The most recent sinkhole on the North Lawn was hemmed
by wrought iron, yellow cuidado tape, and orange caution cones.
This is the same ground that killed at least one president
in 1841 and maybe two more that same decade,
typhus and cholera delivered to their guts from water infested
by waste and garbage from a higher elevation to the north
before wells and sewage lines were brought
to Pennsylvania Avenue. The North Lawn’s history
of bloodshed began with slave bodies
in a city built by slaves, and continues today
when so quickly the swamp’s gaping mouth in the tall fescue
was plugged with the usual mixture of brown folks and tax cuts.
In the southwest corner, shaded by Olmsted tree designs,
the orange of his face changes shades as he flickers
through cable news, settling at last before a cold glass
proffered by the tall Fox building to the north,
which he drinks vehemently with great thirst.
When they go low, he goes lower.
Richard Cummins has published poems and articles in North American Review, Cottonwood, Birmingham Poetry Review, Epiphany, International Journal of Servant-Leadership, and others. He is the co-author of a book on college writing. He has worked as a faculty member in community colleges and is a former college president and university chancellor living in Seattle.