Evan Eisenberg Illustrations by Steve Brodner
Muse, you're fired. It’s sad. Sad!
I mean, you’re a nice piece of ass—
But I can do this myself. You’ve heard
How smart I am? How I have the best words?
How I was first in my class?
A man and his money I sing, O Muse—
Muse, you heard me! Get out!
That desk had better be clear by three—
As I was saying, my theme will be
A man, his money, his mouth.
This is the ballad of Donald Trump,
A tale of greed and gall;
A tragedy birthed before our eyes—
A man, his money, his mouth, his rise
And if there’s a God, his fall.
A man, his money, his mouth, his rise,
His fall—or, otherwise, ours:
If you doubt his swagger, bluster and blunders
Can lead to disaster, you’re rashly misunder-
Estimating his powers.
His tongue is fleet as Achilles’ feet,
If slightly more prone to stumble;
His wiles would make Odysseus blush,
And like Aeneas (that’s Latin for “tush”)
He’s always ready to rumble.
Having established his bona fides
As hero, let’s give his Begats,
Beginning in Kallstadt, where, by God,
The Trumps, once Drumpfs, grumpily trod
The blood of grapes in vats.
Grandpa Trump resembled his
Descendant, fore and aft;
But as his feet were bone-spur-free
He had to sail across the sea
To dodge his nation’s draft.
An immigrant! An enterprising,
Thanks to whom the gold-drunk Yukon
Had a polished floor to puke on
In a posh bordello.
Did Dudley do right when the Mounties
Shut that cat-house down?
Right or wrong, Trump cashed his chips,
Checked the list of east-bound ships,
And skipped for his hometown.
He wed, and launched the burgher’s life
His frosty hoard afforded;
But Ach!—the draft board checks again,
And like a wetback Mexican
Poor Friedrich is deported.
Chastened by King, he hastened to Queens—
Scene of son Fred’s future capers.
Blood-and-iron-willed, hungry, lean,
Fred launched his empire at sixteen
With Mother signing the papers.
Like Friedrich, Fred was gifted with
An instinct for what works:
Parking garages for new-fangled wheels;
New-fangled self-service grocery deals
That let him cashier the clerks.
Fred’s latest, greatest strategem
Was simple: he’d invite
Manhattan’s huddled, muddled masses
To a paradise where grass is
Green, and skin is white.
Where once were forests of oak and pine,
Where once were fields and furrows,
Trump’s rickety “Dumps on Stumps”
Spread like chicken pox or mumps
Across the outer boroughs.
When G.I. Joes came marching home
He built them seaside flats:
Noble work, nobly rewarded
With the subsidies all hoarded
In his Homburg hat.
Such profiteering struck even
Even-tempered Ike as rank;
Called before a Senate hearing,
Fred purred: It isn’t profiteering
If the profit just sits in the bank!
Enough Begats, now. Faith and begad,
We’ll strain the straps of mirth
If, lacking Tristram’s comic clout,
We wear our reader’s patience out
Before our hero’s birth.
His birth—but wait! If climate change
Is merely a hoax hatched in China,
How do we know the Donald’s not
An Erdoganic despot-bot
Devised in Asia Minor
And engineered by Vladimir’s
Which China will shortly mass produce—
A handy source of mass abuse
For all humanity?
We don’t. But let’s be gracious and
Concede he was conceived
By Fred on his Mary, née MacLeod,
A Scottish housemaid, broke but unbowed,
At Ellis Isle received.
(An immigrant! Another one!
To this surmise I’m leaping:
Should Trump meet such a one tonight
And should her skin be not-quite-white,
He’d call her Miss Housekeeping.)
What crêche can conjure up the kings
Who ‘round the cradle stand?
Did Dolf and Benny bow to her?
And did the frankincense and myrrh
Already bear His brand?
From youth, our Cheeto Jesus was
Entirely without sin:
How else withstand a toddler’s moans
While bravely showering with stones
The crib that it was in?
(Where’s that toddler, now? Does he,
Still trumpatized, thumb-suck?
Is the memory sharp or fuzzy?
Does he watch the news, and does he,
Seeing Donald, duck?)
More deeds served to demonstrate
That Donald was no wuss:
Attempting to defenestrate
A chum; socking a second-grade
School teacher in the puss.
(That last, Don’s boast—the victim never
But murmured to his kindred, when
Upon his deathbed, "Even then
He was a little shit.")
Faced with a strapping lad intent
On scrapping every rule,
Father Fred, severe but fair,
Remanded Donald to the care
Of a military school.
