Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Links

























“It’s not even O.K. to go golfing with the president, saying 
that it’s about showing respect for the office, not the man. 
Sorry, but when the office is held by someone trying to 
undermine the Constitution, doing anything that normalizes 
him and lends him respectability is a political act.”
                                                Paul Krugman

                    
                              1

If McIlroy golfing with  Trump was not 
an endorsement, then it was a cheap shot
by two con artists, Donald and Rory,
using the media to sell their story
by executing a clever chip shot.

A chip shot approaches the verdant scene—
meaning both the money and the green—
by lofting the ball, in a kind of soft sell,
Trump as Peter Pan, Rory as Tinker Bell,
cashing in like an ATM machine.

Trump’s a scurvy real estate brigand, 
born and raised in Queens, on Long Island, 
profiting from a life-long real estate scam,
making promises not worth a tinker’s damn,
smiling all the time while orange tanned.

With his torso twisting and his chin jutting,
Rory made his millions driving and putting,
a Catholic from Northern Ireland,
the United Kingdom’s no-man’s land,
where papists find it hard to find their footing.

His devoted dad worked hundred-hour weeks
cleaning toilets and fixing bathtub leaks
to finance the little shaver’s golf career,
while his mother delighted the little dear 
by buying Scottie Tam o’ Shanter batiks.

Donald and Rory make gifts to charity 
to maintain the illusion of parity 
between the strongman and the wuss,
between the rich and the rest of us
who don’t profit from their prosperity.  

Trump and McIlroy, the odd couple—
Presbyterian teachers, papist pupils,
sleights of hands in golf gloves
in a field of financial foxgloves
where their money quadruples.

                               2

In golf Trump’s such an inveterate cheater
that if he played his own mother he’d cheat her.
Even shanking, he ends up with the best lie,
and when challenged blusters like Captain Bligh,
not face to face but as a tweeter.

It’s really hard to know what he  thinks
when he’s golfing on his many links.
Since he’s unable to conceptualize, 
he obsessives over the small size
of his fingers playing tiddledywinks.

Because he’s not particularly well hung,
Trump’s like a brass bell that’s never rung,
like a flagpole on which no flag flies,
like a gossip columnist who never pries,
or like a stirring hymn that’s never sung.

Speaking of size, I perhaps should relate  
that on his Florida Mar-A-Lago estate
Trump  erected an eighty-foot-tall flagpole
in the proximity of the eighteenth hole.
Fit-to-be-tied, county officials were irate.

Trump’s notorious for innumerable  torts
and the eighty-foot pole ended up in the courts
where, snatching compromise from the jaws  of defeat,
his lawyers negotiated “a pole of ten less feet,”
which sounds like a puzzle by Will Shortz.

                              3

Trump’s a pusillanimous,  backstabbing 
draft dodger who’s perpetually blabbing,
who’s continually trying to save face,
a potbellied non-entity, a bonafide nutcase
who, when he’s not gabbing, is pussy grabbing.

If he would release his tax returns 
we could learn how much he really earns,
but he adamantly absolutely refuses to
release that information to public view,
saying it’s none of their concerns.    

If he wasn’t among the very prominent,
and especially if wasn’t president—
the quizzical equivalent of the Grand Teton—
there’d be those who’d say he was only a pee-on
in a Golden Shower that glows like neon.

When president Trump owns the venue,
it seems terrible but unfortunately true,
not only that he’s his daughter’s sugar daddy, 
but  also that the devil’s his caddy
and the Gold Surfboard his favorite hairdo.

And who created that hairdo, Max Factor?
Max wasn’t a producer, not even an actor.
His real name was Maksymilian Faktorowicz.
Was it he who covered up Trump’s MPHL glitch?
Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

When President Trump owns the venue
there’s  nothing much you can do  
about his excesses, such as  his gold tresses
and mad, impromptu state of the world addresses
because he’s allegedly a “billionaire,” not you.

                              4

And speaking of having little time,
Trump complained it was a crime
how much of it Barack spent on the greens.
When he was president he was Mr. Greenjeans
whose on-link lolling was pure downtime.

But now that Trump’s the president 
the unprecedented time not spent
in the Oval Office is allegedly as negligible
as the time he was putatively eligible
for the draft, which was nonexistent.

If  Trump owned only a single course,
we would still live under his curse. 
Even if he didn’t own a single link,
even if he had the ability to think,
he’d still be going nowhere in reverse.  

Some golfers lead normal lives,
have cars, kids, and love their wives,
but, unlike our non-majoritarian president,
they don’t believe they’re heaven-sent,
and don’t expect ballyhoo and high fives.

When the president owns the venue,
he doesn’t need to apologize to you.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law,
and it’s his balls sticking in your craw
and his clubs producing the revenue. 

That after all is the bottom line:
whose money it is, whose gold mine.
Whether you’re a peasant or a czar,
a round of golf usually averages par,
whether it’s  eighteen holes or nine.

                              5

But with Trump life’s Russian roulette;
he takes his chances and gets what he can get.
He’s a  greedy, pathological narcissist 
whom his brainless followers can’t resist,
but everyone else would love to forget.

They’re not amused by all his guff,
his holes-in-one and escapes-from-the-rough,
by  eighty-foot flagpoles reduced to seventy,
and other trumped up stuff aplenty.
With Trump enough’s never enough.

Because what’s at stake is civilization
versus nothing less than nuclear annihilation.
Think of the things that we take for granted
that may with his presidency be  supplanted,
such as thousands of years of evolution—

from apes to erect Homo sapiens,
to Captain Kirk from unfriendly aliens,
to liberal Republicans from Dixiecrats,
from beds of nails to ergonomic yoga mats,
from dreadful addictions to harmless yens.

                              6

The age of Trump is hard to believe,
and, like a virgin birth, hard to conceive.
Is it by chance repressed anality?
Isn’t that, at  least a possibility,
that it's a case of Adam and Steve?

The small stubby fingers, the very tight grip,
the deep, sinking feeling, the very tight ship,
the paunch, the jowls, the disappearing chin?
Now look at the trouble we’re in:
he’s about to hand each of us a pink slip.

Are we  failures on The Apprentice,
handicapped, without a prosthesis?
Are holes-in-one our secular religion
and is our Oxford not Harvard but Wharton
where the Golf Club forges links of avarice?

When you own the links you play on,
you can be as brainless as Ronald Reagan. 
Who’s going to complain? Only news freaks 
believe in those Golden Shower leaks
in which Trump plays a lowly pee-on.

Like a golf course without greens or holes,
or a materialistic monastery without souls,
are we the victims of a merciless heel
programmed to cheat, lie, and steal,
by one of the world’s great assholes.

                              Robert Forrey

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Barking Dog





I hear a barking dog  in the distance,
disconsolately, at night, frustrated 
by its own inarticulateness,
lacking the words by which humans dictated

to it what could and could not possibly be,
not only in dog shows where some win prizes
for breeding and being a good doggie
but in dog pounds where a mutt realizes

it’s lost its master, an orphaned Toto,  
and among the hydrants where it pees  
there’s no Shakespearean pup, no “upstart crow,”
to articulate a dog’s epiphanies,

to use words as wings, to soar above,
skywriting a dog’s fidelity and love.

                              Robert Forrey 










Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thermopylae






The narrow pass at Thermopylae
once only several hundred feet wide,
now, as far as the eye can see,
is over five miles from side to side.
Over millennia many’s the battle
been fought, gore and  blood spilled,
the combatants decimated like cattle, 
grim acres by the stern god of war tilled.
The name Thermopylae translates as “hot gates,”
through which hot springs of hell bubble over,
a cauldron of fatalities and sulfates,
like cracked skulls in a field of clover.
Mineral springs normally spawn health spas:
Thermopylae breathed brimstone and grew claws. 

                                        Robert Forrey



Monday, February 6, 2017

Ovid, Woody Hayes, and me


An 8 foot bronze statue of Woody Hayes in Columbus, Ohio

























I hate the Buckeye state with a passion,
a state that’s never been in fashion,
a state of mind as much as anything,
a state of anxiety and Anchor Hocking,
depression glass and bug-eyed fiction.

Ovid in exile in Romania—
the literal Transylvania—
that is what the Buckeye state is like.
I hoped Trump would take a hike,
but he won here and in Indiana.

Why, O why, did I come to Ohio,
this rustbelt of hicks and no-mo,
this land of rivers and lakes polluted,
Midwestern pride strained and convoluted,
in cities like Columbus and Toledo.

The state of presidents but not prescience,
of conviction but not much conscience,
of Rutherford B. and Woody Hayes.
Of the latter I say, “Heavenly Days!”
He was demented with winning and offensive.

Woody embodied Midwestern lack of esteem
and became wrapped up in his dream team,
The Ohio State Buckeyes, which displayed
to effete easterners how the game’s played.
Woody was Ohio’s waking wet dream:

Thirteen Big Ten Conference titles, and trips
to more bowl games than the market has dips,
not to mention, at the risk of sounding
like boastful Buckeye braggarts, their resounding
five (count ‘em) national championships.

Woody went out of his Cotton-Bowl-picking mind,
punching players and officials as his sanity declined, 
tossing ten-yard marker chains into stands,
doing all but walking around on his hands
when his beloved Buckeyes fell behind. 

Instead of being institutionalized,
Woody became revered and lionized.
He achieved a kind of god-like status,
as though the object of a divine afflatus
that has been dutifully notarized.

At least Ohio’s number one in something,
in football, even if it’s sort of a dumb thing.
They’ve raised an eight foot statue of him
in what was a kind of Bronze Age whim,
rendering Woody Ohio’s ding-a-ling.

The great American novel is about where
the east is east and the midwest nowhere,
about a lad from the dregs of Dakota
who discovers there’s not a single iota
of hope in the wish “I’m not from there.”

As Ovid in exile longed for Rome.
I do too for my home sweet home
of Boston, “the Athens of America.”
But I’m exiled in this Siberia
with irritable vowel syndrome.

A man of letters, the a, b, c’s, 
a blowhard among the stooping Ph.D.’s,
a stoopnagle when it comes to the hex,
blinded by the truth, like Oedipus Rex,
I didn’t see the forest for the trees. 

I’ve been here for a quarter century
as if in debtors’ prison for penury.
In spite or because of my pain,
I feel I can’t ever go home again.
I’m like a hamstrung hung-up Mercury

who’s become a red state Appalachian, 
playing musical chairs, like Khachaturian,
without self-respect or clout, the odd man out,
the Lone Ranger’s “Get ‘em up, Scout,”
a rednecked prophet, an octogenarian.

Now Buckeye fever is less than an ember 
that I now conveniently can not remember,
just a little rust-belt historic domicile
where the banished live in exile.
It’s a long time from May to December.

I’ll depart in the form of cremation ash,
in a container made from a calabash,
strewn on the ocean off of the beach,
with waves of the future just out of reach.
Gladly did I learn and gladly teach. 

If only I had a tenth of Ovid’s talent,
if only I was gifted and multivalent
and turned my unhappiness into art
and talked to a partner heart-to-heart
instead of being forever ambivalent.



A statue of Ovid in Romania


















Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Murder of Crows


A "murder of crows" is a collective noun for a flock of crows. Wikipedia

1

       It was early March, with freshly fallen snow on the ground, and John and his four-and-a-half-year-old daughter Molly, whom he tended to coddle because she was born with a milder form of albinism. She wasn’t completely lacking in pigmentation, as albinos were, but she was alabaster and had the pale blue eyes and red irises characteristic of albinos. Father and daughter were taking advantage of the blue sky and windless day to get a little relief from their cramped apartment in a run-down building in a crime ridden-neighborhood. They were walking hand in hand, with John having the upper hand, with their earmuffs and boots on. When a policeman on a horse passed by and made a condescending tip of his cap to them, John felt safer, because even in daylight there were risks strolling in the neighborhood.

       Pointing to the horse, Molly said to her father, “Hossy,” and he had replied, “Yes, Molly, hossy.” Not far from John and Molly the horse deposited a small pile of steaming manure on the snow, triggering a series of events John would not soon forget.

       Molly who had watched the horse intently, pointed to the steaming pile and asked her father, “Poopy, daddy?”

