The White House

By Joel Craig Joel Craig
He knows how to do what he sets out to do
                                                       with perfectly obvious procedure. The sea
                                                       is dark and forbidding. The horizon
                                                       is dark and forbidding.
 
Even from a distance, the less said the better. The colors in some of these landscapes
                                                       are perfectly desperate.
 
In a portrait there is never anything wrong
                                                      with the mouth. There is never anything wrong
                                                      with anything. Machines are not choosers.
                                                      The next best things are certain. Heaven
                                                      knowing the next best things. The young
                                                      can explain it, but who would they explain
                                                      it to? More promise than performance
                                                      as all sorts of things begin to interfere.
 
An energetic hostess seated me at the counter
                                                      next to a beautiful woman. It is possible
                                                      the timid portion of the population
                                                      unless held firmly in check will imitate
                                                      the silliness of timid people of years ago.
 
Supplication is valued. As soon as I learned the facts I gave up
                                                      on the exchange. She wanted something
                                                      mysterious, as if everything were the same.
 
Life changes and so-called truth changes with it. The businesslike
                                                      haste of the surgeon as he scolds the public.
                                                      To look at him and the thing he can never look at
                                                      shudderingly as the blood is drawn
                                                      is the duty of every patriot.
 
In a constructive age such as this I should have neglected everything
                                                      for the supreme duty of aiding
                                                      in the reconstruction.
 
I took my courage, which starts everywhere and goes
                                                      nowhere, and spoke to her. Here
                                                      one can unquestionably infer the inside
                                                      from the outside.
 
The leaders of the free world, assembled as if by magic,
                                                      seem to have the enemy at their mercy.
                                                      It can be argued that Christ himself spoke
                                                      to the mob. The crowd will stop
                                                      to see almost anything. The crowd will stop
                                                      to see something about almost everything.

 

Joel Craig, “The White House” from The White House. Copyright © 2012 by Joel Craig, published by The Green Lantern Press. Reprinted by permission of Joel Craig.

Source: The White House (The Green Lantern Press, 2012)

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Poet Joel Craig

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, The Mind, Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, editor, and reading series curator Joel Craig was born in Iowa. In his free verse poems, he uses the cadence of conversation to trace the widening wake of narrative. He is the author of the poetry collection The White House (2012), and his chapbook, Shine Tomorrow, is one of three chapbooks in the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series: New Poets, Short Books, Volume III(2008, series editor Marvin Bell). Cofounder and curator . . .

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Poems by Joel Craig

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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