“Opening Poems from the Candidates of the First 2020 Presidential Debate” by Stephen T. Berg

Stephen T. Berg


Let Me Explain the Turbulence at the Center of Our Gestalt

First of all, gestalt is an uppity word, sorry about that.
I used it to make me look dramatic, philosophic, I’m neither.

And center as qualifier? It’s misleading, don’t you think? Gestalt
admits no middle. Not really. Geez, the concept’s tricky.

And Turbulence? Well, you’ll detect it’s more democratic than chaos.
Almost manageable. I didn’t want my failure, promised by the title,
to be irredeemable. After all, I still want you to visit.
Because, well, I consider you very interesting, always have.

And regards Me Explain? Not likely. Outside of a club sandwich
I’m mystified by most things.
I’ve been empty-headed all my life, but I do polish my veneer
daily. (To think there’s people like me in office.)

But now look, I’ve made this about me, when it’s about you!
About your indistinguishable desire for meaning,
your discernment, your wanting to understand and so live
with some modicum of control.
Which is what brought you here.

But as you’ve now noticed. I’ve misled you.
I apologize. Deeply.
So let me at least offer you some tea and pastry.
(And if I could be so bold, might I count on your vote?)


We Were in the Crapper But Now We’re Fantastic

First of all, get your history straight.
That last cheater took us down the stink hole.
I’ve done more for this country than any man since Mount Rushmore.
I can’t even tell you!
Most people don’t know this but I have a master’s diploma
in shower attachments,
that’s why they named the Hubble telescope after me.
Thighland is my favorite carnival.
I can beat anyone in hot dogs. Just watch!
they’ll build a statue of me, with those other guys
in that great national park, Yo-Semite.
I picked the color for the sky. You’re welcome.
Finally, if you don’t vote for me—covfefe!

from Poets Respond
September 27, 2020


Stephen T. Berg: “The article, and there are many others like it, pits Mr. Biden’s decency against Mr. Trump’s loutishness. I simply imagined these two candidates as poets, and wrote the poems they would write, and read, as a way to open the first presidential debate.” (web)


Join us this morning for Poets Respond Live! Click here to watch …

Rattle Logo