I keep thinking about how my daughter-in-law
contrived me into watching “The Apprentice”
and then actually suggested that the awful HE
(some people said) might actually run for president.

“God save us,” I said with grandkids around us.
I had the same feeling I got back in the summer of ‘68
when Richard Nixon got the Republican nomination
and I explained to my old swimming team buddy

That his secret plan to end the war in Vietnam
would keep the war going as long as possible
and he told me everyone thought the opposite
but I was mad at Johnson for the Gulf of Tonkin

And the invasion of Vietnam for a graduation present
still already it seemed each president was always worse
than the last and Nixon was actually a mafia connected
criminal yet somehow it turned out to be all too true

Each president was worse than the last following along
in Nixon’s corporate Caesar footprints of gore streaming
blood and guts the long litany of crime starting with Ford
pardoning Nixon and then presiding over Dick Cheney and

D. Rumsfeld as they did a damage limiting operation
(with Bill Barr already at the Office of Legal Counsel
after a stint at the C.I.A.) and with Herbert W. Bush
moved on over from Repugnant Party Headhunter to

C.I.A. chief so poor Jimmy Carter almost became real
even human in this surreal world of neo-liberal coups
and torture squad Operation Condors assassination
but Reagan was hovering right there peripheral believe

It Iran-contra was starting even before the inauguration
and, naturally, the billionaires had the check books out
and it was so sad to see all the bodies just stacking up
out on the streets and in the growing overflowing shelters

God save us indeed from the Clintons and the Bushes
the generational transfer from their “Greatest Generation”
to our retrograde very worst of an activist litter generation
boomer, those big bad baby, Doctor Spock creepy clones

Leftovers from the noxious endless age of anxious conformity
and Obama somehow contrived inevitably, indubitably totally
to learn all the precisely wrong lessons from this serial horror
and through it all there were the foundations built by Tricky

Dicky, law and order, internationally protected drug war, trade
spreading addiction, consumer conniption, infinitely expanding
commercial consumption, consuming to be consumed, by Empire
the Empire uber alles gross national product WAR WAR WAR.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.