To hear Abdiel’s poetic—and even prophetic—response to recent political developments, scroll down to the first entries below, where sample poems are listed in reverse chronological order.
Abdiel began writing these “polemics” in 2001 when George W. Bush was installed in the White House by Supreme-Court decree. Since then, the collection has grown into the three-volume Verses Versus Empire series (covering in turn the Bush, Obama, and Trump eras) and is continually updated.
The poems below are a sample, not the full collection.
on the U.S. Senate's acquittal of Donald J. Trump, Feb. 5, 2019
From February 2019.
on Greta Thurnberg's addresses to the UN and Congress, September 2019.
|61—A New Earth||
on the fires raging through the Amazonian rain forest, August 2019.
on Trump's denouncements of Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, from July 2019.
Racist the rhetoric
To “shit-hole countries”
He calls them “wack jobs”
While migrant babes torn from mothers’ breasts
Progressive Congresswomen, magnificent “Squad,”
|59—Trump's Little Captives||
From June 2019.
Deporting the parents and keeping the kids
With cost-cutting caging in for-profit prisons
Served nothing but Kool-Aid, and cookies to eat,
Internment’s terror takes its toxic toll
on government’s rebranding of methane as “freedom gas”! From May 30, 2019.
From Freedom Fries to Freedom Gas,
Menezes and Winberg who export the idea
Though it’s even more toxic than carbon dioxide,
on the trial of Arizona aid worker Scott Warren, May 29, 2019.
For giving water to the thirsty, food
after this week's UN report on biodiversity and ecosystems, May 2019.
A million species are about to perish
More opportunities for trade, for oil and gas,
Hell-bent on climate change, what’s the solution
on the UN Security Council resolution to end rape as a weapon of war, April 2019.
Let us have war but without sexual violence,
on Saudi Arabia's execution of 37 prisoners, Apr. 23, 2019
Even those Roman butchers who killed Christ
|53—C'est La Guerre!||
on the fire that swept through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Apr. 15, 2019.
Did Jesus walk amid the flames that night
Still, it’s the terminology of War
And as they reconstruct the roof, the “forest”—
|52—The Wiki Man||
on the forced removal of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London
Since consulates and embassies became
Though Ecuador, for seven steadfast years
The bribes, the threats of Bolton, Pence, Pompeo,
Blatant contempt for international law,
Opening the doors to Britain’s officers—
Along with publishers of principle,
This shows the UK, US, Ecuador,
Believe they will not extradite to where
Apr. 11, 2019
|51—'Til Death Do Us Part||
on the U.S.-sponsored attack of a Yemen wedding, in which the bride was killed
She should have shed her blood in innocence,
But none could stem the flow of blood that day
Her jasmine garlands white as snow that should
The drummers’ dexterous fingers too, that should
The dogs that should have stolen tidbits from
Coated in dust, crippled near corpses crawl
Sonnet on vice U.S. leader Mike Pence's address to the Venezuelan people, Jan. 24, 2019.
Saying “Hola. I’m Mike Pence”, he thinks to tell
on Congressmember Rashida Tlaib's use of an expletive to describe Donald Trump. January 2019.
Rashida Tlaib’s a naughty girl,
One of George Carlin’s seven words
Let Trump utter boasts of sexual assault
Let children be kidnapped and perish in jail,
Let Trump disrespect the entire global south
Language is free, as Eden once was
Arise nasty women, arise nasty girls,
on Trump's treatment of immigrant children. January 2019.
Thousands of children held in prison camps,
on Trump's refusal to visit war graves of U.S. soldiers in France on the hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 2018.
“Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots…” 1
1 Quoting a line from Wilfred Owen’s immortal poem, Dulce et Decorum Est.
From October 2018.
A week of hatred, race-based executions,
On Trump's announcement of withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF), October 2018.
The Paris climate deal was first to go,
|44—Murder Most Saud !—II||
Sonnet on the assassination of Jamal Kashoggi, October 2018.
