Walk like Ronald to the quiet sound
of mayflies dropping on the vinyl floor
at Grandmom’s house in terrifying spring,
where paper peeled from the bathroom walls
and National Geographics faded in the attic,
images of Pahlavi Iran
and women with their nipples in the woods.
I was afraid of getting stung,
I was afraid of the ladder to the roof.

I ran my bicycle into a tree,
and Grandmom rushed with bandages to heal,
discouraged me to redden my face with tears,
because it would be over soon enough,
and through the grass I saw her come with help,
and walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald.

and when I trampled on a bee in May
she came with band-aids in her hand and said
It’s worse for him than it is for you,
but she could swing a flat fly swatter splat,
which I was never cruel enough to use,
and Krishna kept the bugs safe in my palm.

The accident occurred in Snuffy’s youth,
when he and I were peers fresh from the womb,
from 1998 and onward spanning.
I saw him fall from the back of Grandmom’s truck,
a squock and crack on his left hind leg;
and walked until his death with weary limp.
Then Austen was a toddler, brought up in Snuffy’s middle age,
and taking on the burden of the dog
and he walked with a limp through the screen door,
slide left and right and flexing in the breeze.
Austen walked like Ronald to the pantry
in search of Spongebob snacks to steal with teeth.

Walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald.
I saw him wield a chainsaw at the ranch
and with his arms reduce a proud, tall tree,
sent toppling to the dirt with hubris flat,
demolished by a man with large machine.
The images glared out from Robert’s gift,
the twenty-eleven memorial calendar,
a project of the Young America Foundation.
He looked so dashing in a cowboy hat,
and proud in boots like a Stonewall queer,
strutting with his swag between his legs,
and signing secret documents
with his warm and charming signature and grin.
My mentor rode white horses on the field
and strutted denim jackets by the Jeep,
oblivious by will to epidemic,
and visiting the graves of movie stars
struck down by something tantamount to God.

Returning to the church, I heard the sound:
a loud and ticking clock on the back wall,
announcing every inch to Armageddon,
and walking like Ronald to oblivion,
while Pastor Bob assured us of His grace,
and Pastor Evan makes another song,
a younger man now occupying the see,
with big shoes left to fill, and bigger feet
and Calvinism flowing through his veins.

The dragnet theme proclaims the deflowering
of Virgin Constance Swail, announced with horns,
end of an era and tilling of the garden.
Beside the garden was a white fence-post—
I rather liked a white fence-post, I did—
but over time stagnation turned it grey,
for want of washing, lost its glitter bright.
The whitewashers retreated to the house
and walked like Ronald dripping with pale paint
through a slick screen door slid right and left,
and let the post grow scummy with disease,
and rot with termites in the porous wood.

We say thrice the peace, homage to highest seers,
who often in their orthodoxy erred
and surrendered fence-post to the dark encroachments.
Walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald,
walk like Ronald