political

Things That Go Trump in the Night by Paul Fericano

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By Charles Rammelkamp
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Very soon, in the next few weeks, those Americans who have not mailed in their ballots will go to the polls and elect a new president.  For many, the last four years have been one catastrophe after another. Late-night comics have tried to ease the horror with jokes, but ultimately the only way to ease the angst will be to elect a new president, and who knows how quietly Trump and his minions will go?
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That said, Paul Fericano’s parodies are not only funny, but they are intelligent, with references ranging from Shakespeare and Mark Twain to Ethel Merman and Marlon Brando, from Humphrey Bogart and Speedy Gonzales to Ezra Pound and Sir Walter Scott.  Some allusions may be more obscure than others (Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is certainly not obscure, but I can’t say I ever really read it), but Fericano touches many a cultural landmark in these short, humorous passages, from William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” to Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady Is a Tramp.”
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The Invocation, and hence the title of the book, refer to the traditional Scottish prayer:
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From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
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In Fericano’s verse, it’s the press secretaries from which we ask to be delivered. The book was completed before the Fox News refugee, Kayleigh McEnany, took over the position of chief propagandist, defending Trump’s lies and failures, spinning his cruel policies into something compassionate – or at least Obama’s fault! –  and attempting to turn the disastrous pandemic response into something heroic and decisive, all with a straight face, despite the staggering numbers of dead, the chaotic “policies,” the mixed messages about masks and social-distancing, the breathtaking failure to come straight with the American public about the danger of the virus. Yes, Lord, please, deliver us!
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            Good Lord deliver us
            from moochies and huckabees
            and long-leggedy spicers
            and things that go trump in the night.
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The collection is divided into eight sections, all of which begin, “Trump Pardons…”: Elvis (Make America Gyrate Again), Harvey Weinstein (Make America Date Again), Obama (Make America Hate Again), Speedy Gonzales (Make America Immigrate Again), Pence (Make America Mutate Again), Reagan (Make America Hallucinate Again), Charles Manson (Make America Tate Again), His Colon (Make An Enema Wait Again).  The wit is dagger-sharp, the satire devastating.  The final section, Trump Pardons His Colon, begins with three variations on a theme: “Trump of Allegiance” (“I trump allegiance to the swag / of the Norman Bates of America”); “Dummkopf von Allegiancestein” German Translation (“Ich trumpf allegiancestein to zee trumpf / von zee Vereinigten Trumpfen von Amerika”); “Durak Iz Allegianceki Russian Translation (“Ya prevzoshel allegianceki to trumpfnoy / iz Unitenyye Trumpfi Ameriki.”). Russians, Nazis: why do these references seem so appropriate? So spot on?
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The Huckleberry Finn parody, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Trump,” is similarly on target in lampooning the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with reference to Hitler:
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You don’t know about me unless you’ve read a book by the name of Mein Kampf, but that doesn’t matter. That book was written by Mr. Adolf Hitler, and he told the truth, mainly. There were some things which he lied about, but mainly he told the truth. Let me tell you something: I have never known anybody who hasn’t lied at one time or another, unless it’s Joe Goebbels – Adolf’s Joe Goebbels, that is – and Himmler, and the Angel of Death are all written about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some lies, as I said before.
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The longest poem, “The Secret Plot to Kill Trump,” the penultimate poem in the collection, is inspired by a mash-up of speeches Trump has given, at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, at a factory in Ohio, and at a CPAC convention in Maryland, in 2017 and 2018. It begins with an epigraph from a speech Robert Kennedy made about an erosion of a sense of national decency, and it ends with the last public words RFK ever spoke, just before he was assassinated in Los Angeles (“and now it’s on to Chicago / and let’s win there”).
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Subtitled Poems of Treason and Resistance, this book is guaranteed to get under the very thin skin of  a certain “orange peel / barrel” (see “William Carlos Williams Trumps Himself” for this reference). Things That Go Trump in the Night will either be an ominous warning about the next four years, or it will give a good, hearty laugh, if mixed with the bitterness of what this president has done to our country.   
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You can find the book here: Things That Go Trump in the Night | yunews

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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was  published by Future Cycle Press.  Most recently Catastroika  was released by Apprentice House in 2020, Ugler Lee released in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

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A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree

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By g emil reutter
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Darren Demaree is a singer of poems. His latest collection, A Fire Without Light, is a series of polemic poems aggressively written, contentious in nature, written in the present. Demaree walks into the fire without fear. The fire he writes about is the Trump Presidency.
 
He opens the book with a dedication.
 
This book is dedicated to every person that believes empathy is our most important strength, and that those that believe it to be a weakness are the weakest among us. Those people that rally against love and acceptance we will remember, but we will never raise their names in song without the anger
they forced into our hearts.
 
Demaree tells us in #3, I like song. I will get used to these short songs. I will learn what I need to do. I won’t waste a single breath. I will sing as often as I can.
 
Sing he does and often throughout this collection not in fear but in his view of the reality of the Trump Presidency. Such singing as this:
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A Fire Without Light #12
New sorrow, old accuracy, we all arrived outside the
community center to say his name without teeth, to
let bounce it around our mouths, to have it be chewed
up while it left that cave, to see it injured in the world
before it was ever heard by another soul. Such a chaotic
thing, his name, such a weight, a violence in image and
repetition, and now we’re forced to taste it. Nobody
wants to taste his name, but we must if we’re going to
mangle it properly
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In #30 he tells us … We know all of his moves. We know he waited for the darkness, so that he may be the light. We know he is not the light… We offered him the world. We know he means to consume the world. We offered him the world. We know he means to consume the world. We offered him the world. We offered him the world.
 
Demaree tells us that we are all responsible and in this no one is blameless. He continues throughout to yawp.
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A Fire Without Light #41
I didn’t have it in me, to seal my mouth like Berryman
suggested, keeping the air of my anger inside, and
dancing so little that I might be mistaken for a fearful
American. I am not afraid. I’m quiet. There is no list
making in my heart. I’m writing these poems all of the
time, and I’m smiling while I pile them behind every
Ohioan that voted for Trump. I won’t have to push
them over this horse-high collection. They will turn
naturally, and have to swim through the thousands of
pages. Most of them will give up, and turn back to my
stillness. They will hold me. We will never talk about
why. We will know, but we’ll never have to talk about it.
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In #76 he sings, The sweat of hate makes us all think we need to be
rewritten into elegy… Humanity for all. Humanity for Donald J. Trump.
May he find humanity before we are forced to rest against the zero.
 
Demaree is not one of those folks who talk of leaving, there is a strength to him to speak out no matter the strength of the wind, no matter the damage. He has his doubts but is holding onto his country.
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A Fire Without Light #655
How lucky I am to be greeted with the wind as I
smack back against the ribs of America. This is the
era of bruising. Those of us that survive will look like
survivors. Those of us that are buried will be buried in
numerous plots. This is the shredding of the tendons of
the American hopefuls. I have no intention of leaving. I
have no idea if I can hold on to my country.
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These poems are daring, dusky and intense. Demaree reveals a moral strength standing not wallowing in despair; writing of the ongoing fires lit by Trump over 2017 desiring to document and extinguish as many as he can. He boldly walks through the storm under the dark clouds that dwell above America telling us in these poems that there is hope, we can survive, and freedom of speech is the most powerful weapon we have.
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You can find the book here: A Fire Without Light
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
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