of surviving with

any possible amount of grace in the world.

I wish we could just extinguish Trump

like a bad candle—by snuffing it out

and purifying the wax of his errant ways in

a bonfire.  I wish we could just use a sage,

sweetgrass, and cedar smudge stick to smoke

Trump out of lives and our consciousness, just

cleanse ourselves of his immanent madness

and his nascent evil nimbus, which flash

across the loony darkness of his clown face.





Jackass Bend



He said he was born on Long Island,

but we really need to see his birth certificate

for God’s honest proof.  Truth is

he’s really from Jackass Bend, one of many

little Trumpvilles dotting

the Electoral College map red, where they

walk backwards instead of forward, never

tell the truth-truth, and always scratch their

heads.  Trouble is the Russians have

the Kompromat on him—

the time the real estate mogul was nailed

on camera, hiring prostitutes

to perform a golden shower all over

the mattress the Obamas slept on.

American values in malaise.  The raw

underbelly of what is great and righteous.

The branding of evangelism and evil.

Anywhere you look, everything that you

see, and all that that is heard from those

gilded lips is mendacity.  He isn’t really

an American, and he isn’t making America

great.  What is happening now won’t

ever make the country the same again.

He’s just an out and out louse.

He’s the man who pardoned Joe Arpaio

for immigrant roundups.  He’s Commander

-in-Thief.  He’s the lying thug

who is no one’s amigo, America’s shadow,

everyone’s Uncle Lucifer from Jackass Bend.







Wally Swist

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012); The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Press, 2015); Invocation (Lamar University Press, 2015), and The Windbreak Pine(Snapshot Press, 2016). Forthcoming books include: The View of the River (Kelsay Books, 2017), Candling the Eggs (Shanti Arts, LLC, 2017), and Singing for Nothing from Street to Street: Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir (The Operating System, 2018).

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