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1 February 2002
by Joe Futrelle

At PDX people cluster around
omnipresent TV’s, and longish bursts of static
can be heard, or maybe it’s applause.

CNN is carrying W’s SOU live,
and congress keeps dutifully leaping to its feet and
clapping. W doesn’t hide how entitled
he feels to this applause; after each flourish
he pauses and seems, for a moment, lost,
squinting, and when at last after that agonizing gap,
W’s most recent platitude hovering unsupported,
it comes, his lips smirk: see, I told you so.

That tiny gap contains my hopes and dreams,
the still point where W’s legitimacy
and that of the institutions that reproduce him
is instantaneously in doubt. Then, I am alive,
I have the power to resist,
listen, imagine that gap stretching forever,
congress walking out silently,
W blubbering, speechless, the teleprompter dim,
as The People begin to file in.

Then it’s over. I gather my ticket and ID card
and head for the security checkpoint.

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