March 3, 2013

American Nightmares: The Poetry of the Young Barry Obama

poetryofobama.jpg

Because the child is father to the man. Or, in this case, the man might have been the....

POP*

Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken

In, sprinkled with ashes

Pop switches channels, takes another

Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks

What to do with me, a green young man

Who fails to consider the
Flim and flam of the world, since

Things have been easy for me; 

I stare hard at his face, a stare

That deflects off his brow; 

I’m sure he’s unaware of his

Dark, watery eyes, that

Glance in different directions,

And his slow, unwelcome twitches,

Fail to pass.
I listen, nod,

Listen, open, till I cling to his pale, 

Beige T-shirt, yelling,

Yelling in his ears, that hang

With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling
His joke, so I ask why
He’s so unhappy, to which he replies...

But I don’t care anymore, cause

He took too damn long, and from

Under my seat, I pull out the

Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing, 

Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face

To mine, as he grows small,

A spot in my brain, something

That may be squeezed out, like a 

Watermelon seed between

Two fingers.

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem

He wrote before his mother died,

Stands, shouts, and asks

For a hug, as I shrink, my 

Arms barely reaching around

His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ’cause

I see my face, framed within
Pop’s black-framed glasses

And know he’s laughing too.


*A poem by Barack Obama published in the Spring 1981 issue of “Feast,” a 51-page student literary journal that described itself as "a semi-annual journal of short poetry and fiction collected from the Occidental College community.” The journal is no longer published, according to a college spokesman.

From 2008-09-24

Posted by Vanderleun at March 3, 2013 10:09 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

i think he inherited his poetic talent from his REAL biological father: frank marshall davis.

Posted by: reliapundit at September 25, 2008 10:35 AM

That may be the only honest thing Bam has written in his life--because it was a realization. His father, in the ash stained chair, was Stanley Dunham, Stanley Ann his disinterested half-sister. Hence a birth necessarily more mysterious than Jesus and Moses combinied.

Barry was abandoned by every real and imagined parent that he ever had, but fellow travelors are not known to value their young nearly so highly as their intriques. The Rosenbergs were offered their lives in exchange for an admission of what the government knew for a certainty through the Veronna intercepts. They chose to leave their sons both orphans and deluded.

Posted by: james wilson at March 3, 2013 12:45 PM

I've read Neoneocon's posts on Davis, and on this poem, and I have serious doubts that Obama actually wrote this. It's very very good, and unlike anything else I've ever read of Obama's. Someone has suggested that Davis wrote the poem. In any case it is disturbing and clearly speaks of what is, at the least, a relationship where an adult is overbearing and disregarding of healthy boundaries with a younger person. Sounds more like sexual abuse to me, though.

Posted by: RigelDog at March 3, 2013 12:53 PM

There should be a genre called 'Vogon Poetry'. This would be one of its classics.

Bring a tear to Douglass Adams' eye, it would. Yes indeedy do.

Posted by: cond0011 at March 4, 2013 7:34 AM

"Pop" is, if I recall from past commentary, Frank Marshall Davis. And yes, the poem does indeed seem to allude to an "improper" relationship.

Wasn't some of the phrasing excerpted in one of Obama's books?

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 4, 2013 11:31 AM

It's very very good, and unlike anything else I've ever read of Obama's.

I'm not criticizing you, Rigel, nor am I questioning your understanding of poetry, it's just that I am clearly very much out of touch with what constitutes "good" in this regard. To me, it read like a typical sophomoric effort to be deep, revealing, and shocking.

Posted by: mushroom at March 4, 2013 12:34 PM

It's very very good, and unlike anything else I've ever read of Obama's.

I'm not criticizing you, Rigel, nor am I questioning your understanding of poetry, it's just that I am clearly very much out of touch with what constitutes "good" in this regard. To me, it read like a typical sophomoric effort to be deep, revealing, and shocking. ))

Well he's no Vanderleun, that's for sure. I think the poem's imagery and tone are vivid and surprising; I want to take a shower after reading it and I want to find the parents of the narrator and slap them for subjecting their son to this oily toad. The poem is not at all like the unimaginative and graceless Obama writings I've seen from his school years. And yes, I think Dreams from my Father had to have been heavily ghost-written, too.

Posted by: RigelDog at March 4, 2013 8:20 PM

I agree with that. It may be that it is so disgusting that I fail to appreciate how hard it is to make it that way. I'm no poet, and I have been spoiled by Gerard.

Posted by: mushroom at March 4, 2013 10:20 PM
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