Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Three Inaugurations

Here's a poem from my book Vexed Questions.

 I read it now and think about the inaugurations since then:  Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, and now, Trump. Eight, counting the two-termers-  about 30 years.  If you had told me six years ago, when I wrote that poem, how things would be in 2019, I would have laughed in your face.  Irony is bitter sometimes.

Three Inaugurations


On Nixon’s second ,

we migrated to the living room

of our crowded row house in Baltimore

on January 20, 1973,

all of us young, in our first or second jobs

after college, living like hippies with paychecks

and phone bills,

friends, lovers, hangers-on

with us, sitting on the worn grey rug

from someone’s family attic.

We sat on the floor in front of the TV

as we did when we were children

watching Howdy Doody.

We smoked and laughed at Nixon

as we did when we were children

watching Howdy Doody,

laughed like defeated Democrats.


 On Carter’s only,

snow barricaded the curbs

on January 20, 1977.

We rode the bus across Washington

in the frigid night, our evening gowns

under our coats.

When we walked over to Union Station

for Carter’s Inaugural Party, in the knee-deep snow.

In the light from taxis and cars

the snow was lilac, and we laughed,

single and joyous Democrats,

carried our own bottles of champagne.


On Reagan’s first,

Election Day started with pouring rain,

drenching me on the way to the polls

in Petersburg Virginia

to vote Democratic.

On January 20, 1981,in the Washington Post,

an editorial writer sounded the warning:

poor people, watch out.

The limousines rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The rich, back in town.

Thus was the inauguration of

Homelessness in America.



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