The shock trooper of the modern presidency
Stretches his long legs over the land.
He leans his purity and authenticity
Like a ladder against the earth.
He stamps his head
On ribbons, medals, and crockery.

Buried under a pile
Of swords and monuments,
The general, the country boy, the drunk
Still speaks the language of nature.
The livestock is chewing on his seed.

Wherever grass grows or water runs
He grimaces paternalistically,
Poking through the prairie soil
Like a broken plow.


As his left boot filled with blood
He pulled his shaky trigger finger.
The bullet in his shoulder had begun
Its long migration to the heart.

“I am your shield and great reward,” he said,
“The no-nonsense son of your soil.
I hereby release
All of your claims upon the States
For spoilations of every kind.
Babylon has moved beyond the Mississippi.”

Then a large fragment of his humerus
Sloughed off through the open fracture
Into the crowd. It got to be so large
That the guards could not keep it out of the White House,
And the dishes began to break.


The Indian who gives one of his skins
To the shivering white man
Is blasted out of relevance
By the Herculean efforts of the middling interest,
With their painterly lives
Of confrontation and catharsis,
Their soaked hotel mattresses.

As he sleeps, Jackson's edemous legs swell with fluid.
His body has become an obstacle to peace
So he drinks purgatives of mercury
To defend his empire.

His breath is getting shorter
But his legend is growing
Like a backwoodsman's shadow lengthening
Behind a campfire.


Andrew Jackson, Scotch-Irish Presbyterian
Of the tenant class,
Who transformed his country in an epic struggle
Between man and his stomach, is dead.

Born in a log cabin with the force of a saber blow,
He raised camp in the positivist
Swamp of sensations
Induced by medical poison.

“I am a blubber of water,” he said at the end,
“in bandages to my hips,
No longer hard enough to smite a nation.

“Soon my blood will become
Dangerously low in protein,
Allowing the moisture to escape
In the smoke of my cigar.”