Jack Martin | No President Left Behind
Jack Martin lives in Colorado with wife and sons. His poems have appeared recently in The Journal, Quarterly West, Rhino, The Hogtown Creek Review, and Florida Review.
I will hold my ground, he said not exactly bellowing the wind that came out of the cannon until the cannon was only wind. And one of the windows held, but the White House blew down, and its crippled pieces hobbled into infinite distance.
And a bit of grass and some trees held, but the soil blew away. And the President didnt budge, but the continent eroded, and all of the continents things took off until all of the continents eroded, and the oceans evaporated and left with their fish and their boats and their archipelagos, and the molten iron sphere at the center of things cooled and rolled away,
until only a few breaths of wind remained tugging at the president who, as his clothes disappeared a thread at a time, leaned on a window gazing out at the bit of grass and the trees and the white hot eye of the sun alone among stars without sky.
Im putting on my gardening gloves, kicking the banisters off the stairway, jumping in my work boots up and down on the Mary Poppins dvd, and Im going out on the porch to see if I can make the neighbors cry. Im putting ink in the gas tank, writing to the president to let him know how Im doing, sitting in the lowest branch of a tall tree, and waiting until he replies. Im putting it on this page like a spot of food, like a red mite squishing, yes, in the process, body crunching, splitting open to let out the mite juice under the weight of my too, too human thumb. Im putting up my dukes and swinging on the porch. Let him think Im still in the tree. Im putting my hands on the porch rail and leaning out. This lawn makes a terrible ocean.
Every word means its opposite. Of course it does.
Its always one-thirty in the morning here.
Which would you protect first? Your family?
What would happen if we all form a single file line at the White House gate?
What do I want?
A quarter acres as good as the world,
Do we ever get back what weve lost?
We were surrounded.
Sometimes I wear antlers. Other times I let my attitude carry me. Once in a frenzy, now somewhere between a bacchic state and dancing, letting it all go on a corner on the Hill. God knows how long my limbs had been flailing, my ten fingers spread wide at the ends of my arms, knees and elbows jutting and pumping. I was a lasso spinning. I was a Cruise missile, and I had launched. I was a new interpretation of the Constitution, a Texas slot machine drinking Eisenhower dollars, burning arms on an event horizon, a bark traveling from dog to dog to dog. I was an extinct insect species resurrected. I was the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. I was disinformation about Christ. DNA, RNA, cyclotron, hemostat, dishwashing machine, armor, tank, bomb. I found myself falling.
I push myself back up to my feet, the concrete pressing a different pointillistic landscape into each of my palms, everybody on the corner is looking as my body clicks again into the rhythms of dollars and cents, as my arms and legs jiggle, as my head again swivels and the street lights above me blur, as air repeatedly fills my lungs and withdraws, I know its hard, its hard, its hard to be the president.
We put on clean clothes.