(That window flap in fact belongs
At this point in the plot;
But time, we know, is an illusion;
Rhyme, though in the worst confusion
Bully to Leader—context shapes
The words, and hence the man.
A hero in the making? Hell
No! His Captain’s bars look too swell
To soil them in Khe San.
Three school deferments from the draft,
And one more for good measure,
Because a well-paid doctor, Sir,
Has kindly found a fine bone spur.
Which foot? Well, what’s your pleasure?
Survivor guilt’s a bitch; but Don,
That Fury to appease,
Endured a “personal Vietnam”
By braving (wham, bam, at ease Ma’am)
Thirsty, he imbibed the business
At his father’s feet:
A ton of brass, a dash of knuckle,
Plus a long, hard, steady suckle
At the public teat.
Soon he found a second father
To perfect his parts—
His guru (not the least Siddharthy)
None but Senator McCarthy’s
Master of Dark Arts.
Roy Cohn! The consigliere,
Cold collusions ever hatching,
Teaches Donald how to cozy
Up to handy mafiosi
When a back needs scratching.
Roy Cohn! The cognoscento
Of the con, the squeeze, the steal,
The secret blade, the tidied gore,
The set-up, shakedown, flimflam, or
As Don would say—the Deal.
When Fred handed Donald the company’s reins,
Roy was enlisted, not for
Legal matters dry and humdrum,
But for an unreal-estate conundrum
That would have baffled Bohr.
Is light a particle or wave?
Depends on how it’s detected.
Does Trump have vacancies right now?
Depends, in a quantumy way, on how
The questioner’s complected.
More plainly: people of color found
Reception rather rude.
Twenty years earlier, wroth at this wrong,
Woody Guthrie wrote a song;
Now steely Justice sued.
Countersue! cried Donald. Roy
Dismissed! snapped the judge, which must have nettled:
Trump, who never settles, settled
For corporate probation.
* * *
Before Trump Tower could rise, Bonwit
Teller had to fall;
For this, undocumented Poles—
Hard-hatless, maskless, homeless, cold—
Were at Trump’s beck and call.
The “Polish Brigade,” when paid at all,
Was paid the merest pittance;
Safety inspectors and union crews
At a nod from Roy Cohn, knew
Not to seek admittance.
Two Deco nymphs were smashed to bits
Despite their fervent suitors;
Yet we must count their fate deserved,
For surely they’d have been preserved
Had they had bigger hooters.
While LeFraks and Resnicks all deplored
The local mob’s monopoly
Of concrete, and used steel instead,
Don with Fat Tony hopped in bed
And did so very hoppily.
The Roman who first mixed concrete
Now in Elysium gloats:
Behold its metamorphic powers!
For pals like Donald, topless towers;
For others, overcoats.
Only in America
Could such a tale unfold:
By the bootstraps that he hitches to,
Donald lifts himself from riches to
Riches, gold to gold.
In fact, had he invested Fred’s
Multimillions in a
Nice NYSE index fund, his wad
Would be (though fans might find this odd)
Thicker now, not thinner.
Trump’s gift for turning gold to ___
(Insert terms that disgust us):
For this our best lexicographers lack words,
But Sadim Touch (that’s Midas backwards)
Might just do it justice.
Here’s a striking instance of
An ill-advised Trumpkrieg:
The time he sued the N.F.L.,
Hail-Marla-passing straight to hell
A promising young league.
The owners trusted Trump to win
His antitrust lawsuit;
But hey, we know the system sucks—
The court awarded them three bucks.
The U.S.F.L.? Kaput.
(Suppose it were the U.S., not
U.S.F.L. he led?
Gambling’s fun when on vacation;
Gambling when the stake’s a nation—
Darker shades of red.)
The Trump Shuttle; the grand hotel
Eloise absolutely adored—
Though the Donald’s flops are legion
The floppiest flopped in the region
Of the Jersey shore.
The Casino Control Commission, keen
Its Garden State to keep
Free of thugs like Bugsy Siegel
Set up eighteen months of legal
Hoops through which to leap.
Make it six months, Trump insisted.
Hoops? He walked around them.
Stains on ties from wise-guy vinos?
Those who licensed his casinos
Somehow never found them.
Hilton? Denied. Attorney tied,
It seems, to shady party.
Commishs conveniently forget
One Cohn, Esquire, whose phone is set
On speed-dial to John Gotti.
