Christopher Bernard: Trumplandia

The News from Trumplandia

(Adapted from the Work of Basho, John Milton, Emily Dickinson, and T. S. Eliot)

Mauled, marred, and mutilated by Christopher Bernard


Mr. Trumpollinax

When Mr. Trumpollinax walked across the United States

His laughter fell like a bull’s cock among the teacups.

I thought of W., now a shy figure in the manzanita,

And of H.W. in the shrubbery

Slobbering over the hottie on the swing.

In the palace of Mrs. Flaccus at Professor Ernest Doolittle’s

He laughed like a psychotic poodle.

His laughter was quite subversive, though renowned,

Like the old man’s demented tittering

Hidden under the dying coral reefs.

I looked for the head of Mr. Trumpollinax rolling under his limo,

Or grinning on a screen

Of a topless bar in Dubuque or Sioux Falls,

With tar sand in its hair.

I heard the beat of a satyr’s goat-like hooves over Manhattan cement

As his acrid insults devoured the afternoon.

“He is a charming man, when you get to know him.” “But after all what did he mean?”

“His pointed ears, his half-eaten eyes . . . he must be unbalanced.”

“There was something he said I might have challenged—

A thousand things, but now—”

Of the dowager Mrs. Flaccus and Professor and Mrs. Doolittle

I remember only this: a piece of toast.

And of Mr. Trumpollinax his smiling, munching teeth.

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Essay from Donal Mahoney

A Shining Star at Every Wake
Bill hates to go to parties but he loves to go to wakes. One of the advantages of being old, he says, is that there are fewer parties to go to but a lot more wakes. 
At parties he finds a distant corner, stands there like a sentinel and watches the young folks have fun. 
“At parties the young move among each other like bees among flowers,” Bill says. “When I was young I tried to find the right flower and hover there, if you know what I mean.”
Although he doesn’t approach anyone to start a conversation, Bill’s not upset when people approach him. Some young folks want to know why is the old guy standing in the corner. And he doesn’t hesitate to tell them. 
“I came with my wife,” he says. “She’s out on the floor somewhere having a good time.”
Moments later, he adds the obvious: “She’s an extrovert and I’m not.”
At parties Bill and his wife always slow dance at least once even though he says he has two left feet. He says that after 50 years of marriage, his wife’s used to having her feet under his. He says she never complains. She loves parties and is happy that he’s willing to come along, even if it’s only to stand in a corner. 
At wakes, however, Bill comes out of his shell. He’s in his element at wakes.
“I’m the life of the party at a wake,” Bill says, “if you’ll excuse the expression.” 
His modus operandi at a wake isn’t complex. First he consoles the bereaved and then talks to anyone and everyone who has come to the wake. When Bill has finished his rounds, everyone, even the dead person’s kin, feel a little better. 
“Bill should have been an undertaker,” his wife says, coming back from the dance floor.
Bill says he would have been an undertaker but in most states you have to be an embalmer to qualify as an undertaker. 
“Embalming is not a trade I ever wanted to learn,” Bill says. “But I don’t have to be an embalmer to help people feel a little better at a wake.”
Several years ago, a friend of Bill’s lost his wife and Bill, of course, went to the wake. 
He was talking to the widower when a lady walked up, interrupted them and said to the widower, 
“I know you’re not ready to date, but when you are so inclined, I would like to throw my hat in the ring.” 
Bill and the widower were shocked, but later the widower dated the woman and married her. In a relatively short time, she spent most of his money and then divorced him when he got sick. He died a year later very much alone. 
Had Bill known his friend was sick, he would have tried to supply him with support. He has great empathy for the dying as well as for those mourning the dead. 
Going to wakes reminds Bill that some day he will be the guest of honor at his own wake. He has mixed feelings about that. 
“I don’t know if there is ever a perfect person for someone,” Bill says, “but my wife is the only one for me.” 
He thinks it’s selfish to want to die first but that is his wish. He doesn’t want to live without his wife by his side.
“She’s my North Star….my compass,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to dance on anyone else’s feet.
Donal Mahoney
Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and  Commonweal.  Some of his online work can be found at

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Poetry from Mahbub



Once I was suddenly attacked in my heart

I tried to speak loudly but failed

I tried again but failed

As I spoke from heart and belly

Once I suddenly got struck

How should I stand before

My students are my audience

I am on the stage

I lectured with full of my voice

Suddenly it was stopped by fear or despair

Now after thirteen years the condition is better

But I faint often

When it rises in my thought

It can’t be exposed

But the fire burned in my heart

Make me cry silent

My breath stops

Life is too short

I think and again despair.

