The Presidency

José Mujica ascended to the presidency
and kept his three-bedroom bungalow
a stone’s throw from Rio De La Plata
in Montevideo gave nearly his entire
presidential salary to charity spent more
than a decade in a cell because he was a guerilla
in a previous life Uruguay won’t get a seat
on the Security Council even though they wouldn’t
dream of invading Ukraine or making hush money
payments to film stars and dress it up as mink coat lawyers

What is the presidency but more oil drilling
in the western Arctic the head of a reindeer
a caribou Teddy Roosevelt’s grizzly his petrified
elephant in the Museum of Natural Curiosities
on the National Mall plazas belong to the people
just ask the Mothers of the Disappeared
Mujica heard about them while sitting in solitary
today he says that a cup of maté is the only recompense
he needs

There is no greater Uruguay
because they lack oil their Gauchos
are kept behind glass there is no Mar A Lago
in the sky Moscow was set on fire to trap Napoleon
just like Stalingrad made the German High
Command ask who moved my cheese.

About the Poem

This poem is a meditation on the presidency. What is the presidency? Is it a force for good or for empire? Does it matter whether you are president of a great power or a tiny republic with a miniscule military? There are presidents like Trump and Putin, but there are also those curiosities like Jose Mujica of Uruguay who somehow stayed humble and insisted they remain in their small house to avoid the trappings of power.

About the Author

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in the Great Lakes Region of Canada. He holds two passports.

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