Tag Archives: JFK

Double Dactyl: “Rome/New Rome”

Bippetty boppetty
Gracchus (Tiberius)
Tried to reform Rome and
Ended up dead.
Same with his brother; and
Coincidentally
JFK, RFK,
Pumped full of lead.

This Double Dactyl was published in the Asses of Parnassus, a Tumblr site managed by Brooke Clark that focuses on short snarky formal poems, preferably with a link to Latin and Greek themes.

American history shows high points once a century: the Presidencies of Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt (with Eleanor, of course). After the Second World War, Eisenhower warned America about the “military-industrial complex”, which Kennedy started trying to rein in after a few missteps. But apparently the CIA’s assassination of democratically elected leaders isn’t restricted to “outside the US”. And the end result, after LBJ, Reagan/Bush, Bush/Cheney is… Trump.

We simply have to look forward to this century’s American history high point. But it’s not even on the horizon yet.

Sonnet: “Flags We Have Feared”

The Swastika, that ancient Vedic sign,
the lightning wheels with which the Aryan bands
in lightning war overrun other lands,
wheeled juggernauts that crush, self-claimed divine.
Hammer and Sickle, commoners’ work-tools;
weapons for rising up, and tearing down
the castle of the rich, the bourgeois town;
fake honour to the poor the Party rules.
A flag with Stripes, memorial for flogged slaves,
striped jail clothes for resulting underclass;
and Stars like bullets through the windshield’s glass
for leaders by the CIA shot down,
star earned for each election overthrown,
star for each land the flag invades, or ‘saves’.

This sonnet was originally and ironically published in Ambit in the UK. The irony being, of course, that the Union Jack is viewed by much of the world with as much fear and hostility as any of the other three flags. But you don’t learn that, or the reasons for it, in school in the UK–at least not in England. The British (at least the English) have a warm and fuzzy feeling toward their flag, and are innocent or puzzled that anyone else should find it negative. Similarly in the times of the other three flags, the Germans (at least the Aryans), the Soviets (at least the Russians) and the Americans (at least the whites) have been happy and proud of their flag, puzzled that anyone else should fear or dislike it.

Another irony: the jury is still out on to what extent one of the leaders shot down by the CIA was their own.

Technically it’s a sonnet with a non-standard rhyme scheme: ABBA CDDC EFFGGE. But the rhymes and the scansion are OK. As for the volta, the requisite turn of mood or argument between the octave and the sestet… well, after dealing with the two great enemies of western democracy, you weren’t expecting me to pick on the US, were you?

Poem: “Move Along Folks, Nothing to See”

JFK.jpg

“Kennedy(s)” by Garrett Leo Augustyn

There was a sharp psychic who lived in DC,
They told her their troubles, she told them “I see”.
She told Mr. Kennedy “Don’t go to Texas”
He went and was killed, it’ll always perplex us.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a small bullet was fired from a gun,
You wouldn’t believe the damage it done:
Through Kennedy’s neck, Connally’s chest, wrist and thigh,
Fifteen layers of clothing… and ended up fine.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a young drifter, a Commie, Marine,
Who shot and then lunched in the schoolbook canteen
As though he weren’t flustered – two minutes before
He’d been killing, then must have rushed down six floors.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a club owner who carried a gun
A friend of the cops, of HQ he’d the run.
“I did it for Jackie” – prevented a trial,
No chance now for Oswald to prove his denial.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a Vice President, swallowed his pride
At the President’s insults – when JFK died
He ramped up the war while the nation was grieving –
His weapons and copter stocks passed all believing.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

There was a commission that looked for the truth.
Conclusion: a loner, no plot, not like Booth.
The psychic? Ignored. The bullet? Just lucky.
The VP? Heart-broken. The club owner? Plucky.
Amazing, amazing and true
Move along folks, nothing to see.

This was first published in Snakeskin #246, December 2017. It mentions some – but by no means all – of the anomalies surrounding the first Kennedy assassination, reported on but not resolved by the Warren Commission. JFK’s assassination is a rabbit-hole that you can disappear down and never see daylight again, full of intriguing Lewis Carroll-like logic puzzles such as the magic bullet theory.

Unnamed characters here are psychic Jeane Dixon, assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, nightclub owner Jack Ruby and of course Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Technically the poem is closer to a song than to a formal poem. It has a regular structure of verse and refrain. The rhymes and metre are a little loose, which you can get away with when a song is sung. It just needs the music added.