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The Return of the King

in Culture by

When I was a child, 6 o’clock Cronkite
was gospel. Now it’s all brazen dissemblers.
A chest spattered with fake medals.
Photoshopped magazine covers.

Gilded ashes. Martial music
on every station. Orwellian
press conferences. Friends proclaim
their refusal to watch the news.

If I watch both al Jazeera and Fox,
can I propaganda-triangulate to what’s real?
Buoys of fact bubble on a tide of lies,
pearls of truth in the pig shit.

The devil makes you dance. We’re
jigging fast as we can to the tattoo
beating out of Trump’s spokes-goblins.
Satan commands his klutzy minion:

“Call Kissinger in for a meeting.
You need smarter liars up in here.”
He shakes his horns sadly. “These are
too dumb to find the light switches.”

Kelly Ann Conway is Goebbels in Gucci.
The playground bullies are in charge.
The country is being run by the kids
who copied from our papers in junior high.

Cronkite, our need is great. Return to us
from the undiscovered country
riding astride a jet-black stallion’s back.
Look levelly into the camera’s eye.

Open your mouth under your mild mustache.
Unleash the news like dragon’s breath.
Pulverize this teeming sepulcher
into a puff of nice clean orange dust.


Jan Steckel is a poet and former pediatrician. Her book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. She has published two award-winning chapbooks: Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006). Her writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, California, “where we keep our fist in the air.”

Art by Elle Aviv Newton.

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