Brow Beat

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Donald Trump struggling with a broken umbrella.
There’s some umbrella in a foreign field that is for ever Donald. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump and the first lady had scuttled plans, because of bad weather, for their first stop in the weekend’s remembrance activities—a visit to the solemn Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood. — Washington Post, Nov. 10, 2018.

Straight upright, in our Secret Service black,
Earpieces, pistols, shades, we dragged to France,
Till on our minibars we turned our backs,
And towards the Belleau Wood aimed our advance.
We needed sleep. Time zones hit with a crash,
Men gulped caffeine. Arabica; fine grind;
Drunk from jet lag; deaf even to the splash
Of raindrops falling softly behind.


Rain! RAIN! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Snapping umbrellas open just in time,
But someone still was getting wet and stumbling
And grumb’ling like an old man past bedtime.—
Dim through the humid air and iPhone light,
As under a misting tent, I saw him frowning.


In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He wades through puddles, sputtering, tweeting, frowning.

If in some drizzly dreams, you too could float
Behind the limo that we threw him in,
And watch the raindrops drying on his coat;
His soggy face, like a waterlogged pumpkin;
If you could read, with every tweet, the pain
Come gargling through his slightly damp touch screen,
Obscene as Stormy, empty as the brain
Of a deplorable who votes to vent his spleen,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To presidents who look like they died yesterday,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria madescere.