Fifteen assassins of the Saudi state
|43—Murder Most Saud!||
demi-Sonnet on the assassination of Jamal Kashoggi, October 2018.
King John, and by repute, Richard III,
on Supreme-Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, Sept. 27, 2018
He locked the door so she would not escape,
He got on top so he could dominate,
He seeks promotion to supremest role,
Sonnet on Supreme-Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, Sept. 24, 2018.
Now that another woman has come forward
|40—Carackers — II||
on the attempted assassination of Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro. Aug. 4, 2018.
Bolton denies U.S. involvement in
[i] For more, see June 5, 2007 Democracy Now! interview of John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
|39—In Yer Facebook!||
From July 2018.
Now Facebook’s stock has dropped 20 percent,1
Dictatorship’s, disinformation’s tool,
Perception narrowed, mob mentality
With Instagram in its technopoly
Its logo blue, as sea or sky, belies
No reason to suppose the beast is bust
1 Facebook’s share price closed around $176 on July 26, 2018, down about 20% from the previous day’s close of $217. The correction still left the price well above its March 2018 lows near $150.
on Trump's summit and joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, July 16, 2018.
Bipartisan outrage reacts to Trump’s
Yet at the conference Trump called it “ridiculous”
But Democrats, Republicans ally,
1 McCain called Trump’s remarks, made at a joint press conference of the two leaders on July 16, 2018, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted that they exceeded “the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors’. It was nothing short of treasonous.” At Fox News, Neil Cavuto called Trump’s remarks “disgusting.”
2 An idea coined by Sam Husseini, a reporter for The Nation magazine, in Democracy Now! interview of July 17, 2018.
The Democratic establishment and Republican establishment scream at each other, and, meanwhile, the wars that they both want continue, the economic exploitation that they want continue. So, levels of volume of alleged screaming, when you’re talking about Democratic Pharisees and Republican Sadducees, doesn’t indicate actual animosity, in my view. It’s a way of drowning out some people who might be attempting to divine a measure of truth and freedom.
on Trump's speech at the NATO summit, July 12, 2018.
Best jets, best guns, best military stuff,
Boeing and Grumman and Raytheon cheer
Like sheep, the cowed nations scramble to spend,
The world then must pay the ultimate price.
1 On July 12, 2018, Trump announced:
The United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world—the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything. We make, by far—I mean, that’s one thing—I guess I assumed it prior to taking office, but I really learned, since being president, our equipment is so much better than anybody else’s equipment, when you look at our companies—Lockheed and Boeing and Grumman. What the material—the equipment that we make is so far superior, everybody wants to buy our equipment.
2 On July 12, 2018, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in response to Trump’s call for increased military spending by other NATO countries, “Of course, President Trump has a very direct language and message on defense spending, but fundamentally we all agree.”
|36—Trump's Little Hostages||
on Trump's executive order ending forced separation of immigrant families at U.S./Mexico border. June 20, 2018.
Oh what an act of mercy Trump bestows 1 –
1 On June 20, 2018, Trump signed an executive order purportedly ending the Administration’s practice of separating immigrant parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
2 On June 19, 2018, Trump tweeted, “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country.”
3 For more on this, see Democracy Now! segment of June 21, 2018, Lawsuit Claims Detained Migrant Children Have Been Forcibly Injected With Powerful Psychiatric Drugs.
4 On June 19, 2018, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the United States’ withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday and called the body “a cesspool of political bias.” The move came down one day after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, described as “unconscionable” the forced separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session's use of Scripture to justify forced separation of immigrant families, June 16, 2018.
In ripping infants from their parents’ arms,
he draws on the apostle Paul to say
Then Martin Luther King in his own Letter
Would Paul not deem this self-served reading odd
[i] In justifying his immigration policies, Sessions said to an invitation-only crowd in Fort Wayne, Indiana, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”
[ii] From James 2:8: “If you keep the royal law stated in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.”
[iii] Colossians 2:14.
on Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, June 12, 2018.
