Photography © Chad Parenteau


Counting to Democracy: November 2022

13 poems with 13 stripes in syllables descending from 13


I. Veterans Day

Election workers carefully open the boxes
Scan or hand count each tally and record the vote
No hanging chads to worry about these days
But death threats by mail or phone or armed thugs
Long days, little sleep, donuts, coffee
Unsung heroes, first responders
To our civic red-alert

No cure for apathy
Ballots can be cured
And that’s a start

In Ukraine,


II. Detritus

The toxic red tide recedes, leaving strewn on the beach
Tanks, helicopters, rifles, backpacks, uniforms,
Campaign signs, banners, handbills, fast-food wrappers,
And prognosticators’ reputations

The “Stop the Steal” bots float aimlessly
On a becalmed Twitter sea
While mobiks’ lost phones ping ping
Deflated balloons lap
At puke-stained piers of

Putin eyes
The door


III. Why We Fight

Iran condemns 15,000 protestors to death
Russia steals zoo animals and kidnaps children
Republicans stony-faced before slaughter
Pregnant women sacrificed to their god
School shootings just a price to be paid
Speech is a crime in Florida
George Floyd and Matthew Shepard
Climate Apocalypse
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The Planet


IV. First Responders

Election volunteers watch paint dry for days and days
Count and recount, count and recount count and recount
Protestors outside pray for God to smite them
Armed vigilantes call for civil war
News media bet on disaster
Election deniers shout “Fraud!”
Russian tv mourns MAGA
Arizona Blue!
Uncalled races
More coffee


V. Circus Maximus

Control of the House will shift to the Republicans
commencing two years of Benghazi-like nonsense
“The Strange Case of Hunter Biden’s Laptop II”
Nancy Pelosi graciously concedes
She and Steny hand off to young Dems
Gym Jordan plans to impeach Joe
Threatens to arrest Fauci
“Free Jan 6 patriots!”
“Benghazi!” reruns
“But her emails!”


VI. Club Q

MAGA official’s grandson murders five in gay club
Many more wounded in homophobic rampage
We say “senseless” but it all makes fiendish sense
to those who would terrorize/ pink star us
The shooter’s enablers barely pause
Campaign ad targets trans athletes
Pulpits spew hatred and lies
Putin’s men spew the same
Musk makes sick gay jokes

“What place is safe?”
many ask
Drag queens


VII. Towards a More Perfect Union

AZ election officials go into hiding
MAGA Congressmen threaten Fauci with prison
Twitter trolls mock gun victims and COVID dead
Elon Musk boasts about record traffic
Jan. 6 insurrection trial begins
Gosar wants to impeach Biden
Gaetz and Greene slam Ukraine aid
Debt limit in their sights
They love Hungary
Bring back Jim Crow
Guns guns guns
Talk talk


VIII. In the Dark

Ukrainian repairmen work non-stop overtime
Russian missiles and drones hit power plants again
Millions huddle under blankets in the dark
Soup available at warming stations
More missiles more attack drones shot down
Symphony plays by candlelight
Street musicians play “My Way”
Repair teams keep working
Millions in the cold
Duct tape Duct tape!
More Duct tape!
More song!


IX. Thanksgiving

Giving thanks for keeping Senate and almost the House
Thanks for more Governorships and state assemblies
Thanks for defeating election deniers
Thanks for Fetterman and Gretchen Whitmore
Thanks for New Mexico staying Blue
Thanks for Sarah Palin losing
Thanks for Kari Lake losing
Thanks for Democracy!
Thanks for the reprieve
Thanks for Nancy!
Thanks for Joe!
Thanks, folks


X. Very Fine People

Kari Lake is still screaming still screaming that she won
Steve Bannon urges Bolsonaro to fight fight
Russian missiles plunge cities into darkness
Trump has Thanksgiving with Anti-Semites
Musk fires thousands at holidays
Tuckero Rose worships Putin
Fuentes makes ovens jokes
Moscow pundits rage rage
MAGA caucus preens
McCarthy cowed
Ginni plots
Trump rants


XI. Nearing Endgame

Certification delayed in Red AZ county
Trump fumes over Special Prosecutor naming
Fumes more when House at last gets his tax returns
Turns out Herschel Walker lives in Texas
Mary Peltola wins in Alaska
FTX fail shakes crypto world
Twitter bleeds advertisers
Russian conscripts freezing
Lights still out in Kiev
HIMARS O’clock
What rough beast


XII. Courtrooms

Oath Keepers guilty of seditious conspiracy
Mark Meadows ordered to testify in Trump probe
Stephen Miller testifies to grand jury
Trump accountant testifies in New York
Weisselberg testifies in Trump trial
Lady G. witness in Georgia
Eastman appears in Georgia
“Flynn must fly to Fulton”
Fani Willis rocks!
Jack Smith, G-Man
Rump cowers
No where


XIII. Georgia

Big youth vote spikes early turnout in Georgia run- off
Voters again wait in line for hours to vote
Unless they are white rural voters of course

It’s all about suppressing Black turnout
It’s all about Jim Crow nostalgia
It’s all about Stone Mountain
It’s all about slavery
The undead history
Hidden privilege
Old-fashioned hate

Can love win?
Please vote!


John Roche writes poetry and picks up tumbleweeds in Placitas, New Mexico, which, as the t-shirt says, is not new and is not Mexico.

Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine.