If he had been born two hundred and thirty-odd years ago,
He would not have been considered a man--
A favorite servant, perhaps—and his intelligence
Would have been dismissed as mere mimicry.
That was then, and this is now. How much has
The US evolved these past two centuries?
Boisterous millions refuse to see pass the shade of his skin,
The molasses quality his name has on their tongues,
Or his membership to a particular political party.
They see only the man, not the office he is elected to.
This is a strange reversal of what is common:
The practice of worshipping the President as omnipotent savior.
The President of the United States of America is considered infallible;
Not by some divine gift or even in truth, but through citizen’s expectations.
Each time we inaugurate a President, we bear witness
To an alchemical transformation of a human into an Office;
The citizen is no longer a person, but the President—a Title.
A person can be ridiculed and despised without retaliation,
But the Title must be respected; it must endure--
Pristine and unblemished—indefinitely.
No one person is above the Presidency or the Office’s purpose. (See: JFK.)
A perverse form of nationalism, born from fears that too much change
During shifts of power could jolt the country askew, ensures a smooth transition.
The President is slipped a playbook, a guide to continue the USA’s imperial march.
Each time we inaugurate a President, we simply bear witness
To an empire switching masks during an ongoing masquerade ball.
*Originally written in 2013 in response to President Barack Obama's 2nd inauguration, and published in the anthology Poets' America.
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