Shall Summer’s breath this bud of love ripen[i]
[i] Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II.ii.
[ii] After the summit, Trump told a press conference, “We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money… Plus I think it’s very provocative.”
[iii] South Korean President, Moon Jae In, was instrumental in bringing the two leaders together.
[iv] In February 2018, North Korea sent a 500-person delegation of athletes, musicians, and performers to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For the first time ever, North and South Korean athletes marched together under a unified flag for the Feb. 9 opening ceremony. The two nations have been officially at war since 1950.
on arguments made by Trump's lawyers to Mueller investigation. From June 2018.
The end-times reach fulfillment as Trump claims
 Trump made this claim in a tweet of June 4, 2018.
 On June 2, 2018, The New York Times published a 20-page confidential letter Trump’s lawyers delivered to special counsel Robert Mueller in January 2018. The letter was responding to Mueller’s request to question Trump about allegations Trump had committed obstruction of justice. The lawyers claimed that “the President’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
 Referring to the famous poem, The Dog and the Fox, by John Gay (1685-1732), which includes the lines:
I know you lawyers can with ease
 Daniel 7; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9.
on Trump's withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. May 2018.
With Israël, brimming with nuclear arms,
A rare détente between antagonists
The world looks on in disbelief as empire
 On Mar. 22, 2018, Trump announced by Tweet the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser, a post that does not require Senate confirmation. Just three weeks before, Bolton wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal titled The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First. In 2015, when the Obama administration was negotiating the Iran Nuclear Deal, he wrote a piece headlined, To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.
|31—Ghastly — II||
on the deaths and injuries inflicted by the Israeli military at the Gaza border. April 2018.
Shredding internal organs, shattering bone,
 On Apr. 1, 2018, Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, responded by telling Israel’s public radio, “All of our troops deserve a commendation” for their actions at the border.
on Trump's next pick for CIA director. March 2018.
Even Queen Margaret, she who dipped a cloth
And then the damning evidence destroyed –
1 Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI, I.iv.
2 This detail appeared in a ProPublica article, written by Ray Bonner, about Haspel’s role when chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand. ProPublica later retracted this particular assertion in a correction. To hear how Haspel earned the sobriquet of “Bloody Gina”, go to Democracy Now! broadcast of Mar. 14, 2018.
|29—Phoney Terrorism Event Triggers World War III||
From March 2018.
Like any junkie desperate to get his next fix, the U.S. government was willing to go to any lengths to satisfy its war addiction, this time with Iran in its sights. And the rise of Donald Trump, campaigning on a platform of racism, xenophobia, and hatred, afforded the most violent elements in America’s power apparatus their long-cherished opportunity to unleash military power against another oil-rich state.
But a new pretext would be required, another terrorist attack. And it would have to be even bigger and more spectacular than “9/11”. Though the official version of that day’s events was riddled with plot holes, the George W. Bush Administration managed to find ready cheerleaders among mainstream media who would shore up the dodgy narrative and promote the 2003 invasion of Iraq while overlooking the fervent anti-war protests of millions of U.S. citizens.
This time, however, some media outlets, alienated by Trump’s relentless hostility towards them during and after the 2016 election campaign, would need to witness an attack of such unprecedented shock and outrage that they would swallow their own scepticism.
The use of “false-flag” terrorism to direct U.S. foreign policy had a long history by then. George Orwell even identified the tactic in his novel, 1984, in a conversation between its protagonist Winston, and Winston’s lover Julia:
Once when he happened in some connection to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, “just to keep people frightened.”
But this new attack within the U.S. homeland would also have to include nuclear material. That way, the Trump Administration could claim Iran, implicated by the convenient discovery of intact documents next to the new Ground Zero, was in violation of the nuclear treaty it had signed with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump even let slip in a March 2018 press conference, immediately after firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had favoured rapprochement with Iran, that, “We disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”
Trump then said of Tillerson’s replacement, CIA director, Mike Pompeo, “we have a very similar thought process.” And Pompeo, for his part, had already described the nations of Iran and North Korea as existential threats to the United States and amply demonstrated his sycophantic devotion to Trump, pandering to his patron’s most violent instincts.
