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poetry The Fake That’s Real

Poet Mary Elise Bailey has studied and re-studied the rhetoric of 2016 presidential shopping. This selection is part of a longer work, Duct Tape.

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The Fake That’s Real

By Mary Elise Bailey

The Republicans are imploding, taunted by an accident

that’s inhaled itself too deeply, that’s grown too large

to dislodge: The Donald bewilders them, or so they like

to pretend, though he’s really just a puzzle any average Joe

can solve--a pile of fake gold shavings, filched from our own

fake pockets, by a hand that doesn’t know enough to hide.

What kills them, and the Democrats too, is that now and then

the Trumpster makes a little sense--and here’s the thing:

he sounds like someone’s Uncle Earl. Insults, locker talk,

playground threats--it’s all just Earl, on a good night out. 

He doesn’t really mean it; no, he really does. Who knows:

he’s entertained--and so are we.  He knows ignorance doesn’t

make him a Nazi, it just makes him real. And in the final tally,

aren’t we all made from the pockmarked lungs of Uncle Earl?

He’s a daydream bully mustering a claim, backed by a mob

of grade school epithets: “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie”—

such is the prowess of our own Red King. Even the spires

of his cloud-nudging towers can’t raise him from the floor. Down

here, among the gum wrappers, bottle caps and grime, we know

gloating’s just a code for self-defense, it’s shaking in its shoes,

it’s knowing it isn’t good enough, pretending that it’s better--

it’s just like us. And so is he: the very same frightened Fake

that’s Real. And we can tell--from the blue-collared souls

of our tympanic membranes, all the way down to our blue-collared

gut—that Trump knows it too. This is the kiss of the Uncle Earl

your lawyered Leftists can’t figure out: the oral strut, the primal

bluster of a simple man who’s real enough to fear, and real enough

to holler, “This Country’s Going to Hell!” and think nothing of it.

It’s only the Democrats who keep pretending it isn’t, who offer

the riddle so frail and depraved that every time its glib face

cracks, a swarm of shadows comes spilling out, scrambling

for fresh slogans, fresh handshakes to hide in. My stomach growls

for the taste of disassembling them: Wall St. speeches, war booty,

Citibank appointees, too many lies to count. I spend the spring

crosschecking, triple-checking every fact I find, and bit by bit

the poison enters, like some kind of wine that makes you think 

you’re Blessed—but slowly it deranges you: you know too much.

A photo of someone’s registration--one day she’s a Democrat,

next day she’s not; her form’s been signed by someone else:

who? Over 100,000 stripped from the rolls in Brooklyn. Poor

Fucks in Arizona waiting five hours to cast their votes, still in line

when CNN congratulates The Hillary, with 1% reporting.  

By June, it’s getting hard to talk to Jimmy and the Old Man,

to fit my chair the way I used to: I’m a scratched and harried

animal, tracking the scent of the stained, living by the grace 

of Comcast and my little GE fan--what else can I do? I hear

West Coast poll workers admit they were trained to disenfranchise,

to make the provisional ballot “[their] best friend all day”; I watch

Arizona’s Primary Election Hearing, again and again—votes

stolen, voices hushed, a haggard line of ordinary idiots reduced

to tears by state-level fraudsters: invisible hands. My unstained

sources proliferate like the taped-over mouths of the so-called

Bernie Bros: “alternative” footage of the Snowflake Convention

that “MSM” wouldn’t show. How can I tell you the many ways

I no longer belong to myself? I’m a shape that won't fit,

a shape I can’t follow, speaking a language I don’t want to know.

Mary Elise Bailey grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine, back in the days when boatyards were a thing, and no one had ever heard of a “Bush."  Her poems have appeared in Field, Poetry East, Boston Phoenix, Southern Poetry ReviewThe New Guard, and elsewhere.  Her current project is a manuscript called Duct Tape, which encompasses a range of fictional speakers, expressing a variety of reactions to the 2016 elections and other political issues, such as US "intervention" in the Middle East. One such speaker is a disillusioned pacifist by the name of Dave Parry, a potential Trump voter and the "author" of "The Fake That's Real."