Publication News: A Poetry Triptych in Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine

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The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

The Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine (Issue #7) had a special section, “Social and Political Issues of Today’s World.” My three-part poem, “After the 45th President Unveiled His ‘America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again’ Budget, the Same Day a Judge in Hawaii Enjoined the Administration’s Second Attempt to Draft an Executive Order for the President’s ‘Muslim Ban’: A Poetry Triptych” appears on the last page of the PDF file of the issue as posted on their website.

What is a poetry triptych? Let’s see what the online Oxford English Dictionary has to say:

triptych | ˈtriptik | noun a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece: a triptych depicting the Crucifixion a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together: a triptych on the theme of the holocaust | his triptych of one-act operas is unfairly neglected

The three parts of my poem speak to the white supremacist horrors now in ascendancy—yet again? did they ever leave us really?—in no small part thanks to the rantings of a certain now-indicted howler monkey formerly masquerading as the President of the United States.

After the 45th President Unveiled His “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” Budget, the Same Day a Judge in Hawaii Enjoined the Administration’s Second Attempt to Draft an Executive Order for the President’s “Muslim Ban”: A Poetry Triptych

  1. Welcome to the Club

“…most of the white people I have ever known impressed me as being
in the grip of a weird nostalgia, dreaming of a vanished state of security and order…”

—James Baldwin

Here, with each normalizing
aside, where spouting bile and
lies so spectacularly
bleed (no matter what hurt) in-
vincible, loud-mouthed, our world
gone afterthought, undone, it
seems my eyes no longer blink,
can’t black away the looking
from an outside rattled, shook.
Yet why am I, are we, all
speechless, ragtag, stunned? This tale
spills nothing new, is known to
all the others cast aside,
cast out of the republic—
it was all ways them, not us.

  1. White Settlement

“Residents of White Settlement turned out in record numbers to reject
a proposal to change their city’s name to West Settlement. More than 33 percent
of the city’s 7,800 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, and of those,
92 percent voted against the name change proposal…”

—Matt Frazier and Martha Deller
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 9, 2005

I drag the pots of root bound
hostas out of the garage
after their winter vernalization,

rhizomes pushing through hardpan
dirt as sprouts bleached white,
albinos desolate for sun.

A day of light’s enough
to chlorophyll, to turn each
unfurled budding green.

Later, I’ll haul them one by one
to their flagstone homestead,
plantain lily plantations

under the big-leaf maple shade
in this palest of the biggest U.S. cities,
white-born homeland, Oregon, 1859.

Forget those lone-star stolen lands
once slave now bomb-wing AFB—
here was the only, boldest

state to black-and-white enshrine
in her constitution’s draft.

Where, weekly, more For Sale
signs stake dominions,
my few remaining, elderly

Black neighbors cashing out,
fleeing streets once red-lined, before
the next thing barrels through

leaving in its wake,
oh time and time again,
what roots, what face, no trace.

  1. America, the Exceptional White Nation

“Get out of my country.”

—Adam Purinton
(before fatally shooting Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an engineer from India
whom Purinton had mistaken for an Iranian, in Olathe, Kansas)

It is going down,
circling the grate

after I scooped the detritus—
Styrofoam, plywood shims,
fallen cones and fir limbs,
persevering hints of ice—
from the drain
with my bare right hand,
my Gore-Texed feet in water
more than inches deep.

One more avenue
flood-blocked after the sky changes
to a sickly peach, shoos away sun
and curtains fall,
drops so large I could reach out,
catch them in this palm
now cold and freckled
with the chaff of broken leaves.

I cross to an even wider Jordan,
boots turned leak, the storm
drain ankle-high, stopped
with mud, so not even
fistfuls or kicks will do,

when the Friends of Trees truck appears
on Holman, makes the corner, pulls over,
parks, the engine on.
Out hops a man, his only weapon
a sturdy rake—
one of “them,”
one of the too many “they” now wish
to whisk away, deport.

He buries its teeth in the eddy.
I hear the metal-on-metal scrape
as he pulls away the clog,
culls it into the potholed street.

He looks up, smiles.
I nod in thanks.

And so the waters flow, free
to go their fated way.
And I want to think
the same will be true
of this pox
that continues

to this day to vex
to hex us all.

The public domain image above is an engraving of Ku Klux Klansmen first published in 1884. The engraving replicates an 1870 photograph taken under the direction of deputy U.S. Marshall J. G. Hester, who seized the disguises of arrested North Carolina Klansmen and had the photo taken as a demonstration of what the Klan reportedly did to a white Republican, John A. Campbell.

Nancy Flynn
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