Journalism In Verse


Don’t Think of an Elephant

in Politics by

So what are you thinking of? Perhaps a pachyderm-shaped
emptiness? Do you envision its huge absence not
trampling across a wide plain, not even a light
breeze riffling the savanna grasses?

Now don’t think of Africa. Don’t imagine
a white Range Rover rolling slowly,
the elephant stalkers leaning out, listening hard
in the silence. You won’t hear the rustle,

won’t see the rifles. And if you don’t imagine
that, maybe you won’t see the trophy hunter
brandishing the bloody tail of an elephant. Don’t think
about trophies, and then you’ll refrain from thinking

in gilded tones, perhaps you won’t picture golden drapes
and white walls. You won’t begin to imagine what’s not
being said in that unseen room. And you won’t
be reminded of Thanksgiving Day when you visited

your family. You won’t think November, or recall
the elephant that wasn’t there in the living
room as you dished up your mashed potatoes
and green bean casserole. You won’t think

of the mulled wine on offer, or how you rummaged
through the cabinets for something stronger,
came up with half a bottle of Русский Стандарт vodka.
Don’t think of vodka. Because then you might think of ice.

And if your mind goes to ice, you may have a hard time not
thinking of icebergs, or the tips thereof. Don’t think
about ships, or even a river frozen over.
Try not to think about the cold, the way a frigid wind

chills you, because then you might ponder the kind of cold
that can truly be felt in the bones. And if you don’t think
of that, you won’t recall the piles of bones in black
and white photographs. Don’t think History.

Because then you might wonder if there’s a body
of water, a patch of land anywhere without any skeletons.
So don’t think of an elephant. Imagine only its absence, the grass
unmoving. Be still. Don’t even think the slightest breeze.


Read More:
Donald Trump Jr. once hunted and killed an elephant (and people aren’t letting him forget it) []
George Lakoff: Don’t Think of an Elephant [Youtube]
Here’s What We Know About Team Trump’s Ties to Russian Interests [Washington Post]
Read the Emails on Donald Trump Jr’s Russia Meeting [New York Times]

Jackleen Holton Hookway’s poems have appeared in journals including Bellingham Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Rattle’s Poets Respond, Rise Up Review, and are upcoming in Slipstream and the anthology “Not My President”.

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