Published on Academy of American Poets (

For the Republic

The way I’m strapped into myself
I can’t escape. Wake up and be a better person! Clip your toenails,
and by sun-rise make sure
                        you’re sitting at the table reading Arendt.

With a little focus
I could become
everything I ever wished
to be: level-headed and
            a real (wo)man of conviction. But no, at night,
I’m like an old towel on the line, tossing and
turning in the wind of the dear leader’s
words. What does
                                      it matter, if I grind
                         my teeth for the old ladies of
                         Puerto Rico? Or take a knee
                         in the front yard every time I hear
                         the national anthem
                         in my head? The neighbor just thinks
                         I’m weeding and waves.


Copyright © 2018 by Magdalena Zurawski. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I'm sure it's obvious, but this poem was my venting at the kind of lack of agency I felt in the first few months of the Trump presidency. I found myself endlessly nervous and also terrible at actually focusing on any task.”
—Magdalena Zurawski


Magdalena Zurawski

Magdalena Zurawski is the author of The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom (Wave Books, 2019). She lives in Athens, Georgia.

Date Published: 2018-12-21

Source URL: