Reagan at Bitburg

Difficult and necessary to imagine the arsenal attached to his elderly frame.
Even Mahu Vishna’s war bonnet of an oily orange blast won’t do,
but it does connect Reagan to holocaustal fire as he walks by an SS tomb,
a match that could strike the air into a global roar.
Spiky flames seem to be growing from his back,
a bony fire, like Stegosaurian plates—
he possesses unlimited fuel,
an old imprisoned king whose senility can only be relieved
by the breast pushing through his bars,
the remaining breast of a 40 year old macheted Salavdoran
wearing a red welt from shoulder diagonal to waist,
the model upon which military decoration is based.
Reagan opens his public heart—
the spirit’s hot flame is fed by the monstrous pain of unborn grandchildren,
the rack of vacuity upon which all are bound and pulled apart
wobbles like a perverse water wheel
through us, exposing the anguish in our pleasure,
the pleasure in our anguish, the boredom in our appetite,
our appetite for boredom—
one can almost smell (but never really smell)
the fumes from still hot German guilt drifting Bitberg,
substantial flames, bouquets of blackened garden eels waving from each tomb.
The souls of the innocent dead could not be here,
their wrath is cobra-like but gentle,
in serpentine flocks they roam each German acre, imprisoned in
that part of us that does not, in unison, effect an end to racial stratification.
Can any image grasp Reagan, amazingly still human, the depth of his numbness
within minutes of collapsing mind? He is a kind of prism
made of endless glass enclosures, in whose groundmass
is embedded our reality’s decomposing kingdom.


Clayton Eshleman



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