At Trump’s casinos, chopper flights
Were furnished by a thug:
Joey Weichselbaum, whose varlets
Used a network of used car lots
As fronts for dealing drugs.
Quite a dicey choice on Don’s part!
Might we then surmise
That Weichselbaum, besides the choppers,
Gave elite casino-hoppers
Other kinds of highs?
When Joe went down, Don’s cronies found
A way to hide the stench:
Sentence in Jersey, where the Very
Honorable M. Trump Berry
Occupied the bench.
Though Sis recused herself, it’s clear
Her colleagues got the brief:
“Treat our chopper guy with kid
Gloves.” So, demonstrably, they did;
For while each petty thief
Caught up in Joey’s escapade
Got ten years, if an hour,
The mastermind got only three
And after eighteen months was free
And living in Trump Tower.
Trump’s letter asking leniency
Might have helped (you think?) —
And might have cost his gaming license
Had not Enforcement, with its rye sense
Humorous, merely winked.
Trump Plaza, Castle, Taj Mahal—
As cash engorged his kitty,
The boardwalk groaned beneath the weight
Of monsters that, in due course, ate
Each other, then the city.
Contractors, vendors, lenders, staff
Were stiffed—lost shirts—lost skin—
But Trump emerged (triumphant pose)
Smelling, if not like a Rose,
Then like a Benjamin.
Though certain indexed pages (Trump,
Are all he generally deigns to look
At in any given book,
He loves Chapter Eleven.
Bankruptcy! Lifeboat that lets
Captain Trump float free
While backers, passengers and crew of
Each of his titanic screw-ups
Sink beneath the sea.
Cash-strapped, he now takes public his
Who needs fiscal sonograms
When the ticker’s monogrammed
Like golf towels, DJT?
Trump chips off fifty million bucks
In salary and bonuses;
The bough will break, the stock will fall,
Investors lose their little all:
On them, alas, the onus is.
(A sucker, so Barnum says, is born
Every minute, and this makes sense;
A life cycle so lively—it turns on a dime—
Allows one very little time
To learn from experience.)
Now a fresh hope bobs like flotsam
On the subsiding sea
Of his slots-and-roulette-wheel typhoon:
If he can’t be a real tycoon,
He’ll play one on TV!
Reality TV, no less
(That moron’s oxymoron),
Where mini-Dons brave Donald’s ire
Just for a shot at being hired
As Saruman to his Sauron.
As his hot mic attested, to
Hot chicks he makes a beeline;
The Donald needs no roll-call vote
To let his tongue patrol their throats
Or grab them by the feline.
(My preference is to euphemize,
But if you think it wussy
To beat around the Billy Bush
And primly cite derrière or tush—
Go for it! I’m not fussy.)
Miss Universe, USA, Teen USA—
All furnish more occasions
For fingering the ripening fruit
(He’s the boss, so best be mute!)
And dressing-room invasions.
Trump’s business model now is just
Ghost-writing gone berserk:
Flush with the spectral coins of fame
He’s richly paid to put his name
On other people’s work.
Wine and water, steaks and neckties,
Condos and cologne;
And capping the buffoonery
A real-estate tycoonery—
A Wharton of his own!
Trump U., in truth, is not a U-
Niversity at all;
And though he claimed the faculty
Were, to a man, “handpicked by me”
His hands, you know, are small.
Were you among the thousands fleeced
(Snowed, swindled, chiseled, scammed)
By “experts” hired off the street
To pressure-sell the Gold Elite
Package for thirty grand?
Take my advice, and you may find
Trump’s lessons more endearing:
Ignore the content, watch the form!
Thus clever sheep, while being shorn
May learn the art of shearing.
Each Trump resort must proudly sport
Its Star Diamond Award.
The judges? Trump’s family, Trump’s staff,
Trump and Trump’s butler, too (don’t laugh),
Who constitute the board.
The president’s Joey No Socks,
A.k.a. the Preppy Don:
Convicted felon, pusher, fence,
As aquiescent as Mike Pence
In Donald’s every con.
The Trump Foundation—there’s another
Scam, and it’s a honey:
With gold-embossed pomposity
He play-acts generosity
With other people’s money.
Now Donald finds a novel use
For his foundation’s cash:
Dispensing it like Benadryl
To state Attorneys General
Who might do something rash.
Tim Tebow’s helmet, too, he scores
With philanthropic pelf,
Plus a king-size portrait of his love—
His life, his joy, his turtle dove—
His deity: Himself.
(Its whereabouts are now unknown.