       “Yes, Molly,” her father answered. “Poopy.”

       As if continuing a game they were playing, her father, to turn her attention away from the manure, pointed to their left at a prickly evergreen bush under which crouched a cat. “Look, Molly,” her father said. “Under the bush. There’s Kitty.”

       “Kitty?” Molly asked excitedly. That’s what they called the pink-eyed feral albino cat they occasionally saw in the neighborhood. Molly squinted to see the cat whose whiteness had lost its luster and was now a sickly gray as a consequence of its homelessness. John was not religious, but he was superstitious and when he had first seen the albino cat, he could not believe it was just a coincidence. When it came to spirits, he was more inclined to believe in the devil than God.

       Kitty would not allow anyone to get close enough to pet her, not that any adults would be tempted, and even most children, with the exception of Molly, looked upon Kitty with fear and a few with loathing. “Ugh!” John had heard one disgusted teenage boy say. “Somebody should shoot that ugly bitch.”

       John looked around, trying to figure out if the crouching Kitty was in a stalking state or whether like Molly she was simply looking at the steaming manure left by the imperturbable passing horse. Skittish and unsociable, never knowing where her next meal was coming from, Kitty looked starkly undernourished. But John never heard of cats eating excrement and doubted Kitty would ever, even if she were starving, stoop to manure.

       “Daddy, look,” Molly said, pointing again, this time at the huge ancient sycamore tree to the right of the manure.

       “Look at what, Molly?” he asked, looking to where she pointed. “The sycamore tree?” Because of a genetic glitch in their make-up, the bark of a sycamore tree lacks the gene that makes the bark of most trees elastic, like human skin. Consequently, as the width of sycamores expands with growth, the bark splits in response, like a wound, and then subsequently heals, giving the titanic trees the appearance of a battled-scarred veteran of sylvan wars. Since they are long lived, sometimes as long as one or two hundred years, leafless sycamores look scarred to death in winter, like pale but beautiful asymmetrical skeletons.

       “No, Daddy,” Molly said, shaking her head rapidly to emphasize she was not pointing to the sycamore tree but to the birds that filled it. “Look at black birds.”

2

       “God!” John exclaimed, looking at the sycamore, astonished at the number of crows that were perched quietly in its limbs and branches. How long had the hundreds of crows been perched there without his having noticed them? Or had they just suddenly swooped in noiselessly, like refugees from night, a minute ago?

       “Where did they all come from? How long have they been there?” John asked. Of course, he was asking himself these questions, not his daughter. The numerous crows made the sycamore, instead of its customary mottled white and gray, look black as midnight. Crows fascinated John, especially when they formed a dense black cloud swirling in the sky like a black tornado. He wondered whether it was only one crow that led the rest of them to suddenly change direction, or did they collectively knew which direction the flock was going, as an oil spill flows in the direction dictated by the composition of the soil and the inclination of the landscape.

       John’s wife Daisy had been murdered late at night, coming alone home from the local tavern, carrying her white pocketbook whose glass mesh exterior glittered under the streetlights like tiny diamonds. Because the neighborhood they had moved to was crime-ridden, John had tried to dissuade her from carrying the bag, especially at night, because it was an invitation to the predatory boys that lived in the nearby housing project who roamed about the neighborhood after dark. Turning state’s evidence, one of the boys had subsequently confessed to the police that John’s wife had refused to give up her bag, even with the knife at her throat held by a hopped-up member of the gang. When she started screaming, the hopped-up member had slit her throat.

       There had been nothing of value in her bag, nothing but lipstick, a compact, and other makeup. Daisy couldn’t pass a mirror without refreshing her makeup. She had been eighteen with a clear, glowing complexion when he married her, but after the birth of Molly, the bloom in her cheeks had disappeared rapidly, like a rose in an autumn drought. John’s own drug addiction hadn’t helped, he guiltily admitted to himself. Growing up, he had avoided all stimulants, even coffee, but not crack cocaine. He had a two-year degree from a community college, where he had studied animal husbandry but the only job he had been able to find was as an assistant inspector with the the county weights and measures office. If he hadn’t lost that job after a random drug test, he and Molly would not have had to give up their ground floor apartment in a well kept up building in a better neighborhood on the other side of the city. Haunted by guilt he had vowed after his wife’s death to kick his addiction, for Molly’s sake, but he hadn’t managed to yet.

