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Rachel Loden

Two poems from «Dick of the Dead»:

Cheney Agonistes / Autumn Daze

Cheney’s dogs, Jackson and Dave, dressed as Darth Vader and Superman on Oct. 30, 2007

Cheney’s dogs, Jackson and Dave, dressed as Darth Vader and Superman on Oct. 30, 2007

Cheney Agonistes

My heart tick-tocking like Captain Hook’s clock.
Does Tricky wait for any godforsaken crocodile,

idling and glimmering in the nearby calms?
Bah. But now if I’d been Blackbeard’s boatswain

(as I should have been) Pan and the lost boys
would have long since walked the plank.

So no going gentle, I think, into that gute Nacht
as birdshot Harry knows in his pocked hide.

Let the press laugh. I dressed my mutt
Jackson in Lord Vader’s duds

just to show I get the joke. Bad luck like a fever
that will not break in Mesopotamia and here

my offices on fire, flames out the windows
like red tongues that scream and then fall silent.

I have to work for everything I get — not like
that Kennebunkport parrot, whose tray of pretzels

sates his meager appetite, but we are on the road
to victory nonetheless. To victory!

You can say it here. I do my work. I am the man
inside my man-sized safe. I tick, I finish up.

Autumn Daze

After Rilke’s ‘Herbsttag’ (‘Autumn Day’)

George, it’s about time. The summer was really gross.
Knock me unconscious with my surfboard,
and in the porcelain goddess let the girls blow chunks.

Roll the last kegs into the entry hall;
my parents are in Rio for only two more days,
frontload some brewskis and throw
another barney into the swimming pool.

Who has no Jeep now, will drive him one no more.
Who is a dweeb now, will always live at home,
will wake, chill, check his e-mail
and down the long aisles of the megamall
cluelessly stumble, while his zits are growing.

Notes on Cheney Agonistes: According to chapter four of Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, Captain Hook was “Blackbeard’s bo’sun” (boatswain). Nixon first earned the sobriquet “Tricky Dick” in his successful campaign for the Senate against Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas; he said she was “pink right down to her underwear.” Vice President Cheney accidentally shot Harry M. Whittington, a lawyer and Bush-Cheney campaign contributor from Austin, Texas, while they were hunting quail on a ranch near Corpus Christi. Whittington said afterwards that he was “deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week.” The vice president’s family dressed their dogs, Jackson and Dave, as Darth Vader and Superman on Oct. 30, 2007. Cheney’s ceremonial offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building caught fire on Dec. 19, 2007. According to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who was “taking questions about the CIA’s destruction of videotaped interrogations when firetrucks arrived next door” (according to the Los Angeles Times), the second through fifth floors were “fairly filled” with smoke. Kennebunkport is the site of the Bush family’s summer compound. On January 14, 2002, President George W. Bush briefly lost consciousness after choking on a pretzel while watching a football game. At the 2008 Republican convention, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that the U.S was “on the road to victory” in Iraq: “Victory! You can say it at this convention.” According to the Independent (UK), Cheney has a “‘man-sized’ safe to keep [his] papers out of reach of the National Archives and Records as provided by federal law.”

Rachel Loden. Photo by

Rachel Loden.
Photo by

Rachel Loden’s book, Dick of the Dead, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press in May 2009. She is also the author of Hotel Imperium (Georgia), which won the Contemporary Poetry Series Competition and was shortlisted for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. Loden has published four chapbooks, including The Last Campaign and The Richard Nixon Snow Globe. Her work has appeared in New American Writing, The Paris Review, Best American Poetry 2005, Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. Loden’s microplay, A Quaker Meeting in Yorba Linda, was performed in New York as part of Plays On Words: a Poets Theater Festival curated by Tony Torn, Lee Ann Brown and Corina Copp, produced in association with the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator and the Poetry Project. She has received a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Poetry from the California Arts Council, and a grant from the Fund for Poetry. You can read Tom Clark’s review of Rachel’s Hotel Imperium in Jacket 12, and Kent Johnson’s interview with Rachel in Jacket 21.

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