What Rough Beast | Poem for November 21, 2017

Beth Aviv
By the Light of My Phone

In the crazy aftermath of the election, I can’t sleep.
I wake in a sweat and read news on my phone in the dark:
Twitter, Facebook, the New York Times, the Washington Post,
The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s and more.
I need to know everything as I did after 9/11
when I couldn’t rest until I’d read every crawl and chyron
on CNN, CBS, MSNBC and FOX. Until I felt safe.

In dreams Trump holds me in a bear hug until I shout,
“Tony Schwartz (who wrote The Art of the Deal)
is a friend of mine.” Trump releases then chases me
through Escher stairs and halls until I run into the arms
of Maura (played by Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent);
she’s so comforting in her flowy, mauve ensemble.

These are my fears: I fear the shutting down of our free press.
I fear for our right to free speech. I fear for LGBT people.
I fear for Muslims, blacks, Jews, minorities.
I fear that keeping Gitmo open is an excuse
to label protesters terrorists and to shut them away.
I fear fake news, the perversion of truth, the dialectic
of turning real news into false, of turning false into true.


Beth Aviv is the author of Bearing Witness: Teaching about the Holocaust (Heinemann, 2001). Her essays have most recently appeared in Salon, the Michigan Quarterly Review, New Letters, Raw Vision, and Salon. Beth lives in New York City.

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