3

       “Here, Kitty,” Molly called when she finally saw the crouching cat under the bush. But the cat didn’t hear her. It hadn’t heard her not because her voice was faint but because almost all albino cats are deaf, as white cats in general are inclined to be.

       As if on cue, like an actor in a play, one of the crows flew down from the sycamore and alighted not far from the pile of manure, But instead of approaching the pile, the crow strutted back and forth, glancing all around as if wary of predators. Did the crow consider the father and child potential predators? John doubted it because crows were supposed to be among the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom, with the exception of course of homo sapiens, the thinking hominid. Crows had been around humans long enough to know which types to avoid. But if it wasn’t John and his daughter the crow was wary of, was it the albino cat under the prickly bush? Was the crow even aware of the cat under the bush? John was pretty sure the crow was aware of the cat, because not only are crows smart, they also have acute binocular vision. They can see much farther and clearer than people. Why then did the crow suddenly turn its back on the bush where the cat was hiding? Why did the crow stand stupidly in the snow on one foot, staring at the pile of manure from which it was only a foot or two away?

       The albino cat took advantage of the crow’s apparent lapse of alertness to stealthily crawl toward the crow in the soft snow, hoping to pounce on it by surprise. But as if it had eyes in the back of its head, and saw that the cat was crawling toward it, the crow was playing cat and mouse with the cat. When the cat suddenly stopped and sprang toward the crow, the crow acrobatically lifted itself by its wings into the air six feet above the ground. Instead of sinking its teeth and claws into the bird, the cat sank its nose deep into the pile of manure. Before the albino cat, perhaps disoriented by the smell of the still warm manure, had regained its balance and composure, before it had extricated itself from the manure, the birds in the sycamore took flight en masse, swooping down upon the cat, clawing and pecking at it unmercifully. In a half a minute Kitty was bleeding and blinded, one of its eyeballs hanging by some kind of thin ligature or integument out of its bleeding eye socket.

       Afraid that the crows would turn on him and Molly, John picked her up and hugged her protectively. Turning his back on the carnage, he ran in the snow, putting more distance between him and Molly and the crows. When he finally dared to stop to catch his breath, he looked back. The cat was a writhing blob of blood-soaked skin, bones, and intestines. Most of the crows had already taken to the blue sky, circling over his head, blocking out the sun, perhaps reconnoitering. His heart was pounding and he was afraid the birds would attack him and Molly.

       “Daddy,” Molly murmured, “Kitty dead.”

       “Yes, Kitty dead,” he answered somberly, and then repeated, “Kitty dead.” He took out a tissue and wiped her running red nose, He wondered as he continued to carry her  in the direction of their dingy living quarters, wondering whether the solitary crow had lured Kitty out of the prickly bush by feigning carelessness so that the flock could kill it. Were crows that smart? And that predatory? Had they attacked Kitty simply because she was a genetic mistake, a freak whom mother nature had assigned the smart crows the responsibility of culling from the gene pool of cats? He was not sure. He was not sure of anything, especially not when, still carrying and hugging Molly,  he looked up, not far from where they lived,  and saw a murder of crows circling in the sky above, blocking the sun.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Patch Quilt




Women are the walking wounded
in the battlefield of life
of deaths never sounded
the casualty of daughter and wife

believers in sighs matter
but not the battle of sexes
of jokers that hem and flatter
then hit her in the solar plexus

cards with wrapped intention
from the bottom of the deck
the mother of invention
cursed by the monthly check

relying on her feminine wiles
in the game of hope chests
and of adulterated smiles
and abandoned bird nests

chicks flying the coop
the crime of aging
walking with a stoop
with regrets raging

trying gamely to depart
with a shred of decency
but with a broken heart
not to look back and see

like Lot’s wife, a drear miss
a sweet pillar of salt
a miscarriage of justice
fathered by John Galt

woven by the distaff
a beautiful female delusion
a yarn of colorful chaff
a patch quilt of confusion.

          Robert Forrey



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