Did it displease Der Führer?
Did it reveal that—shades of Gray!—
As he grew richer, day by day,
His soul grew ever poorer?)
Pro among con-men, his resumé
Still lacked one final rip-off:
Make the people he’d been screwing
Stamp and cheer for their undoing.
Peeps, observe the tip-off:
Trump descending Trump Tower’s mirrored
The prolapse of democracy
To marble-wombed plutocracy
With perfect comic timing.
Global capital unbound—
'Twixt rich and poor, a chasm—
Party of the late white male
Thrashing like a great white whale
In its final spasm—
Plotting to suppress the vote
Of blacks and browns and youth,
And very rashly pandering
To paranoid untruth—
Other party, partly bothered
By its own collusion
In despoiling of the earth, yet
Partly feels the spoils are worth it—
Hence, its lame confusion—
Whirling like a centrifuge
The nation segregates—
Inside red and outside blue—
This side’s false is that side’s true—
Vanished, the debates
Where facts were facts and logic was
Just normally impaired—
Now on social media
Whichever lie is seedier
Is seeded, tweeted, shared—
Trump invented none of this.
What did he do? Abet
All that’s most foul, unfair, and fake,
And from the pot of plunder take
Whatever he could get.
Stumpy hands still greasy, now
To clean things up he’ll pledge;
From the stump and from his Twitter
Spews a manic stream of bitter
Bile that sets on edge
Mexicans, veterans, Muslims and Blacks,
Asians and Jews and Aleutians,
Vulvo-Americans of every hue,
Handicapped folks and, presumably, you
If you’ve read the Constitution.
Yet white blue-collars, nest eggs paltry,
Feathers plucked by fate,
Schooled by Fox News and hard knocks,
Rapturously back the Fox
To make the henhouse great.
Such, at least, appears to be
The liberal CW—
Trump, like Sanders, taps the rage
Of castoffs from globalization’s stage.
True, but this fact may trouble you:
Trumpsters earn more than the national mean.
Take the EPA-noncompliant
Mortarboardless contractor whose price
Contracts as in an iron vise
His liberal-arts-grad client—
His beef with our Bollyhued McWorld
Is hardly economic;
But the promise to restore again
The dominance of straight white men
Braces him like a tonic.
Foxy Trump on his barnyard stump
Warms his inmost cockles
When he tasks that alien resident,
The Kenyan, Muslim “President,”
With the Texas Twit’s debacles.
Or blames an overbearing dame
For—well, take your pick:
When daily for a quarter century
Your target’s tarred, eventually
Most anything will stick.
Grand Old Partyers gape as each
Caparisoned champion’s mown
Down. A clown with painted mane
Gleefully reaps the hurricane
They themselves have sown.
Toppled are trees in whose lees
Politicos crouched and cowered;
Uprooted rocks, the muck vacating,
Bare the pallid, pullulating
Maggots of white power.
(Hill’s LOVE TRUMPS HATE signs—what a shame
To truck them to the dump—
Let’s thwart that ecotastrophy
By adding an apostrophe
And selling them to Trump!)
Evangelicals, you divine,
Must shun as a pariah
This lying, grasping, adulterous fraud?
Behold! The preachers and ministers laud
Trump as their new Messiah.
Pray, what do these good Christian folk
And Donald have in common?
(Scratches head.) No clue. Unless—
Perhaps—their gospel is Success,
Their god almighty Mammon.
Of course, there’s the sort who cry “The court!”—
Who wield love like a knife—
Reverencing every human
Till he rashly leaves the womb and
Starts a human life.
Trump’s running mate, a cunningly carved
The Evangelicals will wow:
He’s holier than I, than Thou,
Than Martin Freaking Buber.
Ivanka’s knack for marketing
This veep pick will confirm,
Affording swing-state ditherers
A smorgasbord of slitherers—
The serpent and the worm.
In Pence’s mouth won’t melt one pat
Of butter from your pantry;
Though they may seem like night and day,
Mike and Donald are just two ways
Of casting Elmer Gantry.
The platform of the GOP—
A great, big, bloody bone
Thrown to those who salivate
To found a Christian caliphate
In our once-temperate zone.
Our thrice-wed metrosexual?
Such details merely bore him.
Let the wonks wank with planks and stuff
Just so that platform’s tall enough
For all eyes to adore him!
But hold—his people did find some
Provisions worth disputing:
Precisely those that might offend
His Great-Dictator-Mentor and
Man-Crush, Volodya Putin.