Thus, with Tillerson’s removal, Trump signalled his determination to root out all vestige of dissent from a State Department already decimated by firings, resignations, and the Administration’s failure to make fresh appointments to fill vacant positions.
The use of nuclear materials also underpinned Trump’s claim a nuclear “threshold” had been crossed and his long cherished, and openly expressed, desire to deploy nuclear weapons in military conflict.
There was a perverted logic too in the choice of a Delta Airlines jet to perform its parabolic plunge into New York City. After all, among the major U.S. carriers, the political capital of American Airlines and United Airlines had already been expended for 9/11. This choice of Delta also vented the ire provoked among violent elites when, in the wake of yet another high-school massacre in February 2018 — this time in Parkland, Florida — the airline cancelled a promotional discount it was giving to members of the National Rifle Association.1
In the wake of this fresh attack, Congress readily stamped official policy with its seal of approval, and politicians once given to criticizing the White House occupant as a racist warmongering psycopath now conferred on him the status of saint and saviour, issuing a call to support the country and support the president. Riding high on the adulation, Trump, having artfully avoided any military service of his own, took on the mantle of “Commander-in-Chief”, and sent out his ministers of destruction.
Meanwhile, those who protested these developments, insisting the evidence pointing to Iran was highly dubious, to say the least, if not entirely fraudulent, were denounced as “anti-American” and silenced through denouncements and disappearances, prosecutions and prison terms, even inexplicable suicides. And Congress abetted all this by passing a series of emergency “security” measures allowing for arbitrary arrest, detention, and surveillance, combined with “enhanced” or “rough” interrogation techniques, to “keep the country safe.” Though these openly violated the Constitution as well as international human-rights law, policymakers insisted the measures were temporary and would sunset once the ill-defined terrorist threat were removed.
Though Congress was initially unwilling to sanction use of intercontinental ballistic missiles, it did give the green light to use of “regional” nuclear weapons, based on the testimony of loyal generals who claimed civilian casualties would be kept to a minimum by the use of highly targeted “precision” strikes. But of course, once other nuclear powers got involved, the escalation of firepower soon followed.
Now that this scenario has been set out, the author expresses his heartfelt wish it shall prove a self-negating prophecy and concludes with the following words of Orwell, also taken from 1984:
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed… In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life… And at the same time, the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival… It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist… Meanwhile no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously…
All members of the Inner Party believe in this coming conquest as an article of faith. It is to be achieved either by gradually acquiring more and more territory and so building up an overwhelming preponderance of power, of by the discovery of some new and unanswerable weapon. The search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the very few remaining activities in which the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any outlet.
The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.
1 Delta Airlines is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In response to Delta’s move, Georgia’s legislature retaliated by eliminating a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel.
demi-Sonnet on the ouster of Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state. March 2018.
Not that Rex Tillerson’s a saint, although
1 In a tweet of March 13, 2018, Trump announced firing Tillerson and replacing him with CIA director, Mike Pompeo.
2 Speaking outside the White House on the morning of Mar. 13, Trump said, “We’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.” He then said of Rex Tillerson, “We disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process.”
3 Gina Haspel was directly involved in the CIA’s torture program under the George W. Bush administration. She was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, and went on to destroy the evidence. The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald tweeted on Mar. 13, “Haspel… didn’t just oversee the Bush CIA’s black site but directly participated in the horrific torture of detainees. She also participated in the particularly gruesome torture of detainee Abu Zubaydah.”
4 According to Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography, Winston Churchill said, “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.”
on the 'Valentine's Day Massacre' at a Florida high school. February 2018.
Another high-school massacre, and Trump
1 On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman wielding a shop-bought AR-15 military-style rifle killed 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was the 18th school shooting of 2018 alone. On Feb. 16, Trump tweeted, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” On Feb. 21, he held a listening session at the White House in which he advocated “concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training…”
|25—The Body Politicked||
From January 2018.
