“Third Time’s a Charm” by David Kirby

David Kirby


Don’t you wish the president would just shut up?
I mean, why comment on everything all the time.
Let’s hear it for silence. Yes, the helicopter of the world
is always circling overhead, but only rarely and usually
never does it suddenly fix its spotlight on the genius
that is you. What does he expect, a chattering dolphin
to rear up in front of his every tweet/answer to
a journalist/remark to a staffer who’s not supposed
to leak it but does and go chee-chee-chee-chee?
Mozart ends The Magic Flute with the words
“Triumphant strength has rewarded beauty and wisdom
with an eternal crown,” but he was Mozart.
Even ordinary jibber-jabber can go too far, as when
you give someone a present and they say
“You didn’t have to do that” and you think, “I know
I didn’t have to, but I wanted to, though I’m having
second thoughts now,” or someone brings a casserole
to your potluck, and you say, “Oh, how lovely,”
and they say, “Yeah, but it’s way salty, plus I left it
in the oven too long,” and you think, “My, doesn’t
that sound delicious!” Actually it was Mozart’s
librettist Emanuel Schikaneder who wrote the end
of The Magic Flute as well as the rest of it, but still.
Doesn’t the president have speech writers?
The divorce firm of Thyden Gross and Callahan
works out of Friendship Village, Maryland (I’m not
making this up) and recently represented a wealthy
Islamic gentleman who invoked the ancient law
of talaq by saying “I divorce thee” three times
to his wife and bestowing the sum of $2,500
on her while retaining the bulk of their two million
dollar estate for himself. The Maryland Court
of Appeals said no, however, stipulating that
the talaq did not afford the same protections
of due process, prenuptial agreements,
and division of property that Maryland law did,
a ruling in which the court is joined by
those Islamic scholars who say it isn’t right to
invoke the talaq in one sitting and that there
should at least be a period of time between
the “three strikes” as well as other learned
devotees of that venerable faith who say
the talaq is reprehensible and shouldn’t be
used at all. Every time the president goes
yada-yada-yada, I wish Mitch McConnell would say,
“I impeach thee, I impeach thee, I impeach thee”
and he’d disappear like the witch in The Wizard
of Oz, and here I’m just referring to the president’s
banal and mendacious utterances and not
the ugly ones like grabbing somebody by their
you-know-what. In this respect he could at least
take lessons in subtlety from 18th century German
writer Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who said
of the prostitutes he encountered in London
that “they attach themselves to you like limpets”
and “they seize hold of you after a fashion
of which I can give you the best notion by the fact
that I say nothing about it.” Now you’re talking.

from Poets Respond
October 13, 2019


David Kirby: “I have misgivings about the current move to impeach. That process is usually used to convince the people that the president is a bad person, but we already know that. Too, I bet this president would be delighted; it’ll just give him another chance to feel sorry for himself. No, I’d prefer that he just go away. That’s called magical thinking, as is this poem’s call for Mitch McConnell to do the deed.” (web)

Rattle Logo