The DNC hack’s one big scoop?
Believe me, this is HUGE—
The flag-draped, gold-domed candidate
Who bragged he’d MAKE AMERICA GREAT
Is just a Russian stooge.
Tangled up with oligarchs,
He’ll wangle them a thaw,
And, as in Putin’s gangster state,
By all means needful obviate
The pesky rule of law.
But who will hack Trump’s tax returns?
Not apparatchiks, surely;
Release them, just like everyone?
Of course, soon as the audit’s done!
Donald responds demurely.
And truth to tell, this morbid interest in
Every blessed penny
Paid by Trump at each quarter’s finish
Seems a tad angels-dancing-on-pinnish
When he pays hardly any.
Is Trump worth what he says he is?
It’s hard to know the facts
When assets are valued (this is ripe)
Fifty times more when being hyped
Than when they’re being taxed.
His net worth has no fixed abode:
No floor, no walls, no ceiling;
And (what seems rather sad to me)
Like parts of his anatomy
It varies with his feelings.
Is Trump a multithousandaire
Or is it multibillions?
Such doubts would not predominate
If we could just denominate
His net worth in Trumpillions.
He struts and frets the national stage
While all the world observes:
There he blows, in spate again!
He’ll make America grate again
On all the world’s nerves.
The mogul who, as cameras roll,
All-powerful, growls “You’re fired”—
To banish our despondency
Will wave his tiny wand and see
Twenty-five million hired.
“Fingers short, nose long”—so taunt
His truth-obsessed accusers;
Truly, Donald’s far too smart
To blurt the words that gird his heart:
“Truth? Truth is for losers.”
The sunset tints of cheek and jowl
That in his fans inspire
Daydreams of riches, glitz, romance,
Are but the mirrored glow of pants
Perpetually on fire.
“He speaks his mind.” Let me remind
Those flummoxed by that phantom—
His mind’s a jumble of paste pearls
Whose correspondence to the world
Is somewhat less than random.
Can bitch and moan and sob.
Total losers! Lightweights! Fools!
The wise man knows that words are tools
You use to do a job.
In fact, it isn’t jewels, it’s tools
That pack his cabinet mental:
File, pick, chisel, slim jim, axe—
Any relationship to facts
Is purely accidental.
But as Trump’s tools tend to be blunt
Or jagged, or uncouth,
“He speaks his mind!” cry those who take
Civility for something fake
And boorishness for truth.
The press was his oyster, but now they’re all crabs—
Those fact-checkers—too picky, too nitty!
They’re missing the lesson he’s trying to teach:
What’s the point of “freedom of speech”
If a guy can’t lie with impunity?
The press that inflated him now he berates
For detumescent polls.
Want a metaphor for that?
The man who, when it has a flat,
Molotovs his Rolls.
The vote is rigged! Trump bellows—prim
Know well the fuming lies he fans
Were lit to justify their plans
It’s rigged, it’s rigged, it’s rigged, he chants.
The hypnotizing rhythm
Charms and arms a thronging snake—
If Donald has to lose, he’ll take
Democracy down with him.
Steaming, scattershot manure
Prepares a bed most fecund
For mayhem and bloodshed to grow—
The only law the lawless know
Being Amendment Second.
And that’s one of the good outcomes.
Appreciably less fun:
The one where Donald and his cult
Accept, as promised, the result
Because… because… he’s won.
To take the edge off edginess
I’ll venture to repeat
Some armchair psychoanalysis
(Excluding size of phalluses)
While on the edge of my seat:
From paradise to barracks—did
Young Donald’s cold rejection
By Fred the Father plant the seed
Of raging, caged-in, stage-struck need
And violent insurrection?
The child within the man is fathered
By another child,
And so (I see Tom Eliot grinning)
A spore cast at the world’s beginning
May contain… its end.
But here’s a cheerful thought—in fact,
I think it’s rather grand—
As the Body Pol he’s screwing,
Trump’s Great Dictator turn is doing
Wonders for his brand.
(Why not license other names
In ways likewise relentless?
Stalin Steaks! Benito’s Floss!
Hitler Health Resorts! The pos-
Sibilities are endless.)
If there’s a God, his fall, I said;
But should old Zeus or Gaea
Have lost their fulminating clout
It falls to us to bring about
This fine peripeteia:
Of horse an ass, of jokes a butt,
Of loserness a lump:
The king of debt, and hype, and sex—
The man who would be our T. Rex—
Becomes, at last, T. Rump.
To be continued in Book Two...