A kind of chemotherapy’s at work
They talk of “battling” cancer, thus adopting
Simplistic, superficial, such a mindset
on Trump's expletive to describe certain countries. From January 2018.
The subtext is: not-white, not-welcome. Nay,
Our souls descendant from eternity,
And so he says a steaming pile of it
1 In a meeting with legislators on the subject of DACA, Trump reportedly said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries. We should have more people from Norway”.
2 Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, V.i.
on Trump's latest tweets regarding North Korea. From January 2018.
on the indictment of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, for "aggravated assault" after she slapped an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank. From January 2018.
You’d think a teenage girl, enraged, in grief
But not for Palestinians, on whose land
1 1 Samuel 17.
2 Romans 5:18.
on the banning of words by the Trump administration. From December 2017.
Orwell foresaw this day, when government
See Washington Post article of Dec. 15, 2017, CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity, by Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin.
1 In his poem, To Roy Campbell.
on the FCC's vote, orchestrated by Trump appointee, Chairman Ajit Pai, to destroy net neutrality. From December 2017.
To please his corporate masters, Ajit Pai,
Presents a narrow fast lane they may take,
A greased back-channel for his master’s ride,
Some 20 million people, looking on, 2
A mine to plunder at a sordid depth,
On Dec. 14, 2017, the five-member Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3‑2 to repeal rules established in 2015 to safeguard “net neutrality”. These rules required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat web content equally and not block or prioritize some content over others in return for payment.
1 ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. In an inverse.com article of Dec. 15, 2017, Alasdair Wilkins reports that telecom giants Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Charter “are the ISPs for about 76 percent of the 94.5 million internet subscribers in the United States. And when about half of all households only have access to a single provider, these companies hold enormous power in shaping an internet without net neutrality, the previously longstanding principle that ISPs could not set up a tiered internet of slow and fast lanes, throttle access to certain content, or charge either consumers or sites more for preferential access.”
2 Prior to this extremely unpopular ruling, more than 20 million people had submitted comments to the FCC.
on the recent surge in sexual-assault allegations. From November 2017.
Now presidents and former presidents
1 The “Me Too” campaign, initiated in 2006 by community organizer Tarana Burke, encourages those who have been subjected to sexual assault to share their experiences. In October 2017, as the predations of film producer Harvey Weinstein became widely known, the #MeToo hashtag exploded on social media.
on the Las Vegas massacre of Oct. 1, 2017.
A single gunman’s slain a multitude,
No background checks required, purchased online,
Though individuals acquire arsenals,
A sick psychosis still enjoys free rein,
Talk not of Climate Change after a storm,
1 The following day, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said from the White House, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country. There is currently an open and ongoing law-enforcement investigation. A motive is yet to be determined, and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.” Her response echoes that of political-establishment figures after previous gun massacres in the United States.
2 On June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia, gunman James Hodgkinson attacked a baseball practise for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, scheduled for the following day. Republican member of Congress Steve Scalise was among several people shot. Hodgkinson was felled in a shootout with officers and died later that day. Scalise underwent surgery and returned to Congress on Sept. 28, 2017.
3 Echoing a tweet by author and activist Naomi Klein, of Oct. 2, 2017: “Don’t talk about guns after a massacre. Or climate change after storms. Or austerity after firetrap buildings burn. Talk when no one listens.” The “firetrap” she is referring to is the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London. On June 14, 2017, the building became engulfed in fire, causing the deaths of more than 80 people trapped inside.
on the psychological condition of Mr. Trump, July 2017.
Destroy lest ye be inwardly destroyed,
Boast of your size if you are feeling small,
Lest ye feel inwardly inadequate,
And if you lack the wit to empathize,
No reference point for truth outside yourself,
Such infernal commandments are in play
The narcissism, grandiosity,
Caligula and Nero would applaud
1 These lines play on Christ’s famous admonition to “Judge not lest ye be judged…” (Matthew 7:1).
2 See Letter to the Editor in New York Times, Feb. 13, 2017 signed by 33 mental-health practitioners. And truthdig article by Paul Street, Beyond the Madness of King Donald, May 15, 2017.
