Chris Campanioni's new book is Death of Art (C&R Press). His "Billboards" poem responding to Latino stereotypes and mutable — and often muted — identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He teaches literature and creative writing at Baruch College and Pace University and edits PANK and Tupelo Quarterly.

November 16, 2016

Chris Campanioni

donald trump shakes

a hand & a boy dies. a woman right after asks trump to talk about why he wants women thrown in jail for the right to choose. excuse me he says, smiles, shakes again but this time points, & how old are you girl? i didn’t know they let students carry press passes. another moment till an ad break the noise with more noise everything is for sale in america everything i think & change the channel, cruising on about an hour in & after, she's gotta have it i remember they filmed that down the block before i ever called here home or walked this earth, for now trump smiles again, shakes his head & points a finger as a boy dies, three more two days ago in chicago where murder is more common than every woman's right to choose. today trump is wearing a double breasted wool blue suit & his bronze hair is swaying in the wind the news didn't have to manufacture for the air i can almost feel the fucking breeze each time he shakes another hand or smiles & nothing else is on except a few old movies & old men performing thru covert means & the search for being sexually independent or real love talking about a new united states, the freedom of whatever is needed & still we shake, anyone watching or being watched in this man's fucking wake, excuse me girl his voice in my own head repeating & cruz comes on to say he remembers the seventies, that climate change is not an issue & it's our job to kill terrorists who bow to another god, the world is on fire he says & throws his arms up like he really means it or the guy a parent pays to do tricks at a toddler's birth day party & pull what rough beast from a hat, or say cheese & die basically, which is the best goosebumps but also america's prevailing rhetoric when it comes to thinking about any person deemed different & this thursday as the world turns bill wants to make believe that black lives don't matter, remind us all again president how many black bodies were incarcerated in place of funds for public housing? the eighties & the nineties & today i'm dressed like a founding father trump is on tv, i'm black in america. i feel like there's a poem there somewhere my sometimes inspiration & muse Ashley M. Jones writes via status update & you? i think & also always mean me. where are you or why do you keep watching? every time trump shakes a hand a boy dies, passionate intensity of the worst, the rest are no better democrats, republicans, the privilege to fucking smile & lie in bed after a hard day's work the new united states can't bear to blink, change the station or turn it off. we barely can bear to think, this year & the one before & the one that will follow that assuming we survive this. we barely can believe it & i believe it

When we dance, we are meant to "lose ourselves," but rather than any sort of transcendental moment, this title draws out a dance that has many of us losing ourselves in a capitulation; we are either livid, so mad we can't think (as in "I've lost it!") or we've surrendered our identities, who we are inside and the diversity of that, to demagoguery; a disease or sickness that keeps us shaking, that keeps us awake at night as in the day. I wrote "donald trump shakes" last spring, during the heat and fervor of the primaries, a one-week period in particular that saw candidates (or their kin) from all sides and every side commit themselves to mainstreaming injustice and intolerance through racism and ignorance. Claudia Rankine wrote in 2004's Don't Let Me Be Lonely that the attack on the World Trade Center "stole from us our willingness to be complex." We can see the residual effects of that today; out of every nightmare dredged up in this piece, the one that seems most prophetic to me seven months later is "everything is for sale in america everything" and "the news / didn't have to manufacture for the air I can almost" … We can't breathe; we must breathe, even and especially if it's to shout out. Everything but dear friend and poet Ashley M. Jones is lowercased, a literal casting down of our public officials and the media that consents to them.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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