Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP)

To Our Wrestler Congressman

in Impeachment/Politics by

No one cares if you don’t wear
a sports jacket into the hearing
room. If you listen with your cauliflower

ears. If you speak with a split lip
you earned on a mat in a high school
gym. It’s impossible not to think

you were trapped into an illegal hold.
A man cranked on your arm,
until all you could do was give.

Promise not to tell anyone
what he did to you, back
in a locker room, on a team

bus with no one around.
Made you fall to your knees
while he counted to three.

Memory’s take down.
Why else would you stone wall
so much reality, rebutting

the testimony across the aisle?
Unless you’ve forgotten you had to
learn this in Ohio. To block everything

out that didn’t fit your version
of the world.
It’s true sometimes we lie

to ourselves to survive.
Without calling it lying.
Sometimes it’s so hot,

in a televised room,
we want to strip off
our clothes. Let anyone

see us as we are, running
to the Lincoln Memorial.
Climbing the steps

to sit on Lincoln’s lap.
To look out across
the mall’s reflecting pool.

Or sit under a bridge
in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio.
Where James Wright,

(yesterday was the anniversary
of his birth)
lied to tell the truth

in his poems. Who wrestled
with himself to the last day
of his exhausted life.

Who loved America, composing
a few lines in the shade
of a plum tree. In his beloved

Italy. His ghosts still rising
and burying themselves.
For what he did and was done

to him. A story, Congressman,
I hope you can take back
to your constituency in Urbana,

your hometown.
Where, you know better
than us, there’s a small house

with artifacts and books,
rumored to be the best place
in the world to spend

an hour learning the truth
about John Chapman, aka
Johnny Appleseed. That myth

of a man. Casting himself
from one side of the river
to the other.



Gary Margolis is Emeritus Executive Director of College Mental Health Services at Middlebury College. His third book, “Fire in the Orchard” was nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize Poetry. His latest book “Time Inside” is recently published.


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