Poet's Notebook: A Trump tale

Florida's Poet Laureate imagines a presidential conversation about school safety.

click to enlarge Poet's Notebook: A Trump tale
Jeanne Meinke

...And many a skeleton shook his head.

“Instead of preaching forty year,”

My neighbor Parson Thirdly said,

“I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer.”

“I never read poetry,” President Trump tweeted at 7:15 a.m. “It makes no sense. Sad.” But later that day he said to his Inner Circle in the White House, after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman High School, that Ivanka had told him something about poets that might help in handling this situation. “Poets say that the best response to poetry is more poetry,” Ivanka remembered from her days at Georgetown.

“That’s great,” Trump said to the nodding heads around him. “That’s like what I’ve been thinking: The best response to gun violence is more guns! It’s obvious. Let’s arm the teachers!”

So the best minds in Trumpland squinted thoughtfully, and after a careful review of the massacres at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Marjory Stoneman — too many to remember so this would have to do — it was unanimous: Arm those wimps.

Problems came up immediately when they announced their decision. A fake-news reporter said she didn’t think Mr. Chips would be willing to pack heat and say, “Make my day.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders was ready. “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” she smirked, showing her movie chops. “Hello, Dirty Harry.”

Still, this was a bothersome point. Who in all these schools could they really trust? Certainly not those English teachers. Jared, although downgraded to the far end of the table with his reduced clearance, had the best idea. Coaches, he shouted, would be the natural leaders who’d “race fearlessly, like Dad, into the Valley of Death.” Trump nodded. “Very smart people,” he said. “And lots of schools have more coaches than teachers.”

After much debate it was settled. As soon as could be arranged, coaches would be appointed principals, and assistant coaches department heads. This was already the case in many schools, so how hard could it be? They’d be armed with AR-15s, and could choose designated teachers to carry rifles into the classrooms. To answer the expected complaints about sexism, KellyAnne suggested arming the cheerleaders with compact pistols, light and easy to twirl, with cute little holsters on the side of their short skirts. Stephen Miller, the wit of the Inner Circle, began doing karate-like moves, chanting “We will win! / We topple thrones! / Chew them up! / And crunch them bones!” He tried to do a split and toppled over backwards.

Trump himself came up with the final idea for the School Security Situation. These killers may be mental cases, but they’re crazy like foxes, and are way, way more dangerous than those rapist Mexicans. They’ll figure some way to get inside. So: Build a wall. Build one around every single school. “Trust me,” he said, “this will be great, great. This is infrastructure. It’ll bring full employment, and bricklayers make a fistful. We could even make little bridges over those moat things.”

The Inner Circle looked around in disbelief. Trump was right. Make the NRA happy, circumvent the corrupt FBI and CIA, and prevent a pacifist socialist state from taking over, all at once. They smiled at one another.

But there was one last thing they’d forgotten. Ivanka, the realist who started the whole idea, brought it up. “You know, we’ll have to pay for all this,” she said, “and with all those tax cuts” — the Inner Circle stood up and applauded — “I know the Democrats have promised us some money for a wall, but this is going to be far bigger than that teeny fence along the Rio Grande.” Her father frowned, but no one could think of anything to say: Those tax cuts were sacrosanct. The group put away the problem for another day, and headed off to sip their Mar-a-Lago martinis.

By the next morning, our president had solved it. “Haven’t you ever heard of Bitcoins?” he tweeted. “They’re great!!! Check it out.”

 Again the guns disturbed the hour, 

Roaring their readiness to avenge, 

As far inland as Stourton Tower,

And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

—Both quotes from “Channel Firing” by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) 

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