“Presidential Poetry Briefing” by Albert Haley

Albert Haley


Week of June 8, 2014

Rise and shine, Sir. It seems to be summertime in America.
Kids are diving into community pools and emerging brown,
black, pink, all of them are slick as otters and shaking
and laughing while chaise lounge moms check emails, Kindle
Mr. Mercedes, and baggy shorts are lined up for shave ices
that leave the purple and green lips you used to get in Kailua.
Speaking of ice, The New York Times, the great news vacuum
of the land, has found the best iced latte. Check out
Go Get ‘Em Tiger in LA where they make it
with almond-macadamia milk. Can’t you already taste
that cold silk quenching a commander-in-chief’s thirst?
Hope you’ve peered out at the White House garden this week.
Story is long days, lots of sun = veggies bulging on vines
and stems. This year Michelle’s been shortening the names
to zooks and cukes and toe-mats and have you noticed
Sasha and Malia have taken it up, too. And why not?
Vowel-intense words lighten nature’s load such as the one
laid on the two teens starring in this week’s box office
success. Those kids! Dying of cancer, but Romeo and Julieting
it all the way. Shainlee Woodley wears a nasal cannula nearly
the entire 125 minutes. And does so fetchingly, we might add.
B-ball fanboy you are, you already know where the Spurs
and the Heat stand in the finals, but when Miami ran off
a broken slip-screen with 8:09 left in Game Four we thought
of that James Wright line. LeBron became no less than a man
compelled to “gallop terribly” all the way to the lane
and isn’t that one version of what we call poetry in motion?
Final note for the week is that the #hiddencash phenom
has arrived inside the Beltway. Last night a defense contractor
found $500 taped to the underbelly of a K Street mailbox—
except it may have been an FBI sting, that ol’ American hustle—
but more to the point there are good things happening
from sea to shining sea. Someone’s started a #hiddenpoem
and we got a tweet right here, asking you to step out
to the Rose Garden, lie down in the grass, stare up at the sky.
It’s so blue, so feverish with shape-shifting clouds,
and that’s the gist of the clue and, yes, this is always
just a weekly report, not recommendations, but this time
we’re thinking of making a gentle exception.

Poets Respond
June 15, 2014


Albert Haley: “This fantasy poem treats the entirety of the week of June 8-14 as a single sequence of events that become simply “summer.” Since this is an alleged ‘poetry briefing,’ I’ve tried to focus on those items which might, if this were a different world, push the natural disasters and accounts of human malfeasance and murder off the front page of our newspapers. And I found it fun to imagine that within the soul of the man in the Oval Office is the same Barack Obama who wrote love letters (excerpted by Vanity Fair in 2012) that displayed such an affinity for the sounds and rhythms of words and the poetry pulsing through all of life. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King is the #1 novel in the country. The best iced latte was described by The New York Times. The Fault In Our Stars was the box office leader for the week. The Miami Heat have struggled mightily with the San Antonio Spurs. The hashtag ‘hiddencash‘ has continued to pop up in even obscure locales like Abilene, Texas, where I saw as the lead story on the local news that a man found $20 inside a bronze canoe in a park. Everything else is made up.” (website)

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