It is a matter of national survival that we never get used

to the president’s hair. We can’t, for instance, look at a picture

of the exploded rooster comb he’s managed to cement up there

and say, Yeah okay that’s the president. It’s not okay. Just as

it’s not okay to bring a radioactive ferret to a house party,

the president’s hair threatens the very foundation of cooperative

society. Nothing Day-Glo ever crossed a land bridge, or helped

bring down a mastodon. The way you may feel about that

friend with the combover neither of you will talk about

(not even in a stiff wind), the way you may have felt when you were

put on the team coached by the dad with the unfortunate toupee:

this is not that. This is more like someone freeze-drying a fish taco

and nailing it to his skull—though even then someone could say,

“Hey, I see you’ve nailed a fish taco into your head. Would you

care to discuss that?”—whereas in the case of the president’s hair

nobody has any idea what’s going on, and it’s undiscussable. It’s

a conversation stopper—like when the man seated next to you

on a plane informs you that he’s built a UFO viewing station

on top of his barn, except it’s right there on his fucking head.

The spectacle of the president’s hair must remain fresh

as a stinking corpse. We need to maintain a case of national whiplash,

incurred from double-taking each time we pass a TV screen or newsstand

and see him glaring beneath that generous helping of lobster vermicelli

he’s decided to go through life with. The headlines should read


and most of all the people around him need to laugh.

Close aides and senior advisors may be limited to titters,

the occasional snort disguised by a hand to the face, but visitors,

foreign heads of state, are free to smirk and chortle, and both sides

of the aisle to openly guffaw when he strides into the house chamber

sporting that floppy visor spun from pure Siberian twat fur.

Let peals of har-de-har echo through the halls of the Capitol

until he stomps off to tweet the State of the Union from a remote locale.

It is our patriotic duty to never go numb. Whenever

the president comes into a room let us rise, gawk, point,

and howl like our life depends on it, because it does.


© 2017 Diana Goetsch; this poem first appeared in Autostraddle



Who knows how

you’ve gotten here,

but you can always

do one good thing.

In fact, you should.

Wash a dish or

water a plant.

That’s not nothing.

We’re not talking

about paying the bills,

or even changing

a light bulb, but maybe

that underwear

finds the hamper?

Just one thing.

Then rest awhile.

Soon you might be

up for a shower,

or egg salad.

But this isn’t a race,

so take it easy.

But don’t watch TV.

If you do, not the news.

You already know enough

of other people’s trouble,

or achievements—what

Mandela or Gandhi did—

and you’re not on

some march to the sea.

This is more about

making the bed

and putting socks on.

Basic stuff, in sequence,

like breathing out

before breathing in.

You’ve got a right.

You’re on this earth,

for whatever reason,

with nothing to

apologize for—at least

nothing today, so far.


from Nameless Boy (2015, Orchises Press)

Flash flood


I don’t want to die. Not on a day

that’s cloudy or clear, near women

pretty or plain, listening to the song

of a sparrow or a truck backing up,

or the Roberta Flack tune I belt out

under cover of an arriving train.

Not while falling in love or breaking up,

or doing both at the same time, as rain

pours off the café awning, and baristas

in their aprons scramble to get bowls

under all the leaks. I don’t want it to stop—

I feel I’ve been alive

less than the seven days allotted the housefly.

Whatever I’ve read about death,

whatever I believed about past lives,

parallel universes, the eternal—just forget it.

There’s no world but this one,

no river to cross, no other

side to see you on.


from Nameless Boy (2015, Orchises Press)