Image: “This is what happens when you let your inner ugly shine” by Trinidad Escobar, pen on sketch paper, 2017
I really hate having to feature DT’s ugly face for this post, but as my husband commented, Ms. Escobar’s sketch doesn’t quite capture the full-scale ugliness of such a grotesque monster, so I suppose that lessens the blow of posting a representation of him. I can take that.
This poem is in response to the current administration’s flagrantly inhumane behavior and absolute lack of compassion for our countrymen in Puerto Rico who are victims of Hurricane Maria. To Americans who are ignorant of this fact, Puerto Ricans, as well as residents from the US Virgin Islands also suffering cataclysmic hurricane devastation, are American citizens, and are as much deserving of our help as any of us on the mainland.
Before we could see what was ahead, we heard it –
a roar that sounded like a thousand fallen angels
crying in mad song. Our country was underwater,
currents scaling rooftops like
waterfalls cascading from God,
its helter skelter, its surge entirely eclipsing
a population into the sea.
For some, promises by the orange clown,
his model wife on his arm,
were mesmerizing as a shimmering ocean
inviting you unawares to dive into
shark-infested waters. His promises were
magnificent and hateful
where he transformed a Jones
into a swamp creature strangling
an entire island.
Two groups of white folks stood by,
one kayaking through the deluge, the other backing
the orange clown’s tweets, watching the currents
rise while pretending to pray.
A small group broke away to join
the black and brown folks,
attempting to pull souls from the torrent,
but faced the danger of
Hundreds are still unaccounted for.
What we think of as a knight in shining armor
holds the name “Carmen,” not advancing
on a white steed, but much more heroic,
wading through an island’s flooded streets,
trying to slay monsters monumentally bigger
than any dragon, while the cowardly orange clown
pretending to be king only juggles his fake orange hair
and throws peanuts shouting back,
“Such poor leadership ability. She has now been told
that she must be nasty to me.”
Her gallant reply, “There is a mission,
and that is to save lives”
while rushing out once more,
a true general, out into her city.
The privileged remained unphased.
The grandeur of the hurricane was simply a drizzle
in their American eyes.
The rest of us were but helpless spectators,
witnessing the force of water
smothering our country’s brown citizens’ lungs.
Citizens, not just neighbors.
Even when we were already a term past,
we turned our heads back
still watching still drowning.