Across the Aisle

November 20, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Brown University photo






The following three poems are based on verbatim quotes from a conversation between Tom Perez and Michael Steele on November 19, 2018. The venue was a forum titled “Across the Aisle,” held at Brown University. Perez is the current chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Steele led the Republican National Committee from 2009 to 2011.




A Shitstorm



We have a long discussion ahead of us

Knowing what’s coming in the next two years:

A shitstorm!


I know the man in the Oval Office,

I know how he thinks.

And I can damn well

Assure you:


If he wants to be on the ballot,

All bets are off.

He’ll get on the ballot,

Oh, he’ll get on:


And it will be

A shitstorm.





Nothing But Money



In the world of dark money

You get walloped.

You don’t know who they are.


They have these great sounding names,

But you don’t know

Who sent it in.


A story I’ll tell you,

About money.


When in Texas,

I saw a bumper sticker:

“I’ll believe corporations are citizens

Only when I see Texas

Execute one.”


That’s apropos of nothing

But money.


Complete darkness and silence,

Dark money:

Who you are,

What your company does;

No one has a clue.


The disclosure process,

It’s a campaign finance lawyer’s

Full employment act.





With All Due Respect to Mr. Steele




With all due respect,

I feel that Mr. Steele

Hasn’t been able to defend himself.

Well, Mr. Steele,

Are you a loyal Republican?



A loyal Republican:

What the hell is that?

You’ll have to tell me

What that is.


If I’m loyal to Donald Trump

What would that mean?


No, I’m not neutral.

And you clearly don’t

Watch or follow me.


There’s no such thing

As a loyal Republican.

But I am a Republican

Because I chose to be

For 43 years of my life.


I chose it because the party

Has a value proposition

For the rights and freedoms of individuals

And those are guaranteed

In the Constitution.


But I thought –

This being the home of blacks to begin with –

It’s where we politically rooted ourselves –

I know, we’re not there today –

But on loyalty…


The party has not been loyal

To the values that I hold dear.


I would never ask you

Are you loyal to your party?

But that tells me where we are:

When you get into a forum

And you question someone’s loyalty to a brand

And not to a country

That’s a problem.


It’s a cult of personality,

But we’re doing this fight.

And when the fight is over,

What will be left?


Is it rock bottom?

Well, there’s always more

Bottom to hit.






Emily Madapusi Pera

Emily Madapusi Pera is based in Providence, RI. She has processed politics as poetry in previous works published by Tuck Magazine. You can follow her blog at and read more of her work at Scout & Birdie, Litro, and STORGY, among others.

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1 Comment

  1. Camille November 20, at 18:40

    "Is it rock bottom? Well, there’s always more Bottom to hit." I'm scared to see how much further we can sink. Well done, Emily!


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