Poetry: “Fireside Chat” by John F. Buckley and Martin Ott

Fireside Chat

The fireplace has been replaced by a TV
cracked open like a dinosaur egg, the blue
flame flickering inside the screen. President

Smunchner, half-ruined face still swoonworthy
from the right, patiently waits for the drums
to subside, for children to return to parents’

sides. The purple mountains proudly wear
their scars and even the battlefields smoke
on screen, like Tinseltown toughs and starlets.

His voice is low, clear, reasonable as extra
rations for rebuilders. He weaves plans like
rainbow scarves fluttering on sore cold necks.

His words are not important; they never are.
He has taken the country as a bride. Vows
billow out and there is a mist drifting across

the studio, lamb-shaped, looking as soft as
a well-braised armistice. One of the teary
cameramen won’t stop whispering, History

Is Just a Country Road, Take Me Home,
but has forgotten the singer who’d starred
in a movie with God, yet not the sequel.

The President scarcely pauses as Secret
Servants whisk the crying man away for
tea and reconditioning. He adjusts his patch

and scans the tiny screens blinking tiredly,
his broadcast spooling upside down in irises,
a silent actor, trying to make sense of it all.

John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. Since then, their collaborations have been accepted into more than seventy journals and anthologies, including Drawn to Marvel, Evergreen Review, Rabbit Ears, and ZYZZYVA, and gathered into two full-length collections on Brooklyn Arts Press, Poets’ Guide to America (2012) and the forthcoming Yankee Broadcast Network (2014). They are now writing poems for a third manuscript, American Wonder, about superheroes and supervillains.

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