Monica Rowley: #NotTrump Series
Some Advantages of a Nervous Breakdown When The Nation State is Turning Corporate Feudal in Front of Your Eyes and the Debate is Now Kleptocracy or Kakistocracy or Both
“I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided…
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.”
See you in the holes of America.
Poetry must be written.
But also be sure to read
the writing on the red hats
MOTHERFUCKERS, this is
the death of THE NATION STATE, which let’s face it:
good for the imperialists and colonizers and the rich, but the rest of the world
NOT SO FUCKING MUCH.
You can write with abandon.
You can fuck meter.
You can sit your fat ass prepositions all over the white space
of this page because covering the white is turning out to be preferable
and maybe even necessary.
Epic poetry is now back in —
you’ll need your imagination.
The Poets must be verbose now.
The current leader, the spearhead of this 9-5 serfdom, is winning
brevity with his 140 character ruling decrees.
Terseness is something to leave behind.
(A lot of my male friends will not like this stance,
but you and I both know those men that object
still resist a female lead;
and you’ll take this longwinded bitch
in a foxhole
over their sparse verse
well not any day—
actually not most days,
but you will on the day
the shit hits the fan).
WE ARE GOING TO BE IN CRISIS.
I am one shitty poet,
but turns out I
am also a good-ole-fashioned,
type of suffragist,
poet of a patriot.
Seems politics are starting to loop back
around to needing my type of poetry.
I am with you in the holes of America.
I read too much history.
I have too many facts
to not WARN you,
that this time—
it is different.
Things won’t really ever be the same again:
And I, for one,
blame it on white women
who cared more about marriage
November 9, 2016: Some Thoughts For My Students and My Niece Annabelle
Today your mother, my sister, texted me.
Your mother told us, all six of her siblings,
when you woke to hear the news:
Hillary lost, Trump was King,
you cried your eyes out, and she told us
when she assured you
it would change in four years,
you asked if you would live
to be seventeen.
My beloved sophomores, so bright and young
and new, I am sorry I missed our classes today.
You see, I have been waiting for a woman
president all my life.
My mother likes to tell the tale of my first
riding in the back of a brown-paneled station wagon,
I argued with a minister’s son,
I was all of five.
I told him God didn’t have to be a man.
My mom recalls I then yelled up to her
for support. She said, she hadn’t
really thought of it until then.
There are more stories of how
I got to be waiting for a woman
to be president all my life.
Suffice it to say, I thought it would happen
this time. So, on Tuesday, at five p.m.,
I let work know
I would not be in on Wednesday.
Surely, I would be too hung over
from shots of whiskey victory.
The sexual assailant won,
not the woman with thirty years
I was not hung over from booze,
but I was battered in grief.
I am so sorry to all of my Muslim students, friends,
and their families. I thought,
knowing the Know-Nothings and Nativists
the way I do, that history
could not repeat itself again. I, being
raised Catholic and part of an Irish clan,
assumed we were past those days
when we elected the first non-Wasp man.
I am sorry I did not know better.
I am sorry I believed in everyone so much.
I really should have guessed this.
I mean, that Catholic president, was shot in Dallas
dead, cold, assassinated and such.
I know most of my black friends, co-workers,
and past lovers aren’t shocked. I was so sure this moment,
the suffragists’ moment was coming,
I did not want to listen to your worry about this Tuesday—
your doubt and anger.
I assumed there simply was no way
the evening’s winner would be
endorsed by the KKK.
My naivety and privilege let me
think this could never be true; it was as if I believed
my own experience
was the thing that would drive voting that day
and I am so sorry I did not listen to you.
I want to speak to all the victims
of sexual assault.
Yet again, you are not believed
and we had another lesson in how rape
culture is taught.
I wish this were not the case,
what will it take for people to believe
that powerful men do rape?
I think about all the workers
in Nevada, the Latinx hotel employees I do not know.
You showed up in numbers and turned
that swing state blue.
We all should have followed your warning,
you know Trump all too well—
You work in his establishments and cannot
unionize in his hell.
I have a sad message to the Syrian children
to come here.
We elected a man who is scared of you,
and I regret to say, there is no chance
you will be allowed in.
I suspect almost all of the indigenous people
fighting for water could say how they knew
this was coming, if I really think about it,
quite frankly, this is nothing new:
de rigueur actions from Americans’ politics
and politicians, even Obama is slow in helping you.
This bigoted assailant will now try to regulate love,
and who can marry whom; but don’t worry too much:
we all can go buy guns.
Dear would-be Madam President, I apologize to you.
I’m sorry you won the popular vote but not
the electoral too.
I apologize to all my white friends
who warned me that Trump could be
I argued with your profusely,
I did not take your stance.
If you knew this was the outcome,
why did you do nothing to stop it?
(I wonder how you cast your ballot, which of them are you)
To all the American white people.
I hope you don’t rule again for years.
But, I am mostly sorry
to my sophomores,
so sorry I did not make
it to school
I did not come to let
you know it would be okay.
I’m not one for lying
to children anyway.
I am sorry I was missing.
I will be there tomorrow.
We will read
Tagore and Yeats.
Will you please forgive me?
I am still crying,
as ridiculous as that might be,
and although an adult,
it feels like I am still riding
in the back
of that station wagon
on my way to preschool
very unsure about the rules
of this world
and wondering when women
will have their shot.
my tenth graders?
I leave it now to you.
Monica Rowley teaches amazing high school students in Brooklyn, noting that they are far better than she is at trigonometry and pentameter. She loves sharks and tigers, Gilgamesh, and Ramprasad Sen's poetry to the Goddess Kali. She is the oldest of seven, and her siblings are her best friends. She considers this turn of sibling luck the best fortune she could have. Monica has been the recipient of several grants and awards, including one from the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you would like to read more of her poems, check them out on Brooklyn Poets’ The Bridge or in the upcoming issue of the Irish literary journal, The Ogham Stone.