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May 19, 2019

5/1/2019 3:49:00 PM
The Reused Muse: Satire in Past Voices
By Jeff Balch


In Part One (“Unfairno,” March 20) we witnessed several of President Trump’s aides and cheering squad-members banished to the Infernal depths as Easter approached. Each suffered a doom proportional to his or her misdeeds in political life.

In Part Two we now judge Donald Trump himself. We leave his underworld and struggle through Trump-tower Purgatory, climbing up seven levels of Deadly Sin, noting Trump’s command of each, while the light of possible redemption beckons above.

Spoiler Alert: No, he does not get redeemed. His only light is TV light.

“Purgativo”

(with apologies again to Dante)

Emerging from the gloom beneath Trump Tower

   where Trumpian sidekicks suffered kick and trample,

   I climb past images of Him in power.

Sixty stories high; at every ninth a sample

   TV screen to show a deadly sin accursed—

   thus seven screens highlight the Trump example.

In Dante’s ranking, Lust was far the worst,

   then Gluttony, and Greed, Sloth, Envy, Wrath

   but the seventh, Pride, must I consider first.

 

A Prideful voice echoes along the path

   as a screen depicts his brazen non-tzedagah*:

   “Behold gold plating on my sink and bath!”

Then with the self-promotion of a Lady Gaga,

   yet driven not by art but by sheer vanity,

   he dons the ready cap proclaiming MAGA;

and to whip the crowd he barks inanity,

   sublimates the machination of the grafter,

   and basks in adulation from Sean Hannity.

One wonders what exactly he is after

   with such artless mental non-agility,

   this man incapable of humble laughter.

 

* tzedakah is Hebrew for necessary selflessness; pardon the forced rhyme.

 

No, his laugh is one of Wrath and sham virility,

   produced with angry pomp for paparazzi

   as he mocks a newsman’s disability.

The fervor seems a trifle Russian bots-y

   as he channels discontent with easy lies

   and blurs the line between nitwit and Nazi.

For Trump, the wrath revealed before your eyes

   is less a sin than more artillery

   deployed to aggravate and galvanize

the crowd to clamor for the pillory

   or some other lizard-oil antidotes

   like locking up the vanquished Hillary.

 

On a Jealous sea the angry Trump bark floats:

   he sees no unity, just differential,

   like that irksome margin of three million votes—

the votes he craves, yet calls inconsequential

   (although that sum is larger than Chicago),

   his on-screen blather quasi-presidential.

His Envy rivals that of dark Iago,

   the unredeeming spark of the scheming cad,

   and drives his hungry dream of Mar-a-Lago.

All brocade or shiny, never braid or plaid,

   yet the vocal tone is ever Visigoth

   as he longs to emulate Jong-un and Vlad.

 

Halfway up, a central failing: that of Sloth,

   which Dante broadened to Acedia

   beyond mere torpor, as when student doth

the research just in Wikipedia;

   as when, for problems that must be addressed,

   one opts instead to blame the media.

He dimly understands the globe is stressed

   by human impact, yet invokes derision

   and from bully pulpit merely beats his chest.

His fecklessness reflects an otiose decision

   to heed no human need, except to feed

   the ego daily on Fox television.

 

And his vain response to those in utmost need?

   Taunting darker neighbors with the curt retort

   of “sh*thole countries.” Smell the cruel Greed,

and understand your taxes pay for his support;

   and check the record, and consider why

   the chiseler was forever in and out of court.

“I’m mad, like you!” is not an alibi

   to clearer thinkers with severe concern

   that Mar-a-Lago is the new Versailles.

You can smell the greed. And the more you learn

   of the likely Trump emolumental sources

   the more you will demand to see a tax return.

 

His megaglut is legion: who sends armed forces

   to meet malnourished migrants at a border fence?

   Costly separation, like his ritz divorces.

A billion human beings live in shacks or tents;

   a billion more are threatened by the rising sea;

   he wants two billion dollars for his space defense.

To me, the greatest insult is his Gluttony

   of policy and person; it’s a crying shame

   that Trump embodies leisure and sheer luxury

and treats the work of politics much as a game,

   compelling disillusioned allies to adjust,

   and taking narrow-minded actions in our name.

 

With several marriages now gone to dust,

   in part at least because he immaturely

   fails to govern his adolescent Lust,

he demonstrates commitment rather poorly

   with his role as father never much discussed,

   though you sense he shoulders it most insecurely.

Here the topmost, seventh screen shows signs of rust

   from exposure to his elemental needs and thrust

   and his sneer toward woman’s private parts and bust;

as I watch and listen I feel yuge disgust

   at the shallow man, so craven and ballistic,

   and wonder who regards him with an ounce of trust.

 

I summit feeling less fulfilled than masochistic,

   and flashing back to each revealing screen

   I see the linking sin is Narcissistic.

I see his love of self stands in between

   our common purpose and our divisive scars—

   but with my final step I stumble in a gap unseen,

 

and tumbling, whack my head and I see stars.

 

(To be concluded soon... but not soon enough.)

 





Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2019
Comment by: jeannie affelder

Mr. Balch is a master wordsmith. I only wish our president didn't give so much fodder for his talents.



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