The Artist Abroad

13 ways of looking at the Donald

/ 02:49 AM August 04, 2017

NEW YORK — One of Wallace Stevens’ most celebrated poems is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” It serves as a very loose inspiration for regarding the Donald, as we must, however unpleasant that may be, in 13 ways as well. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on blackbirds, which may well resent this comparison, and think it exceedingly odious. And who can blame them?

And who can forget the Beatles’ song on the blackbird, “singing in the dead of night”? So, hear ye, blackbirds! Don’t take this personally!


Attention must also be paid to the number 13, which we all know stands as a symbol of ill omen, misfortune and bad luck, and to the fact that Stevens chose, not the nightingale, or parrot, or hummingbird—all lovely creatures of the air—but the blackbird. For birds that are black are, in the West at any rate, portents of doom and gloom; witness Edgar Allan Poe’s use of the raven. And crows, just as black, though exceedingly smart, don’t exactly inspire bursts of lyricism.


By the way, blackbirds don’t tweet. As far as I can tell, they stay as far away as they can from Twitter.



The Donald twits in the dead of night.

He mocks all who fail to include him as their hero.

And by so mocking proves them right.


He cannot know the beauty of

Inflections or that of innuendoes.


For he has neither wit nor irony.


The Donald is of no mind

Not due to any discipline

Or training in Zen

But simply because he has none.


The only moving thing in the

White House is the eye of the

Orange Man, glaring at CNN

And the New York Times.


In the dead of winter

He expresses his discontent

His mood of a decipherable cause:

How low his approval ratings.


O slick men in Congress

Why do you imagine him golden,

When all that glitters is not gold?

Think him Agent Orange,

A cancer to the body politic.


Does he have noble accents?

Do his thoughts follow lucid

Rhythms? Do pigs have

Wings, and serpents, unforked



At the sight of the

Orange Man flying into a

Rage, all the false king’s men

Cry out sharply

But laugh inwardly.


The Orange Man rides in his

Air Force One, over the vast

Country, to play at Mar-a-Lago,

His golf score of more import to him

Than the lack of health for 23 million.


Daily fears pierce him as he

Mistakes the shadows of

His vanity for reality.

In life’s learning, still an apprentice.


When the Orange Man flies

Out of sight, his courtiers gambol

At the edge. Who can leak the

Most? When Tabby’s away

The mice will play!


The Orange Man whirled and

Twirled in Washington’s light

As though he were full of delight

But it was all pantomime,

Of fear and trembling.


Such small hands!

Such a small mind!

His dress, in inverse proportion:

Fake news: Big Suit, tiny man!

Copyright L.H. Francia 2017

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TAGS: 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, Beatles, Donald Trump, Edgar Allan Poe, opinion, poetry, satire, Wallace Stevens
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