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Poems


Inside That
(An Inaugural Poem)


          You, created only a little lower than
          the angels . . .      --
Maya Angelou

So, then, for each Inaugural guest a shiny souvenir
recalling the latest glories of our fine democracy:
a nested doll, like the matryoshka that tourists
brought home from the old Soviet Union
(Gorbachev, and inside of him a smaller
Andropov, and inside that a little,
eyebrowed Brezhnev, and so on
back to a tiny Lenin).

But for our guests tonight, of course, the nesting dolls depict
our President-elect, the young George W. (shown winning
the election, even though he is short half a million votes),
and inside that the lovely Ms. Harris (unrecused
and unrepentant), and inside that W.'s brighter
brother, Jeb (Why didn't he run?), and inside
that (shrinking one by one) the five Justices
who voted to stop the ballot counting,
from the Chief right on down
to Scalia (the smallest),
and inside that, loose,
a single chad

scrounged from the messy floor of the Palm Beach County
emergency-preparedness center -- a chad with which
an elderly Jew from the Bronx, half
blind and hard of hearing,
voted by mistake for Pat
Buchanan.

January 15, 2001


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