3 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
From April 2017.
He takes payoffs from foreign governments,
|04—The Citizenship Candidate||
From January 2017.
Trump is interviewed by St. Peter in the office of Heaven Border Protection!
|03—Size Matters, Mr. Trump!||
From January 2017.
Obama’s measured at 84
Of course, there are “alternative facts”
You’re so outraged that the press reported
The “biggest in history” your spokesman claims
2 On the morning of Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, one day after Trump’s inauguration, The New York Times tweeted a photo unfavourably comparing the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration with that of President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, which drew a record 1.8 million people. Later that day, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer angrily stormed into the press room and falsely claimed more people had attended or watched on TV than any other inauguration in U.S. history. He said, “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
The following day, on the Meet the Press TV broadcast, Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, said to host, Chuck Todd, that Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer gave “alternative facts” about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
3 On Oct. 7, 2016, The Washington Post released a 2005 video tape in which Trump boasted to Hollywood Access reporter Billy Bush,
You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful … I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
4 On Jan. 21, 2017, his first day in office, Trump declared in a speech to the CIA, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”
Sonnet on David Cameron's speech at Magna Carta eighth-centenary event, Runnymede, June 15, 2015
To lackluster applause, formality,
1 Shakespeare, Henry V, IV.i.221. Here, “idle” is used in lieu of “idol”.
2 “Number 10” refers to the address, 10, Downing St., where British prime ministers take official residence during their terms of office.
|08—Black and Blue||
on the death in police custody of U.S. Army Sergeant, James Brown, during a two-day jail sentence in El Paso, Texas. From May 2015.
“I’m choking on my blood!” and “I can’t breathe!”
Enforced injection, suffocation, beating,
Sergeant James Brown, like so many black men
The police are claiming that his death was caused
And when long-bottled anger surfaces,
1 See Democracy Now! segments: Shocking Video: Texas Soldier Dies After Telling Jail Guards He Couldn’t Breathe 20 Times (May 15, 2015); and Sgt. James Brown, 26, Survived Two Tours in Iraq Only to Die Begging for His Life in Texas Jail (May 20, 2015).
Sonnet on acts of vandalism by "Islamic State" at the Mosul Museum and Public Library in Iraq. From February 2015.
Just how much hatred can a human heart
on eighth-centenary celebrations of Magna Carta. From February 2015.
Since bad King John, eight centuries ago,
That none should be imprisoned without trial,
The hatemonger Theresa May, who should
The U.S. government, especially,
1 Theresa May, as Britain’s home secretary, announced this intention at the Conservative party conference, Sept. 30, 2013.
2 Notions of “left-wing” and “right-wing” politics are increasingly meaningless. They reflect outdated political discourse based on a polarized pendulum swing between rich and poor, management and workers. The key issues for humanity – human rights, war and peace, justice, and environmental protection – transcend, or should transcend, these arguments.
On U.S. broadcaster Fox News. From January 2015.
“Bomb! Hate! Bomb! Hate! Bomb! Hate! Kill!”
O’Reilly, Kelly, Pirro, Sean, 1
Murdoch’s hand inside each puppet,
The oil lands are Moslem most
‘Til judgment come to Earth one day
1 Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity.
2 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
3 Matthew 15:17.
Sonnet on the Christmas Truce of the First World War and its depiction in Christmas advertising by U.K. supermarket chain, Sainsbury's. From December 2014.
The Christmas Truce, with “Stille Nacht” begun
on Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima following the earthquake and tsunami of Mar. 11, 2011.
Sixty-six years since Little Boy unleashed
No nuclear fluke ensued at Fukushima;
Insidious sickness impregnates the air,
And like most corporate players caught red-handed,
The USA, with twice the cancerous crop
The breeze blows where it listeth, 1 why not then
1 John 3:8.
On BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. From June 2010.
