Letter to America by Richard Kenney

Letter to America by Richard Kenney

Three Poems

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We mustn’t slander our Twitter Commander,
he’ll burble our bird and snatch our bander
and fire off a tweet with his hot little hand, or
maybe report us, so stay discreet—

Report us he may, or maybe deport us,
or a whole lot worse than waterboard us,
(all guilty they’ll plead, in Superior Court, as
they kiss my ring, said Commander in Tweet.)

Commander in Tweet! Commander in Tweet!
Poke him a little and hear him bleat!
He’s a patsy for Putin, is the word on the street—
(and I think he likes me, said Commander in Tweet).

Patsy for Putin, Patsy for Putin!
who bought our election without any shootin’:
just read the receipt: for whom was he rootin?—
(I’m sure he likes me, said Commander in Tweet).

Who’s his daddy? Why, uncle Vlad, he
carries his clubs like a nine-hole caddy:
(I think he’s sweet—not at all Democratty,
and he really likes me, said Commander in Tweet).

Commander in Tweet! Commander in Tweet!
Muster the army, commission the fleet!
He’s a patsy for Putin, poltroon complete—
(And that old Constitution? Hit Delete—)




Commander in Tweet is afraid of the Press.
You can hardly blame him—they print what he says.
I ask, is that fair to the man with the hair?
It makes him look mentally ill, no? (Yes.)

Commander in Tweet is afraid of his taxes.
He’s afraid we’ll all get a glimpse of his praxis.
We may dipstick his debt in the diaper he wet
when they leaked who the man masterminding the hacks is.

Commander in Tweet is afraid, and it shows
in the care that he took, before the polls closed
to ensure that we didn’t discover unbidden
the worst of the what and the whom that he owes.

Commander in Tweet has foreign debt?
Don’t think about that. It would make you upset.
It would mean he’s beholden, thus partly controlled in
the place where his butter applies to our bread.

Is Commander in Tweet afraid of his shadow
slithering under us—Uncle Vlad, who
flexing his pecs, did his best to elect
his phishing-buddy aficionado?

Commander in Tweet is afraid of the shadow
of doubt that dogs his slogans, his scato-
illogical gall…. Read the words on the wall:
who’ll pay for all this? Cuidado. Cuidado.




Thinking of that tattered rag
over which still flies a flag—

of Jefferson, whose Constitutin’
proofed this place against a Putin

(or so we pray) with a piece of parchment,
and its subsequent enlargement—

of your sworn oath to defend that Bill
down to its last codicil—

we sing of Olaf, who’d have voted for Johnson:
bolder than Congress, blonder than Wisconsin,

who voted for you, Commander in Tweet,
though he doesn’t love a bully and he doesn’t wear a sheet.

You may find, like many a pol,
that you aren’t what he meant, at all.

You may discover, Commander in Tweet,
there is some **** (1) he will not eat.

And so, Commander, remember Olaf.
That’s our prayer. And also—no laugh—

may Congress somehow find the nerve
to hold you to the screed you serve,

and should your grasp exceed its preach,
may the rhyme-word not come free, like speech.


  1. re: asterisks (so infra dig.)
    See Cummings, Olaf, Glad and Big.




Richard KenneyRichard Kenney’s most recent book is The One-Strand River (Knopf, 2007). He teaches at the University of Washington’s marine laboratories in Friday Harbor, and lives with his family on the Olympic Peninsula.
Original header image courtesy Pixabay.

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