Trump Sonnets, Volume 5!

Trump Sonnets, Volume 5 is back from the printer's and review copies have been available since July. Publication date is January 2021. Like the four prior Trump books, it's published by Ridgeway Press of Roseville, Michigan. This one's subtitle: His Early Virus Monologues.

Here's how this came to be.

Thursday evening, March 12, 2020, Ken Waldman arrived in Floyd VA to be with life and music partner, Lizzie Thompson. He'd just come from a March 9 & 10 visiting writer residency at Lamar University in Beaumont TX, which was preceded by a major literary arts gathering in San Antonio (where approximately half of the expected 12,000 attendees were no-shows).

Lizzie & Ken managed one last show in Warrenton VA at a wonderful venue, Gloria's, where they were joined by fiddler and singer, Abigail Hobart.  Then they enjoyed a weekend of errands in Virginia and North Carolina before everything shut down. Ken was supposed to leave Floyd on March 22 for a long week of office work before early April jobs in Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee, and New Orleans. Instead, facing cancellations (and as of April 21, all his live gigs have been cancelled through late August), he saw he was going to be in Floyd awhile with Lizzie, and he revised a poem he'd written years earlier, making it into something new and timely:

The Virus

For some, the tension rose by the minute,
anxiety the product of nightmare
multiplied by helplessness and despair.
Nights buried even deeper down in it,
we all knew there was more to the vast pit
of fear where we breathed the inverse of air,
and knelt in prayer that came out anti-prayer.
Oh god, how we carped, and grew intimate 
with walls during those early days of change.
Jobless, lonely, our dreary miffed body
self whined: why this, why now, why. We're strange
and new
. That pure voice inside us rang oddly
whole as if the old we were no longer.
How to explain just how we've been altered.

Though he lost a series of jobs (and the accompanying income), and was counting on selling three new books (they're here, here, and here), Ken was lucky that Lizzie had a safe and comfortable place for the two of them to stay. His inconveniences have been minor compared to so many others during this historic time. Over the next four weeks, Ken Waldman wrote 77 more sonnets, all in Donald Trump's voice. This new collection is divided into 7 sections, from Monday to Sunday, each beginning and ending with a dream poem. The poems are titled by the total number of poems written in the series, and the book ends with Trump Sonnets #375. Four of the poems are below. On May 8, 2020 he launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for a small run of books for project backers and national reviewers. Go read about the Kickstarter campaign here (and take time there to read Paul Fericano's response to the book--he was the first reader of this). The campaign comfortably surpassed its target. The money will not only go to assuring Volume 5 meets expenses, but to  this recently completed sequel.

Trump Sonnets #320 

Tuesday night I dreamed we turned the White House
into a hotel. Soft red lights in the halls.
A half million a night to stay and all
rooms were filled. We built more and had boy scouts
on the job, strong young men who didn't doubt
our great mission. I loved the new thick walls—
we sold the big suite for millions. A small
issue—one of the boys spotted a mouse. 
I summoned Mike Pence quick. But then two mice,
twenty, then hundreds. The mice were dying
at high rates. The military police
arrived. The dead mice made it hard trying

to sell rooms. Then, bedbugs. I blamed Mike Pence— 
he should have caught this. I also blamed France.

Trump Sonnets #352 

I'm lucky Ivanka married Jared 
who has proven himself a real asset
in the White House. He never once forgets
his place, and he's good in trade talks. I've said
I see myself in him, so he's instead
of me in some situations. I let
Jared know I put trust in him to set
great policies. We'd be getting cheated
without his steady hand, which makes sure all
runs smoothly. He's made some big mistakes here
in this crisis, but so have hospitals,
doctors, and world leaders. Jared's career
has been quite stellar. Ivanka says he's
as perfect and loving as her daddy.

Trump Sonnets #363 

I'm not sad that the failing post office 
is begging for help. Senior workers make
huge salaries. How often do they break
packages? So much junk mail. It's not nice,
such incompetence. Way too big a price 
for non-essential services. They're fake,
just like the media. What takes the cake
is they lose more money each day. Business
doesn't work like that. Now I hear their clerks
have been getting infected, and some die.
That's who we need to shut. It's the same work
done safely by Twitter and TV. Try
solving a budget. Hard! Post offices
interfere with key departments like ICE.

Trump Sonnets #365 

Sunday night I dreamed I was just about 
to pay for dinner, and my back pocket
was empty. I felt around for my wallet— 
nothing. Who the hell had taken it out
without me knowing—I'm never without
money—yet here I was sitting without credit 
cards even. I had no doubt about it— 
probably the waiter had lifted it out
as I relaxed and studied the menu.
Or some blond-haired crook as I made my way
to the john. Mexicans might also do
this sort of thing. I had no way to pay
so I tore up the bill and told the host
I'd never come back—his food was the worst.

Photo by Beth Miller-Herholtz: Abigail Hobart, Ken Waldman, Lizzie Thompson at Gloria's, March 13, 2020