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Paul Muldoon on Obama’s Inauguration and Hillary’s Coronation

I’m liking the mid-section of Paul Muldoon’s poem for Barack Obama’s second inauguration:


“They’ve got their work cut out for them,
those reps (and I mean Reps and Dems),
who preach state-building, nationhood,
the selfless seeking after good
to every warlord in the Stans,
the Taiwanese, the Taliban,
but cannot bring themselves to run
a country now under the gun
with any of that self-same zeal.
It’s no bad thing we’ve been revealed
to be fit merely to muster
the strength to fudge and filibuster,
no bad thing democracy is found
wanting, that our moral high ground
has run out with the fiscal cliff,
no bad thing we may no longer sniff
at other nations’ moral faults
now we’ve shown ourselves to exalt
“enhanced interrogation,” q.v.,
of our “high value” detainees.
Truth-twisting is our Trojan horse.
Now haute couture and torture are outsourced
perhaps we won’t ourselves feel forced
to teach the world how to behave
by sending in wave after wave
of troops. For if you must launch an assault
you might think of calling a halt
to letting school kids make their day
despite the response of the NRA
being semi-automatic.”


and also its intriguing rabbit-punch finish:


“unless you want a pillory
as your bequest. If you do bring out the artillery,
position it behind Hillary!”

At first I read the second last line as if there was a comma beside ‘do’, which begs the question: Is it by supporting Hillary, or deep-sixing her,  that Obama’s Presidency will be exposed to ridicule? Does ‘behind’ mean ‘in back of’, so that the guns are pointed at her, or ‘getting behind’ her, so that her wish is done? Did Muldoon know that Hillary was on the way out, or did he simply like the rhyme? What does this auger? That Hillary is the horse to back in 2016?

Read the full poem here.

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