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Poem from Joan Beebe

Two hearts entwined
In an unbroken circle
A pledge of everlasting love
To the end of time
A circle can become tarnished
Through all the years
But it remains unbroken
Because the memories of those
Words that were spoken so long ago,
I love you with all my heart,
And the ring remains as
A circle of love.

Poetry from Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

*the day before the next winter storm*
by tony nightwalker letigre
portland, oregon 31 december 2017

@ Sisters today
woman w/ curly hair & glasses behind me
(a regular, part of the fam)
talks to guy sitting across from her—
because @ sisters everyone sits with everyone:
children bounce happily on a stranger’s knee,
frail old crones sit in the laps of lean young street wolves—
& you make conversation with any crazy meteorite that crashes
into your table’s solar system, unless you’re mildly autistic
or whatever, in which case you eat silently,
sipping hot cocoa that’s one-third black coffee
& dipping into the filigree & shadow of french literature
((o people, do you know the joys it can bring?))
or make nervous laughing but ultimately suprisingly viable
conversation with a stranger,
but if the two of you are guys, or overly nutty,
it will likely take a fetid turn,
& soon you will be speaking of the choice
between fried worms or grasshoppers for breakfast)
She was telling him about this other girl she knows
who has been suffering harassment from goblins
there are people who are goblins
bullyrags who bedevil their selected targets
(usually the most vulnerable, the least lovely, the least privileged)
with mean goblin games to drive them crazy

“So you’re not you’re not crazy, see?”
she said, meaning to console them

“But the things is… I am, actually,”
he answered, with a rowdy laugh

I tore open a pack of “coffee creamer”
then a second
dumped them into my coffee
picked up the creamer packet afterwards & read the lengthy list of contents
then saw at the bottom,

“Hey,” I thought,
“That’s the company that tried to muscle in & steal the water source
at Cascade Locks, & then after they were quickly voted down by the public,
they moved upriver to try the same scam at the next town”

Then I was salvaging a pair of pissed-in brown pants down the block
& Shannon saw me, came out & talked
“Sorry I sound terrible I’ve got a throat cough thing” she said

“Yes,” I replied with a jolly cornbread laugh,
“The next time I introduce you to someone I’ll say,
‘This is Shannon… she sounds terrible,
but she’s actually a wonderful person.’ ”

HAR HAR har har har

you funny mista

then a firetruck came
& I thought of Trump & how
“even the wise cannot foresee all ends”
& “a traitor may betray himself & do good that he does not intend”
(tolkien quotes)
& offered an oblique analogy to someone who looked desolate on the street corner,
saying “a friend of mine was supposed to go to that party at the GhostShip warehouse
in Oakland the night of the fire,
but she had a setback in court,
which drove her to stay home with a bottle of cheap tequila instead,
so by the supposedly blind hand of providence as it were,
she missed the chance to possibly die,
in a terrible art warehouse fire.”

I’m not sure what I meant by this
but I hope it helped

On my way outta the next place,
A guy finishes saying something about god & people with godly delusions
with an amazing line that brings down the snow-threatening sky:
“It wasn’t a MIRACLE,
that was a DREAM!”


Essay from Randle Aubrey

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

– Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

PE Still We Rise

Where do we go from here?

That seems to be the question on the mind of nearly every liberal and progressive since Election Day. Trump’s victory has the left in complete disarray, and despite the terrific show of force that was made during the Women’s March, there has yet to emerge any clear cut strategy for dealing with the Trump Organization that doesn’t involve politics as usual in Washington. The Democratic Party meanders somewhere between mindless navel-gazing and meaningless internecine squabbles, gradually acquiescing to the Trump Organization and the three-piece jackboots of the Republican Party as they rapidly flush large chunks of the federal government down the latrine, flooding the country with piss and shit and fear and despair. Hillary Clinton is in exile, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 are  through the roof, and Capitol Hill is looking more and more like the Reichstag with every passing day.

What’s a revolutionary to do?

There’s an argument to be made that trying to reform the Democratic Party from the ground up through things like the 50-state strategy is the way to go. But persuading major coalitions like the DNC and the DCCC to reverse course away from the corporatocracy is like trying to stop a steam train with a penny on the rail; you’re only going to be flattened into something unrecognizable by the rush of so-called “progress.”
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Poem from Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

Non Judgement Day is coming

by Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

Last night with transit time to spend
Checked out the skate park under Burnside
Guy wanted to sell a deck for five bucks!
“The bearings alone are worth fifty bucks,”

Said a kid, as we together wished

Between the two of us,

That we could cough up five bucks.

