Pea Soup in Foggy Bottom

Whenever you feel bad and want to howl,
Remember someone in our government
Who used to stand for reason, Colin Powell.
He used to care about an argument
In which two nations babbled, cheek to jowl,
Instead of squaring off like fighters bent
On uppercuts and jabs, both crying foul,
Both breaking bones and wrecking the event.

This referee who chucked his boxing gloves,
This statesman next to Rummy’s vast defense
Establishment, when pushes turned to shoves,
Had little hope of using common sense
To make warhawks morph into turtledoves
On different sides of one sweet picket fence,
Which lets good neighbors recognize their loves
And fears can coexist for decades hence.

Alas, the fix was in! It’s shove and push
Until one side is down, the other’s swollen,
Ready to K.O. all bad guys-swoosh!-
And swear the rules of reason have been stolen
By enemies in, say, the Hindu Kush
Or any other place that knocks a hole in
What we call the head of our prez Bush,
While someone heads out. Here’s to that man, Colin!

JAMES REISS is Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His most recent book is Riff on Six: New and Selected Poems (Salt Publishing). He’s He can be reached at: