When Sigmund Freud said “everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me,” he wasn’t just referring to the fact that anyone over the age of 13 who writes poems clearly requires lots and lots of psychotherapy. He was also talking about the uncanny ability of creative writers to essentially predict the future through their powers of poetic perception. Never before has this seldom-appreciated skill seemed more critical than in today’s febrile political climate—which, it turns out, might’ve been avoided entirely, had any of us actually been paying attention in English class! Believe it or not, many of America’s most celebrated scribes—some from as far back as the mid-19th century—actually tried to warn us about the Trump administration. Below is just a small sampling of pieces from the eerily prescient subgenre which will henceforth be known as ‘Trumpoetry.’
“Because I Could Not Stop for Jeff”
Because I could not stop for Jeff -
He kindly stopped for me -
The chauffeured car held just Ourselves -
Plus room for Perjury.
We quickly drove – He knew such haste,
Much power to Abuse -
From Fact from Truth from Verity
Himself did he Recuse -
We passed the Fields of Voter Fraud
Where once he Filed Suit -
Laid bare by Uncivilest Rites,
All strewn with Strangest Fruit -
We passed the School, where Children strove
On Kissing Betsy’s Ring -
To Praise the god of Billionaires,
We passed the Hospital, now shut
No Persons to admit -
They never should grow ill-at-ease,
Who cannot afford it.
We passed tyrannosaurus Rex -
The Tyrant King of oil -
Once Unguent now Anointed,
Glory be the war of Spoils -
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Swamp -
Our faces scarcely visible,
Their boots – E’er to stomp -
Since then – ‘tis but Two Months – and yet
Feels like Eternity -
Our most Despised had won the Prize -
O General Attorney.
What happens to a Gulfstream deferred?
Does it fly up
like the wings of Air Force One?
Or stay boxed up like a toy
Does it dock like Russian yachts?
Or give flights to fancies
who own a certain stock?
Maybe it just drags
on the taxpayer’s dime.
Or is it a crime?
”The Road Not Taken (Because We Never Passed the Infrastructure Bill and There Are No More Roads)”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
But sadly, I could not travel both
The first was public land once, but now stood
Behind a private fence; no longer could
I go where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then the other road – it’s so unfair,
Though we all of us knew he would do it
Where once had been a grassy thoroughfare
Now bore a pipeline passing there,
Fracking interests being friends of Pruitt,
And so that morning tragically lay
In ruins factory runoff had trodden black.
Oh, how he gutted the EPA!
And knowing how his ways lead to decay,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Long before we come to any sense:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
Neither could I travel by,
And it was too late to make a difference.
”We Real Fool
The Cruel Players.
100 Million in the Golden Tower.
We real fool. We
Sold school. We
Deal hate. We
Screw straight. We
Live sin. We
Fake win. We
Once upon a midnight bigly, while I tweeted facts – believe me,
During an all-night marathon of Apprentice season four —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my penthouse door.
“’Tis some senator,” I muttered, “tapping at my penthouse door —
Only this and nothing more.”
‘Twas now past the witching hour, in the best suite of Trump Tower,
When again a tap so sour echoed down the corridor -
I groaned but did not yell “who is it,” not intent upon a visit
From some loser moron congressman or other I abhor.
“What the hell do you want, smart ass” – here I opened wide the door —
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness climbing, like the failing New York timing,
Long I stood listlessly idling, wondering what for;
Back into my penthouse turning, steak and ketchup now heartburning,
Soon another tap came somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely, there is nothing at my door -
’Tis fake news and nothing more!”
But then my baboon heart did flutter, as suddenly out flung the shutter,
And there appeared Paul Ryan, who thinks his biceps make him Thor;
This Crossfit jackass thus beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the countenance of shit-eatingest grin he wore,
“What is your business, Ryan; a hasty answer I implore” -
Quoth the Ryan, “Neverpoor.”
And the Ryan, doing pushups on the mantelpiece, intoned thus
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered – not a PowerPoint he mustered -
Till I said agreeing “That’s our platform at its core -
Now if you’ll kindly leave, I’m expecting a Russian whore.”
Quoth the Ryan, “Neverpoor.”
Startled at the repetition, this word sent my mind’s ambition
O’er my growing list of debts acquired since ’84.
“Doubtless,” said I, “what he utters means not just withhold from others -
‘Never the poor get one crumb they did not lobby for.’
But for myself, that I should shop America like a store.
So I’ll be Never—Neverpoor.”
“Profit!” said I, “born of looting!—profits to Jong Un and Putin! -
And to Deutsche Bank and Cyprus, for I owe them millions more!
Be that word our sign of parting, get thee to the State Department!
Back to Rex, Steve and Ivanka – Shares are what we’re fighting for!
Find me – grind me stock in Gilead! I’ll keep it all offshore!”
Winked the Ryan, “Neverpoor.”
And the Ryan, never quitting, still is sitting, still is shitting
On the poor in every manner which his budget earmarks for;
And his eyes have all the scheming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
Drowning gleefully the wretched refuse of this teeming shore
And the live feed o’er us streaming throws our shadows on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—Nevermore!
Naomi Rohatyn is a comedy writer based in Los Angeles.