Putin + Assad Putin + Trump Putin + A Gunshot To Each of Their Heads by Brian Sheffield


I know Putin mainly
through memes and
ill-informed protest
poetry. I know Assad
from that time in 2012
when I was still conscious

and actually gave a shit
about politics, or rather
used Facebook to convince
all of my friends that I did.
I know Trump because I
live with him everyday and

am reminded that his face
is my face is the face of my
family is the face of power
and progressivism in the
western world. And I feel like
I shouldn’t really care. Or,

at least, that the State is the
State, and whether it was
Sanders or Clinton, it wouldn’t
really change all that much. Or,
rather, oppression, violence,
and alienation are all inherent


      Craig tries to convince
me that these things matter and
I never tell him that I don’t love
America. We talk about houses
and policy and I never tell him
that I feel no shame for not

voting. I care about people, and
people will say that the government
affects the people. And I can get
that, but

      Putin is busy
slapping his dick all over
his bombs before he sends
them to Aleppo. Trump
is busy verbally gratifying
all the world leaders he
knows literally nothing
about. And Assad is busy
watching Syria dig holes
into its own heart to bury
children and workers and
muslims and christians and
parents and teachers and
all those young revolutionaries
who used to be dreamers
and really, this is all theoretical
because I’m not in Syria so
how the fuck do I know how
that feels? I’ve never been in war
so what right do I have to talk about war?
I shouldn’t be writing this
shitty poetry for anybody.

Flint Michigan still has no clean
water and the previous CEO of Nestle
once said that access to water is not a
basic human right. I live in a room
in Brooklyn that probably housed
somebody else who was priced out.
And I don’t know what to say or how
to feel about this, even though it may
not be true. At least, not directly.

I’m not a liberator.
I’m a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
I’m not a revolutionary.
I’m a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
I’m not a teacher, and
I’m not a poet.
I’m not a lover and I’m probably not a very good friend.
I’m just a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
These politics don’t touch me because
I’m just a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
I see all these shades of color on skin
and all these shades of color on clothing
and on these houses and around these streets.
I see all these shades of color that paint
the patterns of ideologies and
complicate all of our lives, because
I am just a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
I’m afraid to speak openly about most things as a set of eyeballs with a mouth.
But I can say this:

But not because you’re the president.
Only because you’re so full of hate
like I am and you want to fill the
rest of the world with your hate like
I sometimes do. But now, you walk
backwards and clear your steps
as if what you were saying really
didn’t mean anything. And I guess it
didn’t. Good.

I gleefully laugh at
middle America who believes in
your bullshit, and I feel no guilt for
doing so.     I gleefully laugh at
those old conservatives who should
all be dead now anyways. The people
of world affairs should be young and
idealistic. Shove the old fools into the
grinder and feed them to each other.
You want hate? Keep up your shit
and we will all fucking eat you!

I revoke my own citizenship.
I am no longer an American.
Fuck your flag and fuck your soil.
Fuck your politics and fuck your economy.
America the gratuitous
I don’t love you America.
I love your people,
but people are not their citizenship.
People before country.
Walt Whitman had it wrong.
America is not a poem.
America is a poison.
I hope America dies. But,
I hope the people thrive!


In this warm and cloudy winter morning,
in a messy house with a broken broom
and a counter full of wet dishes sitting
to dry, and a chair missing its back, and
a dusty oscillating fan that’s been
sleeping since the season began, as Claire
rolls a spliff and contemplates smoking in

the living room, but decides to sit out
on the stoop where the rain is beginning
to dribble from the clouds like a spool of
drool from a baby’s mouth, I think of all
the words that I could rewrite or take back.
And I don’t know how to think about this
without also thinking about cowardice.

Everything is a structure built upon
another structure, and it terrifies
me to think that I rent a room in this
hostile hotel. I grind my teeth to shut
out the sounds. But it also terrifies
me to think of what debris will fall
were we to crush the foundations of these walls.

There’s no poetry to write on these walls.
There’s no poetry in the empty house
of our politics. Everything sits here
in its emptiness. But it can be full.
There’s so much good to find in the rubble,
there’s so much good to find in the ways that
we tell each other stories. We can break

this form
       apart, open these walls
like surgery. We can fix this, and I am
not sorry for saying we.

There will be more violence.
There will be more hate.
There will be a torrent of rhetoric and dis-ease.
And it will always feel like the end of the world
     is breathing over our shoulders.

But we can fix this. I am sure.
Even if all the proof of creation
rains down and hails the ultimate
apocalypse, we can still find refuge
           we can still find refuge
and build ourselves so that we are
as magnificent as we have always claimed.

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