By Dorothy Baressi
“You know what they used to do to guys like that in a place like this?
They’d be carried out on a stretcher.”
—Las Vegas, 2016
Tight taut teeth and lips a little wet, a little
hunch at the shoulders’ spite and seam.
Wet lips, jaw-rubbed, that’s swell—
tight tense talk & leering merit of American man
quick at the eye, a small mouthed man,
mean to mean on,
cracked & pricked,
sure, sure, if that’s how you want it, twitch-lipped,
attention please! A short shocked man is getting stiffed
on a dead plot packing heat,
a bare-fisted havoc man coughing mid-century blood—
more cemetery press than kiss,
more war more guns more prick to take it neat.
Wet lips, nervous tick,
cock, gut shot,
a tightfisted faithless twitch of a white heat man
with a hit a hook a jab—no hunch.
Pour him a stiff one,
hand him his hat.
Where’s this train heading?
Seething and grief, brother. Madness, seething and grief.
 The epigraph to “Election Noir” is a comment made by Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally in Las Vegas in February 2016, in which he reminisced about “the old days” when a protestor who’d interrupted his speech would have been “carried out on a stretcher.” Trump concluded, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
Dorothy Barresi is the author of four previous books of poetry: American Fanatics; Rouge Pulp; The Post-Rapture Diner, winner of an American Book Award, and All of the Above, winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. She is professor of English and creative writing at California State University, Northridge.