“Poem for Paul Ryan” by Liam Powell

Poem for Paul Ryan

The sun poked out like a seal
through oil slick.
Mr. Speaker had been busy at the cauldron:

I want the mouth,
the whole mouth,
and nothing but the mouth, he said.

It’s good to date the bank, he said.

In the forest there was
the money tree
and the money river

and all but the miniature
had been broken down for parts.

I liked to believe
in Carthage
at times like that,

I liked to picture
with a ball gag in its mouth.

And for my next trick,
we’ll send this slot machine
into space, he said, and then:

my name is Allen,
and I am a
Mr. Speaker.

On Sundays
I hold my affliction
up to the light.

It’s antebellum
in a holding pattern

so tell me
the odds, right now,
if both your hands are tied behind your back.


Liam Powell is a writer living in Brooklyn. A semi-finalist for the 2017 Boston Review Discovery prize, his work has been featured in Fields, Maggy, Stretch, and elsewhere. He is former poetry editor of Columbia: A Journal.

Featured image by Matthew Henry

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