It takes but a moment, by a trauma inflicted,
So with the oil now gushing in
Yet long in the making was this crisis afoot
With loopholes spread wide, the government invites
Blame Obama, blame Bush, blame Clinton, blame all.
of free-flowing fraud in the veins of power,
1 Shakespeare, Othello, I.i.
The poet's incredulity when Obama is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. From October 2009.
I checked the dateline twice: October 9th.
Concealing torture practices from view,
O History’s muse, report what you have seen:
Obama shows up late to climate talks
Of service, sacrifice, and strength of arms
Perhaps the noble Norway nobles hoped
From February 2006.
For sovereignty, “security”,
They crucify Christianity
Egregious in effrontery,
Sonnet, from November 2004.
Rehearsing a repetitive refrain
"Bush", "Blair", "Basra", "Baghdad". What could a poet do with that? From April 2003.
Those bosom-buddies, Bush and Tony Blair, 1
1 British prime minister at the time.
|04—A Conversation Between Bush and God||
From February 2003.
Rejoice! The day is come when every soul,
Now, having been called “Mr. President”
Just then, a mighty angel bellows out:
Affronted that the spirit knows him not,
“I warred on Evil, hunted terrorists,
With that, the angel’s countenance grows calm.
“Myself in haste will take you to the Lord
Bush then is led toward a rainbow light,
All Heaven to His glory homage shows,
“Let Judgment of the sheep and goats begin,
With squinting eyes, George proffers forth his hand:
A gasp through the assembled throng is heard
“But to my messages that he conveyed,
“I should allow that such an ass intrude
“I thirsted yet you took away my drink
Blinking in shock, his hand outstretched in vain,
“But Lord, when did I do these things to you?
“And more, you starved the people of Iraq,
“But Lord, you got me wrong, I did not act
“My sons and daughters, in mine image made,
“I know your heart: to be like God in power,
“Now is the end of the aggressor’s reign,
“I see your dull wit cannot grasp my theme
1 An echo of the famous, and ultimately untenable, claim by former president and George W. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, as he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president at the 1988 Republican National Convention. He said, “Read my lips: no new taxes!” But, as president in 1990, he agreed to a bipartisan budget that increased taxes.
2 Ezekiel 1:26-28; Revelation 1:15.
3 Revelation 8:1.
4 Matthew 25:31-46.
5 John 1:1-3.
6 Luke 1:8-19, 26-37.
7 Daniel 9:20-23.
8 Matthew 23:34-38.
9 Luke 12:8-9; Matthew 7:21-23.
10 Luke 6:32-34.
11 Matthew 23:23-33.
12 Matthew 22:29.
13 Romans 10:6-7.
14 Isaiah 14:9-15.
15 Isaiah 14:3-6.
|03—On Her Majesty's Secret Service||
James Bond is handed his mission to hunt Osama bin Laden. From October 2001.
“Miss Moneypenny! Radiant as ever!”
“You’d best get in there, James!” “Why Moneypenny,
Door opens. Bond. Her Majesty’s agent,
Deep in the secret testing area,
You know the rest: Bond always gets his man,
1 The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.
2 Exodus 4:1-5, 7:8-12.
Post "9/11". From October 2001.
Alas! Three weeks have passed, none else alive.
Twelve fathom deep, into a stinking hole
For a short while, a gothic site was kept:
Now flint-faced firemen their tears have shed
How did they dare? How did they dare to maim
We genteel citizens in Union Square
And I, observing from a far-off screen,
1 Psalm 23:1, John 10:11.
2 Until demolished, a triangular section of the World Trade Center wall, in appearance like a row of organ pipes, was left standing after the towers collapsed.
3 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
4 His poem, The Borderers.
5 Genesis 11:4-7.
6 Henry V, IV.iii.69.
|01—George W.'s Hoedown||
... as he celebrates his ascendancy to the White House. From January 2001.
Well I’m elected President,
I have all my daddy’s friends
This is the American dream,
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