Thursday, April 27, 2017



(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

I’ve written six and edited two chapbooks for Moria Books’ Locofo Political Poetry Series. Some folks have asked how I can be so prolific. My answer is two-fold: 1) in general I’m prolific, and 2) a la Jared Schickling’s DONALD TRUMP IN NORTH KOREA.

That is, like Schickling’s, some of these Locofo chaps protesting the administration’s policies (seem to) write themselves. They can be relatively easy to poop out. Garbage in, gold out.  Caveat: not all of the over a hundred chaps in the series are in this vein or colon (sorry, couldn’t resist). Many of the poems in the Locofo series also transcend the Locofo context because they’re that good. But with No. 45, some chaps offer the sense of the times writing themselves—this is all to the good, reminding me of that statement about poets not needing to write fiction when they write poems; the poetry is all around and the effective poet need only to be able to observe/discern.  So here’s Schickling’s latest chap whose poems also make gold from shit—anyone else ever wonder what happens to King Midas’ shit after he poops? … but I digress. Here’s one:


Well, I’d say the race card has been officially Trumped.

Part of the poems’ pungency (sorry, couldn’t resist) is exactly due to their brevity.  Their power is such that they resonate longer than the time it takes to read them—like the scent after major poop expulsion (again, my apologies: I’m not able to resist …).

But the brevity doesn’t disavow a depth to the criticism, e.g.


It’s so cold outside I saw Donald Trump with his hands in his own pockets.

I looked at the above, about to release the same snort or chuckle elicited by some of the other poems, but paused, because, really, there’s nothing humorous about the image. The poem immediately—viscerally—raises the images of too many unemployed or underemployed in lines or just hanging out, their “hands in [their] own pockets” in the cold.

They’re also quite smart poems:


When will we come to our senses and figure out how many Donald Trumps are in the country?

This is “political poetry” at its best. The poems cut (pun intended) to the point swiftly and clearly, while displaying analytical effectiveness. 

It also says something depressing about the times—or that I’ve been reading too much protest poetry—that the ones that offer humor (e.g. “BOSOM BUDDIES” and “JUST GRAB EM”) start to feel clichetic (even when they’re not). Perhaps that’s because the situation indeed is a treasure trove for comedians but … the situation is not really funny—there’s too much at stake and too many people hurting.

Let me end with one more—I actually didn’t get the title at first and so share for others as psychologically-exhausted as me that “MAGA” but of course stands for “Make America Great Again”:


The problem with being Donald Trump is that by the time he realizes he’s not in shape, it’s too far to walk back.

One doesn’t need to deep-read the above to be wary: there are things for which we need to be vigilant, and prepared.


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea ResurrectsHer 2017 poetry releases include two books, two booklets and five poetry chaps. Forthcoming later this fall is a new poetry collection, MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (Paloma Press). 
She does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor, except when the review focuses on other poets as well, which is the case in April's reviews: M. Earl Smith reviews her collaboration with John Bloomberg-Rissman If They Hadn't Worn White Hoods, 8 Million Would Have Shown Up In the Photographs and Freke Räihä reviews her TO BE AN EMPIRE IS TO BURN! More info about her work at

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