from President Letters
Dear Mr. President,
It is with no small regret and uncertainty that I say – rather that I write – that this is the
last letter I will be writing you as part of the current project. I, as I hope is true for you,
came to be eager for these moments – the precise number being largely insignificant and
the number truly never being more than a number anyway – I became quite eager for
these moments when it seemed as if I had – though I fear it is untrue – your complete
attention. And yet I know not where this place exists. I say I imagined I had your
attention, yet where – if so – did I keep it? It is, of course, silly to take the metaphors we
use to describe abstractions, to expect these metaphors to manifest themselves in the
concrete reality of tables and chairs, to think that your attention – as much as I desire it
and please trust that I do – that your attention might be possesable.
You have, doubtless, noticed that I write you today using pen & paper, yet as you also
doubtless noticed, this method too does little to hide the messiness of my thoughts.
Sloppiness – it would seem – is a veritable part of me.
Yet again I am forced to confront these metaphors that like windshields – clear and
therefore useful – at times throw back blinding flashes of light to the viewer. I cannot
pause to consider the adjective blinding applied to light.
Again I look back and see that – wrapped up as I am in the ductworks of philosophy –
that I have yet to clearly state my purpose. I call it my purpose though I cannot seem to
put it down. I would – and I trust you feel this too at times – I would like to find my
purpose and release it like a young bear I nursed back to health, like to – as the Buddha –
be purposeless. But I must wonder – since my will does not always seem my own – if, in
this culture whose ceaseless parade of spectacle blinds, if poetry itself has been left
purposeless, a bird who tried to fly too soon.
Yes, Mr. Bush, I am a poet. I suspect you are not surprised. I hope you do not hold with
Plato’s admonishment against poets – clearly he was a man with no passion in his heart,
no desire to woo man, woman, or the beauty he so rudely divorced from our world with
It is not philosophy but reality when I say — write rather – that June and I are divorced,
and though we were never married by law, I feel our separation as such. We were
engaged, and now we do not speak.
Mr. President, there are troubles in our world with which you, I know, are all too
familiar. Oil, on which the whole world revolves, is running out. Our population
increases exponentially – the day of seven billion is not far away. Many, as you know,
people are confused, alone, and afraid – our sisters and brothers suffer and trust in no
I remain, sadly, undeserving of this kindness for which I ask, and sadder still, I ignore the
shame asking makes me feel.
And still I write you, you whose responsibilities are such that even enduring Atlas might
shudder to contemplate; I write you with the sincere desire to learn what wisdom has
been bestowed upon you by your time in time’s river, what eddies have brought you
peace and what currents became clogged against what log jams. How do I turn the loss
of a future, a lifestyle, of love itself, like an alchemist, into a charming narrative I might
tell at a cocktail party thrown to celebrate a popular poet’s visit.
But what are these stories we tell, we exchange like trading cards at a Saturday swap
meet? And did you do that, Mr. Bush? did you trade cards with other boys & girls? I,
regrettably, did not. Is that lack, perhaps, the cause of my troubles? The match that set
the fire that reduced my life to ash?
Mr. Bush, forgive my self obsession – I do, as you, worry for my fellow beings. Not
only, as I have previously written, do I want to be happy, I also want, sincerely, to help
ease the suffering so prevalent today.
Yet, I realize sitting here in Brooklyn – Williamsburg to be precise – sitting here I realize
that I have caused suffering – suffering for myself and suffering for those around me.
Is it vanity to claim responsibility for this pain? Do I seek your pity or your ire?
I do not know for what I am responsible – at times I wish I had more, dream that I have
the ability to create certain events, ways of existing, finally, even, fabrics of reality. I do
not wish to be, Mr. President, a boat without a sail on the trackless ocean. I have told
myself that you do not so suffer, that you act, and while you act with an understanding of
our collective epistemological dilemma, that you act nevertheless with conviction and in
accordance with a unified belief system. And, while I may find fault with the results of
this belief system – for example I do not support your willingness to engage in external
military conflict – while I find other choices more appealing – I truly admire your
willingness to, as some say, make the hard decision. Meanwhile, I am positively frozen
at times by the sight of any restaurant’s menu items.
And so, Mr. Bush, in this last letter I find that what I seek, an end to the emotional peaks
and valleys that have textured my landscape for too long, I seek a way to find and create
the life I have sought, a method by which I could make decisions, fly from indecision on
jet wings, without fear and endless reversal. Mr. President, hear my words with kindness
in your heart and share with me your wisdom I beg.
with all my best wishes,