Ogled the old Towne Storage building & remembered
(or imagined remembering) her telling me,

Back in the days of our QuArt collective,

About some friends of hers squatting there

In one of the upper floors, & how she thought that sounded

Like “the most amazing thing imaginable”

It took me a while to appreciate what she meant by that


And she may never have even told me that,

‘cause it becomes harder to tell strands of reality apart

From the bright strings of yarn of my own invention
(plus garlands of tinsel I find lying around)
with which I so assiduously weave them

The skatepark looked incredible
Like the portal to another, & better, reality
Where there are tons of punks & no pigs
& I imagined it expanded tenfold, a hundredfold,

A galaxyfold, to the size of Golden Gate Park
(after dark), & beyond—
swelling like the universe in the moments after the Big Something,
swallowing up hellfire & calamity & conformity in its implacably awesome maw,
leaving us with all the time in the world
& the most fabulous place imaginable to play,
for fucking ever.
Can you imagine that shit?

Let us not be so busy preparing for doomsday
That we neglect to tend

The bright gardens of our best (non)judgement

“Are there more cops than usual on the street today?”
I asked a streetscarred fellow on the sidewalk—

“About the same as normal,” he said,

Failing to confirm my paranoias.

He asked if I had any weed to sell
No, sorry, I said—he turned away in blank but expected disappointment—
“but I have some to give away,” I added, bringing him back

In surprise—things like this don’t happen as much these days

Or do they happen about as often as they always have?

“I want to make art again & not just talk about,”
I told Luke, having (almost really) made up my mind
to start again in Philly

Last night
we walked, my friend & I,

On Peacock Lane, & saw the lights
she made me a delicious mug of cocoa

With real love & style, it took ten minutes,

Adding a dollop of coconut oil in last,

& dousing us with lavender,

As we smoked a last chance bowl

—cause I go sober in two days!—

& ate the amazing fudge & peppermint bark & similar

Gourmet confections created by her multitalented mother

I told her about the friends at my last house
answering her questions, “why aren’t you still living there?”

With a plagiarized description from Kate Bornstein

About how he & I briefly united like a binary star system,
Only for our polarities to shift, expelling us
with white hot force
to opposite corners of the universe

How they tried to find work for me
as a floor installer
as a Vibrant Valley worker
as a sort of escort
(“you wanna dole out that cock?”)

None of this bothered me,

Any more than it excited me

“So what should I be?”

I asked one evening over those dinners he knew how to cook


He meditated a moment
“You should be a monk, Tony”
he finally said.


Poetry from Vijay Nair


                            Thy Name Is  Woman

Man called her; woman

Wish to be known as hypocrite

Actor beyond reach Aristotle

Smile a; femme fatale; wealthless he

Worthless; appearance anxiety a

Stigmatized ; into feminism

Blind a ; leads a blind into a danger

Mountains embrace two no breast fours

Peep into male naked; a pretends

Snare a; calls pure love it venom

Tomb a; where no rest in peace

Tranquillizer a; between thighs

Full of hair a; fifty gram meat with

Synchronized Chaos January 2017: Life’s an Elevator, We are Merely Passengers

Happy New Year! Many folks are glad to throw off the miasma of 2016 and thrust headlong into a new calendar year, while others hesitate, nervous about the vast unknown that is 2017.

Christopher Bernard kicks off this issue with a review of San Francisco’s 13th Floor Theater Company’s show Next Time I’ll Take the Stairs, which seems to be a cacophony of amusing tales by fanciful characters all stuck in an elevator. This reminds our editor of our own publication, and I now introduce several other contributions by fellow ‘passengers.’

Rui Carvalho describes a graphic novel by André Oliveira (writer) and graphic designer Joana Afonso. The piece, Living Will, fits in with the New Year theme as it’s about an older man mourning his lost spouse and resolving to restore what’s broken or incomplete in his life.

J.J. Campbell’s poetry brings us a mixture of vulnerability  and determination, fragility and resilience, loss and hope. Like Andre and Joana’s character Will, his speakers are worn down by loss and deprivation of various sorts, unsure about themselves, but never quite give up on fixing their situations.

J.K. Durick gives us his take on manhood in older age, describing a group of men who talk together, attend to their physical comforts, and reminisce about the past. In his prose poem, written as a story-like character sketch, we hear the men’s vague recollection that they wrote pieces and accomplished something in their younger days.

