Friday, November 02, 2018


Editing and publishing a poetry journal is a complex and difficult task rife with pitfalls. We try hard to do our best but sometimes things fall through the cracks -- especially loose sheets of paper. In the recent issue, the poem "Leaders" on page 53 of the journal, a couple of ending stanzas disappeared. Likely, a second sheet of paper was detached and lost. I usually staple multi-page poems together to prevent this unfortunate occurrence. Below is the poem in its entirety:

I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war.
            – Robert Mueller

Often when Kelly and I are walking somewhere
I wind up many steps ahead of her and she complains,
asks me to slow down, which, given we are in America,

is not a foolish request, as it could be in Myanmar,
where I might be prone to slow down on my own,
though I’d hate to think I’d make her walk ahead.

She brings up native Americans sometimes,
telling a story about how when she’d fall behind
her twin brother as they were walking, he’d ask her

if she was a squaw. If men usually walk ahead
of women in native cultures, I’d suspect it’s
to protect the women, to be the first to face

danger, though with mountain lions that attack
from behind, that would put women at greater risk.
Given what Mueller is doing these days, I’m

drawn to wondering what the male in the White House
would do if he were out walking in dangerous
territory with a woman—besides grope her, that is.

Somehow I can’t imagine him wanting to be the first
to confront danger, although I’ve no doubt he would
dispute this, brag about how brave he is, prefacing it

with “Believe me,” as in, “Believe me, I’d be tremendous
in a situation like that. Brave? You talk about brave. I’d
be amazing, huge. I’d be tough, smart. You talk about smart.

Believe me. I’d be smart.” I suspect his wife and ex-wives
all know how he’d be, which is why they’ve never
gone to Myanmar with him. Of course, heel spurs

might be given as a reason why he’d fall behind
on a walk there. But enough about the male
in the White House who doesn’t have to worry

about land mines on the golf course. It’s what Mueller
is doing that should be of greater concern, anyway.
I wonder how many steps ahead he is by now.

         -- Matthew J. Spireng


Post a Comment

<< Home