Ellen McGrath Smith
November 9, 2016
The day after Trump was elected, I tried to work,
but hadn’t slept the night before,
tried to meditate through choppy breath,
tried to nap but as I closed my eyes
I was blindly punching at my brother,
in one of those Cain and Abel fights,
homicidal rage on both sides.
In just minutes, a text message
from one of the brothers, gloating.
How had we failed to murder one another?
Is there a god of siblings
that keeps this from happening
more than it might?
Each brother in his turn attained puberty,
and my chances at holding my ground in a physical fight
disappeared. I had words as my weapon,
and it’s true I’ve overused my weapon.
I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking of the way
I bit my lip until I tasted metal,
how I tried to land a punch while he laughed
then locked my skinny wrists
in the cuffs of his hands.
Lately, I’ve been seeing things on the backs of trucks
like “Nice tits. Too bad about the face, though,”
or today, on the way in from the airport,
“Dodge the father, Ram the daughter.”
In just two days: the election
that has drawn out misogynists
like night crawlers on a wet night in May,
plump ones you’d use to bait for trout or bass.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania, the uber-muskellunge
makes his final run in the turbulent waters he swims so well,
an apex-feeder calling on the would-be apex feeders
to be like him.
—Oh, sure, he’ll eat them, too,
the way he’s eaten countless workers,
because he only has to hunker in the depths
and watch them gather around the plink of hooks
that they mistake for meat. He’ll strike and feast
before they know what hit them. Unless.
Last night I dreamed I was a passenger on Trump Airlines.
When we took off, there were buildings in the way and as we climbed
I realized there were no safety regulations, or none that the airline would respect.
My stomach sank. I could hear Mr. Trump shouting at the pilot,
even as we nearly sheared a skyscraper. The climb was steep and perilous,
and I didn’t think we would survive. When I woke, I was late for work,
and there was still more than a month to go before Election Day.
The day was overcast and cool, such that I couldn’t see an airplane
for the clouds, but they were there, I knew, the way I know my veins and arteries
are busy all the time. I used to think my country was cautious, wise, and unified,
though doing so involved not seeing slavery, the genocide of native peoples,
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the invasion of Iraq. In the dream, when I saw the man himself,
I knew there was no point in speaking. Heartsick, I boarded the plane.
It smells like something when I go on there,
that site where angry white men and their ancillary women
get their marching orders from the right.
It smells like sweaty socks mixed with semen
(I had brothers; they all slept in one small room).
I could smell it, a reminder of their physical dominance,
when I had to go in there to get something.
It was a ligament binding them all to an animal realm.
It could have bound me too, if I had had a father
I wasn’t terrified of, mixed with love, which turned to fury
& an incandescent will to occupy the world as they did.
I go on there to click on ads, which lead to Google,
where I then report the web site as a hate site.
A generation ago, I might have been in the kitchen
clipping coupons. What I’m doing now may be even
more futile. I open the site and click on nothing
but the ad I’ve come to tag. Viagra and testosterone,
blood pressure cocktails, “better knees in 1 week.”
I have met the enemy, and his body’s breaking down.