Jaylan Salah interviews Spanish film director Giovanna Ribes, who made an appearance at the Cairo Film Festival, about her new movie The Family: Dementia. This black and white piece, infused with the director’s personal memories, conveys the gradual deterioration of an old man’s mind, the sensory experiences that ground him to physical reality as long as possible, and the tension his condition provokes in his family between remembering him how he was and interacting with him as he has become.

Tony Nightwalker LeTigre, past editor of this publication, contributes a personal essay exploring the intersection between his unconventional lifestyle and his political activism. Sometimes survival itself can be a revolutionary act.

Tony also continues these themes in a collection of poetry, prose, lyrics and artwork entitled ‘Old Town Tony’ describing his experiences outside mainstream society in Portland, Oregon.

Jaylan Salah interviews Lebanese film director Selim Mourad, creator of This Little Father Obsession, a tale of a young gay man’s coming to terms not just with his own identity in a traditional society, but with what it means to be part of a family and to find older masculine role models and interpret the role of fatherhood in a way that makes sense in his life.

Donal Mahoney recollects his friendship with a Muslim colleague, how they were able to laugh and joke with only the regular awkwardness of social faux pas before the world political situation imposed another level of separation into people’s lives. Like the protagonist of Selim Mourad’s film and Tony Nightwalker LeTigre’s essay, Donal and his friend Mohammed are ordinary people figuring out their lives, in retrospect in their case, within a broader background framework of political and social relationships and tensions.

Mahbub’s poetry, when taken as a group this time around, probes the power and capacity of individuals to impact the world where we live. Are we little boys playing in an outsized world not made for us, or helpless pawns in someone else’s political game, or lonely hearts lamenting our lost loves? In any case, we are mortal, our time here is limited. Perhaps our best option is to appreciate what we can enjoy, starting with that contemplative moment in the evening when the light is perfectly slanted.

Vijay Nair’s poetry calls our attention to something we all must resolve as a species in coming years: the global shortage of clean drinking water. Already many people walk miles to gather water each day and get sick from waterborne diseases.

Michael Marrotti’s new poem evaluates and ultimately defends the work of his neighborhood rescue mission, where he volunteers to assist the homeless. His poem suggests that perhaps limitations on freedom might actually benefit those who have lost control over their lives. And that some efforts, although imperfect, to assist those in need, can be better than nothing.

Christopher Bernard also calls out the social injustice he sees wreaked upon the world by the election of Donald Trump to the United States presidency. Perhaps in opposition to the aesthetic of a young nation that sees itself as exceptional and values innovation over tradition, and its new leader, who sees himself as personally important and personally able to restore the nation to greatness, Bernard situates his commentary on Trump within a historical and cultural literary context. The United States, and all of its leaders, are only part of a broader world history, and so far all great empires have risen and fallen.

Joan Beebe also reminds us that as humans we are part of a larger whole, the world of nature. The natural world has seasons and cycles, where we live and die, rise and fall, and take our turns impacting the world. While we’re here, we can care for each other, as Joan does by sending her love and best wishes to a relative serving in the armed forces. Joan also celebrates a lovely and adventuresome vacation she and her husband took through the American Southwest.

Like Mahbub’s speaker, she takes simple joy in experiencing natural beauty, which may be one of the best ways we as mortal, fragile creatures can find happiness.

Whatever floor life’s elevator brings you to this coming year, whether your fortunes rise or fall, or even if the elevator gets stuck and you end up camping out there for awhile, may you enjoy reading this issue. Happy New Year!


Essay from Tony Nightwalker LeTigre


Old Town Tony & the Second-Hand Smoke Shop

By Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

A friend asked where I’m going to go now that I’m houseless again in winter.

(Winter hasn’t officially started yet, but in reality it started December 8th. That’s the morning I woke up cold in the unheated Rat House from icy winds. You know what’s amazing? December 8th is also the exact I remember noting last year as the day the weather turned shitty!)

What am I going to do? I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for five & a half years now: find a new place to stay, for as long as it lasts. In the meantime, I’ve got a rainproofed tent to sleep in. It needs to be rainproof, otherwise last night I would’ve got soaked. I’m not sure if this mummy bag is filled with down, but if so, it might lose its insulating ability if it gets wet. Keeping it dry has been a challenge.

But it’s not the first time I’ve faced this challenge. I made it through last week & I wasn’t even in a tent, I was straight up sleeping in the open air, & if you live in Portland, you know what last week was like. It was rough. It sucks when things close when you’re houseless, ’cause then you don’t have anywhere to go to warm up even during the day. You’re basically confined to your sleeping bag.

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