Mudlark Flash No. 29 (2004)

Jack Martin | No President Left Behind

No President Left Behind | A Spoonful of Sugar
USA PATRIOT Act | looking to postpone the ultimate confrontation
Constituent Appeal | Florida

Jack Martin lives in Colorado with wife and sons. His poems have appeared recently in The Journal, Quarterly West, Rhino, The Hogtown Creek Review, and Florida Review.

No President Left Behind

I will hold my ground, he said not exactly bellowing the wind that came out of the cannon until the cannon was only wind. And one of the windows held, but the White House blew down, and its crippled pieces hobbled into infinite distance.

And a bit of grass and some trees held, but the soil blew away. And the President didn’t budge, but the continent eroded, and all of the continent’s things took off until all of the continents eroded, and the oceans evaporated and left with their fish and their boats and their archipelagos, and the molten iron sphere at the center of things cooled and rolled away,

until only a few breaths of wind remained tugging at the president who, as his clothes disappeared a thread at a time, leaned on a window gazing out at the bit of grass and the trees and the white hot eye of the sun alone among stars without sky.

A Spoonful of Sugar

I’m putting on my gardening gloves, kicking the banisters off the stairway, jumping in my work boots up and down on the Mary Poppins dvd, and I’m going out on the porch to see if I can make the neighbors cry. I’m putting ink in the gas tank, writing to the president to let him know how I’m doing, sitting in the lowest branch of a tall tree, and waiting until he replies. I’m putting it on this page like a spot of food, like a red mite squishing, yes, in the process, body crunching, splitting open to let out the mite juice under the weight of my too, too human thumb. I’m putting up my dukes and swinging on the porch. Let him think I’m still in the tree. I’m putting my hands on the porch rail and leaning out. This lawn makes a terrible ocean.


Every word means its opposite. Of course it does.
But what does that do to “I love you”?
How can we survive

and poststructuralism
at the same time? Deconstruction is like a flu
without season. Imperialism is the opposite
of tenderness.

It’s always one-thirty in the morning here.

Which would you protect first? Your family?
Or the common good? Look at your watch.
The police may be on their way to your home right now.
Maybe you should write to the president.
Maybe we should do something together.

What would happen if we all form a single file line at the White House gate?
Probably tear gas, maybe prison,
but suppose he shrugs
and says, “Ok.”

What do I want?

A quarter acre’s as good as the world,
and I’ve never ordered anyone to kill.

Do we ever get back what we’ve lost?
What we’ve said?

looking to postpone the ultimate confrontation

We were surrounded.
I put my hand over my heart and said it,
opened the beer and drank,
kissed her again,
unbuttoned my jacket, hung it on the hook by the door,
and stepped toward the backroom.
The water folds back on itself.
The sun opens her blouse.
The moon undoes his tie.
The genders switch.
I didn’t call the president to tell him what I wanted, I undressed.
So did she,
Forget about the G men.
They were a figure for something we’ll never understand.
The door unfolded the water.
The blue door shredded.
Why not?
The clouds sliding across the face of the moon were ingots.
People in the world were dying,
but it wasn’t my fault.
Splinters opened around the holes.
She was silver.
I was a sliver.
On my fingers I still feel her blouse,
her nipples, her lips,
the words in my throat
as she says them.

Constituent Appeal

Sometimes I wear antlers. Other times I let my attitude carry me. Once in a frenzy, now somewhere between a bacchic state and dancing, letting it all go on a corner on the Hill. God knows how long my limbs had been flailing, my ten fingers spread wide at the ends of my arms, knees and elbows jutting and pumping. I was a lasso spinning. I was a Cruise missile, and I had launched. I was a new interpretation of the Constitution, a Texas slot machine drinking Eisenhower dollars, burning arms on an event horizon, a bark traveling from dog to dog to dog. I was an extinct insect species resurrected. I was the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. I was disinformation about Christ. DNA, RNA, cyclotron, hemostat, dishwashing machine, armor, tank, bomb. I found myself falling.

I push myself back up to my feet, the concrete pressing a different pointillistic landscape into each of my palms, everybody on the corner is looking as my body clicks again into the rhythms of dollars and cents, as my arms and legs jiggle, as my head again swivels and the street lights above me blur, as air repeatedly fills my lungs and withdraws, I know it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard to be the president.


“Pee coming!”
my son warns
as his bladder empties
on my thigh, wetting him,
his pants, my pants.
The floor darkens around us.
It is Election Day.
I lift him and stride
to the bathroom. Pee streams
down his legs, gets on my shirt,
more on my pants. How big
is his bladder? He sits
on his red, blue, and yellow potty
for some minutes. “No pee coming.”

We put on clean clothes.
He wants to pick my shirt,
so I let him.

November 2000

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