Epitaph on a Tyrant (Sort Of)

A poem for the end of Donald Trump’s presidency

A photo illustration of Donald Trump speaking loudly
Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty / The Atlantic

You came in to the sound of oligarch chuckles

and bullies at gas stations cracking their knuckles.

And now, now that every trigger finger is itchy,

you’re going out like an exorcised Liberace.

Hectic, comedic, toxic, alone, a flaming meringue on a tide of brimstone.


How we adored your escapades.

We swallowed your words like ghosts swallowing grenades.

The dusty construction guy made common cause

with the lawyer licking his paws

and the bearded militiaman with a maggot in his brainstem.

A riot of their own, that’s what you gave them.


Your outrageousness beggared our lexicon.

Unprecedented, norm-shattering, on and on.

You abused and transgressed with the greatest of ease

to a chorus of flustered pieties.

And no comeuppance. Never a bolt from above.

You made kindness countercultural

although you were remarkably free with the word love.


O, lazy, lazy demagogue. Incitement? It sounded so tired.

How ever did your drooping-scrotum cadences,

your mushy syntax, get that multitude so wired?

But the spell worked, dark Dumbledore,

and in your most necromantic hour

you watched your legions puncture the halls of power

with horns and guns and hats so red,

dizzy with release, escaped from the hole in your head.


Wanting more, feeling less,

roaming the aisles of CVS,

now each in his bubble braces for trouble.

Trickster king with your bag of bullion,

beloved of the baron, beloved of the scullion,

Orifice in Chief, father of grief, we’ve drifted into a starless dream with you,

you godlike liar. You made this America come true.